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נֻסְחָאוֹת | A Historical Map of Jewish Liturgical Influence and Variation, by Aharon Varady after Joseph Heinemann

https://opensiddur.org/?p=567 נֻסְחָאוֹת | A Historical Map of Jewish Liturgical Influence and Variation, by Aharon Varady after Joseph Heinemann 2010-05-07 19:45:28 Maps showing the relationship between the nusḥaot are quite helpful to us. The Open Siddur Project is seeking to digitize all the extant nusḥaot witnessed in siddurim and other manuscripts, in order to show the evolution of individual prayers and blessings. This will helpfully represent at least the textual diversity of Jewish spiritual expression in the many geographically dispersed Jewish communities over the past three thousand years. I also hope that representing this diversity in t'fillah will be an inspiration to individuals engaging in davvening as an intellectually engaged and creative discourse speaking across generations. The extent to which we'll be able to realize this vision will be limited to how many source texts we'll be able to identify, transcribe, and share with open standards and free culture licenses. Seeing that the design of the map appearing in Hoffman's book left much to be desired, I redesigned it for clarity while adding some additional nusḥaot. I hope that the following map based on Joseph Heinemann's work will help inspire fellow researchers to contribute to this project. Text the Open Siddur Project Aharon N. Varady Aharon N. Varady https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Aharon N. Varady https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ Liturgical traditions liturgical rites regional custom נוסחאות nusḥaöt Joseph Heinemann informatics

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Note: The above should be considered a work in progress. Please help to improve it by commenting below. I will update it as new information becomes available.

The Siddur is an aggregate of thousands of years of creatively inspired work. The organization of the material within any one particular siddur–the textual ingredients and arrangements –represents a specific lineage, or nusaḥ,[1] plural, nusḥaot   with its own history of development. There are a good number of different lineages some of which are still alive and changing, others which due to the circumstances of history are now quite obscure. Nevertheless, their voice might still whisper within the pages and tunes of more familiar traditions, if you know where to look.

Lawrence A. Hoffman‘s Beyond the Text: A Holistic Approach to Liturgy (Indiana University Press, 1987) provides a flowchart illustrating the developmental history of some familiar liturgical lineages. According to Dr. Richard Sarason (HUC-JIR), the chart is based on one prepared by Dr. Joseph Heinemann for his course on the history of the Siddur at Hebrew University in the mid-1960’s (see right). It appears in Heinemann’s Akadamon choveret, T’filot Yisra’el v’toldotehen: Leqet m’korot (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1966) and was copied pretty much verbatim by Jakob J. Petuchowski, Guide to the Prayerbook (Cincinnati: HUC-JIR, 1968) — which is probably where Hoffman discovered it. I was grateful to be introduced to the chart  at Yeshivat Hadar where R’ Elie Kaunfer shared it in his class on T’fillah. In the chart one can see how the liturgy of Nusaḥ Ashkenaz largely depends on the “Babylonian Rite” with minor influences directly from the “Palestinian Rite.” Here, Babylonian refers to the nusaḥ seen in development in the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud) and Palestinian refers to the nusaḥ described in Tannaitic sources and the Talmud Yerushalmi.

Seeing that the design of the map appearing in Hoffman’s book left much to be desired, I redesigned it for clarity while adding some additional nusḥaot. I hope that the following map based on Joseph Heinemann’s work will help inspire fellow researchers to contribute to this project.

The nusḥaot found in Heinemann’s chart are shown in in outlined boxes. Added material is indicated as boxes without outlines. Nusḥaot of which I have scant information I have left without an outline or color.

The map portrays the development of Jewish liturgies over time and is color coded by period, the top of the map showing the earliest nusḥaot and the bottom of the page with the most recent variations. White represents Hebraic traditions before the Babylonian exile (pre-582 BCE). Yellow represents the period of the second temple (roughly 582 BCE to 72 CE). Orange, the Tannaitic and Amoraic period (72 CE to 500 CE). Green, the Geonic period (600 CE to 1000 CE) and light green the period of the Rishonim (1000 CE to 1400 CE). Light blue represents the period between the Spanish expulsion and the Sabbataean controversy (1492 CE to 1666 CE), and the dark blue represents the period of Ḥassidut and the Haskala up until the Holocaust (18th century until 1948). Some of the more recent formulations of these variations as adopted by Jewish communities and particular denominational movements are represented in violet.

In making this, my hope is that it succeeds in portraying the diversity of variations in Jewish liturgical literature as the microforms (i.e., individual prayers) and macroforms (i.e., prayer services) developed across the geographically dispersed communities using them. Having grown up in synagogues offering a variety of siddurim on their shelves, I also hope that representing this historical and literary diversity in t’fillah will be an inspiration to individuals engaging in davvening as an intellectually engaged and creative discourse speaking across generations. In a very basic way, this is a goal of mine in realizing the Open Siddur Project. The extent to which we’ll be able to realize this vision will be limited to how many source texts we’ll be able to identify, transcribe, and share with open standards and free culture licenses.


1plural, nusḥaot



35 comments to נֻסְחָאוֹת | A Historical Map of Jewish Liturgical Influence and Variation, by Aharon Varady after Joseph Heinemann

  • For some clarity on Nusach HaAri, Dr. Sarason recommends reading Stefan Reif, Judaism and Hebrew Prayer: New Perspectives on Jewish Liturgical History (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 251-255. Unfortunately, the pages are not all available on Google books. I also need some help determining what exactly happened to the Iraqi nusaḥ with the Ben Ish Chai… what exactly is the history of the Edot Hamizrach?

    • Avatar photo Mordechai

      Imho the missing link from the arizal to the Ben ish hai is Yeshivat bet el/rashash. A quick search thru the Ben ish hai (and his other sefarim) of bet el or Rav Eliyahu mani will show that he consulted Rav mani on the minhagim of bet el before emending texts.

  • On the opensiddur-talk listserve, Ze’ev is asking for an interactive version with clickable boxes. Stay tuned…

  • Version 2.2 incorporates important information on the history of Ethiopian Jewish liturgy from Dr. Kay Shelemay, G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Based on her research of the Beta Israel, (research supported by other scholars and most recently by Dr. Steven Kaplan at Hebrew University) the oldest sources of liturgy used by the community were derived “from Ethiopian Christian sources at relatively late dates (mainly post 15th century).” It’s impossible now not to wonder about Yemenite influence on a Judaizing community of Ethiopians who converted to Judaism at some point in the last millenium. My sincerest hope is that this finding reinforces the beautiful and strong connection that the Beta Israel have as fully part of the Jewish people and our common heritage. We are all born strangers, but are all united in our passion for Torah and our traditions.

  • Version 2.3 takes another look at Qumran and the Saducees. I’ve organized them both under Cohanite/Priestly traditions closely associated with the Temple and suspicious of folk/democratic/prophetic models being preserved by the Pharisaic tradition through drash.

  • Avatar photo Aurora Mendelsohn

    This is a fantastic chart. Kol ha kavod!!!

    What about going past the early 1960s- ie: where is the Renewal siddur? the newer Conservative and Reform siddurim? The non-official ones like Likrat Shabbat and the New Machzor?

    If you wanted to include it – the Kohenet siddur ? The newly published Hebrew atheist siddur? The older secular humanist siddurim in English?

    Dates of the various modern issues of New Union, Gates of Prayer, Harlow, Silverman etc. would be useful as well.
    I realize this may be beyond the scope of what you set out to do, but it would be great to have. (And if you decide to do it, I’d help).

    And I know that your source was from HUC, but I really don’t see a lot of evidence for Reconstrutionist liturgy coming from Reform, it was really developed from the Conservative movement by (at that time) Conservative rabbis.

    • Expanding the chart to include individual siddurim rather than the nuchaot that they witness is outside the scope but I think it should be done. I’d love to map out the major influences and associations between nuschaot witnessed in 20th and 21st century siddurim. Eric Friedland is a great resource who can probably help us with this and I think a lot of people would like to see it too. Thanks for the feedback on Reconstructionist liturgies. There’s lines between both Reform and Conservative, and the line from Reconstructionist to Conservative has a double arrow indicating that the influence is going both ways now. The source for this chart and that information wasn’t HUC. So in the next version of the chart I’ll be careful to make the feedback I’ve received from several liturgy scholars more clear. It’s a techical hurdle, but if I could only create this chart with HTML 5 web elements then I could probably create inline footnotes. That would make the flowchart much more dynamic than a static image rendered offline using MS Visio (closed source, proprietary software).

      I definitely appreciate the offer to

  • Avatar photo B.BarNavi

    Where do you think Egyptian Karaites fall on the map?

    Also, I think early Reform was influenced by the German rite more than anything. Only in Mishkan Tefillah were there more overtures to the Polish rite.

  • Actually, Dr. Sarason and Dr. Friedland emphasized that early Liberal (Reform) nuschaot were influenced locally by the nusach of their respective community. So for example in Hamburg, the Liberal nusach was derived from the Spanish-Portuguese tradition.

    Re: Egyptian Karaites, I would like to know more. We would certainly be interested in any digital edition of their liturgy.

  • Avatar photo Aharon Fernandez

    Old must3arabi Aram Ssoba as per Machzor Aram Ssoba is in many ways closer to Rambam/Tiklal than it is to say Bet Ya3aqob (the current Aram ssoba siddur which is based on the Sephardim of Syria)

  • Avatar photo Aharon Fernandez

    Also Nusach ANglia is based on ‘the Polish rite as practiced in Hamburg Germany’ (the old western Polish right which was different than the German right of frankfort)

  • I would like to see this map applied towards tracking shofar practices and teachings. Towards that end, I have reposted the map with a call for a scholar interested in undertaking the project. See http://hearingshofar.blogspot.com/2013/09/map-of-shofar-diversity.html/.

  • According to your Historical Map the Minchag Italia and Aschkenas descended from the Babylonian Rite. However, as far as I know, some claim that the Ashkenazi rite descended from the ancient rite of Eretz Yisrael?

    • The chart above is an expansion of a chart initially made by the scholar of Jewish liturgy, Joseph Heinemann. Dr. Heinemann did indicate that the Palestinian Rite (Nusaḥ Erets Yisroel) did have a minor influence on the Nusaḥ Ashkenaz and this is represented in the chart above. (See the dotted line connecting the Palestinian Rite to the Nusaḥ Ashkenaz.)

  • Avatar photo Peter Nahon

    Nusach Provence (from the 4 communities of Carpentras, Cavaillon, Avignon and l’Isle sur Sorgue) is missing in this map. It should be among Babylonian siddurim descendants. It is not used anymore, but is known from printed versions (several from Amsterdam, and the famous Seder Ha-Tamid, Avignon, 1760)

  • Avatar photo elisha paul

    The Lithuanian tradition of prayer from the school of the Vilna Gaon is another line to consider adding. Also Rav Goren put out a siddur which unified all existing nusachs.

  • Avatar photo A. U

    What about the nusach used in the Maghreb (Algeria, Morroco, Tunisia) where they used the Tefilat Hachodesh siddur?

    • Can you say more? Is the Maghrebi nusaḥ one that survived the influx of refugees from the Spanish expulsion, or is it a Sepharadi nusaḥ that evolved independently since the 16th century? If it is a Sepharadi nusaḥ which branch of the Sepharadi family did it develop from: Lisbon, Castille, or Catalonia?

      • tefilat hachodesh is standard livorno text. It was used not only by N.Africans but also by Turks and others, (Modern) SYrian text and others are based on it. In fact its probably the basis of pan-Sephardic siddur though the newer pan-Sephardic siddurim incorporate more oriental elements.

        • Aharon, how is the chart doing on the Sefaradi side? Any obvious errors? How might you reorganize it?

        • Avatar photo Kenneth Perkins

          I would add though that many N. African communities to this day have a nusah that more or less follows the basic outline of what the chart describes as “Livorno,” including in some part of N. Africa continuing with the longer version of Barukh She`Amar, using the alternate Shabbat Mussaf, and “de`ah bina vehaskel,” and the additions to birkat hamazon (which are less common among Syrians, though also found in Spanish/Portuguese communities) and “ki Kel Melekh Gadol veQadosh Atta” as well as various qabbalistic additions (which are commonly found in S&P rites). (See the various modern versions of Tefillat haHodesh or Siddur Patah Eliyahou, which are basically updates to the old siddurim that exclude some of the more esoteric elements.) So the Maghrebi minhag should at least have their own arrow from Livorno.

          Some Maghrebi communities also incorporate minhagim that are not strictly found in the Livorno siddurim as well. For example, there are also a few commonalities between the Maghrebi minhag and the Carpentras/Cavaillon/etc. minhag, such as “yahid” in the hatima of yishtabah, which might suggest some independent influence from what you list as the Provencal/Catalonian tradition on Maghrebi customs.

          The Shami/Livorno connection should also be better highlighted. (Most Shami siddurim either are called the names of old Livorno siddurim or claim a yihus to the Livorno minhag.)

          One could almost says that there’s a cottage industry of N. Africans and Temani perpetuating their own versions of the Livorno rite.

  • The chart includes “Masorti Sim Shalom” but I think that there should be a distinction between “Conservative Sim Shalom” and “Masorti VeAni Tefilati.” The Israeli VeAni Tefilati has some non-Ashkenazi influence. For example, the last verse of Ein Keloheinu is “Ata takum teracheim Tziyon…”

    • Dos iz richtig! In fact Va’ani Tefilati includes alot of oriental options (long Kaddish etc) and sometimes emendations made from the Oriental/Sephardic Nusah to the main text, like for example maintaining the acrostic in “befi yesharim” or having “tefilas kol peh” in the shmone esrei In fact if it had given options of “ahavas olam” for morning and “Sim sholom” for night it would would be an altgemeiner siddur like “Nusach achid” or the farshidene ‘Sfard’ siddurim available.

    • Thanks Shoshana. I’ve relabeled the box, “Conservative Sim Shalom” to avoid confusion.

  • 1) Why is Nosach Provence in Ashkenaz bracket but Nosach Catalonia in Sephardic? Nosach Catalonia was Nusach Provence with Castilian influence (or vice versa) Remember that at the time (and some will argue now) Provence and Catalonia were culturaly a spectrum, there was no dividing line between occitan and catalan but different degrees of it. This is the reason that Catalonian Jewry was more ready to recieve ‘franco-german’ traditions than other parts of Spain even before the Rosh came to Spain. (in fact Sephard didn’t origionally apply to Catalonia)

    2) Nusach Anglia was not it’s own branch directly from old-Ashkenaz. It came from the so-called “(old)Nosach-Polin” (Of Northern/Eastern Germany…hey I didn’t named it that what it was called over there in Germany ) see http://pelorous.totallyplc.com/media_manager/public/76/Early%20Years%20of%20London%20-%20You%20and%20US.pdf

    • re: 1) Forgive me for not including more room for notes in this chart — the “Provençal” nusaḥ referred to is in reference to the siddur Rashi.
      re: 2) This chart is referring to the older nusaḥ anglia — the tradition that was witnessed in the “Etz Ḥayyim” of Jacob Ben Jehudah Ḥazzan of London.

      Certainly, the chart could be expanded and improved — right now I’m feeling like the amount of content is pushing past the 11×17″ dimensions allotted. Thank you for your comment.

  • Avatar photo LINDSAY THORPE

    Thank you for all your hard work! It is wonderful that someone is doing this. Yasher Koach!

  • This is a great chart!
    Wanted to clear up the line however under Farsi > Buchari: the Buchari tradition is in line with Edot Hamizrach and carries the kabbalistic traditions and rites. There are variants included that make our traditions slightly different but overall, majority is the same.

  • Avatar photo Yosef Razin

    Maybe time to add Minhag Carpentras/Arba Kehillot. Its strongly influenced by Old French with Italki and Provencal influence. Dates to the 14th century. Lots of manuscripts attest to its uniqueness.

    I am also not convinced by the flow from Rhineland to APAM, Anglia, Old French etc. The APAM rite is later than the others but is said to be the survivor of the much older Lombardia nusach which may have given rise to Rhineland and Old French in the first place. Anglia seems to just derive from Old French, but with only the one mss its hard to say more.

    Provence and Catalonia may represent a spectrum but they are distinct nusachot it seems. Provence also seems to have been close to the Old French in many ways. Not sure where to place it

  • […] LINKSThe Open Siddur ProjectThe Open Siddur Web ApplicationA Historical Map of Jewish Liturgical Influence and Variation‘Make yourself into a maqom hefker’: Primary sources on open-source in Judaism (“Dimus […]

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