Thursday, 27 August 2009

Designing My Ideal Siddur - Overview

Most people design siddurim with some kind of innovation in mind. Their claim to fame is the "hiddush". The role is to fill a niche. The need is immortality - to leave a legacy with their own personal stamp.

I plead guilty to many of these, but to me a Siddur is a classic text like Torah or Mishna and therefor an edition should be more about being faithful to the classics than being innovative.

I am going to forgo the issue of translation. For now design is more about a good scholarly or critical edition.

The best scholarly Siddur I know of is the Seligmann Baer Siddur Avodas Yisrael.

My gratitude to Belz School for introducing me to this modern classic.

Along the lines of this Siddur I would have the following components

1 All sources given (meqoroth). Even paraphrases of Miqra, Talmud and Midrash should be footnoted.

Artscroll does a good job on this

2 All Ta'amei Miqra should be restored. This was prevalent in Yekke prayer books until about a century or 2 ago. It is still popular in siddurom from Edoth Mizrach

3 Physical formatting of piyyutim and other rhyming schemes, acrostics and the like should reflect the poetic structure and verse. Koren is really the winner hands-down in physically formatting the page layout to give a visual representation of the Prayers.

4 Preferably mainstream nusach should appear on the text w/o variations. Variations within the text are often confusing. Shinuy nuisachos should be footnoted on the bottom of the page.

5 Optional: an appendix of how certain nusach has "evolved" comparing earlier sources with contemporary ones (masoroth).



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mishneh torah needs no commentary. It states as such within its own Hakadmah. To use a commentary on the vilna text (which has over 10,000 mistakes some of which make muttar the assur and assur the muttar) will only further aid to the misunderstanding of Rambam. I recomend studying just Rambam, preferably not with the Vilna edition, but possibly with the one volume Makbili edition which corrects the mistakes.(it does so based on yemenite manuscripts, some being by rambams own hand)