Jewish prayer: II of V

October 29, 2008 at 12:30 am (Judaism)

What are the prayerbooks used in Judaism?

In Judaism, there are two types of prayerbooks: the siddur (plural: siddurim) and the machzor (plural: machzorim).

Of the siddur, there are three types: the siddur for the Sabbath (siddur l’shabbos), the siddur for weekdays (siddur l’chol), and a siddur that contains prayers for both (siddur shalem). The prayers recited during the Sabbath is somewhat different from what is recited during the day. In addition, there are additional rituals and prayers recited on the Sabbath (and just before and just after it) that do not apply to regular weekdays. So, in most siddurim the prayers for the Sabbath are written in their entirety. I mention that because during certain festivals or seasons, certain elements of certain prayers change. This is indicated in the text of the weekday prayers. But because the order and, in some cases, content of the prayers are completely different on the Sabbath, doing this with the weekday prayers would cause immense confusion, not to mention cluttering up the prayerbook. So, they simply put the Sabbath prayers, in their entirety, in a separate section (in a siddur shalem) in a separate volume (in a siddur l’Shabbos).

A machzor is used during certain festivals or seasons. There is a machzor for each of the following: Rosh haShanah (the New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Sukkos (Festival of Booths), Pesach (Passover), and Shavuos (Festival of Weeks, commemorating the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai). As mentioned before, certain elements in certain prayers change based on the festival or season one is one. In these special prayerbooks, the prayers are presented with the relevant changes in text, thus not making it necessary to pay attention to changes that one may need to make. In addition, these prayerbooks contain prayers and rituals specific to the festival or feast, and some even contain special poetry or texts which one may recite. They may also include a summary of what rules and practices apply during the relevant feast or festival. (There is no machzor for Chanukah as it is not, from the perspective of traditional Jewish law and learning, a major holiday.)


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