Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Teffilah Zakah: History of a Controversial Prayer

Teffilah Zakah:
History of a Controversial Prayer*

Yom Kippur has many unique prayers, many of them have been added through the centuries. For instance, R. Hayyim Yosef Dovid Azulai (Hida) has a longer viduy. Another such addition is the prayer known as Teffilah Zakah. In this prayer the person enumerates and connects their various sins with various acts and asks for forgiveness. Additionally, the person forgives any who have caused them pain or harmed them. This prayer was popularized by R. Avraham Danzig, in his Hayye Adam.

There are two reasons offered for reciting this prayer. Dr. Sperber opines (Minhagei Yisrael, vol. 2, p. 37 and esp. n.10) that the purpose of this prayer is to fulfill the opinion of the Ramban who holds that is an additional viduy on directly prior to Kol Nedrei on Erev Yom Kippur. (He offers that either Teffilah Zakah or a piyyut from R. Abraham ibn Ezra, fulfills this purpose). R. Abraham Ashkenazi (Brit Abraham, Warsaw, 1884, no. 129) offers a different reason for Teffilah Zakah. The purpose according to him, is to accept Yom Kippur early. At the end of Teffilah Zakah, one voices that they are accepting "kedushas Yom Kippurim." In fact, R. Ashkenazi holds that for the purposes of fulfilling the opinion of the Ramban Teffilah Zakah would be insufficient as it differs significantly from the standard viduy. R. Ashkenazi, however, also holds that one should fulfill the Ramban's opinion and thus recite the regular viduy after Teffilah Zakkah. (Surprisingly, Dr. Sperber doesn't discuss R. Ashkenazi's concern).

As mentioned above, Teffilah Zakah has a passage where one forgives others who may have sinned against him. This is necessary, as although Yom Kippur takes care of sins between man and God, it can't take care of sins between man and man. Thus, it is necessary for each to receive forgiveness from their fellowman to achieve full forgiveness. Teffilah Zakah is long, and this paragraph that forgives others, appears at the end. The Chofetz Chaim attempted to alleviate this problem "and contacted the printers to change the placement of this paragraph of Teffilah Zakah . That is, to place this later paragraph earlier in prayer, to place the paragraph where one forgives others in the middle or the beginning." According to the Chofetz Chaim's son, R. Areyeh Leib, some siddurim did in fact shift around the prayer. (Michtevei Chofetz Chaim, p. 21-2 no. 52; quoted in Sperber, Minhagei Yisrael, vol. 4, 274).

The source to popularize this prayer is the book Hayye Adam.[1] Hayye Adam was first published in 1809, then in 1819 (the discussion regarding Teffilah Zakah only appears in this second edition - and thus, perhaps should be called a mahdurah [2]), and the third edition in 1825 - it would be this third edition that would be used for subsequent printing. [3] And, thereafter there was a flood of reprints - by 1960, Hayye Adam had been published at least 103 times (!) - a very popular book by any measure. While the book was reprinted on many occasions there were slight changes (some for the worse - there were many printing errors that crept in). As relevant to our discussion, in some editions, the portion discussing Teffilah Zakah changed as well.[4] The source that R. Danzig lists for Teffilah Zakah (klall 144), is the Sefer Hemdat Yamim. [5] In light of the fact that Hemdat Yamim is controversial in some editions of the Hayye Adam they removed words "Hemdat Yamim" so as not to have that as the source for this prayer.[6] Not all publishers dealt with the mention of Hemdat Yamim in the same manner. The full passage, as per the second edition of the Hayye Adam (see above - this is the first time this prayer appears in the Hayye Adam):
אח"ז ילך לבית הכנסת באימה ורעדה והמנהג בקהלתינו בכל בתי מדרשים להוציא ס"ת מהיכל כמש"כ בכתבי האר"י ז"ל וכבר נדפס בחמדת הימים התפילה שיסדר ואמנם לא כל אדם מבין הדברים רק מי שבא בסוד ה' ומי שא"י הוא להם כדברי ספר החתום ולכן העתקתי בספרי' קדמונים תפלה בלשון קל . . . וכו

In the Zolkeiv(1838) edition the words "וכבר נדפס בחמדת הימים" are missing (this makes the next clause - "but not everyone understands those words" and "those words will be like a closed book" unintelligible); while in the Vilna (1849) edition only the words
אח"ז ילך לבית הכנסת באימה ורעדה והמנהג בקהלתינו בכל בתי מדרשים להוציא ס"ת מהיכל כמש"כ בכתבי האר"י ז"ל

and the rest of the paragraph explaining why R. Danzig was required to create a new prayer in a "simple language" doesn't appear. In the Vilna (1895) edition they have as follows:
אח"ז ילך לבית הכנסת באימה ורעדה והמנהג בקהלתינו בכל בתי מדרשים להוציא ס"ת מהיכל כמש"כ בכתבי האר"י ז"ל והעתקתי בספרים קדמונים לומר אז וידיו בלשון קל

This way they avoid the ambiguous pronoun (the problem with the Zolkeiv) and provide background for the prayer generally, of course they have still altered what R. Danzig found unremarkable.

The twin factors [7] of the use of a suspect work, Hemdat Yamim, and the creation of a new prayer, made some hesitant to adopt Teffilah Zakah. In the Tosefot Hayyim, a commentary on the Hayye Adam written by R. Meshulum Finkelstein, [8] deals with both of these issues and defends the recitation of Teffilah Zakah (klall 144 n.31). First, he alleges the prayer is not the same as that in Hemdat Yamim.[9] Second, he argues that the concern of saying a later prayer - this concern is attributed to the AriZal and is why, according to some the Yigdal prayer is not recited in some circles - is applicable to "yehidei segulah" (special people) and not to the masses. This is demonstrated by the many piyyutim we recite which are later than the cut-off date for prayers (R. Eliezer HaKalir - whenever he may have lived). Additionally, according to some, any prayer that has been accepted by the masses, this concern is not applicable.[10]

What is worthwhile mentioning is that R. Danzig is not the only talmid HaGra to use the Hemdat Yamim. He is also not the only talmid HaGra to have his work censored for such an inclusion. R. Eliach (Avi HaYeshivos, pp. 184-186) notes that the talmidei HaGra had no problem using and praising the Hemdat Yamim. Aside from R. Danzig, R. Alexander Suesskind, author of the Yesod V'Soresh HaAvodah, in his Last Will and Testament he praises the study of Hemdat Yamim. In at least one edition of R. Suesskind's Last Will and Testament, Tzavah Yesod V'Soresh HaAvodah, Jerusalem, 1955, the reference to the Hemdat Yamim was removed. Thus, on the one hand we have a group of people who had no issues using the Hemdat Yamim, while on the other hand, there is another group of people who wish to remove any such references.

Whatever the ultimate source of this prayer, there is no doubt that today, it is a popular one.


The fullest discussion of this prayer can be found in Mordechai Meyer's article "On 'Teffilah Zakah'" in Kenishta, vol. 2 pp. 119-138 including the language above of the various editions of the Hayye Adam.

[1] According to R. Barukh haLevi Epstein, (Mekor Barukh, vol. 3 p. 1260 [end of chapter 21]), R. Danzig titled the book Hayye Adam to avoid any attempt to abridge it as it would then be titled Kitzur Hayye Adam (Shortening the Life of Man). If this is true, it appears it did not help as in 1854 an abridged version was published although the title was Kitzur M'Sefer Hayye Adam (An Abridgement of the Work Hayye Adam). Interestingly, R. Y.S. Nathenson refers to the Sefer Hayye Adam as Kitzur Hayye Adam. Shu"t Shoel u'Meshiv, vol. 2 no. 14 (it is unclear whether there should be a Hey prior to Hayye Adam that would have R. Nathenson as merely listing the Sefer Hayye Adam as an abridgment and the "kitzur" part would not be part of the title.)

[2] For the use of this term "mahdurah" and when it should be applied and more specifically should this second edition of the Hayye Adam should be deemed a mahdurah m'Tukenet or mahdurah Sheneiah, see Y.S. Speigel, Amudim b'Toldot Sefer HaIvri: Kitveah v'Hatakah, Ramat Gan, 2005, 109-60.

[3] Teffilah Zakah was published separately numerous times under the title Teffilah Zakah (it was here it seems the usage of Teffilah Zakah became popular - R. Danzig never refers to it as Teffilah Zakah). The first time it was published was in Minsk, 1833 (see Meir, supra, p. 122)(there is possibly one earlier print by a year or so, in Russia also around 1830 but this is not definite) and republished as a seperate prayer on numerous occasions (by 1900 it had been published close to 50 times). It was first incorporated into the Machzor in 1882 in the Romm edition of the Machzor. (Meir, p. 124) Although the title of Teffilah Zakah was well established as late as 1856 this prayer was published under the title Teffilah HaEtkah M'Sefer Hayye Adam and not Teffilah Zakah.

[4] While the exact nusach of Teffilah Zakah does not appear in Hemdat Yamim, much of it does (see notes below for more). There are those who claim that since the teffilah is not the same, thus, Teffilah Zakah doesn't really come from Hemdat Yamin. This is wrong. First, R. Danzig states it does - so he had no problem with it. Second, even if it is not word for word, and R. Danzig "improved" on the one in Hemdat Yamim, at the very least the basis for it, and much of it does in fact come from Hemdat Yamim. But, it is unsurprising that people would go to great lengths to void Hemdat Yamim as the source for this popular prayer.

[4] The removal of the mention of Hemdat Yamim both here and in other cases (including the discussion below regarding R. Suesskind's work) is discussed by R. S. Divlitsky, "HaShmotot Mahdirim," in Taggim, 1 (1969), 76-77 [Ya'ari, in Talmuot Sefer, also mentions the change to the Hayye Adam see under index under Hayye Adam]. For other examples of removal or changes to various editions of the Hayye Adam see R. A.I. Goldroth, "Al HaSefer 'Hayye Adam' U'Mechbro," in Sefer Margoliyos, Jerusalem, 1973, pp. 262-67 esp. n.1. For a discussion about Teffilah Zakah, as well as the Hayye Adam see R. E. Levin & M. I. Blau, "Teffilah Zakah," in Mishpacha, Kulmus, Tishrei, 2008, 16-19; and Blau's earlier article, "Al Sefer Hemdat Yamim," in Kovetz Bet Ahron v'Yisrael, Nissan, 2004 (112), pp. 161-164.

[5] In the Zolikav, 1838, Vilna, 1849; Tchernowitz, 1864; editions the words Hemdat Yamim are cut out and instead, the line reads, "in the works of the AriZal" and then has Teffilah Zakah. This is not the only mention of Hemdat Yamim in Hayye Adam. When discussing (klall 145) what happens if one has a nocturnal emission on Yom Kippur the Hayye Adam again cites to the Hemdat Yamim. In some editions the words "Hemdat Yamim" are missing, in others, it is abbreviated ("ח"ה"), so only those "in the know" will be able to understand.

[6] There is a third concern raised by the former Pupa Rebbi, who notes that as Teffilah Zakah discusses inappropriate sexual behavior, one should avoid saying it as it may lead to improper thoughts about the possible improper behavior. See R. G. Zinner, Neta Gavreil, Hilchot Yom HaKippurim, Jerusalem, 2001, p. 185 n.4. For a list of those who did not say Teffilah Zakah, see Y. Mondshein, Otzar Minhagei Chabad, [Jerusalem], 1995, pp. 200-01. Among other reasons, a similar reason to the Pupa Rebbi is offered by the wife of the Tzemach Tzedek. Additionally, a entirely new reason is given - that Teffilah Zakah is actually a deficient or inadequate prayer. As it is so bad is why, perversly, it has become so popular because, it seems, people like junk. See id. at n.1 in the name of the Sefer Areyeh Sha'ag.
See also, R. T. Ohrenreich, Katseh haMateh, in Mateh Efrahim, no. 619:17 who offers other methods to fulfill the opinions who hold one must do a viduy prior to the onset of Yom Kippur in lieu of Teffilah Zakah.

[7] It was first published in the Warsaw, 1888 edition of the Hayye Adam. R. Finkelstein wrote not only a commentary on Hayye Adam but also on the Matteh Efrahim, Elef HaMogan, first published in Mateh Efrahim HaShalem, Pitrokov, 1908. He also published a collection of commentaries on the Mishna under the title Tosefot Hakhomim, Warsaw, 1916.

[8] See note 4 above. This justification is bizarre. First, as noted above, the Hayye Adam says he is using the Hemdat Yamim - so at the very least he had no problem if it was there. Second, there are entire passages that do appear in Hemdat Yamim. For instance, the Hemdat Yamim has using kissing the sefer Torah to fix various sins (p. 291 of Tzuriel ed. - all citations are to this edition). Or there is an extensive discussion about the inability to fix something that someone stole from someone else (p. 229-36). There is another list of sins that mimic that in Teffilah Zakah (p. 252-57).

[9] This reasoning appears somewhat circular in that how did the prayer get started if one is prohibited from saying it to begin with? Even if one assumes this is merely extending the concept of "im ain neviem, beni neviem hamah," it doesn't excuse the R. Danzig from advocating for something that is prohibited.

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