Sunday 24 March 2024

467) Lechu Neranena on Wednesday


 Guest post by Moshe Tzvi Wieder


I thank Moshe Tzvi Wieder for sharing with us his research into the early Siddur (prayer book). Moshe Tzvi Wieder is the author of “The Siddur from Its Sources” (הסידור ממקורותיו) a unique Siddur which provides the earliest known sources for every part of the Siddur.  To learn more about הסידור ממקורותיוsee the site here.


Lechu Neranena on Wednesday


The Siddur from Its Sources, by Moshe Tzvi Wieder, Wieder Press, 2023.

The Mishna (Tamid 7:4) delineates which chapters of Tehillim the Leviim would say for each day of the week. While it does not explicitly state the ending of each section, both logic and early manuscript evidence bear out that the Leviim would stop at the end of each chapter.  

Interesting then is our practice with regard to Wednesday’s Shir Shel Yom, chapter 94. While on all other days we end, as the Leviim did at the end of the chapter, on Wednesday we continue and read the first three verses of the following chapter. For many years, I understood this practice to have resulted from the 16th century innovation to recite chapter 95 (לכו נרננה) as a preamble to Ma'ariv on Erev Shabbat.  As the Gemara in Pesachim (106a) explains, Wednesday is the first day of the week that "belongs" to the following Shabbat. As such, it made sense to note the connection in that day's Shir Shel Yom.  The siddur evidence (Siddur MeBracha Mantua 1578) seemed to back this timing as well.   

Recently, I found the practice to add the first 3 verses of Tehillim 95 in manuscript Siddurim reflecting the Roman Rite from the 15th century.  I confirmed this practice via five different manuscripts all dated from the 15th century, at least 100 years prior to the innovation of the Tzfat Kabbalists.  This discovery has several implications: 

  1. Obviously, the theory I previously understood cannot be correct as the timing is reversed.  As an aside, this is why it is critically important to establish the timeline of inclusion in the Siddur, before authoring theories as to how certain parts of the Siddur came to be.   
  1. Is it possible that while the sequence was reversed, the reasoning was still correct?  Said differently, is it possible that given a custom to mention the start of chapter 95 on Wednesdays, the Tzfat Kabbalists, based on the Gemara in Pesachim, decided to start their Erev Shabbat custom from those verses?  This is, of course, pure speculation, but it is fascinating speculation. 
  1. We are left with a question as to why the Roman Rite developed this tradition in the first place.  If any readers have a theory, I'd be interested to read it. 


Please click on the following link for more of an in-depth look at Wieder’s interesting research: 


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