Monday, September 13, 2010

Me and my favorite machzor

My favorite machzor is the zichron lipa a pocket sized, hard cover,  ashkenaz machzor that goes with me even when I have the misfortune of davening with sefardim.

Pocket size is better (for as long as my eyes last) because I can hold it in my hand, easily and comfortably. And if it closes by itself,  as some complain the small machzorim do when they are left unattended on a table, you know what I do? I take three seconds and flip it back to the right page. Three seconds.

I'll happily pay those three second as often as needed if it means I get a machzor that is light, and can be held easily with one hand.

Pocket sized rules. I have no love at all for bulky, cyclopean machzorim that remind me of the too-big book Popes use at mass. Another benefit of the smaller machzorim is that they reduce the need for tables and removing the tables reduces crowding and makes everyone more comfortable.

The Birnbaum machzor isn't bad either, It offers a better translation and commentary as compared with the Art Scroll. Two examples of Birnbaum's superiority : (1) In the Art Scroll, several piyutim are attributed to annonymous; in the Birnbaum most of the "annonymous" authors are identified. (2) Art Scroll insists that the acrostics have "kabbalistic" significance, and provides drivel-heavy explanations of the method; Birnbaum tells the truth, i.e., in the days before the printing press, acrostics were an essesntial memory aid. The downside of Birnbaum is that is doesn't come in a pocket-sized, and owing to a flaky eccentricity of the editor, the book is hard to use. According to the Introduction, Philip Birnbaum fretted that using fonts of different sizes or weights might suggest to a reader that not all of the prayers are equal. Rather than mislead someone, he chose to use the exact same font style for every prayer. This was not a user-friendly decision. The use of one font makes it harder for a skimmer to find the place, and dramatically reduces the visual appeal of the page.

If anyone knows of a critical-edition of the Yom Kippur machzor, please provide me with a link.

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