Sunday, January 27, 2013

Would we read the table of contents, too?

The 106th Psalm is very long, but if you stay with it all the way to the end, you'll find it concludes with what's called a doxology, or a short hymn of praise:

מז  הוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ,    וְקַבְּצֵנוּ, מִן-הַגּוֹיִם:
לְהֹדוֹת, לְשֵׁם קָדְשֶׁךָ;    לְהִשְׁתַּבֵּחַ, בִּתְהִלָּתֶךָ.
47 Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, {N}
that we may give thanks unto Thy holy name, that we may triumph in Thy praise.
מח  בָּרוּךְ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל,    מִן-הָעוֹלָם וְעַד הָעוֹלָם--
וְאָמַר כָּל-הָעָם    אָמֵן:
48 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting even to everlasting,
and let all the people say: 'Amen.'

These two concluding lines do not connect thematically to the rest of the Psalm, and were likely added afterwards. The most famous example (in Jewish tradition) of a doxology is the kaddish. It's still used this way which is why it is recited at the end of every segment and sub-segment of the davening. If you're having trouble imagining how a doxology works or what purpose it serves think of kaddish, and how we use it, say, to mark the transition from Pisukei D'zimrah to Shachris. The little prayer tacked on to the end of Psalm 106 looks like the same thing.

What I find even more interesting is the doxology at the end of Psalm 106 seems to contain a stage direction. The writer records the doxology ( Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting even to everlasting,) and then provides an instruction for the congregation: ( let all the people say: 'Amen.' Hallelujah.")

Nowadays, anyone who uses this Psalm as a prayer is likely to read the instruction ("let all the people say") as if it was part of the psalm.Would we read the table of contents, too? As a matter of fact most of us do  - at the Passover Seder when we chant the order of events before kiddush.

There are other example of this phenomenon, including the introductory parts of Kedusha, which were intended to be said by the Chazan only, and the parentheticals in the Nusach Sefard (Hasidic) version of davening which are often grammatically unsound and were meant as silent kavanot

Nowadays, however,  the rule seems to be that if its on the page we recite it.

Search for more information about ###  

No comments: