A 12th–13th-Century Specimen of the Eastern Rite for the Tenth of Tevet

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Early Hebrew poets in both the land of Israel and Babylonia composed liturgical poetry for the Tenth of Tevet. The land of Israel poets produced qerovot-of-eighteen, poetic replacements for the eighteen benedictions of the Amidah, while the Babylonian poets composed selichot, intended for insertion within the sixth benediction of the Amidah. The survey of liturgical fragments from the Cairo Genizah presented in this paper confirms that these two customs generally remained distinct in actual liturgical practice. Nevertheless, we occasionally find a synthesis of these customs, wherein selichot are incorporated within a qerovah-of-eighteen. I present here new evidence of a Tenth of Tevet rite from the East, based upon a manuscript join of two Genizah fragments, which demonstrates this rare synthesis of Babylonian and land of Israel customs. This rite also provides a basis upon which we can explain the development of the Italian rite for minor fast days. Previous scholarship had assumed that the Italian rite was influenced directly by the prayer book of Saadia Gaon. The rite discussed herein presents a more plausible explanation, the existence of an intermediate Eastern rite which served as a precursor to the Italian rite.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)89-108
JournalHebrew Union College Annual
StatePublished - 2014


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