Problems with Prayers (Studies in the Textual History of Early Rabbinic Liturgy) || 13. Modern Study of Medieval Liturgy

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<ul><li><p>13 </p><p>Modern study of medieval liturgy </p><p>My first objectives in this chapter are to summarize how the first century of Genizah research impacted on the scientific study of the Jewish liturgy of the early medieval period and to note briefly how the views of the outstanding nineteenth-century savant Moritz Stein-schneider in this field relate to more contemporary notions. I shall then offer an overview of some of the major developments in the study of rabbinic liturgical theory and practice that have taken place in the past fifteen years, particularly, but not exclusively, as they have been informed and inspired by fresh Genizah discoveries. </p><p>Pioneers </p><p>It is now well over over a century since Solomon Schechter, following the hints and hunches of earlier scholars and literary explorers, adopted a more dynamic and determined approach than such predecessors and succeeded in bringing to Cambridge from the Genizah of the Ben Ezra synagogue in Cairo over 140,000 fragments, representing some seventy percent of what had survived there from medieval Fustat into the modern period. As a result of this transfer of such a rich resource from a parochial provenance to an environment where it could be academically exploited, and the inspiration that Schechter provided for scholarly work to be undertaken on similar collections elsewhere, the whole topic of Jewish studies has undergone what is tantamount to revolutionary development. One of the many specific areas to derive substantial benefit from the novel Genizah documentation and its careful analysis has been the study of Jewish liturgical texts and their evolution, particularly the emergence of a formal and authoritative prayer-book from a loose collection of competing versions. It is therefore appropriate to summarize the Genizah's past contribution to this field of research and to indicate the nature of more recent work and its significance.1 </p><p>That initiative of Schechter was due in no small part to his imaginative intellect and his scholarly industry, and it was these two characteristics of his that led him to a speedy appreciation of the </p><p>1 For the history of the Cambridge Genizah manuscripts and their overall contribution to scholarship, see S. C. Reif, A Jewish Archive from Old Cairo: The History of Cambridge University's Genizah Collection (Richmond, Surrey, 2000). </p><p>Brought to you by | Heinrich Heine Universitt DsseldorfAuthenticated |</p><p>Download Date | 3/27/14 11:55 AM</p></li><li><p>230 Chapter Thirteen </p><p>intense scholarly significance of the material he had brought back from Cairo. Once he set to work in Cambridge on sorting, classifying and identifying the precious fragments entrusted to him, it took him only a little time to set down for his contemporaries, and indeed for subsequent generations, general guidelines as to how the Genizah would affect scientific Jewish learning and specific comments on how it would contribute to the historical analysis of Hebrew liturgical texts.2 In the well-known but still astonishingly perceptive report that he wrote within a few months of his Cairo expedition and that he later entitled Hoard of Hebrew Manuscripts,' he described such texts in the following terms: 'As to liturgy, the Genizah offers the remains of the oldest forms of the worship of the synagogue and these throw much light on the history of the Jewish prayer-book ... they restore to us the older forms of the 'original prayers."3 Although he regarded the reconstruction of such early versions as among scholarship's most urgent desiderata, and devoted some energy to setting such a process in motion, Schechter himself succeeded in publishing only a small number of the Genizah fragments relevant to this field. These contained rare and early versions of such central rabbinic prayers as the 'amidah, the qaddish, and the blessings attached to the reading of the shema'.i </p><p>If the truth be told, however, Schechter was not the first scholar to utilize Genizah material for the critical study of the development of Jewish prayer and of synagogal custom and it was at Oxford and not at Cambridge that such items were initially acquired and studied. Before Schechter undertook his productive journey to Cairo, his elder contemporary at 'the other place,' Adolf Neubauer, had been working for some time on the description of the Bodleian Library's extensive collection of important Hebrew manuscripts. In that context he had given some attention to Genizah fragments that had been added to that collection from the early 1890s and his efforts in this connection, as in many others, had no doubt been partly motivated by the traditional </p><p>2 On the character and achievements of Schechter, see Norman Bentwich, Solomon Schechter: A Biography (Philadelphia, 1938), my essay in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004), 49.207-10, and the bibliography cited there. Schechter's descriptions of the Cambridge Genizah material originally appeared in The Times of 3 August 1897 and in The Jewish Chronicle of 15 October 1897 and of 1 April 1898, and were reprinted together under the title hoard of Hebrew manuscripts' in his Studies in Judaism, (3 vols, Philadelphia, 1908), 2.1-30. </p><p>3 Schechter, hoard' (see n. 2 above), pp. 10 and 18. 4 Schechter, 'Genizah specimens: liturgy', JQR 10 (1898), pp. 654-59 and his 'Nusha ba-</p><p>qaddish', in Gedenkbuch zur Errinerung an David Kaufmann (Breslau, 1900), Hebrew section, pp. 52-54. </p><p>Brought to you by | Heinrich Heine Universitt DsseldorfAuthenticated |</p><p>Download Date | 3/27/14 11:55 AM</p></li><li><p>Recent Studies 231 </p><p>scholarly rivalry between England's two famous centres of scholarship that had its productive as well as its more contentious aspects.5 </p><p>Appreciating that such fragments had a novel contribution to make to Jewish liturgical research, Neubauer invited his nephew, Adolf Bchler, then in Vienna, to subject them to his critical scholarly eye. Bchler spent two periods of study at the Bodleian between 1891 and 1893 and, when Neubauer's non-Jewish colleague and successor, Arthur Cowley, published the second volume of their Catalogue of the Hebrew Manuscripts in 1906, he acknowledged the assistance provided by Bchler in describing these items.6 One particular manuscript attracted Bchler's closer attention, containing as it did details of the triennial cycle of pentateuchal and prophetic readings that was still current among the Palestinian Jews living in Cairo after the first Crusader invasion of the Holy Land. He published a lengthy and seminal article on this subject in the Jewish Quarterly Review of 1893 but, somewhat surprisingly, neither he nor his uncle gave the Hebrew liturgical fragments the fuller attention and publicity that they deserved.7 The way was therefore left open to their competitor in Cambridge to steal the limelight in this connection. </p><p>Although it is customary in many Jewish scholarly circles to downplay the role of Anglo-Jewish academics in the development of Wissenschaft des Judentums, the fact is that in the matter of the study of the liturgical material in the Genizah collections, the contribution of those who were born in England, or who did a major part of their research there, was not insignificant. Following the lead given by Neubauer and Bchler, and encouraged by Schechter, Israel Abrahams, subsequently Schechter's successor in the readership in talmudic and rabbinic literature at Cambridge, also published fresh manuscript versions in this field. In 1897, he identified and transcribed important </p><p>5 The results of Neubauer's work appeared in his Catalogue of Hebrew Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, eds A. Neubauer and A. Cowley (2 vols; Oxford, 1886-1906). A revised and augmented edition of the first volume, prepared by M. Beit-Arie and R. May, appeared just over a decade ago (Oxford, 1994). See also my two articles (which touch upon such rivalries): 'The discovery of the Ben Sira fragments' in The Book of Ben Sira in Modern Research. Proceedings of the First International Ben Sira Conference 1996, ed. P. C. Beentjes (Berlin, 1997), pp. 1-21, and 'The Damascus Document from the Cairo Genizah' in The Damascus Document: A Centennial of Discovery, eds J. M. Baumgarten, . Chazon and A. Pinnick (Leiden, 2000), pp. 109-131. </p><p>6 See Cowley's remarks and those of Bodley's Librarian in Catalogue of Hebrew Manuscripts (see n. 5 above), pp. iii-v. </p><p>7 A. Bchler, 'The reading of the Law and Prophets in a triennial cycle', JQR 5 (1893), pp. 420-68, and 6 (1893), pp. 1-73; both are reprinted in J. J. Petuchowski, Contributions to the Scientific Study of Jewish Liturgy (New York, 1970), pp. 181-302. See also 'The Damascus Document' cited in n. 5 above. </p><p>Brought to you by | Heinrich Heine Universitt DsseldorfAuthenticated |</p><p>Download Date | 3/27/14 11:55 AM</p></li><li><p>232 Chapter Thirteen </p><p>and hitherto unknown texts of the various parts of the Passover Haggadah and correctly ascribed them to the geonic period.8 Part of the academic career of Abrahams was spent at Jews' College and it was there that an even more successful scholar, born in Galicia, received an important part of his scholarly training and began to take a serious interest in the Genizah. </p><p>Europe, USA and Mandatary Palestine </p><p>Jacob Mann studied there and at the University of London between 1908 and 1915 and was no doubt influenced by one who had already been something of a Genizah pioneer, the then Principal of Jews' College, Adolf Bchler.9 Mann's primary interest in the Genizah turned out to be in the history of Jewish communal life and culture in Palestine and Egypt under the Fatimid caliphs but he also collected, deciphered and annotated many liturgical texts.10 He exploited these to reconstruct many elements of the Palestinian rite as imported into Cairo by the refugees from Christian persecution but he was cautious enough not to make exaggerated claims about the degree to which his discoveries represented a pristine version from the Holy Land. As he himself put it in the fundamental study that appeared in the second volume of the Hebrew Union College Annual, 'But it is a moot question, and one very difficult to solve, whether in that house of God Minhag Eres Yisrael was adhered to in its purity without any admixture of a local Egyptian custom (Minhag Misrayim) such as can be detected in Sa'adya's Siddur ... Egyptian Jewry seems early to have become divided in matters of ritual into Babylonian and Palestinian sections.' Mann's research covered a number of central liturgical topics, among them the morning prayers for weekdays, sabbaths and festivals, and the grace after meals.11 </p><p>8 I. Abrahams, 'Some Egyptian fragments of the Passover Hagada', JQR 10 (1897), pp. 41-51, where he acknowledges his debt to Schechter and also cites fragments from the Genizah collections of the Bodleian and of E. N. Adler. On the history of Genizah scholarship in Anglo-Jewry, see Reif, 'Fragments of Anglo-Jewry', The Jewish Year Book 1998, pp. Iviii-lxvii. </p><p>9 See the brief biography by V. Reichert, 'Jacob Mann 1888-1940', AJYB 43, (1941), pp. 407-14. </p><p>10 By 1916, Mann had already researched a long list of Cambridge Genizah fragments of historical interest, as is reported in the diary of the Cambridge University Librarian, Francis Jenkinson, for 8 - 9 June of that year, Cambridge University Library MS Add. 8754, p. 47. Such research resulted in his The Jews in Egypt and Palestine under the Fatimid Caliphs (2 vols; Oxford, 1920-22; reprinted edition with preface and reader's guide by S. D. Goitein; 2 volumes in 1; New York, 1970). </p><p>11 J. Mann, 'Genizah fragments of the Palestinian order of service,' HUCA 2 (1925), pp. 269-338, reprinted in Petuchowski's Contributions (see n. 7 above), pp. 379-448. </p><p>Brought to you by | Heinrich Heine Universitt DsseldorfAuthenticated |</p><p>Download Date | 3/27/14 11:55 AM</p></li><li><p>Recent Studies 233 </p><p>There were also scholars in continental Europe and in the United States who successfully made use of the Genizah discoveries in the early part of the twentieth century for tracing the history of the prayer-book in the late geonic and early medieval periods. In France, Israel Levi published newly found texts of the shema' benedictions, the 'amidah and the qaddish,12 while in Germany Ismar Elbogen, on the basis of photographs of Genizah fragments that he had ordered, was the author of instructive and insightful articles that dealt with problematic liturgical expressions, with festival prayers, and with textual developments in the 'amidah.13 Perhaps even more significantly, Elbogen compiled a comprehensive guide to Jewish liturgical history from the biblical age to the modern period.14 Although he had done important research on the medieval Genizah fragments, and was aware of the textual variations between the rites of Babylon and Eretz Israel that they reflected, Elbogen regarded as pivotal and innovative the role of the talmudic rabbis in fixing the basic texts of the standard prayers. For him, the subsequent thousand years constituted a period of decadence as far as the central prayers were concerned, the creative element having been relegated and restricted to the realm of liturgical poetry.15 </p><p>In the matter of the historical study of Jewish liturgical texts, the legacy of Schechter was taken up at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York by Louis Finkelstein. He amassed a wealth of evidence from the Genizah, from other manuscripts, and from early printed sources which he exploited for his textual, literary and </p><p>12 I. Levi, 'Fragments de rituels de prieres provenant de la Gueniza du Caire', RE] 53 (1907), pp. 231-44. </p><p>13 I. Elbogen, 'Geschichte des Achtzehngebets', MGWJ 46 (1902), pp. 330-57 and 513-30, independently published in Breslau, 1903; Studien zur Geschichte des jdischen Gottesdienstes (Berlin, 1907), published in English as 'Studies in Jewish liturgy', JQR 18 (1906), pp. 587-99, and 19 (1906-7), pp. 229-49 and 704-20; reprinted in Petuchowski's Contributions (see n. 7 above), pp. 1-51. </p><p>14 The original German version was entitled Der jdische Gottesdienst in seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung (Berlin, 1913, 1924, 1931) and was updated in a Hebrew version (Tel Aviv, 1972), edited by J. Heinemann, assisted by I. Adler, A. Negev, J. J. Petuchowski and J. Schirmann, and translated by J. Amir, under the title nVDnn rrnOTin nmnnsnm. That Hebrew version formed the basis of the English translation Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History by Raymond Scheindlin (Philadelphia and New York, 1993). </p><p>15 See Elbogen's remarks, in Scheindlin's translation, p. 213: 'But this [creative] power failed at the end of the talmudic period, and was followed by a slack time, when further development was hindered by severe persecution ... . The later generations ... were content with collecting and securing the treasures that they had inherited from their predecessors ... . But in the area of independent creativity, their powers were inadequate, and they could only content t...</p></li></ul>