Speak To The People Of Israel, And Bid Them To Make Tassels On The Corners Of Their Garments, Throughout Their Generations, And To Put Upon The Tassel Of Each Corner A Cord Of Blue

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  • 1. 1 st C CE Jewish Prayers “The Spirituality of Jesus and His Earliest Followers” University of St. Thomas Fr. Jan Michael Joncas 10 September 2008
  • 2. Written Sources
    • TaNaK = Torah + Nebi’im + Ketubim
    • Mishnah = first systematic collection of rabbinic judgments (c. 200 CE)
    • Tosefta = supplement to Mishnah
    • Talmud = compilation of rabbinic discussion
      • Palestinian (c. 400 CE) [N.B. most relevant to Christian origins]
      • Babylonian (c. 500-700 CE)
    • Siddurim = orders of service
  • 3. Non-Written Sources
    • Architectural environments for worship (e.g., Tabernacle, Temple, synagogue, home, burial place)
    • Objects employed in worship (e.g., musical instruments, menorah, tallit, kipput, incense shovel, lulab)
    • Representations of architectural environments or objects employed in worship (e.g., freschi, mosaics, coins)
    • Ritual performances
  • 4. The Shema` Yisra’el: A Jewish Creed Recited at dawn/dusk Surrounded by berakoth Obligatory on all
  • 5.
    • Deuteronomy 6:4 :
    • “Hear, O Israel: YHWH is our God, YHWH is one.”
    • Deuteronomy 6:5-8 : Accepting the Yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven :
      • “You shall love YHWH your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
      • And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart.
  • 6.
      • And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
      • You shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets before your eyes.
      • And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
  • 7.
    • Deuteronomy 11:13-21 : Accepting the Yoke of the Commandments
      • “And if you will obey my commandments which I command you this day, to love YHWH your God, and to serve with with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you shall eat and be full.
  • 8.
      • Take heed lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, and the anger of YHWH be kindled against you, and he shut up the heavens, so that there be no rain, and the land yield no fruit, and you perish quickly off the good land which YHWH gives you.
      • You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes…
  • 9.
      • And you shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And your shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land which YHWH swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”
  • 10.
    • Numbers 15:37-41: The Section on Tassels
      • “YHWH said to Moses: ‘Speak to the people of Israel, and bid them to make tassels on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations, and to put upon the tassel of each corner a cord of blue; and it shall be to you a tassel to look upon and remember all the commandments of YHWH, to do them…
  • 11.
      • …not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to go after wantonly.
      • So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.
      • I am YHWH your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God.
      • I am YHWH your God.”
  • 12. Blessings Surrounding the Shema` Yisra’el
  • 13. Berakah/Berakoth
    • Form
      • “ Blessed are you, YHWH our God, Sovereign of the universe…”
      • Body of the blessing
      • Chatimah [“seal”]: “Blessed are you…”
    • Grammar
      • Verb form that addresses God directly [“you”]
      • Verb form that speaks of God in the third person [“he”]
  • 14.
    • Content
      • Berakoth inspired by concrete “good things”
      • Berakoth inspired by joy in Torah
      • Berakoth not inspired by any particular occasion and expressing either petition or gratitude
  • 15. Yotzer: Morning Blessing on Creation
        • 1 Blessed are You, YHWH our God, ruler of the world, who forms light and creates darkness, makes peace and creates everything, illumining the earth and those who dwell there in mercy, in his goodness forever renewing daily the work of creation.
        • 2 How numerous are your works, YHWH!
        • 3 You have made all of them in wisdom.
        • 4 The earth was filled with your creatures.
        • 5 The exalted ruler ever since, lauded, glorified and extolled for days immemorial, God immemorial, in your great mercy have mercy upon us: Lord, acting as our strength; Rock, acting as our protector; Defender, acting as our salvation; Protector, acting on our behalf….
  • 16.
        • 8 Be blessed, YHWH our God, for the excellent work of your hands, and for the glowing lights that You created, they will glorify you.
        • 9 Be blessed, our Rock, our Ruler and Redeemer; Creator of holy beings, your name be praised forever; our Ruler, who formed his servants who all stand high above the world, reverently and with one voice reciting the words of the living God, the eternal Ruler.
        • 10 They are all beloved; they are all pure; they are all might; and they all carry out their Creator’s will with awe and reverence.
        • 11 They all open their mouths with holiness and purity, with poetry and song, and bless, praise, glorify and adore, sanctify and exalt the name of God, great, mighty and awesome ruler, the Holy One.
  • 17.
        • 12 And from each other they all take the rule of the kingdom of heaven upon themselves, and give permission to each other to sanctify their creator.
        • 13 With calm spirit, with pure speech, and with holy melody, they all answer as one, reverently: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.
        • 14 The whole earth is full of his glory.”
        • 15 The ofanim and the holy creatures rise dramatically toward the serafim.
        • 16 Before them they praise God: “The glory of YHWH is blessed from this place.”
        • 17 To the blessed God they shall render songs, to the ruler, the living and eternal God, they shall sing hymns and proclaim praise, for He alone is a worker of wonder, a creator of innovation, a master of war, a sower of righteousness, a grower of salvation, a creator of healing, awesome in splendor, a Lord of wonder, in his goodness forever renewing daily the work of creation.
  • 18.
        • 18 As it is said: “…to the maker of the great lights, whose mercy is everlasting.”
        • 19 Shine a new light on Zion, that we all might soon merit its light.
        • 20 Blessed are You, YHWH, creator of the lights.
        • From: Lawrence A. Hoffman (ed.), My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries. Volume 1: The Sh’ma and Its Blessings . (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1997) 41-43 (alt).
  • 19. Birkat Hatorah: Morning Blessing on Revelation
        • 1 You have loved us most lovingly, YHWH our God, cared for us greatly, even exceedingly caringly.
        • 2 Our Father, our ruler, for the sake of our ancestors who trusted in You and whom You therefore taught the laws of life, so be gracious to us and teach them to us.
        • 3 Our Father, merciful Father, show us mercy and inspire us to understand and to consider, to listen, learn, and teach, to keep and do and perpetuate all the teachings of your Torah in love.
        • 4 Enlighten our eyes with your Torah and draw our minds near to You with your commandments and unite our hearts to love and revere your name, that we will never be shamed.
        • 5 Because we have trusted your great and awesome name, we will rejoice and celebrate with your salvation.
        • 6 Bring us peace from the four corners of the earth and lead us upright to our land.
  • 20.
        • 7 It is You who are the God who effects salvation.
        • 8 You have chosen us from among all peoples and nations and brought us closer to your great name with truth, to acknowledge You and declare your unity with love.
        • 9 Blessed are You, YHWH, who chooses his People Israel with love.
        • From: Lawrence A. Hoffman (ed.), My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries. Volume 1: The Sh’ma and Its Blessings . (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1997) 67 (alt).
  • 21. G’ullah: Morning Blessing on Redemption
        • 1 True and established and accurate and enduring and right and steadfast and beloved and precious and desirable and pleasant and awesome and mighty and correct and accepted and good and beautiful for us are these words for ever and ever.
        • 2 True it is that the everlasting God is our ruler, the rock of Jacob is our saving shield.
        • 3 From generation to generation He endures, and his name endures, and his decrees are accurate and his reign and faithfulness endure forever, and his words live and endure, steadfast and desirable, forever and to the ends of time, for our ancestors and for us, for our children and for our generations, and for all of the generations of the progeny of Israel, your servants.
        • 4 For the first and for the last, these words are good and enduring for ever and ever, truth and faith, a law that will not pass.
  • 22.
        • 5 True it is that You are YHWH our God, and our ancestors’ God, our ruler, our ancestors’ ruler, our redeemer, our ancestors’ redeemer, our creator, our saving rock, our deliverer, and our rescuer.
        • 6 Your name is eternal.
        • 7 There is no god but You.
        • 8 You have always been our ancestors’ help, protecting and saving their children after them in each and every generation.
        • 9 High above the world lies your habitation, and your justice and righteousness reach the ends of the earth.
        • 10 Happy is the one who obeys your commandments, taking your Torah and your words to heart.
        • 11 True it is that You are lord over your people, and a mighty ruler to battle their battle.
        • 12 True it is that You are the first and You are the last, and other than You we have no king who redeems and saves.
  • 23.
        • 13 You redeemed us from Egypt, YHWH our God, and You set us free from the House of Bondage.
        • 14 You killed all their first-born, and redeemed your first-born, and You parted the Red Sea and drowned the insolent and brought the precious across the water, and the water covered up their foes.
        • 15 Not one of them was left.
        • 16 The beloved lauded and praised God for this, and the precious offered hymns, songs and praises, blessings and thanks to our ruler, the living and eternal God, high and exalted, great and revered, humbling the proud and raising the humble, freeing the captive and redeeming the meek, helping the poor and answering his people when they cry out to him for help.
        • 17 All praise to God on high, most blessed be He.
  • 24.
        • 18 Moses and the children of Israel most joyfully answer You in song, all of them singing: “Who is like You among the gods, YHWH! Who is like You, adorned in holiness, Revered in praise, worker of wonders!”
        • 19 At the seashore the redeemed sang a new song to your name.
        • 20 Together they all gave thanks, exalting You with these words: “YHWH will reign for ever and ever.”
        • 21 Rock of Israel, arise to help Israel, and deliver Judah and Israel, as you promised.
        • 22 Our redeemer, Lord of Hosts is his name, Israel’s holy one.
        • 23 Blessed are You, YHWH, who redeemed Israel.
        • From: Lawrence A. Hoffman (ed.), My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries. Volume 1: The Sh’ma and Its Blessings. (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1997) 117-119 (alt).
  • 25. Evening Blessings
    • Birkat Ma’ariv = “Evening Blessing”
    • Ahavat ‘Olam = “Blessing of Eternal Love”
    • SHEMA
    • Birkat G’ulah = “Blessing of Redemption”
    • Hashkiveinu = “Blessing for Retiring”
  • 26. The Tefillah = THE Prayer Amidah = Standing Prayer Shemoneh Esreh = Eighteen Benedictions Recited three times a day Obligatory on adult males
  • 27. Blessings 1 – 3: Blessings of Praise
      • Blessing 1– Avot: “Ancestors”
        • 1 Blessed are You, YHWH, our God and our ancestors’ God: Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God, great, mighty, and revered God, supreme God, who acts most piously, who is master of everything, who remembers the piety of our ancestors, and who brings a redeemer to their descendants for the sake of his name in love.
        • [2 = Embolism from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur]
        • 3 Our king helps and saves and protects!
        • 4 Blessed are You, YHWH, Abraham’s protector.
  • 28.
        • Blessing 2 – G’vurot: “God’s Power”
        • 1 You are forever mighty, YHWH; giving life to the dead, You are a mighty savior.
        • [2 = Embolism from Sh’mini Atseret to the first day of Passover]
        • [3 = Embolism from the first day of Passover to Sh’mini Atseret]
        • 4 You sustain life with kindness, giving life to the dead with great mercy, supporting the fallen, healing the sick, and freeing the captive, and keeping faith with sleepers in the dust.
        • 5 Who is like You, master of might, and who resembles You, a King who causes death and causes life, and causes salvation to flourish!.
        • [6 Embolism from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur]
        • 7 You faithfully give life to the dead.
        • 8 Blessed are You,YHWH, who gives life to the dead.
  • 29.
        • Blessing 3 – K’dushet Hashem: “Sanctification of God’s Name”
        • 1 You are holy, and your name is holy, and holy beings will praise you every day forever.
        • 2 Blessed are You, YHWH, the holy God.
        • From: Lawrence A. Hoffman (ed.), My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries. Volume 2: The Amidah. (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998) 57-59 (alt).
  • 30. Blessings 4 – 15: Blessings of Petition
      • Blessings 4 – 9: Blessings for Personal Needs
      • Blessings 4 – 6: Spiritual Needs of the Individual
      • Blessing 4 – Binah: “Knowledge”
        • 1 You favor people with knowledge and teach mortals understanding.
        • 2 Favor us with your knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
        • 3 Blessed are You, YHWH, who favors people with knowledge.
        • Blessing 5 – T’Shuvah: “Repentance”
        • 1 Bring us back to your Torah, our father, draw us near to your service, our king, and turn us back, in perfect repentance before You.
        • 2 Blessed are You, YHWH, who takes pleasure in repentance.
        • Blessing 6 – S’lichah: “Forgiveness”
        • 1 Forgive us, our father, for we have sinned.
        • 2 Pardon us, our king, for we have transgressed, for You forgive and pardon.
        • 3 Blessed are You, YHWH, who is gracious and quick to forgive
  • 31.
        • Blessings 7 – 9: Material Needs of the Individual
        • Blessing 7 – G’ulah: “Deliverance”
        • 1 See our affliction and fight our fight; redeem us for the sake of your name, for You are a mighty redeemer.
        • 2 Blessed are You, YHWH, who redeems Israel.
        • [3-8 = Embolism on fast days]
        • Blessing 8 – R’fu’ah: “Healing”
        • 1 Heal us, YHWH, that we shall be healed.
        • 2 Save us that we shall be saved, for You are our praise.
        • 3 Bring complete healing to all of our wounds.
        • [4 = Embolism if praying for a specific individual]
        • 5 For You are our sovereign, steadfast, merciful healing God.
        • 6 Praised are You, YHWH, who heals the sick among his People Israel.
  • 32.
        • Blessing 9 – Shanim: “Years”
        • 1 Bless this year for us along with all its various produce for goodness, YHWH our God, and grant [dew and rain for] blessing upon the surface of the earth, and satisfy us with its goodness and bless our year like the best of years.
        • 3 Blessed are You, YHWH, who blesses our years.
  • 33.
    • Blessings 10 – 15: Needs of the Jewish People and of Society
        • Blessing 10 – Kibbutz Galuyot: “Gathering the Exiles”
        • 1 Sound a great shofar for our freedom, and lift up a banner to gather our exiles, and gather us together from the four corners of the earth.
        • 2 Blessed are You, YHWH, who gathers the dispersed among his People Israel.
  • 34.
        • Blessing 11 – Mishpat: “Justice”
        • 1 Restore our judges as in days of old and our counselors as in former times.
        • 2 And remove sorrow and complaint from among us, and reign over us, You alone, YHWH, in kindness and mercy, and acquit us in trial.
        • 3 Blessed are You, YHWH our king, who loves righteousness and justice / the king of justice.
        • Blessing 12 – Minim: “Heretics”
        • 1 May there be no hope for slanderers, and may all wickedness instantly perish, and may all your enemies quickly be destroyed.
        • 2 May You quickly uproot, smash, destroy, and humble the insolent quickly in our day.
        • 3 Blessed are You, YHWH, who smashes his enemies and humbles the insolent.
  • 35.
        • Blessing 13 – Tsadikim: “The Righteous”
        • 1 Show compassion to the righteous, to the pious, to the leaders of your People, the House of Israel, to the remnants of their sages, to righteous converts, and to us, YHWH our God.
        • 2 And give a good reward to all who truly trust in your name, and let our lot be among them forever that we will not be shamed, for we put our trust in You.
        • 3 Blessed are You, YHWH, who is the support and trust of the righteous.
        • Blessing 14 – Y’rushalayim: “Jerusalem”
        • 1 Return to Jerusalem your city in compassion, and dwell in its midst as You promised You would, and rebuild it soon in our day into an eternal structure, and quickly establish David’s throne within it.
        • 2 Blessed are You, YHWH, who rebuilds Jerusalem.
  • 36.
        • Blessing 15 – David
        • 1 Cause the progeny of David, your servant, to blossom quickly.
        • 2 Let him shine in your deliverance, for we await your salvation every day.
        • 3 Blessed are You, YHWH, who causes the light of salvation to blossom.
        • Blessing 16: Summary Petitionary Blessing
        • Blessing 16 – T’fillah (“Prayer”)
        • 1 Hear our voice, YHWH our God.
        • 2 Have pity and mercy on us, and accept our prayer with favor, for You are the God who hears our prayers and supplications.
        • 3 Do not turn us away from You, our ruler, empty-handed, for You hear the prayer of your People Israel in mercy.
        • 4 Blessed are You, YHWH, who hears prayer.
        • From: Lawrence A. Hoffman (ed.), My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries. Volume 2: The Amidah. (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998) 95 -99 (alt).
  • 37. Blessings 17 – 19: Blessings of Thanksgiving
      • Blessing 17 – Avodah: “Sacrificial Service”
        • 1 Find favor, YHWH our God, in your People Israel and in their prayer.
        • 2 And return the sacrifice to the Holy of Holies. In favor accept the fire-offerings of Israel and their prayers in love.
        • 3 And may the service of Israel Your People always be favorable
        • [4-8 = Embolism on Rosh Chodesh (New Moon), Chol Hamo’ed (intermediary days of Passover and Sukkot), Passover, Sukkot]
        • 9 May our eyes behold your return to Zion in mercy.
        • 10 Blessed are You,YHWH, who restores his divine presence in Zion.
  • 38.
        • Blessing 18 – Hoda’ah: “Grateful Acknowledgment”
        • 1 We gratefully acknowledge that You are YHWH our God and our ancestors’ God for ever and ever.
        • 2 You are the rock of our lives and the shield of our salvation from generation to generation.
        • 3 We gratefully acknowledge You by rendering your praises, for our lives, which are in your hands, and for our souls, which are entrusted to You, and for your miracles that are with us on each day, and for the wonders and goodness at every time, evening, morning, and afternoon.
        • 4 You are good, for your mercy never ceases.
        • 5 You are merciful, for your kindness never ends.
        • 6 You have always been our hope.
        • [7 - 10 = The Modim D’rabbanan]
        • [11 - 16 = Embolism for Chanukah]
        • [17 – 20 = Embolism for Purim]
        • 21 For all of these your name will be blessed and exalted, our king, forever to the ends of time.
        • [22 = Embolism from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur]
  • 39.
        • 23 All that lives will gratefully acknowledge You forever and praise your name in truth, God, our salvation and our help, forever.
        • 24 Blessed are You, YHWH, whose name is good and to whom grateful acknowledgment is befitting.
        • Blessing 19 – Birkat Kohanim / Shalom: “The Priestly Blessing” / “Peace”
        • 1 Our God and our ancestors’ God, bless us with the threefold blessing in the Torah, written by Moses your servant, and said by Aaron and his sons the priests, your holy people:
        • 2 “May YHWH bless you and keep you.
        • 3 May YHWH shine his face toward you and treat you graciously.
        • 4 May YHWH lift his face toward you and grant you peace.”
        • 5 Grant peace, goodness, and blessing, grace, kindness, and mercy to us and to all of Israel, your People.
        • 6 Bless us, our Father, all of us as one, in the light of your face, for in the light of your face, YHWH our God, You gave us a Torah of life, a love of grace, righteousness, blessing, mercy, life, and peace.
  • 40.
        • 7 You see fit to bless your People Israel at all times, at every hour, with your peace.
        • 8 Blessed are You, YHWH, who blesses his People Israel with peace.
        • [9-10: Alternative ending from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur]
        • From: Lawrence A. Hoffman (ed.), My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries. Volume 2: The Amidah. (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998) 149 – 153 (alt).
  • 41. Jewish Meal Prayers
  • 42. Before the Meal: Birkat ha Motzi
    • Ba-ruch a-tah A-do-nai E-lo- hei -nu Me -lech Ha-o-lam, ha- mo -tzi le -chem min ha- a -retz. Blessed are You, Adonai , our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.
  • 43. After the Meal: Birkat ha Mazon
      • Birkat Hazan (the blessing for providing food), which thanks God for giving food to the world.
      • Birkat Ha-Aretz (the blessing for the land), which thanks God for bringing His people forth from the land of Egypt, for making His covenant with His people, and for giving the land of Israel as an inheritance.
      • Birkat Yerushalayim (the blessing for Jerusalem), which prays for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the coming of the Messiah.
      • Birkat Ha-Tov v'Ha-Maytiv (the blessing for being good and doing good), was added after the destruction of the Temple, although it existed before that time.
  • 44. Birkat ha-zan: “Blessing for food”
    • Blessed are you, YHWH our God, Sovereign of the universe, who blesses the whole [kol] world with your goodness, with lovingkindness [chesed] and tender mercy [rahamim].
    • You give food to all [kol] flesh, for your lovingkindness [chesed] endures forever.
    • Through your great goodness food has never failed us: O may it not fail us forever and ever for your great Name’s sake, since you nourish and sustain all [kol] beings, and go good unto all [kol], and provide food for all [kol] your creatures whom you have created.
    • Blessed are you, YHWH, who gives food to all [kol].”
  • 45. Birkat ha-’aretz: “Blessing for the land”
      • We thank you, YHWH our God, because you gave as a heritage under our fathers a desirable, good and ample land,
      • And because you brought us forth, YHWH our God, from the land of Egypt and delivered us from the house of bondage;
      • As well as for your covenant which you have sealed in our flesh,
      • Your Torah which you have taught us,
      • You statutes which you have made known to us,
      • The life, grace and lovingkindness which you have bestowed upon us,
      • And for the food with which you constantly feed and sustain us on every day, in every season, at every hour.
  • 46.
      • For all this, YHWH our God, we thank and bless you.
      • Blessed be your Name by the mouth of all living continually and forever, even as it is written: “And you shall eat and be satisfied and you shall bless YHWH your God for the good land which he has given you” [Deteronomy 8:10].
      • Blessed are you, YHWH, for the land and for the food.
  • 47. Birkat Yerushalayim : “Blessing for Jerusalem”
      • Have mercy, YHWH our God, upon Israel your people, upon Jerusalem your city, upon Zion the abiding place of your glory, upon the kingdom of the house of David, and upon the great and holy house that was called by your Name.
      • YHWH our God, our Father, feed us, nourish us, sustain, support and relieve us, and speedily, YHWH our God, grant us relief from all our troubles.
      • We beseech you, YHWH our God, let us not be in need either of the gifts of mortals or of their loans, but only of your helping hand, which is full, open, holy and ample, so that we may never be put to shame or humiliated.
  • 48.
      • And rebuild Jerusalem the holy city speedily in our days.
      • Blessed are you, YHWH, who in his compassion rebuilds Jerusalem.
      • Amen.”
  • 49. Themes of Birkat ha-Mazon
    • BLESSING for food = creation
    • THANKSGIVING for land = redemption
    • PETITION for needs = consummation
  • 50. Recommended Reading
    • Carmine DiSante, Jewish Prayer: The Origins of Christian Liturgy (New York/Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1991).
    • Lawrence A. Hoffman, My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers Modern Commentaries (Woodstock, NY: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1997- ) 7 volumes presently available.
    • Hayim Halevy Donin, To Pray as a Jew: A Guide to the Prayer Book and the Synagogue Service (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1980).