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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

The Theology of the Siddur

A similar situation pertains to the theology of the Siddur. The common prayers undoubtedly reflect, for example, the religious ideology of rabbinic Judaism. They reflect postbiblical, rabbinic notions of the world to come. The divine authority of Oral Torah is presupposed in many contexts, and the obligation to perform the 613 mitzvot (religious precepts), as formulated by rabbinic interpretation, underlies various texts. There is a conviction that goodness will be rewarded and evil punished and that repentance brings forgiveness. The study of Torah makes its appearance both as one of the observant Jew's duties and in the form of texts that are cited from rabbinic literature. Torah study is so successfully welded into the body of the prayerbook that it is effectively treated as liturgy rather than education. The ideology underlying its inclusion is that the absence of the Temple ritual prescribed in the Torah (since the Temple was destroyed) can be compensated for by the recitation of the biblical and talmudic passages that describe its detailed requirements (so b. Taʿan. 27b).

Having first been formulated in the period following the destruction of the Temple, the expulsion from the holy city of Jerusalem, and the loss of the independent Jewish homeland, the rabbinic prayers lay powerful stress on Israel's appeal to God for the restoration of these religious and national symbols. Much is made of God's choice of Israel for a special religious role, and there are polemical undertones in some prayers that appear to be aimed at Christianity or Islam. At the same time, there is an enthusiasm for the “righteous proselyte” and a fervent hope (following biblical eschatological models) that the whole world will ultimately come to recognize God's sovereignty. The ultimate redemption, like that of Israel from Egypt, will be an impressive manifestation of God's power and will include the arrival of the Messiah and the resurrection of the dead. The assumption is frequently made that the worshipper can enjoy a close relationship with God and that practical matters in human life require God's blessing for them to flourish. Formal catechisms are not a feature of rabbinic prayer although there are certainly texts such as the Shema that include the relevant theological principles. A poetic summary of Maimonides' “Thirteen Principles of Faith,” known from its opening word as the Yigdal hymn, is included for recitation before formal prayer in the morning and for singing after the Friday evening service, but this is late, optional, controversial, and an exception rather than the rule. In some communities, Maimonides' thirteen principles of faith were also recited in their prose form at the conclusion of the morning prayers.

Most of the religious ideology just charted is either represented in an earlier form in the Bible or has a basis in some of its texts. Sometimes, the only change in a phrase is the adjustment of the singular to the plural to take account of the change from individual request to communal petition. The notions of a special relationship between God and Israel, of direct access to His favor, and of revelation and redemption from the divine source, are all familiar features of the biblical books. By the same token, the nature of rabbinic theodicy, eschatology, and religious law is largely shaped by ideas to be found in the Written Torah.

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