Monday, March 19, 2007

Sephardic Judaism is used in this article to describe the religious practices of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews, so far as these are peculiar to themselves

Sephardic Judaism is used in this article to describe the religious practices of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews, so far as these are peculiar to themselves and not shared with other Jewish groups such as the Ashkenazim. The term is not intended to suggest that Sephardim constitute a different denomination of Judaism or have a distinct set of religious beliefs.Contents [hide]1 Who are the Sephardim? 2 Law 3 Liturgy 4 Instances of Sephardic usage 5 References 5.1 Rabbinic works 5.1.1 Halachah 5.1.2 Kabbalah 5.2 Prayer books 5.2.1 Early rites 5.2.2 Kabbalistic prayer books 5.2.3 Livorno prints 5.2.4 Spanish and Portuguese Jews 5.2.5 Balkan, Greek and Turkish Sephardim 5.2.6 Baghdadi ("Edot ha-Mizrach") 5.2.7 North African Jews 5.2.8 Syrian Jews 5.2.9 Israeli (Ovadia Yosef) 5.3 Secondary literature 5.4 See also 5.5 External links 5.6 Endnotes Who are the Sephardim?Sephardim are, primarily, the descendants of Jews from the Iberian peninsula. They may be divided into the families that left in the Expulsion of 1492 and those that remained as crypto-Jews and left later.In religious parlance, and in modern Israel, the term is used in a broader sense to include all Jews of Ottoman, Arabic or Persian background, whether or not they have any historic link to Spain, though some prefer to distinguish between Sephardim proper and Mizrahi Jews.For the purposes of this article there is no need to distinguish the two groups, as their religious practices are basically similar: whether or not they are "Spanish Jews" they are "Jews of the Spanish rite". There are three reasons for this convergence, all of which will be explored in more detail later in the article.1. Both groups follow general Jewish law unmodified by the particular customs of the Ashkenazim.2. The Spanish rite was an offshoot of the Babylonian-Arabic family of Jewish rites and retained a family resemblance to the other rites of that family.3. Following the expulsion the Spanish exiles took a leading role in the Jewish communities of Asia and Africa, who modified their rites to bring them still nearer to the Spanish standard.LawJewish law is based on the Bible, as interpreted and supplemented by the Talmud: for a fuller account see Halakha. The Talmud was the basis for a series of rulings by the Babylonian Geonim, which were held to be authoritative by Jews world wide, and more particularly by the Jews of the Arab world; the Geonim also produced handbooks such as the Halachot Pesuqot by Yehudai Gaon and the Halachot Gedolot by Simeon Kayyara. The learning of the Geonim was transmitted through the scholars of Kairouan, notably Hananel ben Hushiel and Nissim Gaon, to Spain, where it was used by Isaac Alfasi in his Sefer ha-Halachot (code of Jewish law), which took the form of an edited and abridged Talmud. This in turn formed the basis for the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides. A feature of these early Tunisian and Spanish schools was a willingness to make use of the Jerusalem Talmud as well as the Babylonian.Developments in France and Germany were somewhat different. They too respected the rulings of the Geonim, but also had strong local customs of their own. The Tosafists did their best to explain the Talmud in a way consistent with these customs. A theory grew up that custom trumps law (see Minhag): this had some Talmudic support, but was not nearly so prominent in Arabic countries as it was in Europe. Special books on Ashkenazic custom were written, for example by Yaakov Moelin. Further instances of Ashkenazic custom were contributed by the penitential manual of Elazar Rokeach and some additional stringencies on shechitah (the slaughter of animals) formulated in Weil's Sefer Shehitot u-Bedikot.The learning of the Tosafists, but not the literature on Ashkenazic customs as such, was imported into Spain by Asher ben Yehiel, a German-born scholar who became chief rabbi of Toledo and the author of the Hilchot ha-Rosh, an elaborate Talmudic commentary which became the third of the great Spanish authorities after Alfasi and Maimonides. A more popular resumé, known as the Arba'ah Turim, was written by his son, Jacob ben Asher, though he did not agree with his father on all points.The Tosafot were also used by the scholars of the Catalonian school, such as Nahmanides and Solomon ben Adret, who were also noted for their interest in Kabbalah. For a while, Spain was divided between the schools: in Catalonia the rulings of Nahmanides and ben Adret were accepted, in Castile those of the Asher family and in Valencia those of Maimonides. (Maimonides' rulings were also accepted in most of the Arab world.)Following the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Jewish law was codified by Joseph Caro in his Bet Yosef, which took the form of a commentary on the Arba'ah Turim, and Shulhan Aruch, which presented the same results in the form of a practical abridgement. He consulted most of the authorities available to him, but generally arrived at a practical decision by following the majority among the three great Spanish authorities, Alfasi, Maimonides and Asher ben Yehiel. He did not consciously intend to exclude non-Sephardi authorities, but considered that the Ashkenazi school, so far as it had anything to contribute on general Jewish law as opposed to purely Ashkenazi custom, was adequately represented by Asher. However, since Alfasi and Maimonides generally agree, the overall result was overwhelmingly Sephardi in flavour. For this reason Moses Isserles composed a series of glosses to the Shulhan Aruch setting out all respects in which Ashkenazi practice differs, and the composite work is today accepted as the greatest authority in Ashkenazi Judaism. Isserles felt free to differ from Caro on particular points of law; but in principle he accepted Caro's view that the Sephardic practice set out in the Shulhan Aruch represents standard Jewish law while the Ashkenazi practice is essentially a local custom.So far, then, it is meaningless to speak of "Sephardic custom": all that is meant is Jewish law without the particular customs of the Ashkenazim. For this reason, the law accepted by other non-Ashkenazi communities, such as the Italian Jews, is basically the same as that of the Sephardim. There are of course customs peculiar to particular countries or communities within the Sephardic world, such as Syria and Morocco.An important body of customs grew up in the Kabbalistic circle of Isaac Luria and his followers in Safed, and many of these have spread to communities throughout the Sephardi world: this is discussed further in the Liturgy section below. In some cases they are accepted by Greek and Turkish Sephardim and Mizrahi Jews but not by Western communities such as the Spanish and Portuguese Jews. These are customs in the true sense: in the list of customs below they are distinguished by an L sign .LiturgyFor the outline and early history of the Jewish liturgy, see the articles on Siddur and Jewish services. At an early stage, a distinction was established between the Babylonian ritual and that used in Palestine, as these were the two main centres of religious authority: there is no complete text of the Palestinian rite, though some fragments have been found in the Cairo Genizah.Some scholars maintain that Ashkenazi Jews are inheritors of the religious traditions of the great Babylonian Jewish academies, and that Sephardi Jews are descendants of those who originally followed the Judaean Jewish religious traditions.[1] Others, such as Zunz, maintain precisely the opposite. To put the matter into perspective it must be emphasized that all Jewish liturgies in use in the world today are in substance Babylonian, with a small number of Palestinian usages incorporated piecemeal: in a list of differences preserved from the time of the Geonim, most of the usages recorded as Palestinian are now obsolete. (In the list of customs below , Sephardic usages inherited from Palestine are marked P, and instances where the Sephardic usage conforms to the Babylonian while the Ashkenazic usage is Palestinian are marked B.) By the twelfth century, as a result of the efforts of Babylonian leaders such as Yehudai Gaon and Pirkoi ben Bavoi, the communities of Palestine, and Diaspora communities such as Kairouan which had historically followed Palestinian usages, had adopted Babylonian rulings in most respects, and Babylonian authority was accepted by Jews throughout the Arabic-speaking world.Early texts of the liturgy which have been preserved include, in chronological order, those of Amram Gaon, Saadia Gaon, Shelomoh ben Natan of Sijilmessa (in Morocco) and Maimonides. All of these were based on the legal rulings of the Geonim but show a recognisable evolution towards the current Sephardi text. The liturgy in use in Moorish Spain should therefore be regarded as an importation of the North African branch of the Babylonian-Arabic family, akin to those then used in Egypt and Morocco. Following the Reconquista, the specifically Spanish liturgy was commented on by David Abudarham, and other treatises, such as the Sefer ha-Manhig, discuss the differences between it and related traditions such as that of Provence.After the expulsion from Spain, the Sephardim took their liturgy with them to countries throughout the Arab and Ottoman world, where they soon assumed positions of rabbinic and communal leadership. In the period from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, the native Jewish communities of those countries mostly adapted their pre-existing liturgies, many of which already had a family resemblance with the Sephardic, to follow the Spanish rite in as many respects as possible, though the Sephardim themselves often maintained differences based on their places of origin in the Iberian peninsula.One reason for this adaptation was the fact that, under the Ottoman system, the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Constantinople was the constitutional head of the Jewish community throughout the Empire. Another was the success of R. Joseph Caro's Shulhan Aruch, following which the Castilian rite could be commended as being "according to the opinion of Maran (Caro)".The most important force for harmonization, however, was the Kabbalistic teachings of Isaac Luria and Hayim Vital. Luria himself always maintained that it was the duty of every Jew to abide by his ancestral tradition, so that his prayers should reach the gate in Heaven appropriate to his tribal identity. However he devised a system of usages for his own followers, which were recorded by Vital in his Sha'ar ha-Kavvanot in the form of comments on the Venice edition of the Spanish and Portuguese prayer book. The theory then grew up that this composite Sephardic rite was of special spiritual potency and reached a "thirteenth gate" in Heaven for those who did not know their tribe: prayer in this form could therefore be offered in complete confidence by everyone.Further Kabbalistic embellishments were recorded in later rabbinic works such as the eighteenth century Hemdat Yamim (anonymous). The most elaborate version of these is contained in the Siddur published by the eighteenth century Yemenite Kabbalist Shalom Sharabi for the use of the Bet El yeshivah in Jerusalem: this contains only a few lines of text on each page, the rest being filled with intricate meditations on the letter combinations in the prayers. Other scholars commented on the liturgy from both a halachic and a kabbalistic perspective, including Hayim Azulai and Hayim Palaggi.From the 1840s on a series of prayer-books were published in Livorno, including Tefillat ha-Hodesh, Bet Obed and Zechor le-Abraham. These included notes on practice and the Kabbalistic additions to the prayers, but not the meditations of Shalom Sharabi, as the books were designed for public congregational use. They quickly became standard in almost all Sephardic and Oriental communities, with any local variations being preserved only by oral tradition. This harmonizing process extended even to countries outside the Ottoman sphere of influence such as Iran, where there were no Spanish exiles. (The previous Iranian rite was based on the Siddur of Saadia Gaon.[2]) The main exceptions to this tendency were Yemen, where a conservative group called "Baladi" maintained their ancestral tradition based on the works of Maimonides (and therefore do not regard themselves as Sephardi at all), and the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of Western countries, who adopted a certain number of Kabbalistic usages piecemeal in the seventeenth century but later abandoned them because it was felt that the Lurianic Kabbalah had contributed to the Shabbetai Tzvi disaster.There were also Kabbalistic groups in the Ashkenazic world which adopted the Sephardic-Lurianic ritual, on the theory of the thirteenth gate mentioned above. This accounts for the "Nusach Sefard" or "Nusach Ari" in use among the Hasidim, which is based on the Sephardic-Lurianic text with some Ashkenazi variations. ("Nusach Ari", as used by Chabad Hasidim, has a more Ashkenazi character than "Nusach Sefard", as used by most other groups. The theory is that it is what Luria would have produced if he had been grafting his own usages onto the Ashkenazic rite. It contains a pared-down version of the meditations of Shalom Sharabi.)An important influence on Sephardic prayer and custom was the late nineteenth century Baghdadi rabbi known as the Ben Ish Hai, whose work of that name contained both halachic rulings and observations on Kabbalistic custom based on his correspondence with Eliyahu Mani of the Bet El yeshivah. These rulings and observations form the basis of the Baghdadi rite: both the text of the prayers and the accompanying usages differ in some respects from those of the Livorno editions. The rulings of the Ben Ish Hai have been accepted in several other Sephardic and Oriental communities, such as that of Jerba.In the Sephardic world today, in particular in Israel, there are many popular prayer-books containing this Baghdadi rite, and this is what is currently known as Minhag Edot ha-Mizrach (the custom of the Oriental congregations). Other authorities, especially older rabbis from North Africa, reject these in favour of a more conservative Oriental-Sephardic text as found in the nineteenth century Livorno prints. Others again, following R. Ovadia Yosef, prefer a form shorn of some of the Kabbalistic additions and nearer to what would have been known to R. Joseph Caro, though this "Israeli Sephardi" rite is still nearer to the Oriental family than to the Western Spanish and Portuguese rite.Instances of Sephardic usageSephardim do not put on tefillin during Hol ha-Moed (the middle days of festivals) L They say only one blessing to cover the tefillin of the arm and the head, rather than one for each They wind the tefillin strap clockwise. The form of the knot and of the wrappings round the hand is also different from that of the Ashkenazim. Mezuzot are placed vertically rather than slanting In the tzitzit, each winding loops through the preceding one, and the pattern of windings between the knots is either 10-5-6-5 or 7-8-11-13.[3] In many of the prayers, they preserve Mishnaic patterns of vocalization and have not altered them to conform with the rules of Biblical Hebrew: examples are "nakdishach" (not "nakdishcha") and "ha-gefen" (not "ha-gafen") The second blessing before the Shema begins "Ahavat olam" (and not "Ahavah rabbah") in all services In the summer months they use the words morid ha-tal in the second blessing of the Amidah B The kedushah of the morning service begins "nakdishach ve-na'aritzach", and the kedushah of musaf (the additional service for Shabbat and festivals) begins "keter yitenu lach" There are separate summer and winter forms for the "Birchat ha-Shanim" There is no Birchat ha-Kohanim or Barechenu in minhah (the afternoon service) on any day except Yom Kippur P The last blessing of the Amidah is "Sim shalom" (and not "Shalom rav") in all services They are permitted to sit for Kaddish Adon Olam has an extra stanza (and is longer still in Oriental communities) They lift the Torah scroll and display it to the congregation before the Torah reading rather than after B The Torah scroll is kept in a tik (wooden case) instead of a velvet mantle (except among Spanish and Portuguese Jews) Many Sephardim eat rice or beans on Passover They only say blessings over the first and third cups of Passover wine, instead of over all four The items on the Seder plate are arranged in a fixed hexagonal order (except among Spanish and Portuguese Jews: this usage is increasingly popular among Ashkenazim) L Selichot are said throughout the month of Elul ReferencesRabbinic worksHalachahMueller, J., Hilluf Minhagim she-bein Benei Bavel u-Venei Eretz Yisrael: 1878 Lewin, B. M., Otzar Hilluf Minhagim: Thesaurus of Halachic Differences between the Palestinian and Babylonian Schools: Jerusalem 1942 Abudarham, David, Sefer Abudarham Caro, Joseph, Shulhan Aruch (innumerable editions) Hayim, Joseph, Ben Ish Hai, tr. Hiley (4 vols.): Jerusalem 1993 Sofer, Hayim, Kaf ha-Hayim Gaguine, Shem Tob, Keter Shem Tob, 7 vols. Rakach, Yaakob, Shulhan Lehem ha-Panim (6 vols., ed. Levi Nahum), Jerusalem Jacobson, B. S., Netiv Binah: Tel Aviv 1968 Toledano, Pinchas, Fountain of Blessings: London 1989 Toledano, E., and Choueka, S., Gateway to Halachah (2 vols.): Lakewood and New York 1988-9. ISBN 0935063560 Yitzhak, Hertzel Hillel. Tzel HeHarim: Tzitzit. New York: Feldheim Publishers. 2006. ISBN 1583302921 KabbalahVital, Hayim, Sha'ar ha-Kavvanot (vol. 8 of the 15 volume collected writings) anon., Hemdat Yamim Algazi, Yisrael, Shalme Tsibbur and Shalme Hagigah Prayer booksEarly ritesSeder Rab Amram Gaon, ed. Hedegard: Lund 1951 Seder Rab Amram Gaon, ed. Goldschmidt: Jerusalem 1971 Seder Rab Amram Gaon, ed. Kronholm: Lund 1974 Seder Rab Amram Gaon, ed. Harfenes: Bene Berak 1994 Seder Saadia Gaon, ed. Davidson, Assaf and Joel: Jerusalem 1963 Davidson, Mahzor Yannai: A Liturgical Work of the VIIth Century: New York, Jewish Theological Seminary 1919 Siddur Rabbenu Shelomoh ben Natan, ed. Haggai: Jerusalem 1995 Maimonides' order of prayer, contained in Goldschmidt, Mehkare Tefillah u-Fiyyut (On Jewish Liturgy): Jerusalem 1978 Kabbalistic prayer booksSiddur ha-Rasha"sh (many editions, sets out meditations of Shalom Sharabi) Remer, Daniel, Siddur and Sefer Tefillat Hayim: Jerusalem 2003 (Hebrew only: reconstructs Lurianic rite from Venice edition of Spanish and Portuguese prayer book and the Sha'ar ha-Kavvanot of Hayim Vital; companion volume discusses Hasidic variants) Livorno printsSefer Tefillat Hahodesh, Livorno 1844 Bet Obed, Livorno 1843 (daily prayers: subsequent volumes are Bet Menuhah, Bet Moed, Bet Din and Bet Kapparah) Zechor le-Abraham: Livorno 1926 (days of awe only) (The Od Abinu Hai series, mentioned under "North African Jews" below, is based on these prints.)Spanish and Portuguese JewsVenice edition, 1524: reproduced in photostat in Remer, Siddur and Sefer Tefillat Hayim, above (text reflects some Italian influence, not transmitted in full to modern orders of service) Book of Prayer of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation, London (5 vols.): Oxford (Oxford University Press, Vivian Ridler), 5725 - 1965 (Hebrew and English; since reprinted) Book of Prayer: According to the Custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews David de Sola Pool: New York, Union of Sephardic Congregations, 1979 (Hebrew and English) Balkan, Greek and Turkish SephardimSiddur Zehut Yosef (Daily and Shabbat) According to the Rhodes and Turkish Traditions, ed. Azose: Seattle, Sephardic Traditions Foundation 2002 (Hebrew and English: some Ladino) Baghdadi ("Edot ha-Mizrach")Tefillat Yesharim: Jerusalem, Mansur (Hebrew only)Siddur Od Yosef Hai (and many others)North African JewsSiddur Od Abinu Hai ed. Levi Nahum: Jerusalem (Hebrew only, Livorno text, Libyan tradition) Mahzor Od Abinu Hai ed. Levi Nahum (5 vols.): Jerusalem (Hebrew only, Livorno text, Libyan tradition) Siddur Vezarach Hashemesh, ed. Messas: Jerusalem (Hebrew only, Meknes tradition) Siddur Ish Matzliach, ed. Mazuz (Hebrew only, Djerba tradition) Siddur Farhi (Hebrew with Arabic translation, Egypt) Syrian JewsBet Yosef ve-Ohel Abraham: Jerusalem, Mansur (Hebrew only, based on Baghdadi text) Mahzor Shelom Yerushalayim, ed. Albeg: New York, Sephardic Heritage Foundation 1982 Siddur Kol Mordechai, ed. Faham bros: Jerusalem 1984 (minhah and arbit only) Kol Yaakob: New York, Sephardic Heritage Foundation 1990 (Hebrew and English) The Aram Soba Siddur: According to the Sephardic Custom of Aleppo Syria, Moshe Antebi: Jerusalem, Aram Soba Foundation 1993 (contains minhah and arbit only) Orhot Hayim, ed. Yedid: Jerusalem 1995 (Hebrew only) Orot Sephardic Siddur, Eliezer Toledano: Lakewood, NJ, Orot Inc. (Hebrew and English: Baghdadi text, Syrian variants shown in square brackets) Siddur Abodat Haleb / Prayers from the Heart, Moshe Antebi, Lakewood, NJ: Israel Book Shop, 2002 Abir Yaakob, ed. Haber: Sephardic Press (Hebrew and English, Shabbat only) Israeli (Ovadia Yosef)Ohr V’Derech Sephardic Siddur Siddur Yehaveh Daat Siddur Hazon Ovadia Mahzor Hazon Ovadia Secondary literatureZimmels, Ashkenazim and Sephardim: their Relations, Differences, and Problems As Reflected in the Rabbinical Responsa : London 1958 (since reprinted). ISBN 0881254916 Dobrinsky, Herbert C.: A treasury of Sephardic laws and customs : the ritual practices of Syrian, Moroccan, Judeo-Spanish and Spanish and Portuguese Jews of North America. Revised ed. Hoboken, N.J. : KTAV; New York, N.Y. : Yeshiva Univ. Press, 1988. ISBN 0881250317 Reif, Stefan: Judaism and Hebrew Prayer: Cambridge 1993. Hardback ISBN-13: 9780521440875, ISBN-10: 0521440874; Paperback ISBN-13: 9780521483414, ISBN-10: 0521483417 See alsoSephardim Mizrahi Jews Spanish and Portuguese Jews Siddur Jewish services Halachah Minhag External links[Sephardic Siddurim][Sephardic Passover Customs]

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