On Changes In Jew­ish Litur­gy: Options and Limitations

Daniel Sper­ber
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
Promi­nent Ortho­dox schol­ar Daniel Sper­ber explores in detail the his­to­ry of our prayer litur­gy, the changes that have occurred as it grew, the debates (halakhic, gram­mat­i­cal, seman­tic, and oth­er­wise) t hat have always exist­ed con­cern­ing the con­tent and pro­pri­ety of such changes, and the inevitable fail­ure of those who have sought to per­ma­nent­ly fix the litur­gy and con­sol­i­date the nuschaot (vari­ant tra­di­tions). Sperber’s con­clu­sions are per­haps sur­pris­ing­ly lib­er­al in halakhic rea­son­ing, and plu­ral­is­tic in atti­tude.

Thor­ough­ly researched, tight­ly rea­soned, and eru­dite­ly ana­lyzed, this is the finest book on this sub­ject cur­rent­ly avail­able in Eng­lish. As a schol­ar­ly work, it is dense­ly writ­ten, but quite acces­si­ble to the edu­cat­ed layper­son with some knowl­edge of Jew­ish prayer and law. Jew­ish insti­tu­tions, syn­a­gogues, rab­bis, Jew­ish edu­ca­tion pro­fes­sion­als, and those inter­est­ed and involved in prayer and prayer com­mu­ni­ty, will find this book of great interest.
Ami­tai Adler is a Con­ser­v­a­tive rab­bi. He teach­es and writes in Los Ange­les, CA, and has been pub­lished in Sh’­ma and Jew­ish Bible Quarterly.

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