We have an annual apple-honey bake-off, where congregants whip up their favorite recipes that contain apples, honey, or both, and other congregants serve as judges… with the enviable job of tasting each delicacy to determine the best of the best each year. We also bring out one of our sifrei Torahs for an annual cleaning. With the scroll rolled out across our Social Hall, congregants wash their hands, grab special erasers, and go to work removing dirt and smudges and repairing the stitching to keep our Torahs well-maintained. Our Rabbi then points out notable sections of the scroll for all to see. Lastly, we have an educational aspect of the program.
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Este sitio usa Akismet para reducir el spam. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information. In it I will explain the background of this piece of liturgy and, at the same time, share my opinion on the role of Western Sephardic thinking in Jewish thought and practice.
Hence this is not just another article about Jewish liturgy. It encapsulates the story of Jewish devotion, divisiveness, zealotry, and compromise. As far as the Western Sephardic tradition is considered many people have a hazy picture. All they seem to know is that Spinoza was excommunicated from the Amsterdam community for heresy July 24, Indeed, the dramatic account of that excommunication has been repeated as an example of religious intolerance and fear of change comparable to the indictment of Galileo and the excommunication from Islam of Salman Rushdie in our own day.
Accused of a multitude of crimes, denounced from the pulpit of various faiths, insulted, ridiculed and held in contempt, these thinkers and writers created the world we know today as they demonstrated in word and deed that some of the erstwhile conceptions of religion were wrong and their views based on reason, not superstition, could withstand the rigors of debate and argument.
In their early days in the Netherlands the Jews of Iberian origin were influenced and challenged by their new surroundings. They had to debate and defend their faith. For their benefit Bibles, prayer books, and a whole range of works on the essentials of Judaism and the duties of a Jew were published in the vernacular. However Jewish book printing was an enterprise not confined to didactic works.
Many publications reflect the broad cultural interest, and the academic background, these people had brought with them from Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the Ottoman Empire. It might be useful to describe the paradigm of the Sephardic community as something unprecedented, rather than as the reconstruction of a suppressed religious identity. Strong arguments for such a view can be derived from the conflicts that divided the Sephardic community in the first half of the seventeenth century. Disputes arose between important laymen and the religious leadership.
The clergy itself was divided between a rationalistic faction and those of a kabalistic bent. Poems on the theme of repentance grew up around the Biblical theme of sin.
The custom of reciting such prayers is an ancient one, dating back at least to sixth century Babylonia. Almost every major rabbinic figure down to the fifteenth century tried his hand at composing these accompanying prayers. The Reverend Dr. The first allusion to an acknowledged order of penitential prayer occurs in Tanna de-Ve Eliyahu Zuta 23 End. Preceding each section, it notes the tenth century laws relevant to the holiday.
Although it does not incorporate a full-fledged order of prayer, it does provide a comprehensive outline. In fact the latter is the book used for most of the liturgy in question.
Rabbinic Judaism has many variations in matters of both ritual and outlook. Jews are too far-flung and span too many cultures for it to be otherwise, especially given the decentralized nature of religious authority.
On the other hand, the degree of uniformity is remarkable. Later on uniformity was again ensured by the acceptance of a code of Jewish law, the Shulhan Arukh , composed by Haham Joseph Caro in sixteenth-century Safed, in northern Palestine. In my view it is interesting how the circle of Jewish history comes around. Most Jews residing in the Iberian Peninsula were driven to convert to the Catholic faith at the end of the middle Ages and eventually most of them resettled in other parts of Spain and Portugal.
It would take many years until some of them chose to return to the Jewish faith. At the time of the first wave of emigration from Portugal the people who adopted Judaism settled mostly in Ferrara and Venice. Fugitives from the Inquisition were ignorant of Hebrew. Therefore they recited their prayers in Spanish and by Spanish prayer books were being printed in Amsterdam. When Hebrew became more familiar to them, Venice supplied prayer books in Hebrew, with or without translation.
These communities of novice Jews depended on outside scholars to support their return to normative Judaism. Their need was met by rabbis and cantors from the Sephardic strongholds in North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. Both Uri and his son Aaron instructed some of the converts, circumcised them and became their first religious leaders.
Six years later, i. Joseph Pardo had grown up in Salonica, one of the thriving Sephardic communities around the Mediterranean basin. In Venice he had earned the respect of Haham Leon de Modena. They were natives of Fez, Morocco and both men of erudition. It was he who introduced the Sephardic pronunciation of Hebrew as well as a sizable repertoire of hymns and melodies. He was succeeded by the 18 year old Haham Menasse ben Israel. This rabbi struggled to maintain a strict orthodox Jewish code of behaviour.
He promoted complete adherence to rabbinical norms and authority. A very important contemporary, who is remembered as a very learned cleric, leader of the community, and also as a Kabalist, was Haham Isaac Aboab de Fonseca Each of these fathers of the community left his distinct mark on Western Sephardim.
It has been remarked that Western Sephardic culture combines the morality of Calvinistic Amsterdam and the breath of the Italian Renaissance, both delightfully combined with a Near Eastern touch of Kabalah. A comparison with the Jews of the Italian Renaissance is worthwhile for a more general appreciation as well.
Italian Jews produced Renaissance thinkers. In both Italy as well as in the Netherlands Sephardic intellectual activity ran parallel to and not dependent of contemporary developments. Thus, the complete literary output, of Jew and Christian alike, affected Sephardic culture. Physically and spiritually restless, Delmedigo was born in Candia, Crete, studied medicine at the University of Padua and astronomy under Galileo. In his pursuit of knowledge he travelled to Cairo and Constantinople; and in pursuit of a livelihood to Poland, Amsterdam, Frankfort, and Prague, engaging in the study, not only of science but also of Kabalah.
He was a prolific writer though most of his works are known only through his own bibliography. Delmedigo, in response to requests by Karaites, to whose faith he seems to have been attracted, wrote a book on mechanics. In due course the three decided to merge. Services were henceforth conducted in a single place of worship. The school produced gifted Hebrew writers and poets. The community was also known for its prolific printers, rabbis, scholars, physicians, philosophers, playwrights, and….
If a sermon in the synagogue was not to the liking of these gentlemen they would excommunicate the preacher. Haham Levi Mortera was profoundly committed to rabbinic tradition. He was a sober man whose accommodation of religion and reason followed the maimonidean model. Indeed, the stamp of Maimonides is seen in reasoned argumentation of his writings no less than in his dogmatic theology and morality. Like Rambam Mortera struggled with superstition, prejudice and hypocrisy in order to establish truth and reason as the basis of piety.
Thus, Mortera promotes justice, free inquiry and freedom of expression and thought, not to eliminate Judaism but to support it. He was of course not the only writer to criticize matters of superstition. These thinkers provided Mortera with writings he could not ignore and which supported with their arguments his views concerning Jewish religion.
With exception of those instances where it is explicitly mentioned it was agreed that the rite of Bet Jacob, as it was in , would be the rite of Talmud Torah, and that Haham Saul Levi Mortera would be its first and foremost chief minister. It was written down in a manual to be kept by every Hazan, to be copied by their successors. Some 17th century scholars like Mortera preached that disobedience would be punished with eternal hell and doom.
On the question of repentance however, he was less controversial. As far as his coreligionists were concerned it was of utmost importance to Mortera to stimulate piety and virtue with passion, to spread biblical knowledge with rabbinic interpretation and a Maimonidean slant. His sermons contributed to the promotion of religion and morality. They also contain many passages criticizing behaviour that Mortera believed to be incompatible with the norms of Jewish life.
Quantitatively, these passages represent only a small percentage of the time he spent preaching. But the preacher was also expected to serve as a moral and religious authority, and the element of rebuke for unbecoming behaviour has a venerable pedigree in Jewish homiletical tradition. These issues were often sensitive especially since many of the Western Sephardim had relatives of the Roman Catholic faith.
Moreover, in a new-fangled doctrine took hold in the Amsterdam community. It assured every Jew, no matter how grave his or her sins, of a share of bliss in the world-to-come. The kabalists were responsible for spreading this doctrine of salvation of all Jews. Haham Aboab was maybe not an innovator. His merit lies in the boldness with which he affirmed the Lurianic stance. Mortera felt confident because he found support in the classical rabbinic sources. Aboab preferred to soar into kabalistic realms.
And i t would take until when there is a major change in these policies. Most of the religious literature intended for the guidance of the Sephardic communities was composed and printed in Amsterdam. During the 17th and 18th century many new congregations would be established all over Europe, in the British Empire and also in the colonies in the New World, all using at Amsterdam printed books. It was an honoured and an honourable position which Haham Menasse ben Israel held, but it was not a well-paying one, and, like most of the Sephardic rabbis, he had to supplement head work by hand work.
Menasse ben Israel set up a printing press, and, at the request of Efraim Bueno and Abraham Sarphati, on 13 Tebet , January 1, , he issued the first in Amsterdam published Hebrew prayer book. Haham Isaac Aboab de Fonseca served as corrector. This print included the famous poem lekha dodi , for the first time ever. At this time many people were delighted to be able again to openly be Jewish. Torah and Talmud were not enough for them in their restless mood of repentant energy.
Jewish Prayers: Selichot
The Thirteen Attributes of Mercy are a central theme throughout these prayers. In the Sephardic tradition, recital of Selichot in preparation for the High Holidays begins on the second day of the Hebrew month of Elul. In the Ashkenazic tradition, it begins on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah. If, however, the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on Monday or Tuesday, Selichot are said beginning the Saturday night prior to ensure that Selichot are recited at least four times. This may be because originally the pious would fast for ten days during the season of repentance, and four days before Rosh Hashanah were added to compensate for the four of the Ten days of Repentance on which fasting is forbidden — the two days of Rosh Hashanah , Shabbat Shuvah , and the day preceding Yom Kippur —and, while the fasts have since been abandoned, the Selichot that accompanied them have been retained. Alternatively, the Rosh Hashanah liturgy includes the Biblical phrase, "you shall observe a burnt offering", and like an offering which needs to be scrutinised for defects for four days, so too four days of self-searching are needed before the day of judgment.
Selichot (Supplication) Prayers
Selichot are special prayers for forgiveness, said on fast days and also during the period preceding Yom Kippur. At the Selichot service, worshipers begin to examine their deeds of the past year, seeking forgiveness from G-d and promising to improve their behavior in the New Year. The prayers are specifically tailored to help worshipers direct their hearts and minds to the process of teshuvah Hebrew for repentance. In the Sephardic tradition, Selichot are said from the beginning of the month of Elul , while in the Ashkenazic tradition Selichot are begun from the Sunday often the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur. If Rosh Hashanah begins on a Monday or Tuesday, however, selichot begins on the Sunday of the week before Rosh Hashanah , to make sure that there are at least three days of Selichot. In general, the proper time to say Selichot are at the end of the night, just before the morning, since this time is considered, according to Jewish Mysticism , as especially favorable in terms of the presence and closeness of God.
We do not have the text available here I'm sorry, you can try hebrewbooks. Art scroll Reply. Hello, would you know where can I find the selichot in English and transliterated? They are not available online however you can purchase printed editions Reply.