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סדר התפלות לחג הסכות (ספרד)‏ | Seder haTefilot l’Ḥag haSukkot, edited and revised by Moses Gaster (1906)

 

This work is in the Public Domain due to its having been published before January 1st 1924.

This work was scanned by Aharon Varady for the Open Siddur Project from a volume held in the collection of the HUC Klau Library, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Thank you!) This work is cross-posted to the Internet Archive, as a repository for our transcription efforts.

Scanning this work is the first step in a more comprehensive project of transcribing each prayer and associating it with its translation. You are invited to participate in this project!


PREFACE.

This volume contains the prayers for the Festival of Succoth or Tabernacles, which we keep according to the Divine command (Lev. 23:34). This is one of the three great Festivals which every Israelite is bound to observe. It is intimately bound up with the national history and with the agricultural life of our people, and carries with it a profound lesson for our spiritual life.

The Festival of Tabernacles חג הסכת is to remind us of the time which our forefathers spent in the Wilderness and of the life they led in tents or booths. Temporary abodes! and yet they proved sufficiently strong to protect them throughout those years of unsteady life until they reached the Land of Promise, for they were supported by the Divine Providence which, as our Sages tell us, surrounded them with clouds of glory. The Feast is also called חג האסיף, זמן שמחתנו the Feast of Ingathering, the season of joy at the close of the agricultural year, when the people gathered into their garners and winepresses the fruit that had ripened during the year. It made them rejoice in the abundant grace which God had granted them and at the visible sign of his protection and of his blessing. It taught them at the same time to remember, that without his assistance their labours would have been in vain, that unless the early and the latter rain had descended in due season the seed entrusted to the earth would not have sprouted, nor the bloom that covered their trees have ripened to yield an abundant harvest. And therefore, in addition to the erection of a tent, we are forbidden to take branches of trees, of the highest and the lowest, of the fragrant and the odourless, together with the beautiful fruit of the Citron, to rejoice before the Lord. We hold in our hands the visible token of the mercies of God. And when we behold the change that comes over them, when they wither and fade slowly away, we are again reminded that everything that lives and blooms is kept in life by him alone, to whom we turn in our prayers and from whom wc expect life, health, joy and contentment. The Festival closes with the Hosha-gnana Rabbah, the Great Hosha-gnana, when we beat the twigs of the willow tree; the leaves are falling one by one, with the days that pass, and the approaching winter denudes the trees of their adornment, to be clothed again in green foliage by the coming spring. The eighth day is devoted to the contemplation of the importance of the rain, that blessing from above which, if it comes in its appointed time, brings to successful issue the toil of man and realizes the hopes entertained for the coming year. This Festival fittingly concludes with Simhhát Toráh the spiritual rejoicing over having completed the cycle of the reading of the Law. The year comes to a close, and on the very same day when the book of the Law is closed the book of books is reopened; the first sod in the spiritual field is turned, new seed is sown, and we trust to the blessing of God that it will yield, in the course of the year, as rich a harvest in our souls for the benefit of our spiritual life as the field yields for the benefit of the material happiness of man.

The prayers contained in this volume give expression to these diverse aspects of the Festival. In addition to the regular service, the Hallél, i.e. the Psalm of Praise, is sung, whilst we carry the Lulab and Ethrog in our hands, and during the time the Hosha-gnanóth are repeated, day after day. The Hosha-gnanóth contain mostly reminiscences from the history of our nation, they allude to the redemption from Egypt and to the protection which God vouchsafed to our people during their sojourn in the Wilderness; they also express the hope and end in the prayer, that the same help may be granted to us. On the Great Hosha-gnana the number of prayers and hymns is increased and the circuits are multiplied, reminding us of the joyous processions in the Temple of old, around the Altar, by a happy and grateful people. The Hosha-gnanóth are more emphatic on this day, on which libations of water were offered in the Temple, symbolically representing the blessing of the rain, so vital for the land. Instead of those libations, a special prayer for rain, composed by the poet Salomon ibn Gabirol has been added to the Musaph Amidah on the eighth day. On the concluding day, the spiritual rejoicing takes the form of a mystical and symbolical wedding between Israel and the Law, when two “bridegrooms” are called up, one to read the last portion and the other to begin with the reading of the first portion of the Law, typifying the indissoluble tie which binds us to the Law, and the spiritual harvest garnered in at this Season of rejoicing.

All these prayers have now been revised and the translation thoroughly recast by me. Indications and instructions as to the manner in which they are to be recited have now been added, and many passages and rubrics not found in the previous edition have been incorporated into the book in order to make it as serviceable and complete as possible.

No portion in this volume of the prayer book has offered, however, so many difficulties as the one containing the Hosha-gnanóth, which are artificial poems and hymns full of historical, allegorical, and mystical allusions, as the notes added to the Hosha-gnanóth shew. Moreover, the stanzas and verses have suffered in the course of time from the thoughtlessness of copyists; not a few passages have been omitted and in many instances indiscreet or careless printers have added to the confusion. I have tried to remedy it to the best of my ability, and in the translation of these prayers and hymns I have endeavoured to clear up the obscurities and to explain the historical and allegorical allusions. The names of the authors of these poems have been added. The ceremonial observed in the Synagogue on the day of the “Rejoicing of the Law” has now been set forth for the first time, and no pains have been spared to raise this volume to the same level which the preceding three volumes have attained.

The Traditional Tunes also embellish this volume and are due to the untiring kindness of Mr. Jessurun, the choirmaster of our Synagogues.

May the fragrance of the festive bunch pervade these pages and may the prayers of this festive season contribute to elevate our minds and make us rejoice with a full heart at God’s blessings in the field and in the home.

M. GASTER.

London:
“Mizpah,” 193 Maida Vale, W.
1 Ab, 5666.
July 23, 1906.

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