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Am Yisrael sings 20: the musical layers in the synagogue in their historical development

The beginning of the institution of the synagogue is rooted in the gatherings of the people in the temple in the days of Ezra the scribe and the reading of the Torah from his mouth. At first, the gathering was intended for Torah reading, while the liturgical element was added later, such as midrash and Torah study

The remains of the ancient synagogue in Capernaum, from the fourth or fifth century AD. Illustration:
The remains of the ancient synagogue in Capernaum, from the fourth or fifth century AD. Illustration:
  1. The subject image

In one of the previous chapters we already dealt with the institution of the synagogue, including marginal references here and there in my work. Even so, and since music was used and used in the synagogue and was surrounded by special symbols, I chose to set aside a separate chapter for this topic.

The beginning of this institution is rooted in the gatherings of the people in the temple in the days of Ezra the scribe and the reading of the Torah from his mouth. At first the gathering was intended for Torah reading, while the liturgical element was added later, such as midrash and Torah study.

The prayer does not come, in any way, in the place of the sacrifices, but is intended to add scope and depth to the religious-spiritual experience, to the social thought and to the meaning of the congregation.

Some date the establishment of prayer as an institution in the synagogue to the first century CE, which is accepted today among members of the modern research community. And it should be noted that this distinction may serve as a fundamental and significant pillar in the subject under discussion here.

The prayer in the synagogue, the public prayer, was different from the one practiced in the temple. Not only was it very short, but it was not even spoken in the public's ears by an "official" or a "priest", but by the public's own emissary (shelih public / SHC). It was this Hidtash that gave the synagogue a special dimension that was missing, to a certain extent, in the temple. The synagogue, naturally, could not accommodate such a large number of congregants/worshipers/listeners, as was common in the temple, and thus this limited gathering of the public made the institution unique.

The motivated, sung prayer became an important element in the work of the synagogue, and there is no doubt that this was influenced by the music of the temple, and in general - by the musical atmosphere in the temple. The development of the prayer in the first century AD, the period when temple music reached its peak, is more than just a casual coincidence. The multitudes who witnessed the music of the temple and took part in the musical procession, especially in the three pilgrimages, adopted the practice of chanting the prayers and chanting them, upon each man's return to his urban or rural community. At first, it seems, these practices penetrated him and then they were translated from the language of halacha into deed.

Moreover, it is possible that the music that flourished in the synagogue, the one that was mainly vocal and not instrumental, adopted this characterization. Since the use of musical instruments in the synagogue, when the temple was still standing, and especially those special musical instruments that were used in the temple in a prominent and brave context for the offering of the sacrifices, might have been interpreted as a certain manifestation of competition with the temple center - between the institution of the synagogue and the temple.

And it should be noted that even the approach of the early church against the use of musical instruments, even though it was based on a trend of opposition to the pagan symbols of the instruments, was influenced to a certain extent by the synagogue, when it comes to similar trends in their general instruction.

The prayer for its poetic embellishments, including the reading of the Holy Scriptures, as a new and revolutionary work with its own special character and color. Prayer, which is no longer a side effect of the sacrificial work, but work in its own right, paints before us a picture in which the worshiping community becomes an active body that carries out the work, the prayer, without a special supervisor.

Therefore, towards the end of the days of the Temple, the institution of the synagogue began to take on its defined character, one that singled out its essence for the motivated, sung prayer. And we emphasize that these years are the years of the initial activity of Ribaz. However, as long as the temple stood on its end, on its foundation, the former was shadowed by the latter.

With the destruction of the house, a concern arose, as I sought to highlight in the previous chapter, regarding the very existence of the synagogue itself, since it was very closely related, in principle, to the conduct of worship in the temple. However, to the credit of the sages, it can be said that these took care to strengthen and confirm the foundations of the synagogue, not as a force that arbitrarily preserves the tradition of the temple, but as one that will serve as a new, fabricated framework, which will capture around it all the Jews wherever they are there, in the land and in the diaspora. to one religious division. This was the work of sages such as the Rabbis and the President of the Sanhedrin Rabbi Gamliel, who did much to determine the text of the prayer and its editing and more. And to them were added sages such as Rabbi Halfata and Rabbi Hanania Hatanam. It was therefore a period of formulating the prayer and editing it.

It seems that the prayer reached its peak, and at least from the musical aspect, from the third century CE onward, as a phenomenon founded on a special historical conjuncture, and I would like to comment on that later. But it is worth emphasizing right now that the formation of the prayer, from the destruction generation onwards, is based on a certain historical reality. That is, this period did not particularly excel in easy and quiet living conditions: the settlement had not yet recovered from the difficult general situation following the Great Revolt (73-66 AD) and it had already sunk into the cauldron of rebellion during the reign of Emperor Trianus (117-115 AD) and several years later was shaken At the sound of the battle cheers in the altercation between the rebels of Ben Khosva and the Roman troops.

These periods were evidence of punitive measures on behalf of the Roman Empire apart from decrees that were imposed on the Jewish public following the events of the rebellions. Decrees that were hard hitting and that sought to threaten the very existence of Judaism at that time.

A danger hovered, as mentioned, over the very existence of the people in their country and the Sage, out of a clear view and a responsible discernment of the difficult situation and the future fruits of the Baushim that will shorten, Baksho, Nablus and the Arab, strengthen the spirit of the people, erect the falling Tabernacle of David, and this in the form of instructions and regulations of the fruit of the hour Pertaining to the life of the synagogue, to the life of that institution that brought together the Jews in all their communities. These instructions, the product of the period "in the wilderness of Pharaohs in Israel", which are mainly folded into the entire prayer system, turned over time from a temporary instruction to a permanent instruction.

  • Religious-social aspect

It can be said with almost full confidence that one of the most important aspects of the temple worship in general and the temple music in particular, was the desire to bind the people to their temple and to give them the feeling of taking an active, even if certain, part in the rituals themselves.

This trend worked even more strongly in a synagogue, since knowledge shows that this institution, which is common in all Jewish communities, served as a center for smaller audiences, and within this framework a more personal and unmediated relationship of the individual was determined, as an integral part of the whole to its God. And one of the prominent expressions of this we find in the form of the public prayer, the "Amen" prayer, which even in the days of the Temple was distinguished, as we have shown in the previous chapters, from the public prayer in the temple, from the long prayer of "Blessed be the glory of His Majesty forever and ever."

The response of the "Amen" in "Gboolin", we were in the synagogue outside Jerusalem "for every blessing and blessing" (Tasfata Ta'anit 10:XNUMX) the Sage praised him for his correct statement and took care of his honor, according to Rabbi Yossi: "Greater is the season, Amen than the one who blesses" ( Babylonian Talmud with Blessings XNUMX p. b). This is to teach us that sages recognized the importance of the social-religious aspect of the public that gathered in the synagogue. And by the way, due to this reason, this answer was simplified in the Christian churches.

It should be noted that from the third century AD onward, the memory of the "Amen" was very prominent. And the Sages attributed to him enormous power, unprecedented in its dimensions.

Presumably, as the long prayer in the temple was said with pleasure, the short prayer, "Amen," was also said. In the synagogue in a similar way.

The answer of the "artist" raises before us the hidden issue of the "cantor of the Knesset", some researchers reject any connection between him and the music of the period in question, and some point to a close connection.

The cantor appeared in the sources as the bearer of various roles: Melamed Dardaki, Torah reader in the synagogue's public, a messenger of the synagogue, and more. However, an interesting passage in the Tofsa, from the mouth of Rabbi Yehuda, told about the famous "Difflestone" in the Egyptian/Roman Alexandria, which is "like a large bassilki", with staves and cathedrals, "... and a wooden stage was in the middle and the cantor of the Knesset was standing on the horn and the sodrin in his hand. A burden to happen, God bless you and the whole nation, Amen for every blessing and blessing. Let him wave in the sudrin and all the people are concerned, Amen..." (Tosefta Sukkah 6:XNUMX).

It is interesting that the role of the cantor is reminiscent of the role of the "deputy", the "deputy of the priests who stands "on the horn" and gives a signal in "Soderin" to Ben Erza, conductor of the Levite orchestra and its choir, for the beginning of the singing.

Rabbi Yehuda spoke in praise of the synagogue in Alexandria, which may have introduced various customs that were common in the temple. Be that as it may, the role of the cantor was indeed related to music, but it is not purely musical. The cantor is the one who gave the signal to the audience to say the answer "Amen". A similar function, in the Land of Israel, is found in the sources, in the Lent ceremony. There he instructs the priests when to strike their instruments and cheer.

It is possible, as mentioned, that it is not a musical role, but it is, without a doubt, a central figure in the synagogue, who prevails over the torture and the blasts. And it was well rooted in the socio-public landscape of the Zahatz institution.

Another character who integrated well into the discussed issue and spread light on it, was folded in the form of a "public messenger". He is seen as performing a technical role - to voice the public's prayers in a loud voice, as an intermediary whose moral power was to arouse the people to prayer, and as one who led the public out of its duty to pray, the diagnosis of the sources. And some see it as an examination of the honorary conductor who conducts all religious poetry and is helped by the support of the worshiping public.

It seems that this last distinction was close to the spirit of the sources and testified to a certain historical development. In the Mishna we read that during Lent, "Muridin" is taken down before the ark, before the Holy Ark, "old and regular" (Mishnat Tanit 2:1-XNUMX). That is, the one who was used to the fasting prayer, and he recited the XNUMX blessings in front of the public.

In Bariata in the Talmud, from the mouth of Rabbi Yehuda, in relation to the book - "Vergil", he says that among the necessary qualities and qualifications for that person we find the following: "And he has a pleasant voice and a deep voice... He is a public messenger" Talmud Babli Ta'anit XNUMX p. XNUMX ' - p. XNUMX). In other words, in the period after Ben Kusaba's rebellion, the Sages asked to clarify that a gathering messenger must have an Arabic voice and musical knowledge in order for him to say the prayers pleasantly.

Before us is an interesting phenomenon that originates from the uniqueness of the synagogue. This institution was more popular in its approach and structure than the Temple, and anyone who characterized himself as having an Arab voice and not necessarily from a special, privileged family, such as the Levite family, could and was allowed to serve as a "cantor".

Another socio-public revelation comes in the form of a different response, except for "Amen", in which both the "cantor" and other public emissaries were associated, and this is the chanting of "Hallel". The "Hillel", whose place in the temple music was highly respected, flourished and spread in the synagogues as early as the days of the Second Temple, as evidenced in external Jewish literature.

Sages recognized the importance of the "Hallel" from the social-public aspect, when the congregation gathered in the synagogue on holidays and on good days, and it was attentive and alert to the voice of the "Hallel" reciter, in order to maintain the response and create one collective unity in which the religious experience came At its best, at its peak. Against this background, it is possible to understand the wisdom of sages to say "Hallel" in "every language", considering a goal that sanctifies all means, for the sake of those communities, in Israel and in the Diaspora, who lived in Hellenistic and Roman cities and spoke the local, somewhat imperial language.

Sometimes it is a "cantor" who "reads the praise" in public, and sometimes the program is "small" or "big". One way or another, the dispute between sages revealed some flaws in the way the public responded. Regarding the song of the Sea, the Bnei Yisrael said Shira, according to Rabbi Akiva "as a child who recites the Hallel in the scribe's house (another version: in the synagogue), and follows him on every matter and matter". In the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Rabbi Yossi HaGalili - "as great as he reads the Hallel in the synagogue (another version - "in the scribe's house"), and is followed by the first matter" (Tosefta Sota XNUMX:XNUMX). That is, according to Rabbi Akiva, the public answered after the reader, and according to Rabbi Eliezer, the public only repeats the first paragraph of the reading.

This dispute may be interpreted and explained against the background of the fact that in different communities there were different drivers and as long as this did not interfere with the very sanctity of the place and the sanctity of the status, sages did not wave their hand.

And since this is the Mishna paragraph that "where they used to double (all the verses of the "Hallel") - will be doubled. To simplify (not to double) - will simplify. To bless after him (after the "Hallel") - he will bless after him. Everything is according to the custom of the state" (From Sukkah 11:XNUMX). That is, everything according to the local custom, which is based on an existing and widespread authority.

We will only note that the matter of the "Beit HaSofer", that is, the school mentioned above, may teach us about the importance they attributed and valued to the correct saying of the "Hillel" and its introduction as a uniform currency among the public in different regions as is the custom of the country. And the fact that this statement was made pleasantly may give an interesting dimension to Jewish education at that time.

Even in this issue there was a lot of preoccupation with "Hillel" and its importance as the property of sages. Those of the third century CE onwards, and like him also in the "Hudiyot" prayer. This last prayer, through which the social-public aspect of the synagogue can be examined.

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