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Addir Addirenu On Shabbat & Beyond

Jonah Rank


Dedicated to Rabbi Dr. Raymond Scheindlin’s many years of inspiring scholarship on Jewish liturgy and Arabic and Hebrew literature and language.



On what days is it proper to include Addir Addirenu[1] in the Kedushah[2]?



Over the course of Jewish liturgical history, varying parameters have determined differing limitations on and reasons for reciting Addir Addirenu. Those who have concluded different answers to the above question have considered several myths embedded in midrashim (מִדְרָשִׁים, “interpretations”) and peyrushim (פֵּירוּשִׁים, “commentaries”) that render Addir Addirenu appropriate or inappropriate to recite at different times of the year. Before exploring the practical answers given by different posekim (פּוֹסְֿקִים, “decisors” of Jewish law), it is important to seek an understanding of the homiletics and polemics that underlie the rationales justifying the omission or recitation of Addir Addirenu.[3] This teshuvah therefore considers the historical origins of Addir Addirenu, the aggadah (אַגָּדָה, “lore”) that ushered in the evolution of practices surrounding Addir Addirenu and, lastly, the legalistic sources ruling on the recitation of Addir Addirenu and contemporary practice.


The Literary Emergence of Addir Addirenu

Addir Addirenu never appeared in the liturgical works and commentaries attributed to Amram Ga’on (of 9th century Babylonia) and Sa’adiah Ga’on (of Babylonia; b.[4] c.[5] 882, d.[6] c. 942). It is possible that zero rabbis who preceded the 11th century C.E. knew of Addir Addirenu. Rabbi Ismar Elbogen (of Germany; b. 1874, d. 1943) determined that Addir Addirenu is “Ashkenazic in origin” and with “its wording appear[ing] to be influenced by a piyyut [פיוט, liturgical ‘poem’] of R. Meshulam b. Kalonymus” (whose death Elbogen dated to occurring circa 1000).[7] Specifically, Elbogen pointed to the kerova (קרובא, the metonymic term for the total sum of—as infixed between the earlier fixed texts of the Amidah—the liturgical poetry inserted throughout the Amidah by, literally the kerova, “the one who has come near” the Ark to lead services)[8] in the standardized Ashkenazic recitation of Shaharit (שחרית, the “morning” service) on Yom Kippur. Elbogen suggested that, throughout these poetic punctuations, “the word adir [i.e., אַדִּיר, “the glory”] plays a special role; particular notice should be paid to the last part of the version of the Kedushah in which the repeating words are [יְיָ אֲדֹנֵֽינוּ, Adonai adonenu: ‘Adonai our Lord’] and מָה אַדִּיר שִׁמְך [mah addir shimkha, ‘how glorious is Your name’].”[9] Current scholarship demands that a critical lens review this claim. Daniel Goldschmidt (of Germany and, later, Israel; b. 1895, d. 1972) noted that Rabbi Leopold Zunz (also of Germany; b. 1794, d. 1886) identified only a portion of this piyyut as work originally composed by Rabbenu Meshullam.[10] Moreover, many parts of the kerova that are known to be authored by Rabbenu Meshullam contain no hint of the mythical themes (to be discussed later in this teshuvah) or alefdaletreysh (א-ד-ר) triliteral root that would later develop into Addir Addirenu.[11] Still, several passages of unknowable authorship (perhaps by, earlier than, contemporaneous with, or later than Rabbenu Meshullam) do utilize the alefdaletreysh root.[12] And occasionally, authorship of passages in this kerova with the themes or linguistic root of addir can be identified to be somebody who was definitively not Rabbenu Meshullam.[13] Still, evidence corroborates Elbogen’s linking Addir Addirenu with Rabbenu Meshullam’s kerova, for several passages by Rabbenu Meshullam do indeed include language and themes associated with Addir Addirenu.[14] Likewise, some passages seeming to be (but not provable to be) by Rabbenu Meshullam integrate the language and themes of Addir Addirenu.[15]

Through much of the kerova, themes relating to foreign nations’ inferiority to the majesty of God or the unity of God do appear; however, these themes are common themes in the scheme of any texts that would naturally surround or appear amidst a kerova. Moreover, though alefdaletreysh can be found in the kerova with greater frequency than several other recurring triliteral roots, the reader may question the usefulness of Elbogen’s claim that the term addir “plays a special role” in this kerova.[16] Considering the quantity of the several dozen piyyutim   (פִּיּוּטִים, the plural of piyyut) attributable to Rabbenu Meshullam or even the quantity of piyyutim appearing in this kerova (which occupy 91 pages of Goldschmidt’s print of the Yom Kippur service[17]), the occurrences of addir’s root letters number relatively few (as do the appearance of themes mythically linked exclusively to the development of Addir Addirenu). As present as the root and backstory of addir may be in the kerova of Yom Kippur’s Shaharit, critical thinkers may reserve the right to doubt whether this piyyut truly served as a major inspiration for the development of Addir Addirenu.

Though Elbogen’s suggestion suffers from certain faults, we will see that at least one medieval French Jew believed that the origins of Addir Addirenu lied in abandoned liturgical poetry.[18]



Stories From Rashi’s School

Due to the historical layers of his disciples’ authorship lying on top one another, the complexities of dating the writings attributed to the school of Rashi (רַשִׁ”י—the acronym of Rabbi Shelomoh Yitzchaki [רַבִּי שְֿׁלֹמֹה יִצְחֲקִי] of France, b. c. 1028[19], d. c. 1105) make it difficult to ascertain if they were indeed the earliest to write of Addir Addirenu. Rachel Zohn Mincer has described Sefer HaPardes (ספר הפרדס) as a “twelfth century school-of-Rashi book,”[20] which could make the work the earliest to mention Addir Addirenu. The editio princeps of Sefer HaPardes records Rashi’s school teaching the following:


ואין אומר אדיר אדירינו בקדושה, אלא בראש השנה ליום[21] הכיפורים, לא יותר, לפי שהוא שיר של מלאכים, ולא התירו לאומרה אלא באילו הימים שהן ימי הדין. אבל בשאר ימים טובים ובכל שבתות של כל השנה אין אומר. אבל רבי׳ אליקים גזר לשליח צבור לאומרו פעם אחת בעצרת משום האי טעמא דאמר, הלא אותו שיר לא אמרוהו מלאכים אלא בשעת מתן תורה כדגרסינן במסכ׳ שבת: בשעה שנתן הקב״ה תורה לישראל אמרו מלאכי השרת, ״ה׳ הדונינו[22] מה אדיר שמך בכל הארץ, תנה הודך על השמים!?״ לכך, בדין לאומרו בעצרת משום מתן תורה בו ביום.

One does not recite Addir Addirenu during the Kedushah except on Rosh HaShanah for[23] Yom Kippur—not more [frequently], for it is a song of angels, and they did not permit us to recite it except on these days that are the days of judgment. But on the remaining days of Yom Tov[24] and any other Shabbat of the whole year, one does not recite [Addir Addirenu]. Yet Rabbenu Elyakim [of Speyer; b. c. 1030, d. c. 1100] decreed that the emissary of the community [leading prayer on their behalf] should recite it once—on Shavu’ot—on account of this reason: For he said: Is this not the same song that the angels did not recite except during the moment of the giving of the Torah—just as they teach us in the [Babylonian Talmud’s] tractate Shabbat: At the moment that the Holy Blessed One give the Torah to Israel, the ministering angels said, “Adonai hadoneynu[25], how glorious is Your name throughout the earth! Give of Your glory over the heavens (Psalm 8:2)!?” Therefore, it is the law to recite it on Shavu’ot on account of the giving of the Torah being on that very day.[26]


In the realm of aggadah, it must be noted that Sefer HaPardes references an integral midrash in the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 88b-89a. In it, angels express their envy when God gifts the Torah to humans and not to the angels. Though Sefer HaPardes and two other medieval narrative-etiological sources presented in this teshuvah and citing this midrash[27] are rooted in rabbinic traditions that precede them,[28] those earlier teachings never reference Addir Addirenu specifically. In every earlier version of this midrash, God concludes that the Torah will be gifted to Beney Yisra’el (בְּֿנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, “the children of Israel”) and not to the angels (who beg otherwise). In this tale, God establishes that those heavenly beings’ transcendental and incorporeal lives have no relevance to the mundane concerns of the Torah’s laws guiding social living.

Beyond the aggadah embedded in this part of Sefer HaPardes, the reader must still consider its pertinence to halakhah (הֲלָכָה, the “path” of Jewish law). Elbogen interpreted this passage from Sefer HaPardes as teaching that some time lapsed during which Addir Addirenu was recited only on the High Holidays before Rabbenu Elyakim (of the 11th century) ruled it most appropriate to include this passage on Shavu’ot.[29] But the present tense of the verbs in Sefer HaPardes’ ruling regarding the recitation of Addir Addirenu on only the High Holidays (despite the text’s giving voice to Rabbenu Elyakim) poses a challenge to Elbogen’s reading: How could one accept Rashi’s school’s ruling that the worshipper recites Addir Addirenu only on the High Holidays if Rabbenu Elyakim ruled otherwise far earlier? One must question whether Addir Addirenu was sung on the High Holidays for more than a few years before Rabbi Elyakim decreed its recitation on Shavu’ot. Unless Rashi himself—and not merely his disciples—knew of Addir Addirenu, Rabbenu Elyakim would be the oldest and sole authority to whom knowledge of Addir Addirenu has been attributed. That no written record of this prayer predates Rabbenu Elyakim leaves the reader doubting whether Rabbenu Elyakim in fact changed the practice of reciting Addir Addirenu or perhaps innovated (or knew of) the practice of reciting Addir Addirenu. Especially given that Rashi’s school wrote in the present tense of only reciting Addir Addirenu on the High Holidays, the possibility remains that Rabbenu Elyakim never demanded any change in practice as described by Rashi’s disciples. It is plausible that oral traditions crafted by Rashi’s students attributed to Rabbenu Elyakim—as he was a contemporary of their master—the expanding practice of reciting Addir Addirenu at one other time of the year (even though Rabbenu Elyakim is not presumed to have recited Addir Addirenu on the High Holidays at all). Ascribing to two contemporaneous sages the discrepancy over the frequency with which Addir Addirenu should be recited would have allayed the anxiety of any pupils afraid to challenge custom as presented by their primary authority, Rashi.

The echoes of competing authorities resound clearly in Sefer HaPardes even beyond the anonymized collective voice of Rashi’s school contrasted with the teaching in Rabbenu Elyakim’s name. Rashi’s students do not simply state that the correct practice is to recite Addir Addirenu on the High Holidays, but they also go out of their way to denounce reciting these words on Shabbat and any day of Yom Tov other than the High Holidays. Just as one would not expect a legal code to reject the recitation of Ne’ilah on Rosh HaShanah—for Ne’ilah was composed exclusively for and thematically linked to Yom Kippur—no reason would necessitate the rejection of reciting High Holiday liturgy on other days of Yom Tov or Shabbat—unless Addir Addirenu were already thematically linked to, or actually recited on, other days of Yom Tov or Shabbat. Sefer HaPardes’ verbosity in repudiating Addir Addirenu as a text for Shabbat or Yom Tov steers the reader towards the conjecture that Rashi’s school knew deviant Jews who recited Addir Addirenu over a dozen times or several dozen times a year. Indeed, Mahzor Vitry (מחזור ויטרי, composed by a circle of Rashi’s disciples and recognized by other halakhic authorities by the 13th century)[30] indeed stipulates that Addir Addirenu be sung every Shabbat[31] (and less astonishingly also deems it appropriate to recite on Yom Tov)[32].

            Another literary tradent from Rashi’s school, Seder Troyes, by Rabbi Menahem ben HaRav Yosef HaLevi Hazzan (c. end of 13th century), in chapter 10 (פרק י), recorded his community’s practice of reciting Addir Addirenu not necessarily every Shabbat, but certainly more frequently than Sefer HaPardes deemed acceptable. As it turns out, several of the times Seder Troyes lists for the recitation of Addir Addirenu are occasions that no authority before or after is recorded to have specifically advised:


אזכיר תחילה כי מנהגנו לומר אדיר אדירנו בכל ימים טובים, גם בשבת ר”ח ושבת נישואין ושבת דברות: יתרו, ואתחנן, אבל לא בשבת בשלח והאזינו, וגם לא בשבת שמסיימין כל אחד מה’ חומשי תורה. ואין אנו רגילים לומ’ אלהיכם אני פצתי לפי שאין בו לשון צח כמו באדיר אדירנו וגם החיות בוערות הניחו לאמר׳ אבי זצ״ל לפי שאין בו לשון צח.

I will first mention that our practice is to recite Addir Addirenu on all days of Yom Tov, and also on Shabbat of Rosh Hodesh (רֹאשׁ חֹֽדֶשׁ, “the beginning of the [new] month”), and the Shabbat [preceding] a wedding, and a Shabbat when reading the [ten] utterances—Yitro and Va’ethannan— but not on the Shabbat of Beshallah and Ha’azinu, and not on a Shabbat when we complete any of the five books of the Torah, and we are not accustomed to reciting [the piyyut] “Eloheykhem Ani Patzti” (“אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֲנִי פַּֽצְתִּי”),[33] for the language in it is not as clear as that in Addir Addirenu. And also they permitted my father [not][34] to recite [the piyyut] HaHayyot Bo’arot (הַחַיּוֹת בּוֹעֲרוֹת, “the [celestial] creatures burning”),[35] for the language in it is not clear.


From the language of prohibition, it would seem that, in addition to the times the author saw fit for Addir Addirenu (every day of Yom Tov, every Shabbat coinciding with Rosh Hodesh, when communities read the Decalogue in Parashat Yitro and Parashat Va’ethannan, and the Shabbat preceding a wedding), there were communities that also recited Addir Addirenu on those Shabbatot (שַׁבָּתוֹת, the plural of Shabbat) during which the readings of Beshallah and Ha’azinu or any final pericope of the five books of the Torah were read. Moreover, it seems plausible that Addir Addirenu replaced at least one rather impenetrable (and now forgotten) piyyut sung on special occasions.[36] It may have taken the place of either Elohim Ani Patzti (the two incipient words of which, like Addir Addirenu, began with alef[37]), or HaHayyot Bo’arot (the incipient words of which verify the esotericism of its speculative content that may have been far from a crowd-pleaser).[38]

Yet, Rashi’s school delineated elsewhere a limited familiarity with Addir Addirenu, further intimating the likelihood that no unanimity determined the correct practice of reciting Addir Addirenu among Rashi’s followers. Siddur Rashi par. 216 (סִדּוּר רַשִׁ”י סי׳ רטז)—which, despite including Rashi’s signature, might not have been authored by Rashi himself[39]—references in passing just the two incipient words of Addir Addirenu as an addition to the Kedushah of the Amidah during Ne’ilah (נְֿעִילָה), the final service of Yom Kippur.[40] Siddur Rashi evidently knew of no such recitation of Addir Addirenu on the other High Holiday, Rosh HaShanah (or, for that matter, during any other service occurring on Yom Kippur). Between Siddur Rashi, Mahzor Vitry, Seder Troyes and Sefer HaPardes, the records of Rashi’s school report that Addir Addirenu had been recited (though not always properly) in accordance with at least seven different customs: (1) according to Siddur Rashi, only during Ne’ilah; (2) according to Sefer HaPardes’ incipient authority, on all High Holidays; (3) according to Sefer HaPardes’ ascription to Rabbenu Elyakim, on only Shavu’ot; (4) according to the unnamed but rejected authority known to Sefer HaPardes, on the High Holidays and Shabbat, (5) or on the High Holidays and Yom Tov, (6) or on the High Holidays and Shabbat and all days of Yom Tov; and (7) according to the authority in Seder Troyes, on all days of Yom Tov, any Shabbat that coincides with Rosh Hodesh, any Shabbat when the Decalogue is read, and the Shabbat preceding a community member’s nuptials. Lastly, were we to consider all of the possible combinations of improperly scheduling the recitation of Addir Addirenu as implied by the authority of Seder Troyes, the simple mathematic equation of 7! demonstrates that Jews were capable of reciting (or not reciting) Addir Addirenu according to 5,040 further distinct methodologies of including or excluding Addir Addirenu on days of Yom Tov, any Shabbat on Rosh Hodesh, a Shabbat when the Decalogue is read, a Shabbat preceding a community member’s wedding, the Shabbat during which Beshallah is read, the Shabbat when Ha’azinu is read, and any Shabbat during which the finale pericope of the Pentateuch’s five books is read. Although the math yields that 5,047 different possible practices surrounding the recitation of Addir Addirenu could have been known to Rashi’s school, the historian must imagine that the quantity of learned medieval Jewish communities familiar with Addir Addirenu could not have permitted so many different permutations of practice. Moreover, given that no medieval authority beyond Seder Troyes advised reciting Addir Addirenu on only any of the specified occasions listed by Seder Troyes, other than Yom Tov, we can conclude that Rashi’s school was most familiar with communities practicing in accordance with the seven fully articulated (non-factorialized) systems above.



Addir Addirenu In the Rhineland

Born about a century later than Rashi, the German Rabbi Yehudah ben Shemu’el HeHasid (b. c. 1140, d. 1217)[41] may have written extensively on Addir Addirenu in his Sefer Hasidim. Scholars however have typically presumed that Sefer Hasidim contains at least three later recensions of a single work once composed by Rabbi Yehudah.[42] Thus, one cannot be certain that Rabbi Yehudah authored the commentary on Addir Addirenu that appears in only a few select versions of Sefer Hasidim. In fact, that only two out of nineteen manuscripts of this work contain any reference to Addir Addirenu urges the reader to presume that it was a scribe who lived after Rabbi Yehudah who inserted into this work an ample commentary on Addir Addirenu. One might be tempted to hypothesize that Rabbi Yehudah did not write about Addir Addirenu before anyone from the school of Rashi, for we cannot even determine if Rabbi Yehudah wrote about Addir Addirenu at all.

Without attributing knowledge of Addir Addirenu to Rabbi Yehudah himself, Elbogen wrote that Sefer Hasidim “§501 knows this custom already [of reciting Addir Addirenu] for all three pilgrim festivals.”[43] The enumeration Elbogen cited (without any full bibliographic indication elsewhere in his book) evidently references the corresponding Hebrew section תקא (representing “501” in gimatriyyah) in the Parma H 3280 manuscript (written in Ashkenaz—the geographic region that today largely comprises Germany[44]—circa 1300[45]), fols. 55r-v.[46] The only other manuscript (or textual witness that is not simply a copy of either manuscript) of a version of Sefer Hasidim mentioning Addir Addirenu, JTS Boesky 45, par. 217 (fol. 71r-v), appears to copy from (and occasionally to emend) the Parma manuscript.[47] Sefer Hasidim, as transmitted in the Parma manuscript, elucidates:


בימי קדם היו חלוקים חכמים פירוש הקדמונים אומרים רק בראש השנ’ וביום הכפורים בקדושה אדיר אדירנו <תחילת המזמור> “יי’ אדונינו מה אדיר שמך בכל הארץ אשר תנה הודך על השמים” (תהלים ח: ב) ונמשך למעלה שאמ’ “אודה יי’ בצדקו[48] ואזמרה שם יי’ עליון” (תהלים ז: יח) וכתיב “אלהים שופט צדיק” (תהלים ז: יב). “יי’ ידין עמים שופטינו[49] יי’ בצדקו”[50] (תהלים ז: ט), ״ועורה אלי משפט צוית״ (תהלים ז: ז). מתי שמו עליון? בראש השנה, דכת’ ״ויגבה יי’ צבאות במשפט והאל הקדוש נקדש בצדקה״ (ישעיה ה: טז), ובסוף המזמור, ״יי’ אדונינו מה אדיר שמך בכל הארץ״ (תהלים ח:ב), ונמשך למטה ״אשמחה ואעלצה בך״ (תהלים ט: ג) וג’ ״שמך עליון״ (תהלים ט: ג) ביום הכפורים? ״ויגבה יי’ צבאות במשפט״ (ישעיה ה: טז) ״כי עשית משפטי ודיני ישבת לכסא שופט צדיק״[51] (תהלים ט: ה) “ויי’ לעולם ישב כונן למשפט לכסאו”[52] (תהלים ט:ח), ״והוא ישפוט תבל בצדק״ (תהלים ט: ט) כו’ “ונודע[53] משפט” (תהלים ט: יז) וג’. “קומה יי’ אל יעוז אנוש” (תהלים ט: כ) וג’. ״לשפוט יתום ודך[54] בל יוסיף[55] לערוץ אנוש מן הארץ״ (תהלים י: יח). ולא מצינו מלאכים שיאמרו ״יי’ אלהינו,״ אלא ״יי’״ סתם מפני שהקב”ה נתן כח במאלכים[56] וחכמתו לדעת רצון יי’ ולעשות כאשר יי’ חפץ. וזהו ״כי שמי בקרבו״ (שמות כג: כא). שם יכולת החפץ השם הממונה על אותו חפץ ששולחו ולכך המלאך הדובר בעצמו. ״ויאמר לה מלאך יי’ הרבה ארבה את זרעך״ (בראשית טז: י). ואחר כך אמר “כי שמע יי’ אל עונייך” (בראשית טז: יא), וכתיב, “דשליט עלייא במלכות אינשא” (דניאל ד: יד;), וכתיב ״דשליט אלהיא עלייא״ (דניאל ה: כא), וכת’ ״מן דתנדע די שליטין שמיא״ (דניאל ד: כג). הרי ״שליטין״ מדבר במלאכים, ונתן חכמתו בהם ונתן להם רשות לדון. זהו כל השנה. אבל בר”ה ויום הכפורים, שדן על כל העולם כולו, ואף על המלאכים שדנו כל העולם כולו כל השנה ועל הנשמות ועל השדים. וזהו שכתוב ״ובמלאכיו ישים תהלה״ (איוב ד: יח) לכך אין אומרים ונתנה תוקף קדושת היום אלא בראש השנה וביום הכפורים, שיש בו ״ומלאכים יחפזון וחיל ורעדה יאחזון.״ ואז המלאכים אומרים, אדיר אדירנו לפי ששרי האומות אז עומדים לפני הכבוד לשמוע מה יגזור על כל גוי. וזהו ״אשר אני קצפתי מעט והמה עזרו לרעה״ (זכריה א: טו) שרי האומות. וכתיב, ״עתה אשוב להלחם עם שרי פרס״ (דניאל י: כ). וכי יש מלחמה למעלה? והלא אין שנאה ואין קנאה למעלה ואין תחרות? אלא כמו “עד שיכנסו בעלי תריסין,” כלומר להתווכח ולגזור בגזירת עירין פתגמיא ולכך אין אומרים ״אלהינו.״ אבל בראש השנה בחיל ורעדה, לכך אומרים ״אדונינו אדיר שמך בכל הארץ, בך תלויים כל הגזירות היום!״ ופירוש ״אדיר״ למעלה כל ״אדיריהם שלחו צעיריהם למים״ (ירמיה יד: ג). היום תלויים כל הגזירו באדיר. יפיל[57] {מלך}[58] בגדול כגון מלך.[59] וזהו ״אדיר,״ שבכל המלאכים הוא אדיר אות בצבאיו[60]. ״אדירינו,״ מלך עלינו. וזהו, ״והיה יי’ למלך על כל הארץ״ (זכריה יד: ט) ולפי שאמ’ ״כל שתה תחת רגליו״ (תהלים ח: ז). ואמ’ דוד, ״יי’ אדונינו״ (תהלים ח: ב), ולא אומות העולם, כלומר, לא ״בעלונו אדונים זולתיך״ (ישעיה כו: יג).

ויש מקום שרק בשבועות אומר לפי שבמתן תורה אמרו מלאכי השרת, ״מה אנוש כי תזכרנו״ וגומ’ (תהלים ח: ה).

ויש שאומרים בכל יום טוב כי בכל יום טוב דנים על דברי, והקב”ה אדון על כל הגוזרים, וממנו כל הגזירות.

והקדמונים שלא היו אומרים ״אדיר אדירנו״ אלא בראש השנה וביום הכפורים לפי שאומ’ המלך הקדוש וראוי אז לומר ״והיה יי’ למלך על כל הארץ.״[61]

In the days of yore, sages were divided. The commentary of the earliest ones: Only on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur during the Kedushah do we recite Addir Addirenu <[with] the beginning of the Psalm[ic verse]> “Adonai our Lord, how glorious is Your name throughout the earth! Give Your glory over the Heavens!” (Psalm 8:2). And it is drawn upwards! For [the tradition] has said, “I will praise Adonai in accordance in Adonai’s righteousness,[62] and I will sing the name of Adonai above” (Psalm 7:18), and it is written, “God is the Judge of the righteous” (Psalm 7:12). “Adonai judges the nations. Judge us[63] in Adonai’s righteousness.[64] “Awaken for me; You have commanded justice” (Psalm 7:7). When is Adonai’s name above? On Rosh HaShanah, for it is written: “Adonai of the hosts is exalted in justice, and the holy God sanctified through righteousness” (Isaiah 5:16), and, at the end of the Psalm[ic verse], “Adonai, our God, how mighty is Your name throughout the earth!” (Psalm 8:2), and it is drawn downwards: “Let me rejoice and be glad because of You” (Psalm 9:3) etc.. “Your great name” (Psalm 9:3). On Yom Kippur? “Adonai of the hosts is exalted in justice, and the holy God sanctified through righteousness” (Isaiah 5:16), “for You have dealt with my justice and my decree; You have sat as on the throne of the Judge of the righteous”[65] (Psalm 9:5), “and Adonai eternally sits, having established for justice for Adonai’s throne”[66] (Psalm 9:8), “and Adonai will judge earth in righteousness” (Psalm 9:9), etc., “and has become known[67] for justice” (Psalm 9:17), etc.. “Arise, Adonai; let not humanity gloat” (Psalm 9:20), etc.. “To give justice to the orphan and the crushed; no more[68] shall a human of the earth continue to torment” (Psalm 10:18). But we have not found angels who would say, “Adonai our God,” but rather just “Adonai” because the Holy Blessed One gave power [to the angels][69] and [also gave to them] Adonai’s wisdom so as to know the will of Adonai and to perform according to that which Adonai desires. And that is “For My name will be within that entity’s midst” [in reference to the emissary whom God had declared to send] (Exodus 33:21). There, the potential of the desire of the [One possessing the ineffable] name is appointed to that desire, such that Adonai sends that [emissary], and thereby the angel themself speaks. “The emissary of Adonai said to her [i.e., Hagar], ‘I will make many your offspring’” (Genesis 16:10). And afterwards that individual [emissary] said, “for Adonai has heard your torture” (Genesis 16:11), and also written is “that the Supernal rules over the sovereignty of humanity” (Daniel 4:14), and also written is “that the supernal God rules” (Daniel 5:21), and also written is, “after you have come to know that the heavens rule” (Daniel 4:23). Behold, [the word] “rule” [in these quotes] speaks of the angels, and Adonai gave them Adonai’s wisdom, and gave them the permission to judge. That is [throughout] the whole year. But on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, when Adonai judges over all the universe—and even over all the judges who have judged the whole universe throughout the whole year and [also] over the souls and [also] over the demons. And this is [what is meant by] that which is written: “But within angels, [Adonai] places folly” (Job 4:18). Therefore, we do not recite [the liturgical composition the incipient words of which are] UNtanneh Tokef (ונתנה תקף, “and let us grant power”),[70] except on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, for in this [piece, it is written:] “And angels will rush, and they shall grasp might and trembling.” Then the angels recite Addir Addirenu, for the ministering angels of the nations [of the world] are then standing before the Glory [of Adonai] to hear what Adonai will decree over each nation. And this is [that which is meant by] “that I have been angered some, but they have helped evil” (Zechariah 1:15)—[they,] ministering angels of the nations [of the world]. And also written is, “Now I am to return to battle with minister of Persia” (Daniel 10:20). But is there war above [in the Heavenly abode]? Is it not that there is no hatred, and there is no envy, and there is no competition [above in Heaven]?[71] Rather, it is like [the tranquility] “until the shield-bearers [for debate] enter” (Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 27a)[72], that is to say, in order to deliberate and to decree the decree of the guarding angels: proclamations. And therefore, [angels] do not say אלהינו (eloheynu, “our Judge”) except on Rosh HaShanah with valor and with trembling. Therefore, we say “our Lord, [how] glorious is Your name throughout the earth!” (Psalm 8:2). [It is as if the angels were to say,] “Dependent upon You are all of the decrees today!” And the interpretation [is that] “the glory” [Adonai] is above all of “their glories[, those foreign rulers, who] sent their younglings to the water” (Jeremiah 14:3). [It is as if the angels were to say,] “Today, all decrees are dependent upon the glory [Adonai].” A sovereign[73] is to bring down[74] with greatness as a sovereign.[75] And this is [the meaning of] “Glory,” for, among all of the angels, Adonai is the glory of the signification among Adonai’s hosts.[76] “Our Lord:” [it is as if the angels are saying,] “a sovereign over us!” And this is [that which is meant by] “Adonai will be sovereign over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:9), and it is in accordance with that which is said: “You have placed all beneath the feet of that entity[77]” (Psalm 8:7). And [similarly], David[78] said, “Adonai our Lord” (Psalm 8:2), but not [that] the nations of the world [would be his lords], as if to say, that it is not that “[human] lords have becomes masters to us aside from You” (Isaiah 26:13).

But there is a place that, only on Shavu’ot, recites [Addir Addirenu] on account of how, at the giving of the Torah, the ministering angels said, “What is a human—that You should recall one!?” (Psalm 8:5).

And there are those who recite [Addir Addirenu] on each day of Yom Tov, for on each day of Yom Tov, they judge matters, and the Holy Blessed One is the master over all who issue decrees, for from Adonai are all decrees.

But the early [sages were those] who would not recite Addir Addirenu except on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, on account of their reciting [as the concluding words of the Kedushah] “the holy sovereign” [which are the Kedushah’s Talmudically designated concluding words on and between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur],[79] and it is then seemly to recite “Adonai will be sovereign over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:9).


While the majority of this text expresses itself clearly as an imaginative reflection on God’s calendrical establishment and dismantling of the heavenly hierarchy, five idiosyncrasies demand attention.

First, prior to the 21st century, Sefer Hasidim and no other text recalled the first recitations of Addir Addirenu as something over which authorities were truly divided (חלוקים, halukim[80]). All other texts referencing a diversity of practice record a moment of social rupture as solely a phenomenon occurring in or around the author’s lifetime.

Second, no text reflecting on Addir Addirenu or Psalm 8:2 presents the same sequence of homiletic interpretations of this collection of Biblical texts—several of which never before were or have since been (independently of Sefer Hasidim) associated with Addir Addirenu.[81]

Third, of all texts referenced in this teshuvah, none but Sefer Hasidim acknowledge that demons not only inhabit the world but can be quelled by the proclamation of Addir Addirenu. In Sefer Hasidim, demons commonly appear,[82] so their presence in this text comes as no surprise. But the intersection of the demonic and Addir Addirenu—as a prayer of major theurgical powers that can fend off demons—remains a unique (albeit brief) theme to Sefer Hasidim.[83]

Fourth, Sefer Hasidim begs the question of why a certain fourth practice never developed: the recitation of Addir Addirenu throughout Aseret Yemey Teshuvah (עשרת ימי תשובה, “The Ten Days of Repentance”), lasting from the first day of Rosh HaShanah until the end of Yom Kippur. The text references those who recite Addir Addirenu “on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur on account of their reciting [as the concluding words of the Kedushah] ‘the holy sovereign’” (“בראש השנה וביום הכפורים לפי שאומ’ המלך הקדוש”). The Babylonian Talmud dictates that the words “the holy sovereign” (המלך הקדוש, hammelekh hakkadosh) be recited throughout Aseret Yemey Teshuvah.[84] If reciting hammelekh hakkadosh ever actually served as the impetus for reciting Addir Addirenu, the historian may wonder why Addir Addirenu has never been reported to be recited on the days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Given how punctiliously nearly all authorities quoted throughout this teshuvah note that Addir Addirenu is to be said only at certain specific times of the year, the absence of any reference to recitation of Addir Addirenu during Aseret Yemey Teshuvah suggests that Addir Addirenu never was recited on the weekdays between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. We can conclude with near certainty that the presence of the words hammelekh hakkadosh has in fact never triggered a communal need to recite Addir Addirenu.

Fifth, we must consider a matter that is absent. Despite the long commentary touching on Psalm 8:2, the trope of the Torah being inappropriate for angels but appropriate for humans does not appear here. Precedent for applying these verses still in the context of angels envying humans and God asking them to see the Torah as a useless gift in Heaven (but awfully practical for humans) can be found in several very early midrashim.[85] Yet, rabbinic writers by the turn from the first millennium into the second millennium had already become accustomed to discussing Psalm 8:2 as part of a story debating the utility of the Torah (which is a trope almost inextricable from medieval commentaries narrating the mythic origins of Addir Addirenu). For the author of this strand of Sefer Hasidim, the point of Addir Addirenu has almost nothing to do with humans surpassing angels in the category of room-for-growth. Instead, this version of Sefer Hasidim views Addir Addirenu as the declaration of God’s dominance over the most domineering forces of the upper echelons (and perhaps the demonic as well).

Of the four medieval narrative-etiologies history has preserved on the subject of the recitation of Addir Addirenu (these four being found in Sefer HaPardes, Sefer Hasidim, and—to be discussed below—the commentary of Rabbi El’azar of Worms and Sefer Mahkim[86]), Sefer Hasidim is the only source that omits linking Addir Addirenu to the midrash (מִדְרָשׁ, the singular of midrashim) referenced above in Sefer HaPardes where angels articulate humans’ unworthiness for the Torah (even though, at the end of the day, the humans receive the Torah, but the angels do not).[87]

Depending on the exact (and not necessarily knowable) sequence of events—that is, if the teaching in Sefer Hasidim appeared some time after Rabbi Yehudah died, if Rashi’s school was particularly late in writing about Addir Addirenu, and if Rabbi El’azar of Worms (of Germany; b. c. 1165, d. c. 1240) was especially young when he wrote his relevant commentary—a small probability permits that Rabbi El’azar, a German pietist like Rabbi Yehudah, was perhaps the first to pen any commentary on Addir Addirenu.[88] A teacher and student of the short-lived but influential mystical school of hasidey Ashkenaz (חֲסִידֵי אַשְׁכְּֿנָז, the “pietists of Ashkenaz”),[89] Rabbi El’azar not only referenced the midrash intimated in Sefer HaPardes, but he also offered mystical insight into the meaning of the words of Addir Addirenu:

בראש השנה וביום כפורים אומרים אני ה’ אלהיכם אדיר אדירינו ה’ אדונינו על שם שהוא אדיר בקודש ואדיר במשפט.

״ה’ אדונינו תנה הודך על השמים,״ ה’ שם הנכבד והנורא הוא.

״אדונינו״ ובו אנו בוטחים.

״מה אדיר שמך בכל הארץ״ (כמו) [כמה] חזק ומאודר שמך הקדוש בכל יושבי הארץ, וגם לעתיד ולעובדו שכם אחד.

״והיה ה’ למלך על כל הארץ,״ ויראה כבוד מלכותו בנקמת אדום וקיום מלכותו על כל עם הארץ. ״ביום ההוא יהיה ה’ אחד״ הוא בורא כל.

״ה’״ שם העצם. ״ושמו אחד,״ כבודו לאחר לא יתן, ויקראו כולם שמו המיוחד הקדוש.

״אדיר״ עד ״אחד״ כ”ב תיבות; זהו ״נגילה ונשמחה ב”ך:״ כ”ב אותיות התורה.

ועוד ״ה’ אדונינו תנה הודך על השמים:״ אמרו המלאכים בהר סיני כדאמרינן במסכת שבת שלא רצו שיוריד משה הוד התורה למטה ואמרו, ״תנה הודך על השמים.״ לכך, ״מה אדיר שמך כל הארץ.״

תקח מ’ של ״מה,״ ותסיר א’ של ״אדירות.״ קח ש’ של ״שמך,״ ותסיר ב’ של ״בכל.״ תקח ה’ של ״הארץ.״ הרי: מש”ה ובין שמו א”ב; על שם כשהלך אחר כ”ב אותיות א”ב.

״מה אנוש כי תזכרנו:״ אנוש בגימ’ ז”ה מש”ה. ״מה אנוש״ בגימ’ ב”ן עמר”ם.

שמעתי שאין אומרים ״אדיר אדירנו״ כי אם בראש השנה וביום הכפורים בקדושה, אבל במגנצא אומרים אותו בכל יום טוב בקול רם בכוונה בניגון טוב.

On Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we say [in the Kedushah] “I am Adonai, your God” (Numbers 15:41) [followed by] “The glory of our glory [אַדִּיר אַדִּירֵֽנוּ, Addir Addirenu], Adonai, our Lord [יְיָ אֲדֹנֵֽינוּ, Adonai adonenu] (Psalm 8:2)[90]” on account of God being glorious in holiness and glorious in justice.

“Adonai, our Lord,” “give Your glory over the Heavens [תְּֿנָה הוֹדְֿךָ עַל־הַשָּׁמָֽיִם, tenah hodekha al hashamayim]:” Adonai is the honored name, and awe-inspiring is God.

“Our Lord [אֲדֹנֵֽינוּ, adonenu],” for in God we trust.

“How glorious is Your name throughout all the earth:” how mighty and glorified is Your holy name among all those who dwell on the earth, and for eternity—that they may serve that [name] as one.

“Adonai will be sovereign over all the earth,” and the honor of God’s sovereignty will be seen in the vengeance against Edom[91] and the establishment of God’s sovereignty upon every nation of the earth. “On that day Adonai will be One:” that is, the Creator of all.

“Adonai” is the personal noun. “And God’s name will be One:” God’s honor shall be given to no other,[92] and all will call upon God’s unified holy name.

From addir (אַדִּיר, “the glory”) until ehad (אֶחָד, “One” [the last word of Addir Addirenu]), there are twenty-two words [in the Hebrew][93]. This [number] 22, which in gimatriyyah (גִּימַטְרִיָּה, the rabbinic assigning of numerical values to Hebrew letters and words[94]), is equal to kafbeyt (כ״ב, which is 22 in gimatriyyah) is an allusion to bakh [בך, “in You,” which is equal to 22 in gimatriyyah] in nagilah venismehah bakh (נָגִֽילָה וְֿנִשְׂמְֿחָה בך, “let us be glad and rejoice in You”) (Song of Songs 1:4), [a reference to] the twenty-two letters of the [language of the] Torah [i.e. Hebrew].

And another [interpretation of] “Adonai our Lord, give Your glory over the Heavens” (Psalm 8:2): The angels said at Mount Sinai, as we said in [the Babylonian Talmud,] Tractate Shabbat, that they did not want God to let Moses bring down the glory of Torah, and they said, “Give Your glory over the Heavens” (Psalm 8:2).

Take the letter mem (מ) of mah (מה, “How”), and remove the letter alef (א) of addirut (אַדִּירוּת, “gloriousness”)[95]. Take the letter shin of (ש) shimkha (שמך, “Your name”), and remove the letter beyt (ב) from bekhol (בְּֿכׇל, “in all of”). Take the letter heh (ה) of ha’aretz (הָאָֽרֶץ, “the earth”). Behold: Mosheh (מֹשֶׁה, “Moses”) is spelled, and between his name is alefbeyt (א״ב, the first two letters of, and the name of, the Hebrew alphabet), for he went after the twenty-two letters of the alefbeyt.

“What is a human—that You should recall one!?” (Psalm 8:5): Enosh (אֱנוֹשׁ, “human”) in gimatriyyah is equal to zeh Mosheh (זה משה, “this is Moses”). Mah enosh (מָה־אֱנוֹשׁ, “what is a human”) in gimatriyyah is equal to ben Amram (בֶּן עַמְרָם, “[Moses, the] son of Amram”)[96].

I heard that we do not recite Addir Addirenu, except on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur during the Kedushah; however, in Mainz (in Germany), we say it on every Yom Tov in a loud voice, with intention, and with good melody.[97]

            We have quoted at length Rabbi El’azar’s commentary, for his constitutes the most comprehensive (if not only) medieval commentary to offer theurgic and mythic meaning behind the full text of Addir Addirenu. In the theosophic philosophy of the Ashkenazic pietists like Rabbi El’azar of Worms:


The letters have profound significance, for there is not a single unnecessary letter in the prayers, nor is a letter lacking; their number and order have mystical meaning. Therefore, the Ashkenazic pietists used to count the words and letters in each of the benedictions of the `Amida; they asserted repeatedly that one may not add or drop a single one… for the whole structure was erected for a particular purpose, and whoever changes a word in the “most holy” prayers will have to render account to God.[98]


One can better appreciate this mystic’s valuing specifically the carefully-crafted 22 words of Addir Addirenu as an allusion to the word bakh (equaling 22 in gimatriyyah) in Song of Songs 1:4. Rabbi El’azar rendered the loud and musical recitation of these 22 words as akin to uttering a magical formula that transports the reader through the gateway of bakh, the door of which opens into the expanse of Song of Songs 1:4. Indeed, Rabbi El’azar’s commentary on Song of Songs reveals greater insight into Rabbi El’azar’s connecting Addir Addirenu to the days of Yom Tov. His commentary is preserved as follows:


נגילה ונשמחה בך: ונשמחה, ד׳ [פעמים שמופיעה המילה ״ונשמחה״ במקרא: כאן, וכן ישעיה כה: ס; ותהלים צ: יד ושם, קיח: כד], שלוש רגלים בשנה ושמיני של חג…

ונשמחה: גי׳ ״יום שמחה״ וכתיב ״ביום שמחתכם ובמועדיכם״ [במדבר י: י].

ונשמחה בך: ובתורתך, כ״ב אותיות.

Nagilah venishmehah bakh (נָגִֽילָה וְֿנִשְׂמְֿחָה בך, “We will be glad, and we will rejoice in You”): [The exact term] venishmehah (וְֿנִשְׂמְֿחָה, “and we will rejoice”) appears 4 times [in the Hebrew Bible: here; Isaiah 25:60; and Psalms 90:14 and 118:24]: [paralleling] the 3 pilgrimage-festivals [Sukkot, Passover and Shavu’ot], plus the eighth [day] of the festival [of Sukkot; i.e., Shemini Atzeret].

Venishmehah: is equal in gimatriyyah to yom simhah (יוֹם שִׂמְחָה, “a day of joy”), and [along a similar theme of joy], it is written, “on the day of your joy and on your sacred gatherings” (Numbers 10:10).

Venishmehah bakh (“And we will rejoice in You”): and in Your Torah—of [the] 22 [Hebrew] letters.[99]

            Through the lens of mystical hermeneutics, Song of Songs 1:4, in including the term venismehah, which appears only 4 times in the Hebrew Bible, alludes intentionally to the quintennial days of Yom Tov (paired in the Diaspora) that are not the High Holidays of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Read through this lens, the two words venismehah bakh themselves serve as a supportive prooftext for the chanting of the 22-word-long Addir Addirenu on any day of Yom Tov.

Rabbi El’azar insisted that the worshiper accurately conserve the intentionally ordered 22 words of Addir Addirenu. The incipient letter of the third through seventh words of the prayer spell an allusion to Moses seeking the holy Hebrew alphabet of the Torah, hidden in the crevices between the letters of his own name. And Rabbi El’azar utilized the words of Psalm 8:2 specifically to remind the cognoscenti of a particularly disparaging scene from the midrash of angels envying humans for receiving the Torah. Recalling that midrashic moment when the angels stooped so low as to ask, in the words of Psalm 8:5, “What is a human—that you should recall one!?”—the worshipper is reminded further of the genealogy of that Divine-truth-chaser Moses, son of Amram: son of a human, son of the earth,[100] far beneath the heavenly hosts above. But to recall this midrash fully is to recall, most importantly, its upshot: that, holy as the angels are, the Torah is a gift given in order to sanctify humans. To sing Addir Addirenu, Rabbi El’azar thereby taught, is to bring harmony to the Divine cosmos amidst a moment of dissonance in Heaven.[101]

Rabbi El’azar’s commentary turns from the theoretical to the practical as we reach its end. Rabbi El’azar’s words express the author’s familiarity with the practice of reciting Addir Addirenu on only the High Holidays (though he does not specify during which services), even though in Mainz the custom was to recite it every Yom Tov.



Addir Addirenu Narrated In Spain

Between the 13th and 15th century, rabbinic scholars assembled legal and liturgical works wherein they adjudicated the proper times for reciting Addir Addirenu; however, amidst this sea of literature, only one sole articulation of rabbinic lore surrounding Addir Addirenu surfaced. Rabbi Natan ben Rabbi Yehudah (of Spain; c. 13th-14th century)[102] wrote in Sefer Mahkim:


ויש אומרים אדיר אדירנו בכל שבת ושבת מפני שאותו מזמור נאמר על מתן תורה (על) לישראל ואמרו המלאכים תנה הודך על השמים.

And there are those who say Addir Addirenu on each and every Shabbat because that song was said regarding the granting of the Torah to Israel, and the angels said, “Give your glory over the Heavens.”[103]


Clearly, Rabbi Natan understood Addir Addirenu as connected to the exact same (evolving) midrash that Rabbi El’azar had mentioned in his peyrush (פֵּירוּשׁ, the singular of peyrushim). What is less clear is how Addir Addirenu, which was once recited only once a year (during Ne’ilah of Yom Kippur), came to be recited on every single Shabbat just a few centuries after it first appeared as part of Jewish liturgy. In further acts of omission, Rabbi Natan recorded neither whose practice it was to recite Addir Addirenu every Shabbat nor if Addir Addirenu was ever recited by its Shabbat-sayers on Yom Tov. Rabbi Natan, distancing himself from Addir Addirenu, remained mum on what his own practice was, if he even ever recited Addir Addirenu or only knew about it.

Beyond the praxis, another curiosity etched by Rabbi Natan riddles the reader: If the granting of the Torah to Israel is indeed the reason for reciting Addir Addirenu on Shabbat—and, if, presumably, the reader is reminded on Shabbat of the granting of the Torah to Israel since the Torah is read on Shabbat—why would Addir Addirenu not also be recited on Mondays and Thursdays, when the Torah is also read? Sadly, several centuries have passed since Rabbi Natan would be found to be in any condition to offer us any clarifications to help resolve these lingering queries.


Addir Addirenu and the Messianic Exemption

Whereas the history of Addir Addirenu until the 16th century had witnessed increasing familiarity with increased recitation of the prayer throughout the course of the year, Rabbi Mordechai Jaffe (b. c. 1530, d. 1612) posed and penned a particular problem for the prayer:


ושליח ציבור חוזר התפלה… ומוסיף אדיר אדירינו, וכן בכל יו”ט מתפללים שיבא בן דוד והיה יי’ מלך על כל הארץ וכו’, ובשבת אין אומרים אותו דגמירי שלא יבא משיח בשבת (ובפוזנא וגלילותיה אומרים אדיר אדירנו אף בשבת).

Then the sheli’ah tzibbur (שְֿׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר, “emissary of the community” for leading prayer) repeats the Tefillah [of the Amidah]… and adds Addir Addirenu. And so one does every Yom Tov, praying that the son of [King] David will come, “and Adonai will be sovereign over all the earth, etc.” But on Shabbat we do not say this, for our sages teach that the messiah will not come on Shabbat (but in Posen and its surroundings, they say Addir Addirenu, even on Shabbat).[104]


Despite whatever they did in Posen and its outskirts, Rabbi Jaffe suggested that reciting Addir Addirenu is an utterance that could nearly command a violation of Shabbat should its recitation hasten the coming of the Messiah. Notably, approximately half a millennium after the emergence of Addir Addirenu, no commentator had heretofore articulated a messianic impetus for reciting Addir Addirenu. Rabbi Jaffe stands out in this regard. One must take further pause in noting that Rabbi Jaffe did not cite the incipit words of Addir Addirenu and the excerpt of Psalm 8:2 as the problematic aspects of reciting Addir Addirenu on Shabbat, but he saw the quote of Zechariah 14:9 as inappropriate to the seventh day of the week. Curiously enough, Rabbi Jaffe made no such proclamation decrying the recitation on Shabbat of the daily recited prayer known commonly by its incipit word Aleynu (עָלֵֽינוּ, “It is upon us”), which also includes Zechariah 14:9 and also is recited on Shabbat.[105] Still Rabbi Jaffe’s concern must be considered.

That the Messiah’s arrival will not alight on Shabbat is an anxiety commonly drawn from readings of the Babylonian Talmud, Eruvin 43a-b. This stretch of the Talmud poses a question that, in the days of its authors, must have sounded utterly hypothetical to all except those who foresaw the possibility of God’s more cherished characters descending from the sky: “אין תחומין למעלה מעשרה” (“Are the laws prohibiting traveling beyond a certain distance on Shabbat operative at and above the altitude of ten handbreadths above the ground?”). Indeed, this lofty question had some grounding in mythic truth. Whereas the rabbis of the Talmud did not witness any human commoners flying over land, rabbinic tradition well remembered Elijah the prophet’s fiery ascent to Heaven in II Kings 2:11. Elevated in rabbinic lore as nearly immortal, Elijah left no reason for rabbinic culture to conclude that he ever died. The question many Talmudic sages therefore asked was: Would it be a violation of Shabbat or Yom Tov for Elijah to leave the heavenly realms to return to earth to tell us the news of the Messiah’s impending arrival? Or is airborne travel above 10 handbreadths not subject to the strictures of Shabbat as earthlings have known them?

The Talmud does attempt to answer the question. The text brings a baraita (בָּרַֽיְתָא, an “outside” teaching previously not included in the compilation of the Mishnah) that teaches that one who declares that they will begin to refrain from strong drink on the day that the Messiah has arrived is permitted wine on Shabbat and Yom Tov. The presumption of the baraita is that the Messiah in fact would observe Shabbat and Yom Tov like any other person and would refrain from traveling to Earth on Shabbat or Yom Tov.[106] In accordance with this logic, if a person knows at the start of Shabbat that the Messiah has not yet come, this oath-taker can drink wine with the knowledge that the Messiah will not come on Shabbat itself.

However, the Talmud previously dared to ask if the strictures on Shabbat and Yom Tov travel apply at and over ten handbreadths above the ground—and this is not answered. As this passage of the Talmud progresses, the rabbinic collective begins to distinguish with greater nuance the difference between the arrival of Elijah (who is expected to arrive at least one day ahead of the Messiah to announce the Messiah’s coming) and the arrival of the Messiah. The Talmud reassures: “כבר מובטח להן לישראל שאין אליהו בא לא בערבי שבתות ולא בערבי ימים טובים מפני הטורח” (“It has already been promised to Israel that Elijah will not come on the eve preceding a Shabbat or Yom Tov because of the disturbance [his arrival would cause]”). Rejecting this notion, the Talmud suggests that, were Elijah to come to announce the arrival of the Messiah, all of the nations of the world would serve the Jewish people, and there would be no disturbance in the Jews’ preparation for Shabbat or Yom Tov (for those who are not Jewish would attend to whatever preparations for Shabbat or Yom Tov were unfinished at the time by the Jews). Despite the presupposition one can extrapolate from the baraita, the Talmud steers away from the question of whether or not high-altitude travel would be a violation of Shabbat, and this question remains unanswered. Moreover, the greater question of whether or not the Messiah would arrive on Shabbat or Yom Tov itself awaits its own answer. Though many rabbis through the ages recognized that the Talmud here does not determine that the Messiah definitely could not come on Shabbat or Yom Tov, few ever had the gall to assert this. Most straightforward in his assertion, Rabbi Yitzhak Minkowsky (b. c. 1788, d. 1851) of Belarus wrote in his commentary Keren Orah (קרן אורה) on the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 66a: “ספק אם יבא בשבת וי”ט” (“It is unclear whether the Messiah would come on Shabbat or Yom Tov”).

Rabbi Isaiah Berlin (b. c. 1725, d. 1799) of Germany noted that, in accordance with the interpretation of the aforementioned baraita that the Messiah would not come on Shabbat, the Messiah would in fact also not come on Yom Tov. According to Rabbi Berlin, Rabbi Jaffe would therefore be incorrect to teach that the Messiah might arrive on Yom Tov but not on Shabbat and that this particular logic should prevent us from reciting Addir Addirenu on Shabbat. Rabbi Berlin, conceding mostly to the authority of his predecessor in typically reciting Addir Addirenu on Yom Tov and rarely on Shabbat, took pride in his own post-Jaffe liturgical idiosyncrasy:


(ויפה מנהגנו שנוהגי׳ שאנו אומרים פה אדיר אדירינו בכל יו״ט אפי׳ כשחל בשבת הואיל דבביאת בן דוד יו״ט ושבת דין אחד לשניהם).

(But our custom is appropriate as we practice: that we say Addir Addirenu here even when Yom Tov falls on Shabbat since, when it comes to the coming of the son of David, the law treats both Yom Tov and Shabbat the same as one


Rabbi Yisra’el Hayyim Friedman (b. c. 1852-d. 1922) of Poland, perhaps hoping to put in a few good words in support of reciting Addir Addirenu on Shabbat before he accepted the ruling of Rabbi Jaffe’s Levush, wrote:


והנה ביו״ט מוסיפין כאן, ״אדיר אדירנו״ וכו׳. והובא במנהגים ובלבוש והטעם עיין בלבוש… ועיין במחזור ויטרי שם איתא לאמרו רק בשבת אבל ביו״ט יש שם נוסחא אחרת: ״אלקיכם אני ואתם עמי״ וכו׳, וביו״ט שחל בשבת יש ג״כ נוסחא אחרת; ע״ש. ובמדינותינו אין נוהגין כן רק במנהג הלבוש והמנהגים, והיכי דנהוג נהוג.

Behold, on Yom Tov, we add here [in the Kedushah], Addir Addirenu, etc.. And this is brought in Sefer HaMinhagim and Levush; for the reason, see Levush… and see Mahzor Vitry, where it is appropriate to recite it on Shabbat, but on Yom Tov there is a different formula: “I am your God, and you are My nation,” etc., and on Yom Tov that falls on Shabbat, there is yet another version; see there. And in our countries, we do not practice as such, but [we follow] the custom of Levush and Sefer HaMinhagim, and however it is practiced it is practiced.[108]

            Rabbi Friedman in an act of educative defiance (surrounded by submission to Rabbi Jaffe’s influence) highlighted the peculiar case of Mahzor Vitry. And indeed, the case is that Sefer HaMinhagim of Rabbi Avraham Hildik (c. 2nd half of the 13th century)[109] includes Addir Addirenu for only Yom Tov, as indicated in the section Minhagey Hag HaSukkot.

Rabbi Yehiel Mikhl HaLevi Epstein (b. 1829, d. 1908) of Belarus honored the prevalence of Addir Addirenu as Yom Tov liturgy (as made evident in his Arukh HaShulhan, Orah Hayyim 659:1), but codified a practice reported by none of his predecessors who refrained from Addir Addirenu on Shabbat:


שבת של חולו של מועד… ובמוסף מתפלל של יו”ט… ואומרים אדיר אדירינו בקדושה.

Regarding Shabbat during Hol HaMo’ed [חוֹל הַמּוֹעֵד, the intermediary days between the days of Yom Tov at the beginnings and ends of Sukkot and Passover]… then during Musaf, one prays the liturgy of Yom Tov… and we recite Addir Addirenu during the Kedushah.[110]


Despite those who made their exceptions known as indicated above, Rabbi Jaffe’s position still dominated Jewish law and became a norm surviving in the majority of North American and Israeli prayer books printed in the 20th and 21st centuries to date.[111]


Addir Addirenu on Hoshana Rabbah

For all of the debating of whether Addir Addirenu may be recited on Shabbat, curiously no source ever explicitly forbade reciting Addir Addirenu on Hoshana Rabbah. All sources that mention Hoshana Rabbah—Minhagey Zalman Yent (whose author lived in the Rhineland and moved to Italy near the beginning of the 15th century)[112], Sefer HaMinhagim of Rabbi Avraham Hildik[113], Rabbi Ya’akov HaLevi ben Mosheh Mullin (b. c. 1360, d. 1427) of Germany[114], Mahzor Vitry 383, Rabbi Yitzhak Aizik of Tirna (15th century) of Eastern Europe[115], Rabbi Yitzhak ben Rabbi Me’ir HaLevi of Düren, Germany (c. 13th-14th century)[116], Sefer HaMinhagim of Rabbi Avraham Kloyzner (c. 13th-14th century in Vienna) 58, Seder Troyes 10 by Rabbi Menahem ben HaRav Yosef HaLevi Hazzan, Rabbi El’azar of Worms’ Sefer HaRoke’ah[117], Rabbi Mordekhai Benet (b. c. 1753, d. 1829) of Moravia in MaHaRaM[118], and the Arukh HaShulhan on Orah Hayyim 684:12—deem Hoshana Rabbah a day appropriate for the recitation of Addir Addirenu. As soon as Hoshana Rabbah is offered as a possibility—though it is not fully a day of Yom Tov—Hoshana Rabbah finds legalists in favor of its including Addir Addirenu.



The Mystical Letters of Addir Addirenu

Just a few centuries after Rabbi Jaffe limited the frequency of Addir Addirenu in the calendrical cycle, Rabbi Avraham Yehoshu’a Heschel (b. c. 1748, d. 1825) of Opatów (in Poland) attached (or perhaps uncovered) yet another new mythical, mystical meaning to the prayer. The Apter Rebbe, as Rabbi Heschel was known after the namesake of his town, connected Addir Addirenu to a midrash found in Midrash Tanhuma (Warsaw), BeMidbar 2:2, s.v. ish al diglo be’otot (“[119]איש על דגלו באתת,” “each person, according to their flag, with signs”). The midrash imagines 22,000 angelic chariots descending upon Mount Sinai at the moment of God’s revelation. So great were the flags that each chariot held that the Israelites desired that each tribe have their own flag, each symbolizing God’s love. The eisegetical author of this midrash taught that all of this accords with the words of the female heterosexual lover in Song of Songs 2:4: “for his banner upon me is love” (“וְֿדִגְלוֹ עָלַי אַהֲבָה,” vediglo alai ahavah). The rabbinic collective understood, as much of Shir HaShirim Rabbah well attests, that Song of Songs’ female lover represents the congregation of Israel seeking the revelation of her male lover, God. Upon God’s revelation at Sinai, Midrash Tanhuma here reports, God commanded Moses to create flags for Israel like the flags of the angelic hosts just as the Israelites had wanted.

The first mention of the desire for such flags is described in this midrash with the word shennit’avvu (שֶׁנִּתְאַוּוּ, “that they desired”). The root of this verb tends to be associated with a seduced longing for food or sexual intimacy. Aside from referencing the Song of Songs, the author of this midrash selected the word shennit’avvu likely purposefully, recognizing that shennit’avvu contains the letters of ot (אוֹת, “a sign”) rearranged. The Apter read into this midrash his own familiarity of the word ot (which is the singular noun at the root of be’otot: באתת, “with signs”) not meaning just any kind of sign but an expanse covering a wide range of the signification of that which could be signified. In its most commonplace definition, an ot refers to “a letter” of an alphabet, but at its most transcendental, an ot takes the form of “a Divine act.” Both the latter and, as previously demonstrated, the former meanings yield theologically significant symbols.[120]

Though Hebrew conventions proclaim “a letter” and “a Divine act” as homophonous equals—both being ot—the plurals of these two signifiers differ: otiyyot (אוֹתִיּוֹת) and otot (אוֹתוֹת) respectively (and the latter is the plural for nearly all possible meanings of ot other than “a letter”). Reading the above excerpt of Midrash Tanhuma, the Apter sought meaning in it by equating otot with otiyyot themselves because of their shared singular form. This interpretive strand of thought in Jewish tradition dates back to at least the author of Avot DeRabbi Natan (Nus’ha A)[121] ch. 13, presumably a native of the Land of Israel living at some point either during or later than the end of the 2nd century C.E. and either during or prior to the 9th century.[122] Avot DeRabbi Natan Nus’ha A is not alone in finding parallel and synonymous meaning between otot and otiyyot; many exegetical and eisegetical Jewish texts preceding and following it offer some teaching that depends on the connection between these words.[123]

Among the texts fascinated by otot as otiyyot lies Midrash Aggadah, which emerged somewhere around the 12th or 13th century in Provence[124] and remains seemingly the earliest transmitter of a tradition critical to the Apter’s reading of Midrash Tanhuma. Midrash Aggadah at Bereshit 2, s.v. “ish al diglo be’otot” details not only the pictorial representations that each tribe’s banner displayed but also the permutations of letters derived from the names of the three forefathers as etched onto the four flags representing the four encampments of Judah, Reuben, Ephraim and Dan. According to Midrash Aggadah, divided among each flag were the first, second, third and fourth letters respectively of each forefather’s four-lettered name (such that Judah’s encampment waved alefyodyod [א-י-י], for the incipient letters of Avram [אברם], Yitzhak [יצחק] and Ya’akov [יעקב], and the three other tribes similarly divided the remaining nine letters). For unknowable reasons, not all future variants of this eisegetical kernel replicate the exact imagery presented here in Midrash Aggadah, and the Apter himself envisioned a different ordering of otiyyot as those otot upon the banners of the encampments.

In Ohev Yisra’el, the most prominent anthology of the Apter’s teachings on the Torah, Rabbi Heschel is recorded to have taught regarding BeMidbar:


ביאור על מדרש פליאה בפסוק ״איש על דגלו באותות לבית אבותם.״ אל תקרי באותות אלא באותיות… ויבואר דהנה… בשעת מתן תורה ראו ישראל שנתגלה עליהם הקדוש ברוך הוא בצבאות ומחמת דגלים של מלאכי השרת נתאוו ישראל לדגלים. והנה הדגלים היו דגל מחנה ראוב”ן יהוד”ה אפרי”ם ד”ן. ובזה יבואר מה שאנו אומרים אדיר אדירנו בכל יום טוב. ומפני מה דווקא ביום טוב? אך דהנה דשבת מרמז נגד העולם האצילות, ויום טוב נגד עולם הבריאה. ובעולם הבריאה הוא המרכבה עם הדגלים. לזה אומרים אדי”ר. נוטריקון א’ פרים ד’ ן י’ הודה ר’ אובן שהן המה הדגלים.

An elucidation of this amazing midrash on the Scriptural excerpt “each person, according to their flag, be’otot (בְּֿאֹתֹת, ‘with signs’) in accord with the house of their ancestors:” Do not read be’otot but rather be’otiyyot (בְּֿאֹתִיּוֹת, “with letters”)… and it will be elucidated as, behold… at the moment of the giving of the Torah, Israel saw that the Holy Blessed One was revealed to them with heavenly hosts. And on account of the flags of the hosting angels, Israel desired flags. And behold, the flags were the flags of each camp: Re’uven (ראובן, “Reuben”), Yehudah (יהודה, “Judah”) Efrayim (אפרים, “Ephraim”), [and] Dan (דן, “Dan”). Regarding this, it will be elucidated why we recite Addir Addirenu on every Yom Tov. And why specifically on Yom Tov? Alas, behold, Shabbat [mystically] alludes to olam ha’atzilut (עולם האצילות, “the world of emanation”), and Yom Tov to olam habberi’ah (עולם הבריאה, “the world of creation”). And in olam habberi’ah there are those chariots with those flags—and for this we proclaim addir (אדיר): a notarikon [נוטריקון, “notary’s shorthand”[125] of the incipient letters of] Efrayim, Dan, Yehudah, and Re’uven—who are the flags.


The Apter evidently imagined the initiated disciple traversing the Jewish calendar and ascending the widespread Jewish mystical notion of the four worlds (from bottom to top: olam ha’asiyyah [עולם העשיה, “the world of doing”], olam haytzirah [עולם היצירה, “the world of making”] olam habberi’ah and olam ha’atzilut). The adept reached the uppermost echelons of olam ha’atzilut on Shabbat, but, on Yom Tov, the Apter’s students reached just one stratosphere below in olam habberi’ah, where the chariot-angels with their proud, lovely banners are revealed. Undoubtedly more rigid understandings of the four worlds would be an invention of early modern mysticism, especially under Lurianic influence,[126] with which Rabbi Heschel was familiar. Yet, Rabbi Heschel’s presumption of olam habberi’ah as a step above olam haytzirah and the linking of the words of Psalm 8:2 with Yom Tov corresponds well with a much earlier medieval fragment (of unknown dating) of a midrash uncovered by Jacob Mann (of Galicia, England and the United States; b. 1888, d. 1940):


כת’ ייי אדונינו מה אדיר שמך ב’ הא’ וגו’ (תהילים ח: ב) ייי אדונינו למה נאמ[ר, ייי, קודם] יצירתו שלעולם, שלא היה שם ברייה ,אדונינו, אחר יצירתו שלעולם, שנקרא אדון לכל הבריות.

It is written: “Adonai, our lord, how glorious is Your name throughout the earth!” (Psalm 8:2). “Adonai, our Lord:” Why is this said [in the order of “Adonai” preceding “our Lord” and not vice versa]? Adonai [the name] existed before yetzirato [יצירתו, “God’s creation”—etymologically related to haytzirah] of the world, where there was not yet any beriyyah [ברייה, “creature”—etymologically related to habberi’ah]. “Our Lord” [was stated] after yetzirato of the world, when God was called “lord” to all beriyyot [בריות, “creatures”—etymologically related to habberi’ah].[127]

            The reader may safely hypothesize that this little-known lost fragment remained probably unknown to Rabbi Heschel himself but served as part of a larger and evolving exegetical tradition that eventually came to support the mystical schema that upheld the pillars of the Apter’s cosmology.

Perhaps of greater urgency for our extrapolation of a hasidic understanding of Addir Addirenu, Ohev Yisra’el, in contrast to all previously cited midrashim surrounding the circumstances of the recitation of Addir Addirenu, imagined not the angels envying Israel, but Israel envying the angels. The angels who hover above the Apter’s recitation of Addir Addirenu are not the angels whom Rabbi El’azar of Worms saw humiliated by God’s bequeathing the Torah to humans. The Apter’s angels proudly wave their sacred banners of love above us and entice us to imitate their lofty ways. The Apter expressed no regret that our chanting of Addir Addirenu would make us swallow the pride felt by Rabbi Natan every Shabbat as the predecessor weekly relived the revelation at Mount Sinai. As his mouth filled with the words of Addir Addirenu, Rabbi Heschel too felt the heavens open up but not quite as high as they did for Rabbi Natan and only on Yom Tov. The Apter looked to the sky and saw the fiery chariots as role models for humans. Rabbi Heschel knew that the Torah rendered us no greater than angels; we needed the Torah in order to attain anything resembling their level of holiness, and we could only sneak such a peek of that good life on the most sacred of occasions. And, as for God’s wonders, all we could ever paint on our own flags was our human history. We had not otot of our own, but otiyyot. Rabbi El’azar recalled the midrash of the angels asking arrogantly, “What is a human—that you should recall one!?” Rabbi El’azar’s angels said that humans cannot achieve angelic holiness, only the earthly qualities of Moses, son of Amram, the utterly human; but those angels were not rewarded. For the Apter, we are not even noticed by the angels; we use otiyyot to imitate their otot, and we merely dream to live like them.



Addir Addirenu Today

To argue for a single universal praxis regarding Addir Addirenu based solely on the aforementioned theological underpinnings of Addir Addirenu would be to impose a single mythical-liturgical-spiritual experience of the prayer on all Jews. Given the variety of myths that speak to the spiritual needs and doctrinal beliefs of Jews and Jewish communities, this teshuvah cannot adequately articulate a singular practice for the recitations and omissions of Addir Addirenu.

This teshuvah encourages those considering the Jewish legal ramifications of breaking from or following familial or communal customs regarding the practices surrounding Addir Addirenu to remember the weight of the aphorism minhag avoteynu beyadeynu (מנהג אבותינו בידינו, “the custom of our ancestors is in our hands”)[128] and, at the opposite end of a range of attitude towards traditionalism, a whole litany of sources warning against upholding customs without meaning, well collected by Rabbi David Golinkin.[129]

The most frequently printed of Conservative and Orthodox siddurim (סִדּוּרִים, “orders,” as in prayer-books) include Addir Addirenu in the Amidah in every Yom Tov Musaf. Many of these siddurim omit Addir Addirenu when Yom Tov falls on Shabbat,[130] but still a few Ashkenazic liturgical collections (for example, ArtScroll publications) offer no such qualification.[131] Reform Jews reading this teshuvah might note the peculiarity of much of 20th and 21st century Reform liturgy featuring a weekly appearance of Addir Addirenu with neither the words from Zechariah 14:9 (which comprise the remnant of the prayer after the words from Psalm 8:2) nor any explanation for this practice in much of 20th and 21st century American Reform liturgy—regardless of whether the Kedushah being recited aloud occurs during Musaf or any other service.[132] Readers of contemporary Reconstructionist liturgy might note that—in the absence of a unified practice of reciting Musaf—the Kedushah in Shaharit of Yom Tov (and, unlike Reform practice, only on Yom Tov) includes Addir Addirenu, and we find no instruction to omit this passage when Yom Tov coincides with Shabbat.[133]

For those considering changing their inherited practice of reciting Addir Addirenu and thereby breaking from minhag, the most prominent halakhic concern remaining surrounds the interpretation of the passages refernenced above from the Babylonian Talmud. Should Addir Addirenu—most especially the verse of Zechariah 14:9 that concludes its twenty-two words—be interpreted as calling for the quick coming of the Messiah, then it would be important that a worshiper consider the possibility of the Messiah violating Shabbat by traveling too far if indeed the laws surrounding travel should be upheld over ten handbreadths above the ground. Should that question be resolved as not worrisome to the worshiper, then the recitation of Addir Addirenu on Shabbat becomes not problematic from a purely halakhic standpoint. (Moreover, it could be argued that perhaps Reform liturgy, in its omission of Zechariah 14:9 from Addir Addirenu, resolved any conflict of the liturgy with Shabbat; however, whatever theurgical powers German pietists associated with the prayer’s specificity of its twenty-two words inevitably vanish with the omission of Zechariah 14:9.)

Finally, past the halakhic concerns, the worshiper might want to consider the pragmatic and spiritual considerations of what adding or subtracting the recitation of Addir Addirenu from one’s practice entails in various communities. It is recommended that a study of the myths surrounding the recitation of the prayer (as, for instance, included in this teshuvah) be studied by a community considering changing its practice of recitation or omission of Addir Addirenu.

Precedent supports the recitation of Addir Addirenu on any day of Yom Tov and on any Shabbat. The implementation of such recitations must be accompanied by the theological, spiritual, halakhic and pragmatic considerations that render the prayer meaningful and appropriate to the worshipper and worship community.[134]



Jonah Rank was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2015 with a M.A. in Jewish Thought. Rank serves as the Maskil (“Teacher-of-Tradition”) of Shaar Shalom Synagogue in Halifax, NS, where Rank’s spouse Rabbi Dr. Raysh Weiss serves as the Rabbi. Rank worked as the secretary of Mahzor Lev Shalem (New York, NY: Rabbinical Assembly 2010) and Siddur Lev Shalem (New York, NY: Rabbinical Assembly 2015). Rank has published articles in several journals, including Conservative Judaism and Journal of Synagogue Music. A liturgist and Jewish musician, Rank was listed in The Forward’s initial Soundtrack of Our Spirit in 2015.


[1] For the purposes of this teshuvah (תְּֿשׁוּבָה, “responsum”), “Addir Addirenu” refers to the following short prayer:


אַדִּיר אַדִּירֵֽנוּ, יְיָ אֲדֹנֵֽינוּ, מָה אַדִּיר שִׁמְךָ בְּֿכׇל־הָאָֽרֶץ. וְֿהָיָה יְיָ לְֿמֶֽלֶךְ עַל כׇּל־הָאָֽרֶץ, בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יִהְיֶה יְיָ אֶחָד וּשְׁמוֹ אֶחָד.

The glory of our glory, Adonai our Lord, how glorious is Your name throughout the earth! Adonai will be sovereign over all the earth; on that day, Adonai will be One, and Adonai’s name One.


All translations in this teshuvah by the author unless noted otherwise.

[2] The Kedushah (קְֿדֻשָּׁה, “holiness”) is the traditional title of the part of the core tefillah (תְּֿפִלָּה, “prayer”) during which those praying recite words reflecting on God’s transcendental and holy nature on earth and in the heavens. Throughout every service of the entire year, the Kedushah is recited as the third blessing of the Amidah (עֲמִידָה, the “standing” prayer recited traditionally at least thrice daily and constituting one of the earliest strata of rabbinically authored prayers designed specifically to replace the daily offerings of the sacrificial cult at the ancient Temple in Jerusalem) as well as this third blessing’s extended prelude. For a critical yet lay-accessible introduction to the Amidah, see Lawrence Hoffman (ed.), My People’s Prayer Book Vol. 2: The Amidah (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing 1998). For a brief history of the Kedushah, from its biblical precedents and early rabbinic preformulations to its medieval formalizations, see Ismar Elbogen, Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History (trans. Raymond P. Scheindlin) (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society 1993), pp. 54-57.

[3] This author is writing a forthcoming study on the evolution of the multiple aggadic branches that connect the words of Addir Addirenu with the underlying and intertextual considerations that inform the decisions of posekim in determining when to recite Addir Addirenu. The teshuvah here will deal with the values and narratives jointly expressed by the treatment of the words of Addir Addirenu in the multiple agreeing (albeit often divergent) aggadic strands.

[4] Henceforth, “b.” Is an abbreviation for “born.”

[5] Henceforth, “c.” is an abbreviation for “circa.”

[6] Henceforth, “d.” Is an abbreviation for “died.”

[7] Elbogen, p. 58.

[8] For this explanation of the term kerova, see Daniel Goldschmidt (ed.), Mahzor LaYamim HaNora’im Lefi Minhagey Beney Ashkenaz Lekhol Anfeyhem Kolel Minhag Ashkenaz (HaMa’aravi) Minhag Polin UMinhag Tzorfat LeShe’Avar, vol. I (Jerusalem, Israel: Leo Baeck 1970), pp. XXXII (לב), esp. fn. 6, (Hebrew) i.e.:

דניאל גולדשמידט (עורך), מחזור לימים הנוראים לפי מנהגי בני אשכנז לכל ענפיהם כולל מנהג אשכנז (המערבי) מנהג פולין ומנהג צרפת לשעבר, כרך א׳ (ירושלים, ישראל: ח׳ קורן ה׳תש״ל), עמ׳ לב, הע׳ 6.

[9] Elbogen, p. 402, n. 17.

[10] See Goldschmidt, vol. II, pp. לו, לז (XXXVI, XXXVII) (Hebrew), i.e.:

דניאל גולדשמידט (עורך), מחזור לימים הנוראים לפי מנהגי בני אשכנז לכל ענפיהם כולל מנהג אשכנז (המערבי) מנהג פולין ומנהג צרפת לשעבר, כרך ב׳ (ירושלים, ישראל: ח׳ קורן ה׳תש״ל), עמ׳ לו,-לז.

[11] Note the absence of anything relatable to Addir Addirenu in the following sections: Emekha Nasati (אֵמֶֽיךָ נָשָׂאתִי) in Goldschmidt, vol. II, pp. 112-113; Immatzta Asor (אִמַּצְתָּ עָשׂוֹר) at pp. 113-115; Ta’avat Nefesh (תַּאֲוַת נֶֽפֶשׁ) at pp. 115-117; and Ihadta Yom (אִחַֽדְתָּ יוֹם) at pp. 119-121.

[12] The incipient lines of Mi Khamokha Addir BaMeromim (מִי כָמֽוֹךָ אַדִּיר בַּמְּֿרוֹמִים, “Who is like You, glorious in the heights?”) in Goldschmidt, vol. II, p. 141 and Eyn Kamokha Be’addirey Malah (אֵין כָּמֽוֹךָ בְּֿאַדִּירֵי מַֽעְלָה, “There is none like You, among the glorious of above”) at p. 142 share not only the triliteral root of alefdaletreysh but also the ambiguity of authorship presented by their nature as alphabetical acrostics not necessarily demonstrable to be in the style of specifically Rabbenu Meshullam (or anybody in particular). See Goldschmidt’s comment, p. XXXVI (לו). Of similar ilk of unknown authorship and relevance within the first three words, we find Romemu Addir VeNora (רוֹמְֿמוּ אַדִּיר וְֿנוֹרָא, “Exalt the glorious and the awed”) (pp. 146 and XXXVI). History has also not clarified exactly who authored Eyn Mispar (אֵין מִסְפָּר, “There is no number”) (pp. 153-155), in which the worshiper reads about hannedar bakkodesh (הַנֶּאְדָּר בַּקֹּֽדֶשׁ, “the glorified among the sacred”), through which the triliteral root alefdaletreysh appears just once (p. 153, line 5). Of similarly unknown authorship, we find Mi Yetanneh (מִי יְֿתַנֶּה, “Who will give”) (pp. 156-169). This lengthy piyyut references God va’adoney ha’adonim (וַאֲדֹנֵי הָאֲדוֹנִים, “and the lord of the lords”) (p. 158, line 33), language similar to the beginning of Psalm 8:2. Further, it depicts humanity as of evil nature, which the circumlocution of the midrash cited in this teshuvah by Sefer HaPardes surrounding whether angels or humans are more deserving of the Torah implies in verifying that humanity’s lowly nature onsets the Torah’s relevance to human life. For this midrash, see in this teshuvah, pp. 73-75; for the relevant theme in the piyyut text, see Goldschmidt, vol. II, pp. 161-162, lines 84-92. And, lastly, note that Mi Yetanneh incorporates alefdaletreysh in its declaration that the mighty ones yadirukha (יַאְדִּירֽוּךָ, “will glorify You”) (p. 169, line 195).

[13] Although אֱנוֹשׁ מַה־יִּזְכֶּה (enosh mah yizkeh, “What may humanity merit?”) does not appear in the Kedushah of the Amidah (but precedes the blessing immediately preceding the Kedushah), it is notable that its incipient words echo some of the language and themes of מַה־אֱנוֹשׁ כִּי־תִּזְכְּֿרֶנּוּ (mah enosh ki tizkerennu, “What is a human—that You should recall one!?”) in Psalm 8:5, which is cited in the midrashic narratives that introduce Addir Addirenu cited in this teshuvah. For the midrash, see in this teshuvah, pp. 73-75. For the relevant piyyut text, see Goldschmidt, vol. II, pp. 117-119. Moreover, this particular tokhehah (תּוֹכֵחָה, poetic composition of “rebuke”) speaks in line 5 of haddan yehidi / vehu ve’ehad (הַדָּן יְֿחִידִי / וְֿהוּא בְֿאֶחָד, “The singular Judge / and the Judge is amidst Oneness”), which (in addition to its resonance with Job 23:13) recalls the themes of judgment that Sefer Hasidim would later develop and the emphasis on God’s unity in the Zechariah verse appended to the most popular recitation of Addir Addirenu; see in this teshuvah, pp. 82-90, and Goldschmidt, vol. II, p. 117. Goldschmidt understood though that Enosh Mah Yizkeh was authored by someone other than Rabbenu Meshullam. See p. XXXVII [לז].

The insertion Ha’adderet VeHa’emunah (הָאַדֶּֽרֶת וְהָאֱמוּנָה, “the glory and the faith”), found in Goldschmidt, p. 143, appears as the third continuous liturgical composition to begin with a line including the triliteral root; however, the origins of this particular piyyut can be found to be in the Heykhalot [הֵיכָלוֹת, “palaces”] genre of Jewish mystical literature. See p. XXXVII.

Likewise, though Goldschmidt considered it a product of the pen of Rabbi El’azar Kalliri, who flourished in the land of Israel and centuries earlier than the European Rabbenu Meshullam, we encounter an alphabetical acrostic where each hemistich ends, alternating, with a cry of Adonai adonenu or mah addir shimkha (מָה אַדִּיר שִׁמְךָ, “how glorious is Your name”), both endings based on Psalm 8:2 (p. 176, line 1). The reader may recall that Elbogen had highlighted this particular passage in reference to Rabbenu Meshullam’s authorship

The theme and language return in what the Shaharit of Yom Kippur features as its rahit (רהיט, literally “running”) sequence—the form of piyyut stylized by, among other features, rhyming alphabetical acrostics built on the repetition of an individual word or phrase in a Biblical verse that is revealed with each subsequent rahit revealing the next word or phrase in the Biblical verse that punctuates and precedes the next rahit until the Biblical quote reaches its end. Regarding this poetic form, see Aharon Mirsky, Reshit HaPiyyut (Jerusalem, Israel: Jewish Agency c. 1975) as accessed at on May 22, 2017 (Hebrew), i.e.:

אהרון מירסקי, ראשית הפיוט, (ירושלים, ישראל: הוצאת הסוכנות היהודית, ה׳תשכ״ה).

Manuscripts attribute the rahit in Yom Kippur’s Shaharit service to the pen of ר׳ קלונימוס (R’ Kalonimos, “R. Kalonymos”), sometimes with the appended title of הזקן (hazzaken, “the Elder”) at the end, and Zunz identified this Rabbi Kalonymos to be the father of Rabbenu Meshullam. See Goldschmidt, vol. II, p. XXXVI-XXXVII. In the first rahit, the reader may note that the first word to follow the word mi (מִי, “who”) from the Biblical verse is indeed addir—as in: Mi Addir Afsekha (מִי אַדִּיר אַפְסֶֽךָ, “Who is glorious if not You?”) (p. 182). The third rahit describes God as dagul (דָּגוּל, “eminent”), which later readers might have come to associate with the episode of the human envy of the angelic degalim (דְּֿגָלִים, the plural of degel: דֶּֽגֶל, “flag”) (pp. 184-185; esp. P. 184, line 2); for this midrash, see pp. 103-107 of this teshuvah. The rahit of Lekha Eder Na’eh MiKol Peh (לְֿךָ אֶֽדֶר נָאֶה מִכׇּל־פֶּה, “for You there is pleasing glory from every mouth”) also includes the root of alefdalet-reysh in its second word (pp. 189-190; esp. p. 190). The next section, Ya’atah Tehillah (יָאֲתָה תְּֿהִלָּה, “prayer has been seemly”) produces the terms nedar (נֶאְדָּר, “glorified”) and le’addar (לְֿאַדָּר, “for glory”) within is first stich (pp. 190-191; esp.p. 190). Following, Hakhmey Tom (חַכְמֵי תֹם, “the sages of innocence”) refers to those who understand tzeruf otiyyot shem illumekha (צֵרוּף אוֹתִיּוֹת שֵׁם עִלּוּמֶֽך, “the permutation of the letters of the name of Your hiddenness”) (pp. 194-195; esp. P. 194, line 3), a secret, mystical tradition directly mentioning otiyyot (אוֹתִיּוֹת, “letters”), interconnected with the mythos that upholds the intertwined term dagul (see in this teshuvah, pp. 102-106).

[14] See for example, Rabbenu Meshullam’s Eder Yekar (אֶֽדֶר יְֿקָר, “the glory of the dearness of…”), which, in its incipient words, incorporates the triliteral root of alefdaletreysh (in Goldschmidt, vol. II, pp. 125-126). And so do its phrases hanne’edar mikkolot mayim (הַנֶּאֱדָר מִקּוֹלוֹת מַֽיִם, “the glorified above the sounds of water”) (p. 125, line 5) and ve’addir (וְֿאַדִּיר, “and glorious”) (ibid., line 14). Note the false iterations of the triliteral root in bahadaro (בַּהֲדָרוֹ with hehdaletreysh: ה-ד-ר) and edro (עֶדְרוֹ with ayindaletreysh: ע-ד-ר) in the same line as the appearance of ve’addir (line 14, ibid.); in these phrases the alef of the triliteral root are replaced by a ה (heh) and an ayin (ע) respectively.

[15] Goldschmidt noted that Zunz found himself not completely—but quite—certain that Imru Lelohim Erekh Appayim (אִמְרוּ לֵאלֹהִים אֶֽרֶךְ אַפַּֽיִם, “Say to God, ‘[With] a face of long [patience]’”) (vol. II, pp. 130-135) was authored by Rabbenu Meshullam (pp. XXXVI-XXXVII). In this alphabetical acrostic, דָּגוּל מֵרִבְֿבוֹת קֹֽדֶשׁ / וְֿנֶאְדָּר בַּקֹּֽדֶשׁ (dagul merivevot kodesh / venedar bakkodesh, “eminent among tens of thousands of sanctity / and glorified amidst sanctity”) includes the triliteral root. In this particular stiche, דָּגוּל מֵרִבְֿבוֹת (dagul merivevot, “eminent among tens of thousands”)—especially with the word dagul sharing a root with the word degel—alludes to the midrash in Tanhuma that, in later history, the Apter would cite as an etiology for the specific times during which Addir Addirenu is to be recited. (See pp. 102-106 of this teshuvah.) In this same composition, God is described as sovel elyonim vetahtonim (סוֹבֵל עֶלְיוֹנִים וְֿתַחְתּוֹנִים, “sufferer of the supernal ones and the underlings”)—whereby angels and humans are contrasted yet equal in their subservience to God—(p. 133, line 43) va’adoney ha’adonim (וַאֲדֹנֵי הָאֲדוֹנִים, “and the Lord over all lords”). The latter paraphrases the incipient words of Psalm 8:2, which appears in Addir Addirenu (ibid., line 45). Indeed, the entirety of אַדִּיר אַדִּירֵֽנוּ, יְיָ אֲדֹנֵֽינוּ, מָה אַדִּיר שִׁמְךָ בְּֿכׇל־הָאָֽרֶץ (Adonai adoneynu mah addir shimkha bekhol ha’aretz, “Adonai our Lord, how glorious is Your name throughout the earth!”), which appears in both Psalm 8:2 and Addir Addirenu, appears in the final line of this composition (p. 135, line 66). Goldschmidt also credits Rabbenu Meshullam as the likely author of the alphabetical acrostic Ha’addir BiShmey Aliyyot (הָאַדִּיר בִּשְׁמֵי עֲלִיּוֹת, “the glorious amidst the heavens of the ascents”) (pp. XXXVI-XXXVII). In Ha’addir BiShmey Aliyyot, the incipient word gives voice to the triliteral root of alefdaletreysh, and the hemistich for dalet refers to God as HaDan BeTzedek Beriyyot (הַדָּן בְּֿצֶֽדֶק בְּֿרִיּוֹת, “the one who judges creatures amidst righteousness”) (p. 178, lines 1 and 4), thereby alluding to God in a judicial position akin to that imagined in Sefer Hasidim. See in this teshuvah, pp. 81-89.

Within the scope of unknown authorship that is nonetheless almost certainly attributable to Rabbenu Meshullam is Eyley Shahak (אֵילֵי שַֽׁחַק, “the mighty ones of the sky”) (pp. 149-152), which has in its second stiche the term אַדִּירֵי (“the glorious ones of”) (p. 149). Regarding the author’s identity, see pp. XXXVI-XXXVII.

[16] See Elbogen, p. 402, n. 17.

[17] See Goldschmidt, vol. II, pp. 112-202.

[18] See pp. 77-79.

[19] For this dating (despite a popular dating of 1040 as Rashi’s birth), see Victor Aptowitzer (אביגדור אפטוביצר) Sefer Ra’avayah (ספר ראבי”ה), (Jerusalem c. 1938), p. 395. Kirsten Fudeman follows his dating methodology. See, for example, Kirsten Fudeman, “The Old French Glosses In Joseph Kara’s Isaiah Commentary” in Revue des Études juives, 165 (1-2), janvier-juin 2006 pp. 147-177, esp. p. 149.

[20] Rachel Zohn Mincer, “Liturgical Minhagim Books: The Increasing Reliance on Written Texts in Late Medieval Ashkenaz” (dissertation; Jewish Theological Seminary 2012), p. 59, fn. 171.

[21] Undoubtedly, the word ליום (leYom, “for Yom”) here should be amended so as to read as ויום (veYom, “and Yom”).

[22] The word הדונינו (hadoneynu) constitutes either a misprint of אדונינו (adonenu, “our Lord”) or a means of avoiding approximating writing a referent to the Divine name in vain by replacing the letter א (alef) with heh.

[23] See fn. 21.

[24] Yom Tov, (יוֹם טוֹב, a “good day” of a Jewish festival) is specifically a Jewish festival day on which the tradition, for instance, prohibits nearly all of the same actions as prohibited on Shabbat. Days of Yom Tov fall during Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, the first day of Sukkot (as well as the second day in the Diaspora outside the Land of Israel), Shemini Atzeret and Simhat Torah, Passover’s first day and last day (and on the second and penultimate days in the Diaspora), and the entirety of Shavu’ot.

[25] See fn. 22.

[26] Sefer HaPardes (Constantinople, Ottoman Empire: Refa’el Hayyim Eliyyah Pardo c. 1802) p. 83/42a (Hebrew), i.e.:

ספר הפרדס (קושטאנדינה: רפאל חיים אליה פארדו ה׳תקס״ב), מב ע״א (עמ׳ 83).

Note that Ehrenreich’s critical edition of this work erroneously assigns a date for this first printed edition of Sefer HaPardes as being published five years later than the title page of the editio princeps indicates. See H. L. Ehrenreich (ed.), Sepher Ha-Pardes: an[sic] liturgical and ritual work, attributed to Rashi (Budapest, Hungary: the Brothers Katzburg, c. 1924), title page and p. ו (vav) and following (Hebrew), i.e.:

חיים יהודה עהרענרייך, ספר הפרדס לרש״י ז״ל, (בודאפעשט, הונגריה: האחים קאטצבורג, ה׳תרפ״ד), שער ועמ׳ ו וגו׳.

[27] See pp. 80-96 of this teshuvah.

[28] The following rabbinic works present some aspect of this narrative tradition surrounding the Biblical words referenced above by Rabbi El’azar: Tosefta (Lieberman), Sotah 6:5; Mekhil’ta DeRabbi Yishma’el, BeShallah, Massekhta DeShira (מסכתא דשירה) at the end of Parashah I; Mekhil’ta DeRabbi Shim’on Bar Yohai 15:1, s.v. sus verokhevo (“סוס ורכבו”); Bereshit Rabbah (Vilna) 8:6; Bereshit Rabbah (Theodor-Albeck) 8:1:1; Midrash Tehillim 8:2; Shir HaShirim Zuta at the end of I:1; Pesik’ta Rabbati (Friedman), second half of XX, Mattan Torah (מתן תורה) and XXV, Asser Te’asser (עשר תעשר); Midrash Tanhuma (Warsaw), BeShallah XI on Exodus 15:1 and Terumah X (middle) on Exodus 26:7; Midrash Tanhuma (Buber), Korah 11; and nearly the entirety of Sefer Me’eyn HaHokhmah (Eisenstein). As aforementioned, an analysis of the development of the rabbinic narratives surrounding these words will be published in a future study. Suffice it to say for the meantime, one branch of rabbinic myth surrounding the words of Psalm 8:2 associate these words with angels praising God at the Israelites’ crossing of the Sea of Reeds but not necessarily competitively. A later stratum of this aggadah introduces the contention over who is most deserving of the Torah.

Also of note is that in the first-cited selection from Pesik’ta Rabbati (as well as Sefer Me’eyn HaHokhmah [Eisenstein], which seems to be largely based on the Pesik’ta Rabbati passage under discussion), the Biblical quotations in question appear in the context of angelic conversation that follows and includes the words of the Kedushah. This ascent narrative that describes the visual experience of the Heavenly abode nearly complies with the practice of reciting mythical narrative surrounding the traditional core of Jewish liturgy (as often occurs in piyyutim, suggesting that the midrashic text here may have once (or more than once) been utilized as a poetic expansion of the liturgy. A similar theory regarding large portions of the mystical text Shi`ur Komah has been previously suggested. (See Marvin A. Sweeney, “Dimensions of the Shekhinah: The Meaning of the Shiur Qomah in Jewish Mysticism, Liturgy, and Rabbinic Thought” in Hebrew Studies, Vol. 54 [2013], pp. 107-120. There, Sweeney condensed Martin S. Cohen’s hypothesis regarding liturgical usage of Shi’ur Komah.) Pesik’ta Rabbati, like any other text whose origins precede the 10th century C.E. and attempts similarly a mythic depiction of the recitation of the Kedushah in the heavenly abode, preserves a Kedushah that precedes the inclusion of the two words Addir Addirenu but not the Biblical words that these two words eventually introduced.

[29] Elbogen, p. 290. See also Dan, p. 402, fn. 17. Note that Elbogen in his note, without stating anywhere in his book explicitly, references the aforementioned editio princeps. In the foreword to Scheindlin’s translation, the translator notes, “In the German editions [of the book], Elbogen gave… references in a very crabbed and incomplete form, rarely citing a title in full, giving an author’s first name only on occasion, and almost never providing complete publication data.” Scheindlin notes among the other difficulties of navigating Elbogen’s masterpiece the work’s lacking any “alphabetized bibliography.” See Elbogen, p. xv.

[30] See Zohn Mincer, p. i.

[31] Shim’on HaLevi Ish Horovitz (ed.), Mahzor Vitri LeRabbeynu Simhah Ehad MiTalmidey RaSh”Y Z”L (Jerusalem, Israel: “ALEF” 1963), p. 175, par. 192.

שמעון הלוי איש הורוויץ (עורך), מחזור ויטרי לרבינו שמחה אחד מתלמידי רש״י ז״ל (ירושלים, ישראל: מכון להוצאת ספרים, ה׳תשכ״ג), עמ׳ 175, סי׳ קצב.

Note that the Shabbat contextualization of this part of Mahzor Vitry may be clarified in reading the immediately preceding passage.

[32] See also pars. 356 and 383.

[33] A piyyut with this exact incipient text is unknown. See Israel Davidson, Thesaurus of Mediaeval Hebrew Poetry (New York, NY: Jewish Theological Seminary of America 1924), vol. I, p. 209 (Hebrew), i.e.:

ישראל דוידזון, אוצר השירה והפיוט, (נוי יורק, ארה״ב: בית המדרש לרבנים באמריקה, ה׳תרפ״ה), כרך א: עמ׳ 209.

[34] Although the Hebrew text does not present any indication of the word “not” here, context suggests this emendation, which, Mei’r Tzevi ben Yosef Weiss’ critical edition does not note explicitly. See Rabbi Menahem ben HaRav Yosef HaLevi Hazzan, Seder Troyes, Me’ir Tzevi ben Yosef Weiss (ed.) (Frankfurt am Main, Germany: c. 1905), p. 31 (Hebrew), i.e.:

סדר טרוייש, מאיר צבי ב״ר יוסף ווייס (עורך) (פראנקפורט דמיין, גרמניה: ה׳תרס״ה), עמ׳ 31.

[35] A piyyut with this exact incipient text is unknown. See Davidson, vol. II, p. 132.

[36] On the forgottenness of this poetry, see fnn. 33 and 35.

[37] Given the poetic proclivity towards alphabetical acrostics among even the earliest authors of Jewish liturgical poetry, it is perhaps worth noting, the potential import, not necessarily mystically, but literarily and structurally, of Addir Addirenu containing, according to Rabbi El’azar’s count in his peyrush, 22 words—a quantity equal to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. (See pp. 91-95 of this teshuvah.) If both Addir Addirenu and the piyyut it replaced both began with two words each that began with alef, it is possible that Addir Addirenu and possibly the piyyut it replaced were significantly longer alphabetical acrostics the remnants of which are unknown today. It is possible that Addir Addirenu in particular followed a pattern of the first two words of each strophe being composed of a repetitive superlative reference to God (just as the two words Addir Addirenu themselves comprise), each word-pairing beginning with the subsequent letter of the alef bet (and possibly each strophe being composed of 22 words, just like the lone strophe known today). That Addir Addirenu was once a significantly longer piyyut would moreover corroborate with the theory heretofore suggested that at least one long liturgical narrative formula surrounding various verses recited in Kedushah has been preserved in Pesik’ta Rabbati as aforementioned.

[38] The language of the above passage suggests that HaRav Yosef HaLevi Hazzan (the father of Rabbi Menahem), especially in his capacity as an authority on ritual, perhaps took issue with HaHayyot Bo’arot and successfully suggested substituting it with Addir Addirenu.

[39] See the footnotes at Salomon Buber (ed.), Siddur Raschi (Berlin, Germany: Jakob Freimann 1911), p. 100 (Hebrew), i.e.:

ר׳ שלמה באבער (עורך), סדור רש״י (ברלין, גרמניה: יעקב פריימאנן ה׳תרע״ב), עמ׳ 100.

Buber did not directly attribute authorship of Siddur Rashi to Rashi. The anthology was evidently aggregated by students of this French sage well after his death. In the foreword (״פתח דבר״) to his critical edition, Buber refers to this collection as “המיוחס לרש״י” (“that which is attributed to Rashi”). See p. VIII. In his introduction (“מבוא”), Buber remarks that two out of the three manuscripts the editor consulted for Siddur Rashi indicate at various points that Rashi had passed away by the time each manuscript’s copyist had put these words into writing. (Buber also notes here that Mahzor Vitry, often attributed traditionally to being a liturgical collection meeting Rashi’s approval, similarly contains references to Rashi as a sage who had died.) See pp. IX-X.

[40] This teaching appears at ibid., p. 100.

[41] For this dating, see Shalom A. Singer, “An Introduction to ‘Sefer Ḥasidim” in Hebrew Union College Annual, vol. 35 (1964), pp. 145-155, esp. p. 146.

[42] See Singer, ibid., esp. pp. 149-150. Moreover, Haym Soloveitchik has cautioned that the first 152 paragraphs of what eventually became a standardized printed text of Sefer Hasidim constitute a composition different from and later than than Rabbi Yehudah’s work, and these sections present the thought of a pietist school different from the one to which Rabbi Yehudah adhered. See Haym Soloveitchik, “Piety, Pietism and German Pietism: ‘Sefer Ḥasidim I’ and the Influence of Ḥasidei Ashkenaz” in The Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. 92, no. 3/4 (Jan.-Apr., 2002), pp. 455-493, esp pp. 455-457.

[43] Elbogen, ibid., p. 402, n. 17.

[44] For a brief history of the geographic identity of Ashkenaz and its synonymity with Germany, see Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik (ed.), “Ashkenaz” in Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York, NY: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007), pp. 569-571, esp. pp. 569-570.

[45] This bibliographic information has been found in the Princeton University Sefer Hasidim Database (as accessed at on May 9, 2017).

[46] Note that the text of the Parma manuscript is reproduced both by the Princeton University Sefer Hasidim Database (as accessed at on May 9, 2017) and in Jehuda Wistinetzki (ed.), Das Buch der Frommen nach der Rezension in Cod. de Rossi No. 1133 (Berlin, Germany: H. Itzkowski 1891), pp. 142-143 (Hebrew), i.e.:

יהודה הכהן וויסטינעצקי (עורך), ספר חסידים על פי נוסח כתב יד אשר בפארמא (ברלין, גרמיה: צבי הירש בר׳ יצחק איטצקאווסקי ה׳תרנ״א), עמ׳ 142-143.

[47] The text of the Boesky manuscript can be found at the Princeton University Sefer Hasidim Database, ibid..

[48] Note that, in the Masoretic text of Psalm 7:18 (and as reflected in the Boesky 45 manuscript), in lieu of the term בצדקו (betzidko, “in Adonai’s righteousness”), כצדקו (ketzidko, “in accordance with Adonai’s righteousness”) appears. Given both the similarities in shapes of the letters and the similarities in their meaning, discrepancies over whether prefixal ב (bet, “in”) or prefixal כ (kaf, “in accordance with”) is original to a variety of texts commonly arise in the reception of the Masoretic Text.

Evidently the authority that determined the kerey (קרי, the “recited” version of the Masoretic Text) and the authority who fixed the ketiv (כתיב, the “written” version of the Masoretic Text) did not always agree on which prefixal letter was correct. Readers may encounter two such instances of disagreement in Joshua 4:18 and 6:5. The French philologist and Biblical commentator Rabbi David Kimhi (רבי דוד קמחי, also known by the initials of RaDaK—רד״ק; b. c. 1160, d. c. 1235) wrote of this phenomenon in his commentary on the latter passage (s.v. “בשמעכם,” [“at the time of your hearing of”]):


כתיב בבי”ת וקרי בכ”ף והענין א’.

The ketiv is with a bet, but the kerey is with a kaf, yet the concept is one [and the same].


Further, Kimhi evidently anticipated, met or heard of those who questioned whether the term כאמר (ke’emor, “at around the time of the saying of”) in Joshua 6:8 should begin with a prefixal kaf or instead a prefixal bet. Kimhi saw a possible discrepancy where Masoretes did not; the Masoretic Text’s kerey and ketiv agree that ke’emor should begin with a kaf. Kimhi likely wrote his succinct but telling comment (“בכ״ף,” [“with a kaf”]) in response to students nonetheless debating whether the written text before them seemed sensible. See ad locum, s.v. (“ויהי כאמר,” [“it was at around the time of the saying of”]). Such fixation on debating (or reinforcing the conclusions of) presumably resolved questions of orthography intimates that even heavily educated readerships contemporaneous with Rabbi Yehudah still encountered variant traditions regarding kaf and bet prefixes. For brief biographic and bibliographic information surrounding Kimhi, see Frank Talmage, “Kimḥi, David” in Berenbaum and Skolnik (eds.), Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed., vol. 12, pp. 155-156.

[49] Note that the Parma manuscript presents here the spelling of שופטינו (shofeteynu, which yields “our Judges”—a literal meaning of eloheynu [אלהינו, often translated as “our God”]—or is an erroneous spelling of שפטנו [shoftenu], meaning “judge us”). But the Masoretic Text of Psalm 7:9 (and the Boesky manuscript) offer שפטני (shofteni, “judge me”). It is possible that Parma’s transcription simply errs, but intentionality might still lie beneath the three critical areas of discrepancy between these two words: the infixed vav (ו), the yod (י) in the suffix, and the vav in the suffix.

One can explain the ו between the ש (shin) and פ (feh) of shofeteynu as the inclusion of a mater lectionis, assisting the reader with identifying the proper vowel. This particular attempt at a mater lectionis may though mislead the reader. Following the long vowel of the vav, rules of pronunciation should alter the vocalization of the letter feh here, giving it a mobile sheva. Long vowels followed by a consonant marked with a sheva turn that sheva into a mobile sheva. In reality, the original Masoretic Text’s vowel beneath the shin here is a short vowel, a kamatz katan, which does not independently lead to an immediately subsequent consonant with a sheva (שוא) being mobile. Moreover, philologists have noted that the vowel-sounds produced by the o of a kamatz katan (קמץ קטן), ׇ , and the o of a vav with holom (חולום)—that is, וֹ—differ from one another.

The inclusion of the letter י in shofeteynu might indeed implicate a plural referent for God (if this is how the scribe of this version of Sefer Hasidim understood the meaning of the Psalmic verse), or might yield another misleading mater lectionis, for a yod in a suffix of ינו (spelled yodnunvav) should only result in a first-person plural possessive suffix meaning “our.” If the infixed vav represents a vav with holom, yielding shofetenno (“who judges that entity [perhaps, that collective of non-Israelite nations]”), the yod obstructs the ט (tet) of the verb from connecting with the third-person masculine singular direct object suffix נו (nu, spelled nunvav), which ought to be connected by a segol (סגול)—that is ֶ —beneath the last consonant of the verbal root (which, in our case, is ש-פ-ט: shinfehtet). Were the infixed vav to stand in for a kamatz katan, yielding the jussive shoftenno (“judge that entity”), the yod would still function as an unnecessary block between the tet and the nun. The probability remains that the scribe simply erred (or misled potential readers) by including the yod in the yodnunvav suffix, which should indicate a plural noun being possessed, and a suffix of nunvav following a tzerey (צרי)—that is ֵ —should have appeared (still implying first-person plural possession, but of a singular noun—namely “judge”). (The possibility that the yodnunvav suffix here implies the ending of a feminine jussive verb with a first-person plural direct object, yielding shoftinu—“judge us”—seems utterly unlikely, for the Divinity and no other addressed entity here appears otherwise to be nominally feminine.)

The reader will find the most critical distinction between shofeteynu and shofteni in the last consonant. Whether the object of God’s judgment is to be anything implied by a vav (“us” or “that entity”) or the speaker implied by the yod (“me”), yields two theologically different conceptions of the Divine Judge. The letters yod and vav—by looking quite similar to each other (the vav appearing as an elongated yod, or the yod appearing as a truncated vav)—have often been confused for one another. Thus, the reader of the Hebrew Bible will note the example of Joshua 6:9, whereat the editorship of the ketiv saw a vav in the word take’u (תקעו) that those responsible for the kerey pronounced a yod in the word toke’ey (תקעי); similarly, see Isaiah 49:13’s kerey of ufitzhu (ופצחו) and ketiv of yiftzehu (יפצחו). Such visual ambiguities regarding the letters yod and vav undoubtedly caused many such orthographic and semantic confusions in the course of the transmission of Jewish texts.

[50] In the Masoretic Text of Psalm 7:9, the word בצדקו (betzidko, “in Adonai’s righteousness”) does not appear, but the visually similar word כצדקי (ketzidki, “in accordance with my righteousness”) appears here. On the confusion over prefixal bet and kaf, see fn. 48. On the mix-up between yod and vav, see fn. 49.

[51] The word צדיק (tzaddik, “the righteous”) does not appear in the Masoretic Text, where the word צדק (tzedek, “righteousness”) does appear. The intervening yod likely is a scribal error rather than a deviant tradition. The Boesky manuscript does not include this yod.

[52] Here, the Boesky manuscript follows the Masoretic Text and, instead of including לכסאו (lekhis’o, “for Adonai’s throne”), states כסאו (kis’o, “Adonai’s throne”).

[53] The Masoretic Text includes, immediately after this word נודע (“has become known”), the subject of this clause: God’s four-letter-name.

[54] In place of ודך (vadakh, “and the crushed”), the Masoretic Text (as well as Boesky) place here ורך (varakh, “and the oppressed”). The letters dalet (ד) and reysh (ר) long looked similar to one another, and it is common for transcriptions of Hebrew texts to mix up these two letters.

Note that such miscommunication evidently took place in the process of determining the identity of the main offender in Joshua 7. Whereas the Masoretic Text was familiar with זבדי (Zavdi), the Codex Alexandrinus, capturing one Septuagint tradition believed to be derivative of the Hebrew text, includes mention in Joshua 7:1 of this Ζαβρι (Zabri). See Robert G. Boling, Joshua: A New Translation with Notes and Commentary (Garden City, New York: Doubleday 1982), p. 218.

[55] The word עוד (od, “more”) appears in Boesky and the Masoretic Text, but not in Parma.

[56] This garbled incoherent word of במאלכים (bammalakhim) is corrected in Boesky: במלאכים (bammal’akhim, “to the angels”).

[57] The term יפיל (yappil, “is to bring down”) appears in the Boesky manuscript as יפול (yippol, “is to fall down”). On the discrepancy of the vav and yod, see fn. 49.

[58]The Parma manuscript shows that the word מלך (melekh, “a sovereign”) was written here but intended to be removed. Boesky does not include this word. Read without this word, it seems that the subject of this sentence should merely be Adonai.

[59] The exact meaning of יפיל {מלך} בגדול כגון מלך (yappil {melekh} begadol kegon melekh, translated above as “A sovereign is to bring down with greatness as a sovereign”) is unclear. It is possible that the middle word of the text, בגדול (begadol, “with greatness”) would be better off if emended as בגורל (begoral, “with a lot”), suggesting that, just as royalty might yield a decree by lottery (as performed by King Achashverosh in Esther 3:7), the author of Sefer Hasidim conceived of Judaism’s God as determining nations’ fates at random. Note that the spelling of begadol (with a dalet followed by a vav) and the spelling בגודל (begodel, “with size”) yield similar meanings in the Hebrew. It is plausible that a scribe believed that they were copying begodel correctly while inadvertently reversing the order of the vocal vav and the consonantal dalet that was at one point included in the word begoral in this text. See fn. 54 regarding the visual similarities of the dalet and resh that are the major consonantal difference between begodel and begoral.

[60] Instead of אדיר אות בצבאיו (addir ot bitzva’av, “the glory of the signification among Adonai’s hosts”), Boesky includes אות בצביון (ot betzivyon, “the signification of desire”), with no addir here. Both manuscripts’ formulations read awkwardly. Note that the letter ן (nun sofit) appears as an elongated vav. Had the Boesky scribe encountered a difficulty deciphering especially the alef in בצבאיו (bitzva’av, “among Adonai’s hosts”), בצביון (betzivyon, “of desire”) would qualify as a reasonable guess at the intended word here. Regardless of what the inventor of this tradition intended to write, the teaching here intends to convey God’s supremacy above the merits of the angels.

Separately, note that discussions of Addir Addirenu to be noted later in this teshuvah (in the cluster of midrashim referenced by the Apter) refer to the significance of אות (ot, “signification”) by which humans look to angels to recognize Divine ideals. See pp. 102-106.

[61] Note that the commentary here has only noted when major orthographic differences between the quotations from the Masoretic Text and the Parma manuscript significantly alter the meaning of the theology. Still further variants in spelling occur (and the later Boesky manuscript has mistranscribed certain parts of the earlier Parma text). Into the Hebrew text here, the author of this teshuvah has appended quotes’ citational information in rounded parentheses, and within angles (in the Hebrew and in the English translation) any relevant insertion appearing only in the Boesky manuscript.

[62] See fn. 48.

[63] See fn. 49.

[64] See fn. 50.

[65] See fn. 51.

[66] See fn. 52.

[67] See fn. 53.

[68] See fn. 55.

[69] See fn. 56.

[70] For one accessible introduction to this prayer text, see David Golinkin, “Do ‘Repentance, Prayer and Tzedakah Avert the Severe Decree’?” (September 16, 2005; accessed at on May 10, 2017).

[71] Cf. Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 17a.

[72] Note that in the context of the Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 27a, the term “shield-bearers” (בעלי תריסין, ba’aley terisin) refers to scholars debating with one another.

[73] See fn. 58.

[74] See fn. 57.

[75] See fn. 59.

[76] See fn. 60.

[77] Curiously, the entity being referenced in the cited Biblical context is humanity; however, the author of this section of Sefer Hasidim quotes this verse with the understanding that all is beneath the feet of God. This teshuvah will not determine whether the sage holding the quill misunderstood the verse or applied to it an inventive interpretation.

[78] For the Talmudic rabbinic collective largely attributed to King David authorship of the Psalms. See in the Babylonian Talmud, Pesahim 117a and Bava Batra 14b.

[79] See Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 12b. If reciting the ending המלך הקדוש (hammelekh hakkadosh, “the holy sovereign”) ever actually served as the impetus for reciting Addir Addirenu, the historian may wonder why Addir Addirenu has never been reported to be recited on the days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.

[80] The Boesky manuscript records here a more standard חולקים (holekim), rendering effectively the same sense of divisiveness.

[81] One can find the closest parallel to this Biblical-exegetical stream in the Pesik’ta Rabbati text and its parallels in which Rabbi El’azar of Worms rooted his comments on Addir Addirenu. See fn. 72.

[82] For one such study in the presence of demons in Sefer Hasidim, see Monford Harris, “Dreams in ‘Sefer Hasidim‘” in Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, Vol. 31 (1963), pp. 51-80, esp. pp. 58-60, 72-75, and 78.

[83] The possibility exists that השדים (hashedim, “the demons”) was produced by an erroneous misread (or miswrite) of השרים (hassarim, “the ministers”—presumably angelic or of the earthly kind governing foreign nations). On this common orthographic confusion, see fn. 54. But the possibility of this error taking place seems weak. Magical and mystical writings like Sefer Hasidim typically find fascinating the demonic, especially as a counterbalance to human souls, and hanneshamot (הנשמות, “the souls”) earn mention in our text immediately before hashedim.

[84] See fn. 79.

[85] Most notably, consider Mekhil’ta DeRabbi Yisha’el, BeShallah, Massekhta DeShira (מסכתא דשירה) at the end of Parashah I; Mekhil’ta DeRabbi Shim’on Bar Yohai 15:1, s.v. sus verokhevo (“סוס ורכבו”). See above at fn. 28 for related sources.

[86] See below until p. 96 of this teshuvah.

[87] See pp. 73-75 of this teshuvah.

[88] That Rabbi El’azar could have been the first Jewish sage to author any commentary on Addir Addirenu speaks volumes to the import of Rabbi El’azar’s work. Joseph Dan notes that indeed, “Eleazar is the author of the first extensive commentary on the prayers that has reached us. It is extant in three manuscripts that differ considerably from each other.” Whereas many works have hardly survived in even one manuscript, a work thrice copied may intimate the wide circulation of the work, the author’s persistence in publishing the work, or both phenomena. Given the longevity of each manuscript, the vast differences between them, and the autobiographical reflections found throughout them (implying Rabbi El’azar’s own hand in the scribal process), evidence suggests that both the readership and the authorship valued this radical commentary. See Joseph Dan, “Prayer as Text and Prayer as Mystical Experience” in Jewish Mysticism, vol. II (The Middle Ages) (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson 1998), p. 269.

[89] Regarding this movement, Shalom A. Singer wrote: “The creative period of the movement was relatively short, the century from about 1150 to 1250… While… the movement itself never achieved… a mass movement, the teachings and leadership did enjoy wide popularity, authority, and prestige.” See Shalom Singer, “An Introduction to ‘Sefer Ḥasidim” in Hebrew Union College Annual, vol. 35 (1964), pp. 145-155, esp. p. 145.

[90] Note that the words Addir Addirenu are not a Biblical quote, but Adonai adonenu is the beginning of a quotation from Psalm 8:2.

[91] Isaiah 63 articulates this messianic vision of God meting out the evil of the world.

[92] In light of the midrash surrounding the angels complaining about God giving the Torah to the Israelites and to the heavenly hosts, our reading here suggests that God granting “God’s honor” (“כְּֿבוֹדוֹ,” kevodo) is in fact God’s granting God’s Torah. The literary juxtaposition here of God’s honor as embodied in the Torah alongside God’s unified name hints at the mystical tradition that the Torah’s letters comprise a mystical name of God. This tradition is most fully articulated for the first time by Rabbi El’azar’s younger distant colleague and mystic of another bend—Nachmanides, Rabbi Mosheh ben Nahman (רַבִּי מֹשֶׁה בֶּן נַחְמָן), also abbreviated as RaMBaN (רַמְבַּ”ן) of Spain (b. c. 1194, d. 1270) in his introduction to Genesis: “יש בידינו קבלה של אמת, כי כל התורה כולה שמותיו של הקב”ה” (“We have in our hands a tradition of truth: that the entire Torah itself is the names of the Holy Blessed One”). For another medieval (albeit later) and popular parallel expression of this concept, see Zohar II: 90b: “״דהא אורייתא שמא דקודשא בריך הוא הוי” (“for this Torah is the name of the Holy Blessed One”). Read through this lens, one may note that “and all will call” (“ויקראו”), as in “and all will call upon God’s holy unified name” (“ויקראו כולם שמו המיוחד הקדוש”) may better be translated “and all will read,” for Rabbi El’azar seemingly prophesied a messianic vision of all the nations of the world studying the Torah that constitutes God’s very name.

[93] Rabbi El’azar of Worms evidently did not count words conjoined by a makkef (מַקֵּף, Hebrew’s connective upper-dash between two words: ־) as one word, which was the Masoretic method of counting words. Had he counted conjoined word-pairs as one word each, he would have counted only twenty words in Addir Addirenu. A less likely alternative is that Rabbi El’azar followed a system of vocalizing the Hebrew words of Addir Addirenu that disagreed with the Masoretic vocalization of the text of Psalm 8:2. His punctiliousness in preserving Hebrew traditions would lead us to the former conclusion instead—that he counted contrary to convention but vocalized as commonly practiced.

[94] On the Greek origins and etymology of gimatriyyah, see Samuel Sambursky, “The Term Gematria: Source and Meaning” in Tarbiz 25:3/4 (spring-fall 1976), pp. 268-271 (Hebrew), i.e.:

שמואל סמבורסקי, “מקורו ומשמעותו של המונח ‘גימטריה,’” תרביץ מה: ג/ד (ניסן-אלול תשל”ו) עמ׳ 268-271.

[95] Using the word addirut here instead of addir appears to be an error from Rabbi El’azar or a copyist of his. It seems that a scribe mistakenly wrote “אדירות קח (addirut kah, ‘…“gloriousness.” Take…’),” and, in so doing, shifted the placement of the vav (ו) and tav (ת) from “אדיר ותקח (addir vetikkah, ‘…“gloriness,” and take…’).”

[96] The genealogy of Moses as a son of Amram appears in Exodus 6:20.

[97]This commentary is as presented (and reproduced from previously unpublished manuscripts) in Moshe Hershler and Yehudah Alter Hershler (eds.), Peyrushey Siddur HaTefillah LaRoke’ah: Peyrush HaTefillah VeSodoteha LeKhol Yemot HaShanah (Jerusalem, Israel: Mekhon HaRav Hershler c. 1992), Vol. II, pp. 572-573 (Hebrew); i.e.:

הרב משה הרשלר והרב יהודה אלתר הרשלר (עורכים), פירושי סידור התפילה לרוקח: פירוש התפילה וסודותיה לכל ימות השנה לרבנו אלעזר ב״ר יהודה מגרמייזא (ירושלים, ישראל: מכון הרב הרשלר, ה׳תשנ״ב) חלק ב: עמ׳ תקעב,-תקעג.

[98] Ismar Elbogen, Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History (trans. Raymond P. Scheindlin) (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society 1993), p. 290. See also Dan, pp. 267-268.

[99] This commentary is as presented (and reproduced from previously unpublished manuscripts) in Moshe Hershler (ed.), Haggadah Shel Pesah VeShir haShirim Im Peyrush HaRoke’ah UVi’urey Halakhot UMinhagey Leyl HaSeder LeRabbeynu El’azar MiGermaiza ZLH”H Ba’al HaRoke’ah (Jerusalem, Israel: Mekhon Shalem – Tzefunot Kadmonim c. 1994), p. 203 (Hebrew), i.e.:

משה הרשלר (עורך), הגדה של פסח ושיר השירים עם פירוש הרוקח וביאורי הלכות ומנהגי ליל הסדר לרבנו אלעזר מגרמייזא זלה״ה בעל הרקח (ירושלים, ישראל: הוצאת מכון שלם – צפונות קדמונים, ה׳שדמ״ת) עמ׳ רג.

Note that the equation of bakh here with the 22 letters of the language in which the Torah is written is a theme that appears elsewhere in midrashic literature. See Devarim Rabbah (Lieberman), Devarim 27; Shir HaShirim Rabbah 1:1:3; Pesik’ta DeRav Kahana (Mandelbaum), 28 (BaYom HaShemini Atzeret): 9; Pesik’ta Rabbati (Friedman), Hosafah 1: 4 (BaYom HaShemini) at end; Midrash Tehillim (Shoher Tov) (Buber) 7:4 on Psalm 7:2, 9:6 on 9:3, and 25:5 on 25:2; and Pesik’ta Zu’trata (Lekah Tov) on Song of Songs 1:4.

[100] In all tellings of the midrash where Moses is present, Moses is presented as being in the upper echelons, in the Heavens, eye-to-eye with the angels. Moses, though human, acquires the status literarily of a demigod. He is at the very least an intermediary: the medium whereby earth and God connect. Tellingly the midrash does not seek to praise Moses himself but to praise the humans he represents, for Jewish theology, especially in contrast to theology developing among Christians living in the 1st millennium C.E., tends to minimize the possibility of any single person being a vehicle for the Divine. Despite the potential for Moses’ heavenly elevation to gain him Godly powers, the rabbinic imagination understood Moses here more as a liaison between heaven and earth and not a unique instrument of the Divine beyond the role of any other human.

[101] Rabbi El’azar’s writings make clear that the exact recitation and transmission of the letters and words as he knows them must be followed precisely, for the proper utterances reflect cosmogonic, angelic and Divine truths. Note that his caution against subtracting or adding words or letters for traditional prayer formulae is consistently preceded or followed by references to creation, God as creator, the angels or revelation (which, as previously demonstrated in this responsum, was a moment of great tension for the angels in the rabbinic imagination). See Hershler and Hershler (ed.), Peyrushey Siddur HaTefillah LaRoke’ah, vol. I, pp. 229, 256, 259, 268 and 275; and vol. II, p. 421.

[102] Jakob Freimann (ed.), Sefer Mahkim LeRabbi Natan Ben Rabbi Yehudah (Krakow, Poland: c. 1889), p. V (Hebrew), i.e.:

יעקב פריימאנן (עורך), ספר מחכים לר׳ נתן ב״ר יהודה (קראקא: ה׳תרמ״ט [בערך 1888 או 1889 לספה״נ]), עמ׳ V.

[103] Note that, due to the brevity of the small book Sefer Mahkim, no citation has been included here.

[104] Levush (לְֿבוּשׁ) on Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 488:3.

[105] See Jeffrey Hoffman, “The Image of The Other in Jewish Interpretations of Alenu” in Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations vol. 10 (2015), pp. 1-41, esp. pp. 4-11, for a review of the history of the development of Aleynu, which happens to date to not much earlier than Addir Addirenu.

[106]This strand of thought does not accord with rabbinic images of the Messiah in fact residing on Earth already.

[107]Isaiah Berlin, “Peyrushim Venimmukim Al Pi Ketav Yad MiMahzor Shello Im Defus Altona Shnat TKL’G” in Leon Schlossberg, Sefer Halakhot Pesukot O Hilkhot Re’u HaMyuhasot LeTalmidey Rav Yehudai Ga’on (Versailles, France: 1886), pp. 49-67, esp. p. 67 (Hebrew), i.e.:

ר׳ ישעיה ברלין ז״ל, ״פירושים ונימוקים על פי כ״י ממחזור שלו עם פירוש דפוס אלטונא שנת תקל״ג״ בספרו של אריה ליב שלאסבערג, ספר הלכות פסוקות או הלכות ראו המיוחסות לתלמידי רב יהודאי גאון (ווירסייליס, צרפת: 1886), מעמ׳ 49 עד עמ׳ 67, ובמיוחד מעמ׳ 59 עד עמ׳ 60.

Rabbi Berlin had precedent for including Addir Addirenu on days of Yom Tov falling on Shabbat. Rabbi Yitzhak Aizik of Tirna’s Sefer HaMinhagim records in Minhag Shel Shabbat that Addir Addirenu would be recited when Yom Tov fell on Shabbat.

[108]Yisra’el Hayyim ben Yehudah Friedman, Likkutey Mahari’ah (Ya’akov Tzevi Kaufman, ed.) (Romania: Me’ir Leib Hirsch Satmar, c. 1931), Seder Tefillat Musaf, II: 66a-b (Hebrew), i.e.:

ר׳ ישראל חיים בן יהודה פרידמאן, לקוטי מהרי״ח (מהדורת יעקב צבי קויפמאן) (רומעניען [רומניה]: מאיר ליב הירש סאטמאר, ה׳תרצ״ב [משנת 1931 עד שנת 1932 לספה״נ]), ח״ב, סדר תפלת מוסף ח״ב, סו ע״א-ע״ב.

[109] On the authorial context of this work, see Zohn Mincer, pp. 193-195, esp. p. 194.

[110] See Epstein’s Arukh HaShulhan, Orah Hayyim 663:4.

[111] Most posekim in fact never mention Addir Addirenu by name in their legal codes and commentaries. The unspoken acceptance of Rabbi Jaffe’s ruling penetrates this silence. Among the few who mention their complete concession to Rabbi Jaffe’s position is Rabbi Yeshayah Wiener (b. c. 1726, d. c. 1798) in Isaiah Wiener, Bigdey Yesha (Prague, Poland: Defus Mosheh Katz, c. 1774), vol. II on Orah Hayyim 488:3, p. 227 (Hebrew), i.e.:

הר׳ ישעיה בן שמחה וינר, בגדי ישע (פראג, פולין: דפוס משה כ״ץ ,ה׳תקל״ד), ח״ב על א״ח תפח: ג, עמ׳ רכז.

See below at pp. 108-110 on contemporary practice.

[112] See the middle of his short book.

[113]See the section Minhagey Hag HaSukkot.

[114] Sefer MaHaRYL (Minhagim): Seder Tefillot Hag HaSukkot V (Hebrew), i.e.:

ספר מהרי״ל (מנהגים): סדר תפילות חג הסוכות ה.

[115] See the section Hag HaSukkot.

[116] Yitzhak ben Me’ir HaLevi, ’ir HaLevi, Minhagim Yeshanim MiDura (Israel Elfenbein, ed.) (New York, NY: 1948), p. 157 (Hebrew), i.e.:

רבי יצחק בן רבי מאיר הלוי מדורא, מנהגים ישנים מדורא, ישראל אלפנביין (עורך) (ניו יורק: ה׳תש״ח), עמ׳ 157.

[117] Hilkhot Sukkot, 223.

[118] On Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 684.

[119] Note though that the Tanhuma text spells be’otot differently from and with more letters than the Masoretic text: באותות.

[120] It can further be argued that this broad spectral understanding of ot, along with the English word “sign,” likely has theological import to traditions beyond Judaism. Examining the plural of the Arabic cognate of ot, Elliot Wolfson has written:


…a precise analogue… is found in Islamic mysticism… As with so much of Islamic occultism, the starting point is an expression in the Qur’ān in a section that delineates various signs (āyāt) of the divine in the world, which serve as part of the liturgical glorification of Allah in the evening and morning (30:17-27). The signs consist of the creation of man from dust and the creation of his spouse, the helpmate, with whom man can settle down and live harmoniously (20-22), the creation of the heavens and earth, and the diversity of ethnic and racial identities (22), the creation of patterns of human behavior and natural phenomena (23-24), and… the fact that all… in the heavens and earth arise by the command, or will, of Allah (25). Everything that is in the cosmos, therefore, may be viewed as a sign marking the way to one that is both within and outside the cosmos.


See Elliot R. Wolfson, Language, Eros, Being: Kabbalistic Hermeneutics & Poetic Imagination (New York, NY: Fordham University Press 2005), p. 205. Wolfson refers to آيات (aayaat), the plural of آية (aayah), which, in Arabic, can mean “a verse from the Quran,” “a word,” “an utterance,” “a mark,” “a miracle,” “a miracle,” “a wonder,” or “a marvel.” See Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (Arabic-English), J Milton Cowan (ed.) (Urbana, IL: Spoken Language Services, 1960), p. 36,, s. v. “اية.” Though our study here cannot determine whether such a parallel can extend to all other religious traditions, it seems that this expansive understanding of signage likely presents subtle statements of deeper theological import in contemporary religious traditions with bases in the ancient Near East.

[121] Scholars since Solomon Schechter have long divided Avot DeRabbi Natan into two major trends of recension: Nus’ha A and Nus’ha B. Of the former, at least three different versions are known. See Menahem Kister, “Avot DeRabbi Natan Mahadurat Sh”Z Schechter: Akdamut Milin” in Menahem Kister, Avot DeRabbi Natan: Mahadurat Shechter (New York, NY: Jewish Theological Seminary c. 1997), pp.7-40, esp. p. 40 (Hebrew), i.e.:

מנחם קיסטר, ״אבות דרבי נתן מהדורת ש״ז שכטר: אקדמות מילין״ בתוך מנחם קיסטר, אבות דרבי נתן: מהדורת ש״ז שכטר עם ציונים למקבילות בין הנסחים ולתוספות שבמהדורת שכטר בתוספת ״אדקמות מילין״ (ניו יורק, ארה״ב: בית המדרש לרבנים באמריקה ה׳תשנ״ז) עמ׳ 7-40, ובמיוחד עמ׳ 9.

Kister writes that it seems that hundreds of years separate the earlier compilation of Nus’ha B from the later compilation of Nus’ha A. See ibid., p. 10.

[122] See ibid., p. 13.

[123] See Shir HaShirim Zuta 1:1, s.v. “shir hashirim” (“שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים”); Midrash Aggadah, BeMidbar 2:2; Rabbi Hizkeyah ben Mano’ah’s Hizkuni (13th century France) on Numbers 2:2; the Portuguese, Aragonese and Italian Rabbi Yitzhak ben Yehudah Abraban’el (b. c. 1437, d. 1508) on Isaiah 7; Tzeror HaMor by the Portuguese, Spanish and Italian Rabbi Avraham ben Ya’akov Sava (b. c. 1440, d. 1508) on BeMidbar; Berit Shalom by Rabbi Pin’has ben Pilta (b. c. 1620, d. c. 1663) of Włodawa in Poland on Va’era; Me’or Eynayim by Rabbi Menahem Nahum (b. c. 1730; d. 1797) of Chernobyl in Russia on BeMidbar; Menahem Tziyyon of Menahem Mendil (b. c. 1745, d. c. 1815) of Pristik and Rimanov on Vayyikra and the Haggadah of Passover; and Ma’or VaShemesh by Rabbi Kalonymos Kalman Epstein (b. c. 1751, d. 1823) of Poland on BeMidbar.

[124] See Ziva Kosofsky, “HaHibbur HaMkhunneh ‘Midrash Aggadah’: Mavo VeHatza’ah LeMahadurah Birkor’tit Helkit LeHummash Shemot ULFarshot Bereshit, Vayyikra, BeMidbar UDvarim” (dissertation) (Jerusalem, Israel: Hebrew University, 2015), p. 3 (Hebrew), i.e.:

זיוה קוסופסקי, ״החיבור המכונה ׳מדרש אגדה׳: מבוא והצעה למהדורה ביקורתית חלקית לחומש שמות ולפרשות בראשית, ויקרא, במדבר ודברים״ (דיסרטציה) (ירושלים, ישראל: האוניברסיטה העברית, ה׳תשע״ה), עמ׳ 3.

[125] Jastrow understood notarikon to be derived from the Greek νοταριχόν. See Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature (Philadelphia, PA: 1903), pp. 886-887, s.v. נוטריקון. Evidently, no such Greek word ever existed. Rather, the Latin term notarius (“a short-hand writer”) seems metonymically more appropriate an etymology. For this Latin term and translation, see Charlton Lewis and Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, s.v. “notarius,” accessed online at on May 22, 2017.

[126] See, e.g., Lawrence Fine, Physician of the Soul, Healer of the Cosmos: Isaac Luria and His Kabbalistic Fellowship (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press 2003), pp. 131-132.

[127]Jacob Mann, “Peyrush Aggadati Al HaHaftarah Ve’Al HaMizmor LeShabbat Va’era” in The Bible as Read and Preached in the Old Synagogue (Cincinnati, OH: 1940), vol. 1, Hebrew section, p. 146 (Kit’ey Midrashim, Genizah: XVIII: 6a).

[128] This dictum appears in many sources. One earlier such source is Sekhel Tov (Buber), Vayyiggash 46:34.

[129] See David Golinkin, “Rice, beans and kitniyot on Pesah – are they really forbidden” pp. 14-18, accessed at on April 23, 2017.

[130] See Jules Harlow (ed.), Siddur Sim Shalom: A Prayerbook for Shabbat, Festivals, and Weekdays (New York, NY: Rabbinical Assembly 1985) pp. 458-459; Leonard S. Cahan (ed.), Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals (New York, NY: Rabbinical Assembly 1998), p. 167; Raphaël Freeman (ed.), The Koren Siddur (Jerusalem, Israel: Koren 2009) pp. 808-809.

[131] See, e.g., Avie Gold (ed.), The Complete ArtScroll Machzor: Succos (Nusach Ashkenaz) (Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah 1992), pp. 340-341 and the related pages and works in the series. See for a more popular read, Nosson Scherman (ed.), The Rabbinical Council of America Edition of “Siddur Kol Yaakov / The Complete ArtScroll Siddur” – Nusach Ashkenaz (Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah 1984), pp. 676-677. Notably, the ArtScroll series offers the option of reciting Addir Addirenu on the Shabbat of Hol HaMo’ed.

[132] See, e.g., Union Prayer Book (Cincinnati, Ohio: Central Conference of American Rabbis 1940), p. 127; and Elyse D. Frishman (ed.), Mishkan T’filah: A Reform Siddur (New York, NY: Central Conference of American Rabbis 2007), pp. 248, 327 and 476.

[133] See, e.g., David A. Teutsch (ed.), Kol Haneshamah: Shabbat Vehagim (Elkins Park, PA: Reconstructionist Press 2006), 3rd ed., pp. 338-339.

[134] I extend my gratitude to Richard Claman and Marcus Mordecai Schwartz’s keen eyes and helpful input in seeing that I made all possible improvements to this teshuvah of which I was capable. I also must thank Jesse Abelman, Noah Ferro, Yitzchak Friedman, Yosef Goldman, Amit Gvaryahu, Yossel Hoizman, Emily Aviva Kapor-Mater, Avital Morris, Noam Sienna, Oren Steinitz, Shoshana Michael Zucker, and my mother Ellen Rank—each of whom assisted in providing references or answers for picayune questions that arose along the way. I however claim the exclusive responsibility for any and all errors or deficiencies within this teshuvah.