Many of the rabbinic works cited in these notes are available as print editions at any large-sized Jewish bookstore or are available as free downloads from on-line Judaic libraries such as as at www.sefaria.org, www.beureihatefila.com, www.otzar.org or www.hebrewbooks.org. Also many are available as print editions at any large-sized Jewish bookstore.
1. Source Books Rabbi Wohlgemuth used when he taught Beurei HaTefillah
AVODAS YISRAEL — The classic commentary on Nusach Ashkenaz prayer, written by the German-Jewish Orthodox scholar, Yitzchak Ben Aryeh Yosef Dov, Seligman Baer, (1825–1897). It gives detailed explanations of the Nusach Ashkenaz with an extensive collection of prayers. Baer’s commentary explains the variants in his source manuscripts. His book forms the basis for many of the 20th century’s Ashkenazic siddurim. His extensive commentary is frequently quoted in academic studies of Jewish liturgy. Baer was a specialist on Jewish liturgy. His major work Avodas Yisroel, written in Hebrew, was originally published in 1868, again in 1901 by M. Lehrberger in Rödelheim, Germany and by Schocken in Berlin, Germany in 1937. The 1901 Hebrew edition (980 pages), now in the public domain, is available for free online from: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/08/Avodas-Yisrael-Baer-1901-1.pdf.
Rabbi Wohlgemuth used the 1901 Hebrew translation (over 900 pages) in his Beurei HaTefillah course.
HATEFILLAH B’YISRAEL — Written by Ismar Elbogen (1874-1943), HaTefillah B’Yisrael covers the entire range of Jewish liturgical development — beginning with the early cornerstones of the siddur, through the evolution of the medieval piyyut tradition to the modern siddurim. Elbogen made major contributions to studies of Jewish history, literature, and biblical exegesis. HaTefillah B’Yisrael, considered his major work, first appeared in German in 1913. It was updated with supplementary notes in the second and third German editions. A partial Hebrew translation appeared in 1924. In 1972, the entire book was reissued in Hebrew by Devir Publishing House, Tel Aviv, completely revised and updated by a committee of specialists headed by Professor Joseph Heinemann. An English translation by Raymond Scheindlin, published by the Jewish Publication Society in 1993 as “Jewish Liturgy, A Comprehensive History,” includes all the supplementary materials from the later German and the Hebrew editions.
Rav Soloveitchik said to Rabbi Wohlgemuth — “Although a German Reform Rabbi, Ismar Elbogen was always fair and thorough when he transmitted the Orthodox point of view. His contributions were based on the works of many scholars and are now available in an excellent Hebrew translation. Read his books. Study his books. He is very traditional in his approach. He is very clever and he made very valuable contributions to the study of prayer.”
2. More Books for Beurei HaTefillah
ARBA'AH TURIM — Commonly referred to as the “Tur,” written by Jacob ben Asher (1270-1340). Unlike Maimonides' MISHNEH TORAH, the ARBA'AH TURIM is not limited to traditionally accepted positions, but includes the various opinions on any disputed point. The ARBA'AH TURIM also differs from the MISHNEH TORAH, in that, unlike Maimonides' work, it deals only with areas of Jewish Law that are applicable in the Jewish exile.
The ARBA'AH TURIM (Four Rows), as the name implies, consists of four divisions (Turim) of Halakhot that that treats all aspects of Jewish Law pertinent to the Hebrew calendar.
1. Orach Chayim Laws of prayer, Shabbat and holidays
2. Yoreh De'ah Laws of kashrut, circumcision and other rituals
3. Even Ha'ezer Laws of marriage, divorce and family
4. Choshen Mishpat Laws of finance and damages
In the ARBA'AH TURIM, Jacob ben Asher compares the Torah and Talmud commentaries of the Rishonim. In most instances, Jacob ben Asher follows the opinion of his father, the Rosh (Head), Asher ben Yehiel (1259-1327). The Rosh was accepted as one of the foremost Halakhic authority of his generation.
BEN ISH CHAI — Collection of the Halachot of everyday life interspersed with mystical insights and customs, arranged by the weekly Torah portion. Written by Joseph Chaim ben Elijah AlChakam (1835-1909). The BEN ISH CHAI, a standard reference in Sephardi homes, is widely studied in Sephardi Yeshivot.
CHIDDUSHEI HALACHOT — Written by the Maharsha, Shmuel ben Yehuda HaLevi Eidels (1555-1631).
CHIDDUSHEI HARAN — Multivolume work written by the Ran, Nissim ben Reuven (1320-1380) of Gerona, Spain. The Ran was considered the greatest Halachic authority of his generation, and Halakhic queries were sent to him from throughout the Diaspora.
DARCHEI MOSHE — Written by Moses Isserles (1530-1572), commentaries on the ARBA'AH TURIM and the BEIT YOSEF by Joseph ben Ephraim Caro. Isserles originally had intended the DARCHEI MOSHE to serve as a basis for subsequent Halakhic decisions. But the BEIT YOSEF was published while Isserles was at work on the DARCHEI MOSHE. Recognizing that Caro's commentary largely met his objectives, Isserles published the DARCHEI MOSHE in a modified form.
GUR ARYEH — Commentary on Rashi's Torah Judah Loew ben Bezalel (1526-1609, known to as the Maharal of Prague, (acronym for Moreinu HaRav Loew) served as the Chief Rabbi of Prague. He is also the subject of a 19th-century legend that he created the Golem of Prague.
HILCHOS (LAWS) — Refers to the Rambam, Maimonides’ multivolume MISHNEH TORAH compiled between 1170 and 1180, while he was living in Egypt. Maimonides was born in Cordova, Spain, 1135 and died in 1204 in Egypt. In SEFER HA’MITZVOT, Maimonides counted 613 mitzvot, the same total as enumerated in HALAKHOS GEDOLOS, written by the Behag, Shimon Kiara who lived in the first half of the 8th century. Behag is an abbreviation of Ba'al Halakhot Gedolot after his most important work. However, Maimonides’ list contains some different mitzvot.
KLEI YEKAR — Homiletical Torah commentary written by Shlomo Ephraim ben Aaron Luntschitz (1550-1619).
KOL BO — Medieval compilation of ritual practice, especially emphasizing prayers and holidays. The author is unknown. The KOL BO was frequently quoted by Yosef Caro.
LEKET YOSHER — Responsa written by Yosef ben Moshe (1423-1490).
LEVUSH MALKHUT — 10-volume codification of Jewish Law written by Mordecai ben Avraham Yoffe (1530-1612) that particularly stressed the customs of Eastern European Jews. He is known as the “Levush” for this work.
MA'ASEH RAV — First written by a student of the Vilna Gaon. MA'ASEH RAV was later edited and published for the first time in 1832 by Issachar Baer ben Tanhum (died in 1855). The composition describes in detail the Halakha of the Vilna Gaon.
MACHZOR VITRY— Collection of Responsa by Rashi and other rabbinic authorities, both contemporary and earlier, written by Simhah ben Samuel of Vitry, a French Talmudist of the 11th and 12th Centuries and a student of Rashi.
MATEH MOSHE — Written by Moshe ben Avraham Matt (1550-1606) describes the religious customs of Polish Jewry.
MIDRASH TANCHUMA — with Commentaries Eitz Yoseph and Anaf Yoseph was written by Chanoch Zundel ben Joseph Zundel of Bialystok (died 1867).
MINHAT YAACOV and SHEBUT YAACOV — Responsas and Halakhic decisions of Jacob ben Joseph Reischer (1670-1733) who held rabbinical positions in Prague and in Germany.
MISHNAH BREURA — Commentary on the SHULCHAN ARUKH ORACH CHAIM written by Joseph ben Ephraim Caro written by the Chafetz Chaim, Israel Meir HaKohen (1838-1933).
MOGEN AVROHOM — Written by Avrohom ben Chaim HaLevi Abele (1635-1683).
MORDECAI YUMA and MORDECHAI BRACHOS — Written by the Remez, Moses ben Mordecai Zacuto (1625-1697).
NA’IM ZEMIROS YISROEL (Volume 8) —published in 1957 by Yitzhak Gerstenkorn, who was one of the founders of Bnei Brak in 1924. His several volumes of commentary on Tehillim were published over different years. Number 8 was his last volume.
ORCHOT CHAIM — Written by Aharon ben Jacob HaCohain, was published in Florence, Italy in 1752 long after his death. In 1306, living in Narbonne, France, he suffered in the expulsion of the Jews. He moved to Majorca, Spain and died there in 1327.
OTZAR HATEFILOT — Published in 1927 by the Romm Publishing House in Vilna, the famous publisher of Jewish religious books, especially known for its 1886 VILNA TALMUD, which still serves as the definitive edition. Romm was founded in 1789 in Grodno and moved to Vilna in 1799, where it expanded greatly. On the night of July 7, 1941, just days after the German invasion of Vilna, the current Romm Publishing House owner was taken from home at midnight and murdered by the Nazis. Thus came to an end the greatest Jewish printing house in the world.
OTZAR HA’MIDRASHIM — Compiled between 400 and 1200 is an encyclopedic work listing the various Midrashim, with a description of each.
PERUSH AL HATORAH and PERUSH HATEFILLOT — Kabbalistic commentaries written by Menahem ben Benjamin Recanati (1223–1290.
PERUSH SIDDUR HATEFILLAH and PERUSH AL SEFER YEẒIRAH — Written by the Rokeach, Eleazar of Worms (1176-1238), was a leading Talmudist and Kabbalist and the last major member of the Hasidei Ashkenaz, a group of German Jewish pietists.
PESIKTA RABBATI — Collection of ancient Midrashim composed around 845 and probably called "Rabbati" (the larger) to distinguish it from an earlier Pesikta, PESIKTA RAV KAHANA.
PIRKEI AVOT — Compilation of ethical teachings, passed down, beginning with Moses and onwards. PIRKEI AVOT consists of Avot in Mishnah Tractate Nezikin, plus one additional chapter. Avot is unique in that it is the only tractate of the Mishnah dealing solely with ethical and moral principles. There are many versions of PIRKEI AVOT available in English and Hebrew.
PRAYER IN THE PERIOD OF THE TANNAIM AND THE AMORAIM — Written by Joseph Heinemann, Jerusalem, 1966.
PRI CHODOSH — Written by Chizkiyah da Silva (1656-1695), is a commentary on the YOREH DE'AH — the section of the ARBA'AH TURIM written by Jacob ben Asher that discusses laws of kashrut, circumcision and other rituals.
RABBEINU YONA ON THE RIF BRACHOS — Students of Yona ben Avraham of Gerona, Spain (1200-1264) composed this Talmud commentary based on his lectures. It is printed in the margins of the Rif’s Halachos Berachos in standard editions of the Talmud. While it is reflective of Yona’s teachings, it was written by his students, not R. Yonah himself. The Rif, Isaac ben Jacob Alfasi HaCohain (1013-1103), wrote what is considered the first fundamental work in Halakhic literature Sefer ha-Halachot also referred to as "Hilchos of the Rif") extracts all the pertinent legal decisions from the three Talmudic orders Moed, Nashim and Nezikin as well as the tractates of Berachot and Chulin - 24 tractates in all. The Rif was born in Algeria, but spent the majority of his career in Fes, Morocco, so is also known as "Alfasi" (Arabic “of Fes”).
RADAK ON PSALMS, COMMENTARIES — David Kimhi (1160-1235), known as the RaDaK (the initials of his name Rabbi David Kimchi, also wrote commentaries on the books of the Prophets, Genesis and Chronicles.
SEDER OLAM — Earliest post-exilic chronology of the generations from Adam preserved in the Hebrew language. In the Babylonian Talmud it is cited simply as the "Seder Olam." It is quoted as such by many Biblical commentators, including Rashi. But with the 12th Century, it began to be designated as "SEDER OLAM RABBAH," to distinguish it from the later, smaller chronology, “SEDER OLAM ZUTTA,” which to a certain extent completes and continues, the older work.
SEDER TROYES — Written by Menachem ben Yosef ben Yehuda Chazzan who lived about a century after Rashi.
SEFER ABUDARHAM — Commentary on synagogue liturgy by David ben Joseph Abudraham who lived in Seville, Spain during the 14th Century.
SEFER HA’AGUR — Written by Yaakov ben Yehuda Landa who lived in the second half of the 15th Century. This work contains only those Halachot a layman should know — principally an abridged presentation of the material treated in the first and second parts of the ARBA'AH TURIM, and may be considered a supplement to that work.
SEFER HA’CHINUCH — Systematic discussion of each of the 613 commandments, both from a Halachot and a moral perspective. It was published anonymously in 13th Century Spain. The work's enumeration is based upon Maimonides' system of counting in his Sefer HaMitzvot; each is listed according to its appearance in the weekly Torah portion. For each, the discussion starts by linking the mitzvah to its Biblical source, and then addresses the philosophical underpinnings of the commandment.
SEFER HAMACHKIM — Written by Nathan ben Yehuda, who lived during the 13th Century.
SEFER HAMANHIG — Written by Abraham ben Nathan HaYarchi (1155-1215). The Sefer HaManhig, which he began in 1204 and completed some years later consists of two distinct portions — a collection his numerous Responsa, and additionally details concerning special synagogue customs he personally witnessed in his travels through Spain, France and Germany and for which there is no other historical source of information.
SEFER HAMINHAGIM — Codification of minhagim of German Jews written by the Maharil, Yaakov ben Moshe Levi Moelin (1365-1427).
SEFER HAMINHAGOT — Written by Asher ben Saul HaCohain, who lived in Lunel, France during the late 12th and early 13th Centuries.
SEFER MILCHEMES HASHEM — Written by Eliyahu Moshe Luntz (1868-1928).
SEICHEL TOV — Written by Menahem ben Solomon ben Isaac in 1139 in Rome, is a compilation of Midrashim on the Pentateuch.
SFAS EMES — Written by Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (1847-1905), also known by the title of his main work The Sfas Emes, was Rabbi of Góra Kalwaria, Poland (known in Yiddish as the town of Ger) and the Rebbe of the Gerrer Hasidim.
SHA'AREI ZION — Written by Nosson Nota ben Moshe Hanover (1620-1683). Hanover also wrote YEVEN METZULAH describing the horrors Jews faced during the Cossack Chmielnitzky uprising, the Ukrainian rebellion against their Polish overlords (1648-1657). In it, he gave a vivid picture of Jewish life in Poland and the Yeshivot during those years. Nosson Nota had been a student of the Maharshal.
SHENEI LUḤOT HA’BERIT — Written by Isaiah ben Abraham HaLevi Horowitz, who was born in Prague 1560 and died 1630 in Safed.
SHENOTH ELIYAHU — Written by the Vilna Gaon, Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman (1720-1797). The Vilna Gaon is considered to be one of the most influential Ashkenazi Torah scholars in recent centuries and the acknowledged intellectual leader of non-Chassidic Jewry in 18th Century Europe.
SHULCHAN ARUKH HA’RAV — Written by Shneur Zalman ben Baruch (1745-1812), founder and first Rebbe of the Chabad movement, a branch of Hasidic Judaism, then based in Liadi in the Russian Empire in what is now Belarus.
SHULCHAN ARUKH ORACH CHAIM — Written by Joseph ben Ephraim Caro (1488-1575). The SHULCHAN ARUKH ORACH CHAIM, the great codification of Jewish Law, in Safed in 1563 and published in Venice two years later. The Halakhic rulings in the SHULCHAN ARUKH ORACH CHAIM generally follow Sephardic practice and customs, whereas Ashkenazi Jews generally follow the Halakhic rulings of Moses Isserles (1530-1572), known as the Rema (acronym for Moshe Isserles). Isserles is renowned for his fundamental work of Halakha, entitled HA’MAPAH (Tablecloth), commentary on Caro’s SHULCHAN ARUKH ORACH CHAIM, upon which Isserles reputation as a Halakhist and codifier chiefly rests. In HA’MAPAH, Isserles adapted Caro’s SHULCHAN ARUKH ORACH CHAIM to the Ashkenazi world, noting where Sephardic and Ashkenazi customs differ. HA’MAPAH is the "tablecloth" for the SHULCHAN ARUKH, the "set table".
SIDDUR HIRSCH— Published in Jerusalem by Feldheim Press, 1969. Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) was a German Orthodox Rabbi. His philosophy, together with that of Azriel Hildesheimer (1820-1899), had a considerable influence on the development of contemporary Orthodox Judaism. Together, they are regarded as a pioneering modernizers of Orthodox Judaism in Germany and as founders of contemporary Orthodox Judaism that attempts to synthesize Jewish values and the observance of Jewish Law, with the secular, modern world. Rabbi Wohlgemuth received Smicha at the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary, (established in 1873 in Berlin, Germany.
SIDDUR SHABTAI SOFER — Published in 1617, a Siddur of Polish traditions, has been reprinted many times, most recently by Ner Yisrael Yeshiva in 2002.
SIDDUR TZLOSA D’AVROHOM — Written by Abraham ben Raphael Landau (1789-1875).
TASHBETZ KATAN — Collection of Responsa by the Maharam, Samson ben Tzadok, who was a student of Meir ben Baruch (1215-1293) of Rotenburg, Germany, known as was a major author of TOSAFOT.
TESHUVOS HAGAONIM — Collection of Responsa edited by by Yochana ben Yitzhak Mihalishui.
TIFERES YISROEL — Commentary on the Mishnah by Israel Lipschitz (1782-1860).
TIKKUN TEFILLAH —Written by Yosef Hayyim Chaim ben Elijah of Baghdad (1835-1909).
TORAH TEMIMAH — Written by Baruch HaLevi Epstein (1860-1941), was published in 1902. Baruch HaLevi Epstein, was the son of Yehiel Michel Epstein, the author of the ARUKH HASHULCHAN, and he was also the nephew of the Netziv, Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin (1816-1893). TORAH TEMIMAH is a commentary on the Torah and the Five Megillot, written to show the interrelationship between the Oral Law and the Written Law.
TOSEFOS YOM TOV — Commentary on the Mishnah, by Yom Tov Lipman Heller (1579-1654).
TOSAFOS — Tosafos (Additions), an integral part of Talmud study, are printed in most Talmud editions on the outer page margin opposite Rashi's commentary. Tosafists were medieval Rabbis of France and Germany. The first full Talmud edition containing TOSAFOS was printed in Soncino, Italy (16th Century). The publisher traveled to where the Tosafists learned to gather their manuscripts to print in his Talmud.
YALKUT SHIMONI — Compilation of rabbinic Midrashim — folklore, historical anecdotes, moral exhortations, and practical advice, from business to medicine — arranged according to the sequence of the parshiot in Tanakh. Authorship and publication date cannot be determined with certainty.