The Rav’s Siddur Has Arrived
I am pleased and proud to announce the availability of the new Koren Mesorat HaRav Siddur: Complete Tefillot with Commentary from the Teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, on which I worked. You can buy the siddur here: link or at your local Judaica store.
The siddur is bookended, with extensive overviews upfront on Rav Soloveitchik’s views on prayer (by R. Aharon Lichtenstein, R. Menachem Genack, R. Jonathan Sacks and Dr. Arnold Lustiger), a long list of Rav Soloveitchik’s practices regarding prayers and many essays in the back on halakhic prayer topics. In the middle is a full Koren Hebrew-English prayerbook for the entire year with a running commentary adapted from Rav Soloveitchik’s writings and teachings. The commentary is often brief but, in my admittedly biased opinion, very powerful. Here is an excerpt I chose largely at random (pp. 127-128):
אתה חונן לאדם דעת You grace humanity with knowledge. This is the only berakha which commences with an affirmative statement. It is the reverse of all other berakhot where we start with the petitionary sentence and conclude with an affirmative statement. Ata Honen expresses the fact that human intelligence is a source of man’s greatest pride and bliss, a source of his greatness and uniqueness. Without intelligence, man would be a brute in the field and progress would be impossible, for only through intellectual powers can man distinguish himself as an independent and powerful being who can free himself from his environment. And at the same time, human intelligence is also the source of man’s misery and suffering. Because of his intellect, man realizes his own tragic destiny and the distressful and sorrowful state of being in which he finds himself. So before we are ready to present God with our petitions, we state the cause: we pray because we realize that we are lacking. We are thankful to God for the intellectual talents and powers He has bestowed upon us. In spite of the fact that knowledge and intelligence are responsible for our misery and sorrow, we want as much knowledge and intelligence as God sees fit to bestow upon us. We are ready to accept the burden and carry it. However, at the same time, we must come before Him to pray for our salvation, for our survival, for our peace of mind, for our happiness, for our success.
This is now the siddur of the twenty-first century, combining Rav Soloveitchik’s brilliant insights with Koren’s precision and R. Jonathan Sacks’ eloquent translation. Anyone who can appreciate, or argue with, Hirhurim will want to own a copy of this prayerbook.
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