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Nusach Sefard

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Nusach Sefard

Nusach Sefard, or Nusach Sepharad, or Nusach Sfard is the name for various forms of the Jewish siddurim, designed to reconcile Ashkenazi customs (Hebrew: מנהג "Custom", pl. minhagim) with the kabbalistic customs of the Ari. [1] To this end it has incorporated the wording of Nusach Edot haMizrach, the prayer book of Sephardi Jews, into certain prayers. Nusach Sefard is used nearly universally by Hasidim, as well as by some other Ashkenazi Jews: it has not gained significant acceptance by Sephardi Jews. Each Hasidic dynasty uses its own version of the Nusach Sefard siddur, often with great divergence between different versions.

Prayers and customs

Some versions are nearly identical to Nusach Ashkenaz, while others come far closer to Nusach Edot Mizrach: most versions fall somewhere in between. All versions incorporate the customs of the Ari.

Some non-Hasidic Ashkenazi synagogues, such as the Anshei Sefard synagogues, use this rite.

In 2012, Koren Publishers Jerusalem released the Koren Sacks Siddur in Nusach Sefard (Sepharad)[2] in cooperation with the Orthodox Union. It features introduction, commentary and translation by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the British Chief Rabbi. The Koren Sacks siddur is the only Orthodox siddur that includes prayers for the state of Israel, its soldiers and national holidays, a halakhic guide for visitors to Israel, a modern translation and transliteration, and citations of modern halachic authorities.

History

It is generally held that every Jew is bound to observe the mitzvot (commandments of Judaism) by following the customs appropriate to his or her family origin: see Minhag. For this reason a number of rabbis disapprove of the adoption of Sephardic customs by Ashkenazi Jews.

However, it was a common Kabbalistic belief that the Sephardic rite, especially in the form used by Isaac Luria, has more spiritual potency than the Ashkenazi, and that, while in general one should keep to one's minhag of origin, this rite reaches a "thirteenth gate" in Heaven for those who do not know their own tribe. Many Eastern Jewish communities, such as the Persian Jews and the Shami Yemenites, accordingly adopted the Sephardic rite with Lurianic additions in preference to their previous traditional rites.

In the same way, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries many Kabbalistic groups in Europe adopted the Lurianic-Sephardic rite in preference to the Ashkenazi. This was however the custom of very restricted circles, and did not come into widespread public use until the rise of Hasidism.

Nusach Sefard, with its variant Nusach Ari, became almost universal among Hasidic Jews. One consequence of this was that, before the foundation of the State of Israel and in the early years of the State, it was the predominant rite used by Ashkenazim in the Holy Land, with the exception of certain pockets of traditional Lithuanian Jews. One reason for this was that Eretz Yisrael was regarded as part of the Sephardic world, so that it was felt that new immigrants should adapt to the local rite. In recent decades, following the immigration of many Ashkenazi Jews from America, the traditional Ashkenazi rite has regained a strong following.

Variants

Many Hasidic groups have slightly varying versions.

Nusach Maharitz

Nusach Maharitz, referring to and originating with Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, is the nusach used by most Dushinsky Hasidim. Their nusach is a mixture of nusach Ashkenaz and nusach Sefard, incorporating elements from both almost equally.

References

  1. ^ Wertheim, Aaron, Law and Custom in Hasidism, Ktav Publishing House, Inc. Hoboken, NJ, 1992, p146.
  2. ^ "Koren Publishers Jerusalem". http://www.korenpublishers.com. Koren Publishers Jerusalem. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  • Seder Or le-Yisrael, Zhitomir 1865 (prayer book)
  • Zimmels, Ashkenazim and Sephardim: their Relations, Differences, and Problems As Reflected in the Rabbinical Responsa: London 1958 (since reprinted). ISBN 0-88125-491-6
  • Remer, Daniel, Siddur and Sefer Tefillat Ḥayim: Jerusalem 2003 (Hebrew only: reconstructs Lurianic rite from Venice edition of Spanish and Portuguese prayer book and the Sha'ar ha-Kavvanot of Ḥayim Vital; companion volume discusses Ḥasidic variants)
  • A Modern Reconstruction of the Ari's Siddur
  • Wertheim, Aaron, Law and Custom in Hasidism, Ktav Publishing House, Inc. Hoboken, NJ, 1992, p146
  • The Difference Between Sephardic Nusach and Nusach Sefard
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