סידור תפארת דוד (נוסח האר״י)‏ | Siddur Tifereth David, a bilingual Hebrew-English prayerbook arranged by Ḥayyim Alter Segal (1951)

Siddur Tifereth David (1951), arranged by Ḥayyim (Hyman) Alter Segal, was the first nusaḥ ha-ARI z”l (“Sephardic-Ḥassidic”) prayerbook with a relatively complete English translation. A note in the siddur (following the table of contents) celebrates this fact:

The HEBREW PUBLISHING COMPANY presents, for the first time, a carefully edited and revised English version of the SIDDUR for those who follow the Sephardic form of worship. There has been a serious need for a Sephardic Daily Prayer Book with an English translation for many years and it is hoped that Jews who observe the traditional Sephardic services will find this English version an essential and important book for daily and Sabbath worship.

This volume also includes prayers for additional services as are found in other complete Siddurim in the Ashkenazic service.

In 1912, the Hebrew Publishing company had published the Siddur Tiferet Yehudah by Abraham Ḥayyim (Hyman) Charlap (1862-1916) in both nusaḥ Ashkenaz and “sfard” editions which were reprinted over the next several decades. Indeed, if one compares prayerbooks, Segal’s Tifereth David essentially adds its English translation opposite the Hebrew pages of the Tiferet Yehudah siddur.

A review of the English translation indicates reticence to publish translations of works from the Zohar or Tiqunei Zohar. Pataḥ Eliyahu is left untranslated. “K’Gavneh” from the Zohar on Parashat Terumah, read before ma’ariv after Kabbalat Shabbat is entirely missing. While kavanot are translated, references to the shekhinah are omitted. For an example, see the translation of the kavvanah preceding laying tefilin on page 2.

We are not certain whether the English translation in the Tifereth David was made by Segal, an unattributed translator, or a team of translators. (Segal was an editor for the Hebrew Publishing Company at the time, a detail we know thanks to an acknowledgement given to him in Paltiel Birnbaum’s introduction to his 1949 siddur, Ha-Siddur Ha-Shalem, also published by the Hebrew Publishing Company.)

“Sephardic” here does not refer to the liturgical custom of the Sepharadim, but rather to the liturgical custom of the ḥasidim who followed the school of Lurianic Kabbalah (a/k/a the nusaḥ ha-ARI z”l). Non-ḥasidic Jews referred to this “new” liturgical custom as “Sephardic” as it contained some liturgical customs familiar to some branches of the sepharadi diaspora. The term stuck and has been a familiar source of confusion for newcomers to Jewish prayer ever since.

Siddur Tifereth David is in the Public Domain in the United States due to the lack of copyright renewal by the entity indicated in the copyright notice as the owner of the copyright, a condition required for works published in the United States between January 1, 1924 and January 1, 1964.

Making digital images of these works available is the first step in our process of making the entire prayerbook, both Hebrew liturgy and English translation, machine-readable (copy-pastable and searchable). If you would like to take part in the transcription of this work, please join our opensiddur-tech discussion group.

1 comment to סידור תפארת דוד (נוסח האר״י)‏ | Siddur Tifereth David, a bilingual Hebrew-English prayerbook arranged by Ḥayyim Alter Segal (1951)

  • Unfortunately, we do not know very much about Hyman Alter Segal. He may be the same Hyman Segal who as a young man wrote poetry collected in The Book of Pain-Struggle (1911), contributed Zionist poetry to the anthology New Songs of Zion (ed. Samuel Roth, 1914), and presented his meditation on pain and struggle in a work, The Law of Struggle (Massada Publishing Co., 1918). In the latter, Hyman Segal writes the following about prayer (p.161):

    There are many who pray before and after meals, as a matter of habit. But this is not real prayer. Only those can pray for the common blessings that are with us that have the humility and farsightedness to realize how insecure are all enjoyments and how carefully we must move from one day’s accomplishment to the other.

    To be sure, there are also prayers of thanksgiving. But even these, in so far as they are prayer and not pride, derive their real significance and poignancy from the fact that we have been vouchsafed something in the midst of a danger that is always with us.

    Prayer is an emanation of human struggle. It comes to us in its purest form in the shadow of great issues fraught with danger or achievement. Hence, the prayers of battle, no matter from whom they proceed, are always sincere. Hence, also, the difficulty of making prayer a mere habit of life. For prayer is the act of summoning all the powers of which we are cognizant to keep us sensitive and in condition to ward off callousness, error and defeat.

    It would certainly be a wonder if this same Hyman Segal later arranged the Siddur Tifereth David. If you know more, please comment below.

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