Yoma No.6: Scroll Play

To Worship God Properly: Tensions Between Liturgical Custom and Halakhah in Judaism

Ruth Langer

A major influence on the development of rabbinic liturgical custom after the destruction of the Temple was the need to establish that this innovative worship of the heart was as acceptable to God as biblically prescribed sacrificial worship. Later Jewish communities and their leaders continually refined the details of the system they inherited to reflect their changing understandings of acceptable, meaningful, and constructive worship. These understandings have in turn been shaped not only by liturgical halakhah and active custom, but by new intellectual and social currents and by the vicissitudes of Jewish history.

Ruth Langer uses the tools of historical scholarship and anthropological study of ritual to analyze some of the dynamics that have shaped Jewish liturgical law and determined the broader outlines of the prayer life of the Jews. After a consideration of the talmudic issues upon which the acceptability of prayer depends, she offers a basic list of legal principles derived by later generations from talmudic literature to ensure that prayer takes the form of blessings composed according to a very specific pattern and invoking God in a very precise way. She then investigates the development and implementation of the corollary that invoking this blessing formula in ways that deviate from the specific directions of the Talmud constitutes precisely inefficacious and even dangerous prayer.

Questions about appropriate prayer language go beyond the blessing formula to the contents of the prayers themselves. Langer analyzes the battles fought over the legitimacy of inserting liturgical poetry into the fixed texts of the statutory liturgy and over the requirement of community for the proper recitation of certain prayers, specifically those that include the angelic liturgy. Although in each of these controversies the rabbis compromised by reinterpreting either legal theory or custom--or both--to bring them into harmony, their solutions have never been monolithic or simple. In its lucid illumination of those complexities, To Worship God Properly adds to our understanding of the history of Jewish liturgy and the general history of rabbinic leadership and law.

Jewish Liturgy: A Guide to Research

Ruth Langer

How do Jews pray and why? What do the prayers mean? From where did this liturgy come and what challenges does it face today? Such questions and many more, spanning the centuries and continents, have driven the study of Jewish liturgy. But just as the liturgy has changed over time, so too have the questions asked, the people asking them, and the methods used to address them.

Jewish Liturgy: A Guide to Research enables the reader to access the rich bibliography now available in English. In this volume, Ruth Langer, an expert on Jewish liturgy, provides an annotated description of the most important books and articles on topics ranging historically from the liturgy of the Second Temple period and the Dead Sea Scrolls to today, addressing the synagogue itself and those gathered in it; the daily, weekly, and festival liturgies and their components; home rituals and the life cycle; as well as questions of liturgical performance and theology. Introductions to every section orient the reader and provide necessary background.

Liturgy in the Life of the Synagogue: Studies in the History of Jewish Prayer

Steven Fine and Ruth Langer

From the ancient rabbis to medieval Ashkenaz, from North Africa to Syria, from the United States to modern Israel, the articles collected in Liturgy in the Life of the Synagogue reflect the diversity of approaches and the questions that modern scholars residing in North America, Europe, and Israel bring to bear on the study of Jewish liturgy. The book spans the entire history of rabbinic prayer and presents a diverse array of approaches, ranging from classical methods applied to new topics to today’s interdisciplinary approaches.

חַזַּן הַכְּנֶסֶת נוֹטֵל סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, וְנוֹתְנוֹ לְרֹאשׁ הַכְּנֶסֶת, וְרֹאשׁ הַכְּנֶסֶת נוֹתְנוֹ לַסְּגָן, וְהַסְּגָן נוֹתְנוֹ לְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל, וְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל עוֹמֵד וּמְקַבֵּל, וְקוֹרֵא בְּ״אַחֲרֵי מוֹת״ וְ״אַךְ בֶּעָשׂוֹר״, וְגוֹלֵל סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וּמַנִּיחוֹ בְּחֵיקוֹ וְאוֹמֵר: יוֹתֵר מִמַּה שֶּׁקָּרָאתִי לִפְנֵיכֶם כָּתוּב כָּאן. ״וּבֶעָשׂוֹר״ שֶׁבְּחוֹמֶשׁ הַפְּקוּדִים קוֹרֵא עַל פֶּה. וּמְבָרֵךְ עָלֶיהָ שְׁמוֹנֶה בְּרָכוֹת: עַל הַתּוֹרָה, וְעַל הָעֲבוֹדָה, וְעַל הַהוֹדָאָה, וְעַל מְחִילַת הֶעָוֹן, וְעַל הַמִּקְדָּשׁ בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ, וְעַל יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָן, וְעַל יְרוּשָׁלַיִם בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָהּ, וְעַל הַכֹּהֲנִים בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָן, וְעַל שְׁאָר הַתְּפִלָּה.
The synagogue attendant takes a Torah scroll and gives it to the head of the synagogue that stood on the Temple Mount; and the head of the synagogue gives it to the deputy High Priest, and the Deputy gives it to the High Priest, and the High Priest stands and receives the scroll from his hands. And he reads from the scroll the Torah portion beginning with the verse: “After the death” (Leviticus 16:1) and the portion beginning with the verse: “But on the tenth” (Leviticus 23:26), and furls the Torah scroll and places it on his bosom and says: More than what I have read before you is written here. The Torah portion beginning with the verse: “And on the tenth,” from the book of Numbers (29:7), he then reads by heart. And he recites after the reading the following eight blessings:
Concerning the Torah: Who has given us the Torah of truth;
and concerning the Temple service: Find favor in Your people Israel and accept the service in Your most holy House... for You alone do we serve with reverence;
and concerning thanksgiving: We give thanks to You;
and concerning pardon of iniquity: Pardon our iniquities on this Yom Kippur;
and concerning the Temple in and of itself, which concludes: Blessed…Who chose the Temple;
and concerning the Jewish People in and of itself, which concludes: Blessed…Who chose Israel;
and concerning Jerusalem in and of itself, which concludes: Blessed…Who chose Jerusalem;
and concerning the priests in and of themselves, which concludes: Blessed…Who chose the priests;
and concerning the rest of the prayer, which concludes: Blessed…Who listens to prayer.

וְקוֹרִין עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת ״שְׁמַע״, ״וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמוֹעַ״, ״וַיֹּאמֶר״, ״אֱמֶת וְיַצִּיב״, וַעֲבוֹדָה, וּבִרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים. אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה אָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל: אַף בִּגְבוּלִין בִּקְּשׁוּ לִקְרוֹת כֵּן, אֶלָּא שֶׁכְּבָר בִּטְּלוּם מִפְּנֵי תַּרְעוֹמֶת הַמִּינִין. תַּנְיָא נָמֵי הָכִי, רַבִּי נָתָן אוֹמֵר: בִּגְבוּלִין בִּקְּשׁוּ לִקְרוֹת כֵּן, אֶלָּא שֶׁכְּבָר בִּטְּלוּם מִפְּנֵי תַּרְעוֹמֶת הַמִּינִין. רַבָּה בַּר בַּר חַנָּה סְבַר לְמִקְבְּעִינְהוּ בְּסוּרָא, אֲמַר לֵיהּ רַב חִסְדָּא: כְּבָר בִּטְּלוּם מִפְּנֵי תַּרְעוֹמֶת הַמִּינִין.

The Gemara related above that the priests in the Temple read the Ten Commandments, along with the sections of Shema, VeHaya im Shamoa, VaYomer, True and Firm, Avoda, and the priestly benediction. Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: Even in the outlying areas, outside the Temple, they sought to recite the Ten Commandments in this manner every day, as they are the basis of the Torah (Rambam), but they had already abolished recitation of the Ten Commandments due to the grievance of the heretics, who argued that the entire Torah, with the exception of the Ten Commandments, did not emanate from God (Jerusalem Talmud). If the Ten Commandments were recited daily, that would lend credence to their claim, so their recitation was expunged from the daily prayers. That was also taught in a baraita that Rabbi Natan says: In the outlying areas, they sought to recite the Ten Commandments in this manner, but they had already abolished their recitation due to the grievance of the heretics. The Gemara relates that several Sages sought to reinstitute recitation of the Ten Commandments, as Rabba bar bar Ḥana thought to institute this in the city of Sura, but Rav Ḥisda said to him: They already abolished them due to the grievance of the heretics.

(ז) בִּרְכוֹת כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל כֵּיצַד. חַזַּן הַכְּנֶסֶת נוֹטֵל סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וְנוֹתְנָהּ לְרֹאשׁ הַכְּנֶסֶת, וְרֹאשׁ הַכְּנֶסֶת נוֹתְנָהּ לַסְּגָן, וְהַסְּגָן נוֹתְנָהּ לְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל, וְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל עוֹמֵד וּמְקַבֵּל וְקוֹרֵא עוֹמֵד, וְקוֹרֵא אַחֲרֵי מוֹת (שם טז), וְאַךְ בֶּעָשׂוֹר (שם כג). וְגוֹלֵל אֶת הַתּוֹרָה וּמַנִּיחָהּ בְּחֵיקוֹ וְאוֹמֵר, יוֹתֵר מִמַּה שֶּׁקָּרִיתִי לִפְנֵיכֶם כָּתוּב כָּאן. וּבֶעָשׂוֹר שֶׁבְּחֻמַּשׁ הַפִּקּוּדִים (במדבר כט) קוֹרֵא עַל פֶּה, וּמְבָרֵךְ עָלֶיהָ שְׁמֹנֶה בְרָכוֹת, עַל הַתּוֹרָה, וְעַל הָעֲבוֹדָה, וְעַל הַהוֹדָיָה, וְעַל מְחִילַת הֶעָוֹן, וְעַל הַמִּקְדָּשׁ, וְעַל יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְעַל הַכֹּהֲנִים, וְעַל שְׁאָר הַתְּפִלָּה:

(ח) פָּרָשַׁת הַמֶּלֶךְ כֵּיצַד. מוֹצָאֵי יוֹם טוֹב הָרִאשׁוֹן שֶׁל חָג, בַּשְּׁמִינִי בְּמוֹצָאֵי שְׁבִיעִית, עוֹשִׂין לוֹ בִימָה שֶׁל עֵץ בָּעֲזָרָה, וְהוּא יוֹשֵׁב עָלֶיהָ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לא) מִקֵּץ שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים בְּמֹעֵד וְגוֹ'. חַזַּן הַכְּנֶסֶת נוֹטֵל סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וְנוֹתְנָהּ לְרֹאשׁ הַכְּנֶסֶת, וְרֹאשׁ הַכְּנֶסֶת נוֹתְנָהּ לַסְּגָן, וְהַסְּגָן נוֹתְנָהּ לְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל, וְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל נוֹתְנָהּ לַמֶּלֶךְ, וְהַמֶּלֶךְ עוֹמֵד וּמְקַבֵּל וְקוֹרֵא יוֹשֵׁב. אַגְרִיפָּס הַמֶּלֶךְ עָמַד וְקִבֵּל וְקָרָא עוֹמֵד, וְשִׁבְּחוּהוּ חֲכָמִים. וּכְשֶׁהִגִּיעַ (שם יז) לְלֹא תוּכַל לָתֵת עָלֶיךָ אִישׁ נָכְרִי, זָלְגוּ עֵינָיו דְּמָעוֹת. אָמְרוּ לוֹ, אַל תִּתְיָרֵא אַגְרִיפָּס, אָחִינוּ אָתָּה, אָחִינוּ אָתָּה, אָחִינוּ אָתָּה. וְקוֹרֵא מִתְּחִלַּת אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים (דברים א׳:א׳) עַד שְׁמַע, וּשְׁמַע (שם ו), וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ (שם יא), עַשֵּׂר תְּעַשֵּׂר (שם יד), כִּי תְכַלֶּה לַעְשֵׂר (שם כו), וּפָרָשַׁת הַמֶּלֶךְ (שם יז), וּבְרָכוֹת וּקְלָלוֹת (שם כח), עַד שֶׁגּוֹמֵר כָּל הַפָּרָשָׁה. בְּרָכוֹת שֶׁכֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל מְבָרֵךְ אוֹתָן, הַמֶּלֶךְ מְבָרֵךְ אוֹתָן, אֶלָּא שֶׁנּוֹתֵן שֶׁל רְגָלִים תַּחַת מְחִילַת הֶעָוֹן:

(7) How are the blessings of the High Priest recited on Yom Kippur? The synagogue attendant takes a Torah scroll and gives it to the head of the synagogue that stands on the Temple Mount, and the head of the synagogue gives it to the deputy High Priest, and the deputy High Priest gives it to the High Priest. And the High Priest stands; and receives the Torah scroll; and reads the Torah portion beginning with the verse: “After the death” (Leviticus 16:1–34), and the portion beginning with the verse: “But on the tenth” (Leviticus 23:26–32); and furls the Torah scroll; and places it on his bosom; and says: More than what I have read before you is written here. He then reads by heart the portion beginning with: “And on the tenth,” from the book of Numbers (see 29:7–11). And after the reading the High Priest recites the following eight blessings: A blessing concerning the Torah, and concerning the Temple service, and concerning thanksgiving, and concerning forgiveness for iniquity, and concerning the Temple, and concerning the Jewish people, and concerning the priests, and concerning Jerusalem, and the rest of the prayer.

(8) How is the portion of the Torah that is read by the king recited at the assembly, when all the Jewish people would assemble? At the conclusion of the first day of the festival of Sukkot, on the eighth, after the conclusion of the Sabbatical Year, they make a wooden platform for the king in the Temple courtyard, and he sits on it, as it is stated: “At the end of every seven years, in the Festival of the Sabbatical Year” (Deuteronomy 31:10). The synagogue attendant takes a Torah scroll and gives it to the head of the synagogue that stands on the Temple Mount. And the head of the synagogue gives it to the deputy High Priest, and the deputy High Priest gives it to the High Priest, and the High priest gives it to the king. And the king stands, and receives the Torah scroll, and reads from it while sitting. King Agrippa arose, and received the Torah scroll, and read from it while standing, and the Sages praised him for this. And when Agrippa arrived at the verse in the portion read by the king that states: “You may not appoint a foreigner over you” (Deuteronomy 17:15), tears flowed from his eyes, because he was a descendant of the house of Herod and was not of Jewish origin. The entire nation said to him: Fear not, Agrippa. You are our brother, you are our brother. And the king reads from the beginning of Deuteronomy, from the verse that states: “And these are the words” (Deuteronomy 1:1), until the words: “Hear, O Israel” (Deuteronomy 6:4). And he then reads the sections beginning with: “Hear, O Israel” (Deuteronomy 6:4–9), “And it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken” (Deuteronomy 11:13–21), “You shall tithe” (Deuteronomy 14:22–29), “When you have made an end of the tithing” (Deuteronomy 26:12–15), and the passage concerning the appointment of a king (Deuteronomy 17:14–20), and the blessings and curses (Deuteronomy 28), until he finishes the entire portion. The same blessings that the High Priest recites on Yom Kippur, the king recites at this ceremony, but he delivers a blessing concerning the Festivals in place of the blessing concerning forgiveness for iniquity.

(ג) וְעוֹד אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוּדָה, בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת שֶׁחָרַב, אֵין מַסְפִּידִין בְּתוֹכוֹ, וְאֵין מַפְשִׁילִין בְּתוֹכוֹ חֲבָלִים, וְאֵין פּוֹרְשִׂין לְתוֹכוֹ מְצוּדוֹת, וְאֵין שׁוֹטְחִין עַל גַּגּוֹ פֵרוֹת, וְאֵין עוֹשִׂין אוֹתוֹ קַפַּנְדַּרְיָא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כו), וַהֲשִׁמּוֹתִי אֶת מִקְדְּשֵׁיכֶם, קְדֻשָּׁתָן אַף כְּשֶׁהֵן שׁוֹמֵמִין. עָלוּ בוֹ עֲשָׂבִים, לֹא יִתְלֹשׁ, מִפְּנֵי עָגְמַת נָפֶשׁ:

(3) And Rabbi Yehuda said further: A synagogue that fell into ruin still may not be used for a mundane purpose. Therefore, one may not eulogize in it. And nor may one stretch out and repair ropes in it. The wide expanse of the synagogue would have been particularly suitable for this. And nor may one spread animal traps within it. And nor may one spread out produce upon its roof to dry. And nor may one make it into a shortcut. The halakha that a synagogue in disrepair still may not be used for mundane purposes is derived from a verse, as it is stated: “And I will bring desolation to your sanctuaries” (Leviticus 26:31). The fact that the word “sanctuaries” appears after the word “desolation” indicates that their sanctity remains upon them even when they are desolate. However, if grass sprang up of its own accord in the ruined synagogue, although it is not befitting its sanctity, one should not pick it, due to the anguish that it will bring to those who see it. It will remind them of the disrepair of the synagogue and the need to rebuild it.

בְּיוֹם טוֹב חֲמִשָּׁה בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים שִׁשָּׁה כּוּ׳ מַתְנִיתִין מַנִּי לֹא רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל וְלָא רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא דְּתַנְיָא בְּיוֹם טוֹב חֲמִשָּׁה וּבְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים שִׁשָּׁה וּבְשַׁבָּת שִׁבְעָה אֵין פּוֹחֲתִין מֵהֶן וְאֵין מוֹסִיפִין עֲלֵיהֶן דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר בְּיוֹם טוֹב חֲמִשָּׁה וּבְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים שִׁבְעָה וּבְשַׁבָּת שִׁשָּׁה אֵין פּוֹחֲתִין מֵהֶן אֲבָל מוֹסִיפִין עֲלֵיהֶן
We learned in the mishna: On a Festival, five people read; on Yom Kippur, six people read; and on Shabbat, seven people read. One may not decrease the number of readers, but one may add to them. The Gemara asks: Who is the tanna of the mishna? It is not Rabbi Yishmael and not Rabbi Akiva, as it is taught in a baraita: On a Festival, five people read from the Torah; and on Yom Kippur, six people read; and on Shabbat, seven people read. One may not decrease or add to the required number of readers. This is the statement of Rabbi Yishmael. Rabbi Akiva disagrees and says: On a Festival, five people read from the Torah; and on Yom Kippur, seven people read; and on Shabbat, six people read. One may not decrease these numbers, but one may add to them.

(א) כשפותחין ארון הקודש אומרים:
וַיְהִי בִּנְסעַ הָאָרן וַיּאמֶר משֶׁה. קוּמָה ה' וְיָפֻצוּ איְבֶיךָ. וְיָנֻסוּ מְשנְאֶיךָ מִפָּנֶיךָ:
כִּי מִצִּיּון תֵּצֵא תורָה. וּדְבַר ה' מִירוּשָׁלָיִם:
בָּרוּךְ שֶׁנָּתַן תּורָה לְעַמּו יִשרָאֵל בִּקְדֻשָּׁתו:

רב עמרם גאון "להבין את התפלה": עמרם בר ששנא ריש מתיבתא דמתא מחסיא, לרבינו יצחק בריה דמרנא ורבנא שמעון חביב ויקיר ונכבד עליו ועל ישיבה כולה.שלום רב. מרחמנות השמים יהיה עליך ועל זרעך ועל כל החכמים והתלמידים ואחינו ישראל השרויים שם, שאו שלום ממנו ומן רב צמח אב בית דין ישראל, ומן אלופים וחכמי ישיבה, ובני ישיבה שלנו ושל עיר מחסיא, שכולם בשלום חכמים תלמידים, ואחינו ישראל השרוים כאן, שתמיד אנו שואלים בשלומכם וזוכרים אתכם בזכרון טוב, ומתפללים בעדכם ומבקשים רחמים עליכם, שירחם הקב”ה ברחמיו הרבים, ויגן עליכם ויציל אתכם מכל צרה ונזק ומכל חולי ומכאוב ומשלטון רע, ומכל מיני משחית וכל מיני פורעניות המתרגשות בעולם, וימלא ברחמיו הרבים כל משאלות לבכם. שגר לפניו רבינו יעקב בן רבנא יצחק עשרה זהובים ששגרת לישיבה, ה’ שלנו וה’ לשפה של ישיבה, וציונו וברכנו אותך ברכות שיתקיימו בך ובזרעך ובזרע זרעך.וסדר תפילות וברכות של שנה כולה ששאלת, שהראנו מן השמים, ראינו לסדר ולהשיב כמסורת שבידינו כתיקון תנאים ואמוראים. דתניא ר’ מאיר אומר חייב אדם לברך מאה ברכות בכל יום. ובגמרא דארץ ישראל גרסינן הכי, תניא בשם ר׳ מאיר אין לך אדם מישראל שאינו עושה מאה מצות בכל יום, שנאמר ועתה ישראל מה ה׳ אלהיך שואל מעמך, אל תקרא מה אלא מאה. ‏ודוד מלך ישראל תקנן כשהודיעוהו יושבי ירושלים שמתים מישראל מאה בכל יום, עמד ותקנן. ונראה הדבר שנשתכחו ועמדו תנאים ואמוראים ויסדום. וסרר אלו מאה ברכות כך השיב רב נטרונאי ב״ר הילאי ריש מתיבתא דמתא מחסיא לבני קהל אליסאנה על ידי מר רב יוסף מאור עינינו, לברך כל אחת ואחת בשעתה אי אפשר מפני טנופת ידים העסקניוה העשייוה למשמש, אלא כשניעור משנהו רוחץ פניו ידיו ורגליו פהוגן, לקיים מה שנאמר הכון לקראת אלהיך ישראל, וכל יחיד ויחיד חייב בהם. ומנהג כל ישראל בספרד היא אספמיא כך היא, להוציא למי שאינו יודע שליח ציבור, כהשיב רב נטרונאי בר הילאי:

Rav Amram Gaon, "To Understand the Prayers": Amram ben Shashna, head of the Yeshiva in Masa Maḥsiya (suburb of Sura) responding to Rav Yitzḥok son of the teacher and Rabbi, Shimon, who is held dear, adored and honored in our eyes and in the opinion of the entire Yeshiva.Greetings of peace. May Heaven show compassion to you, your children and all the scholars, their students and our Israelite brethren who live there. Send greetings of peace from us and from Rav Tzemaḥ head of the Israelite Court, from the officers, the scholars of the Yeshiva and the students of our Yeshiva and of the city of Maḥsiya. We, the teachers, the students and the Jewish citizens of this area are at peace. We are constantly concerned about your welfare and think of you favorably at all times. We pray for you and ask that the blessed Holy One show compassion to you; that the blessed Holy One bestow abundant mercy upon you, protect you, save you from troubles and difficulties, from sickness and affliction, from oppressive governments, from destructive actions, and from all the troubles that can occur in life. May G-d demonstrate compassion in granting you all that you ask for yourselves. Rabbi Yaakov ben Rav Yitzḥok, delivered ten gold coins that were sent for the benefit of the Yeshiva; five for the leadership of the Yeshiva and five for the Yeshiva itself. We have commanded that you be blessed with Brakhos and that they come to fruition for you and for your descendants.The order of prayers and Brakhos for the entire year that you requested, that has been shown to us by Heaven, we deem appropriate to set forth and lay out in the manner in which the tradition was passed down to us, as compiled by the Rabbis during the period of the Mishna and of the Gemara. And so we learned: Rebbi Meir said: a person is obligated to recite 100 Brakhos each day. In the Jerusalem Talmud we learned: it was taught in the name of Rebbi Meir; there is no Jew who does not fulfill one hundred Mitzvos each day, as it was written: Now Israel, what does haShem your G-d ask of you? Do not read the verse as providing for the word: Mah (“what”); instead read it as including the word: Mai’eh (“one hundred”).[1]King David established the practice of reciting one hundred Brakhos each day. When the residents of Jerusalem informed him that one hundred Israelites were dying everyday, he established this requirement.[2] It appears that the practice was forgotten until our Sages at the time of the Mishna and at the time of the Gemara re-established it. The order of the 100 Brakhos was set forth by Rav Natronai ben Rav Hilai, head of the Yeshiva at Masa Maḥsiya, in correspondence with the community in Lucena [3] through Rav Yosef, the elder. Rav Natronai provided as follows: it is no longer possible to recite each Brakha at its correct time because today we awake each day with unclean hands, hands that inadvertently came in contact with unclean parts of our bodies during the night. Instead when a person wakes, he should first wash his face, hands and feet as is appropriate. That is how one fulfills the directive in the following verse: Prepare, Israel, for meeting with your G-d.[4] Every person is obligated to do so. The following represents the custom of all Israelites in Sepharad, which is Hispania: in synagogue, the prayer leader recites the morning blessings on behalf of those present so that they may fulfill their obligation by answering: Amen to the Brakhos that the prayer leader recites, as Rav Natronai ben Rav Hilai provided.

"Zodiac Wheel with Hebrew Labels"

Mosaic pavement of a 6th century synagogue at Beth Alpha, Jezreel Valley, northern Israel. It was discovered in 1928. Signs of the zodiac surround the central chariot of the Sun (a Greek motif), while the corners depict the 4 "turning points" ("tekufot") of the year, solstices and equinoxes, each named for the month in which it occurs--tequfah of Tishrei, (tequfah of Tevet), tequfah of Ni(san), tequfah of Tamuz.


Mosaic with a menorah and an inscription in the Horvat Kur synagogue (photograph: Jaakko Haapanen; copyright: Kinneret Regional Project).


"Aaron's Temple"

Painting from Dura Europos


Western wall of the Dura Europos synagogue in Syria
Completed by 244 AD
Note the alcove where the scrolls of the law were held.


וְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל עוֹמֵד. מִכְּלָל שֶׁהוּא יוֹשֵׁב, וְהָא אֲנַן תְּנַן:
§ It was further taught in the mishna: The High Priest stands and receives the scroll from the Deputy. By inference, until that point he had been sitting. But didn’t we learn in a mishna:
גְּמָ׳ תָּנָא מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בַּתּוֹרָה מְנָהָנֵי מִילֵּי אָמַר רַבִּי אֲבָהוּ דְּאָמַר קְרָא וְאַתָּה פֹּה עֲמֹד עִמָּדִי וְאָמַר רַבִּי אֲבָהוּ אִלְמָלֵא מִקְרָא כָּתוּב אִי אֶפְשָׁר לְאוֹמְרוֹ כִּבְיָכוֹל אַף הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בַּעֲמִידָה
GEMARA: We learned in the mishna that one may read the Megilla while sitting. It was taught in a baraita: This is not the case with regard to reading the Torah, as one must stand when reading the Torah. The Gemara asks: From where are these matters derived? Rabbi Abbahu said: It is as the verse states: “But as for you, stand here with Me, and I will speak to you all the commandments and the statutes” (Deuteronomy 5:28), which indicates that the Torah must be received while standing. And Rabbi Abbahu said: Were the verse not written in this manner, it would be impossible to utter it, in deference to God. The phrase “with Me” indicates that, as it were, even the Holy One, Blessed be He, was standing at the giving of the Torah.
גְּמָ׳ תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן יֵשׁ נִקְרִין וּמִתַּרְגְּמִין וְיֵשׁ נִקְרִין וְלֹא מִתַּרְגְּמִין וְיֵשׁ לֹא נִקְרִין וְלֹא מִתַּרְגְּמִין אֵלּוּ נִקְרִין וּמִתַּרְגְּמִין בָּלַ״‎ת עָקָ״‎ן נִשְׁפֶּ״‎ה סִימָן:
GEMARA: The Sages taught in the Tosefta (3:31): There are portions of the Bible that are read and translated; there are portions that are read but not translated; and there are portions that are neither read nor translated. The following are read and translated: The Hebrew acronym bet, lamed, tav; ayin, kuf, nun; nun, shin, peh, heh comprise a mnemonic for the sections included in this category, as the Gemara will explain.
וְהֵיכָא אִיתְּמַר דְּרַב חִסְדָּא? אַהָא. מֵיתִיבִי: דְּתַנְיָא, הֵיכָן קוֹרִין בּוֹ — בָּעֲזָרָה, רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר בֶּן יַעֲקֹב אוֹמֵר: בְּהַר הַבַּיִת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וַיִּקְרָא בוֹ לִפְנֵי הָרְחוֹב אֲשֶׁר לִפְנֵי שַׁעַר הַמַּיִם״, וְאָמַר רַב חִסְדָּא: בְּעֶזְרַת נָשִׁים.
§ The Gemara clarifies: And where was this statement of Rav Ḥisda originally stated? It was stated in relation to the following: The Sages raised an objection based on that which was taught in a baraita: Where did they read the Torah scroll in fulfillment of the mitzva of assembly, in which the Torah is publicly read on the Sukkot following the Sabbatical Year? It was read in the Temple courtyard. Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov says: It is read on the Temple Mount, as it is stated concerning the public reading performed by Ezra: “And he read from it before the wide road that was before the Gate of the Water” (Nehemiah 8:3). And Rav Ḥisda said: The courtyard referred to by the first tanna is the women’s courtyard.
תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן הַכֹּל עוֹלִין לַמִּנְיָן שִׁבְעָה וַאֲפִילּוּ קָטָן וַאֲפִילּוּ אִשָּׁה אֲבָל אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אִשָּׁה לֹא תִּקְרָא בְּתוֹרָה מִפְּנֵי כְּבוֹד צִבּוּר
§ The Sages taught in a Tosefta (Megilla 3:11): All people count toward the quorum of seven readers, even a minor and even a woman. However, the Sages said that a woman should not read the Torah, out of respect for the congregation.
וְגוֹלֵל סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וְכוּ׳. וְכׇל כָּךְ לָמָּה — כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא לְהוֹצִיא לַעַז עַל סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה.
§ It was taught in the mishna: The High Priest furls the Torah scroll and places it on his bosom and says: More than what I have read before you is written here. The Gemara comments: And why must he say all this? It is so as not to cast aspersions on the Torah scroll, because people might think that the portion he read by heart is not written there.
״וּבֶעָשׂוֹר״ שֶׁל חוֹמֶשׁ הַפְּקוּדִים קוֹרֵא עַל פֶּה. אַמַּאי? נִגְלוֹל וְנִיקְרֵי! אָמַר רַב הוּנָא בְּרֵיהּ דְּרַב יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אָמַר רַב שֵׁשֶׁת: לְפִי שֶׁאֵין גּוֹלְלִין סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה בְּצִיבּוּר, מִפְּנֵי כְּבוֹד צִיבּוּר.
§ It was further taught in the mishna: The Torah portion beginning with the verse: “And on the tenth,” from the book of Numbers (29:7), he reads by heart. The Gemara asks: Why does he read it by heart? Let him furl the scroll to that portion and read it from the text. Rav Huna, son of Rav Yehoshua, said that Rav Sheshet said: It is because one may not furl a Torah scroll in public, out of respect for the community. It is inappropriate to make the community wait until they have reached the next section.

(ח) הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ כּוֹתְבִין סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה עַל הַגְּוִיל וְכוֹתְבִין בִּמְקוֹם הַשֵּׂעָר. וְשֶׁיִּהְיוּ כּוֹתְבִין הַתְּפִלִּין עַל הַקְּלָף וְכוֹתְבִין בִּמְקוֹם הַבָּשָׂר. וְשֶׁיִּהְיוּ כּוֹתְבִין הַמְּזוּזָה עַל דּוּכְסוּסְטוּס וְכוֹתְבִין בִּמְקוֹם הַשֵּׂעָר. וְכָל הַכּוֹתֵב עַל הַקְּלָף בִּמְקוֹם שֵׂעָר אוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב בִּגְוִיל וּבְדוּכְסוּסְטוּס בִּמְקוֹם בָּשָׂר פָּסוּל:

(8) It is a rule dating back to Moses who received it on Sinai that the scroll of the Law should be written on Gewil (whole hide parchment), and the writing should be on the side which had been next to the hair. The Tephillin should be written on Kelaf (the exterior part of the split hide) and the writing should be on the side which had been nearer the flesh; and the Mezuzah should be written on Duxustus (made of the inner part of the split hide), on the side which had been nearer the hair. If, on a Kelaf, one writes on the side that had been next to the hair, or, on a Gewil or Duxustus, one writes on the side that had been next to the flesh, the Scroll, Tephillin or Mezuzah so written is unfit for use.

(יב) חוזרים וכו' - הוא מדברי הרשב"א בתשובה סימן קנ"ד ומבואר שם שהקהל התפללו גם מעריב קודם ולענין מעריב אין להם לחזור ולהתפלל משום טרחא דציבורא (וכדלעיל ריש סימן רס"ג סעיף י"ד) רק לענין ספירה לא משגחינן בטרחא דידהו כי איך יאמר למשל עשרה ימים ואינן אלא תשעה כי אותו היום תשיעי הוא ולא עשירי עד צאת הכוכבים עכ"ד שם:
(ב) וַיָּבִ֣יא עֶזְרָ֣א הַ֠כֹּהֵ֠ן אֶֽת־הַתּוֹרָ֞ה לִפְנֵ֤י הַקָּהָל֙ מֵאִ֣ישׁ וְעַד־אִשָּׁ֔ה וְכֹ֖ל מֵבִ֣ין לִשְׁמֹ֑עַ בְּי֥וֹם אֶחָ֖ד לַחֹ֥דֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִֽי׃ (ג) וַיִּקְרָא־בוֹ֩ לִפְנֵ֨י הָרְח֜וֹב אֲשֶׁ֣ר ׀ לִפְנֵ֣י שַֽׁעַר־הַמַּ֗יִם מִן־הָאוֹר֙ עַד־מַחֲצִ֣ית הַיּ֔וֹם נֶ֛גֶד הָאֲנָשִׁ֥ים וְהַנָּשִׁ֖ים וְהַמְּבִינִ֑ים וְאׇזְנֵ֥י כׇל־הָעָ֖ם אֶל־סֵ֥פֶר הַתּוֹרָֽה׃
(2) On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the Teaching before the congregation, men and women and all who could listen with understanding. (3) He read from it, facing the square before the Water Gate, from the first light until midday, to the men and the women and those who could understand; the ears of all the people were given to the scroll of the Teaching.

Orthodox Ruling on "Making Up" missed Torah reading due to Covid

Rabbi Hershel Schachter

"Due to the Coronavirus crisis we have missed many weeks of Torah reading in shul. There is no requirement to make up the missed parshiyos under these circumstances,"