Tag Archives: Moses

Rosh Hashanah notes, part II: Miriam and imahot

Some stuff I noticed during RH this year:

I was surprised to find Miriam appearing along with Moses here in the lead-up to Mi Chamocha. I must have noticed her lurking in here last year, but she still managed to take me aback again this year.

I also noticed their bracketed use of the mamas along with the un-bracketed papas. (Again, must have noticed it last year, but….) This is interesting, if we look at it the context of the Conservative movement’s history with the matriarchs. In the original release of Sim Shalom (and its forebears, it goes without saying), avot just had the avot. The second edition added a B-page, such that there are two versions of the first page of the Amidah, one with the imahot and one without. But the page that has them does not have it worded quite like Reform liturgy does. Whereas R-liturgy says, “…vElohei avoteinu ve’imoteinu…” and then lists them all, C-liturgy says leaves it alone, except for the list. So they don’t say ve’imoteinu is my point.

Between then and now, R-liturgy reoriented itself to include the imahot all over the place. In Mishkan T’fillah, every time is says “avoteinu” it aso says “ve’imoteinu.” In MLS, C-liturgy catches up. Kind of. On the first page of the Amidah, we get both options. And the ve’imahot option not only lists their names, but it now says “vElohei avoteinu [ve’imoteinu].” That continues throughout the siddur. Every time it says something about the avot, we get a bracketed word for the imahot.

Now that the Rabbinical Assembly has announced that they’re working on a new siddur, it’s interesting to notice the new stuff that’s already crept into this machzor. I have to wonder how much Reform and Conservative liturgy is going to continue to converge. I assume the line will be drawn at least at Musaf, but I wonder how much else will be the same. How long before C-liturgy doesn’t give us the avot-only option at all?

Re-writing Korbanot, part II: my approach

This is a two-parter. Part I is here.

Many moons ago, when I was working on a siddur or my own (I won’t link back to any of those old posts because I sound like a moron in a lot of it, but if you do some looking around, they’re still here somewhere), I had an idea about how to redo the Korbanot section of the service, a lengthy section of readings that detail the textual basis for the sacrificial ritual system in place in The Temple back in the day.

Rambam himself saw prayer as the superior form of ritual, saying that God knew that primitive Israelites needed sacrifice to access God, but that we evolved away from that. So I had the idea that we could replace Korbanot with a selection of biblical and Talmudic passages about how to pray with kavanah or intention. I never actually did this, but the idea was there nonetheless.

Like I said in Part I, the Conservative approach is quite clever, but it’s not what I would have done. However, seeing that Harlow created a version of Korbanot for modernity, I’m inspired to think about what I would include in my version.

The problem I have with Harlow’s approach is that it almost ignores the ritual at hand. Ben Zakai’s statement that we can atone through acts of lonvingkindness is lovely, but from what I know, it seems like Judaism does not actually treat acts of great chesed as the replacement for sacrifice. Rather, we take prayer to be the one-to-one replacement. Each Amidah (except for the evening, which is a whole other story) stands in for a sacrifice in The Temple. Shacharit is the morning sacrifice. Minchah is the afternoon sacrifice. And Musaf is the additional sacrifice offered on special days.

So I would begin with biblical passages. There are definitely some talmudic and midrashic and otherwise rabbinic passages out there that should go into this idea, but I don’t know those texts as well as I’d like to yet, so I’ll stay away from those and leave that to the commenters below.

Biblical passages that come to mind immediately:

Psalm 51:17-19, verse 17 already being the opening line of the Amidah:

O Lord, open my lips, and let my mouth declare Your praise.

You do not want me to bring sacrifices; You do not desire burnt offerings;

True sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit; God, You will not despise a contrite and crushed heart.

Bamidbar 12:11-13

And Aaron said to Moses, “O my lord, account not to use the sin which we committed in our folly. Let her not be as one dead, who emerges from his mother’s womb with half his flesh eaten away.”

So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “O God, pray heal her!”

Shmuel A 1:4-13. This passage details Hannah’s prayer to God asking for a child. It’s especially good because it takes place in The Temple among sacrifices. Her husband even offers sacrifices in this passage, but on Hannah’s prayer brings her a child. I might also include part of chapter 2, which is Hannah’s extended prayer of thanksgiving after her child is born.

There’s also a passage somewhere in the Talmud where Shacharit, Minchah and Maariv are described as having been established by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, respectively. That passage and its proof texts would obviously be a must-have in this section.

I’d also want to maintain Rabbi Ishmael’s 13 principles as the final passage of the section.

That’s as far as my thinking has taken me so far in this. Anyone else have ideas?