Thursday, January 14, 2010

Never Be Ashamed?

I was asked why the Koren Sacks Siddur has, in the Amidah blessing of “Al HaTzadikim” the Nusach Sefard version of: “ושים חלקנו עמהם, ולעולם לא נבוש....” Nusach Ashkenaz has it: “ושים חלקנו עמהם לעולם, ולא נבוש....” The difference is where you pause mid-sentence and where a conjunctive “ו” goes. In English, the former is translated by R. Jonathan Sacks as “Set our lot with them, so that we may never be ashamed.” The latter would presumably be translated as “Set our lot with them forever, so that we are not ashamed.”

I have not yet asked the good people at Koren about this because I like to do my own homework. I quickly found that the Nusach Ashkenaz and Nusach Sefard split is not as simple as described above. The Tikkun Tefillah commentary in the Siddur Otzar HaTefillos quotes multiple versions of this phrase, two of which have what was called above the Nusach Sefard version – Siddur Rav Amram Gaon and Avudraham. It seems that, as is often the case, Nusach Sefard is not a neo-Sefardic adaptation of Nusach Ashkenaz but one of multiple versions that were used in Ashkenazic Europe.

What’s my proof? Dr. Seligmann Baer’s Siddur Avodas Yisrael, which was published and used in nineteenth century Germany (and which Rav Soloveitchik reportedly recommended for teaching prayers in school), has the version mislabeled above as Nusach Sefard. In his commentary, Dr. Baer quotes the Yosef Ometz as saying that this is the proper Ashkenazic version.

I would appreciate hearing what people have in the various siddurim they own.

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