10 Tishrei 5781 / Monday, September 28, 2020 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
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Nusach ha-Tefillah    

Nusach ha-Tefillah

…the Rebbe once remarked, "If I had been born into a family that davenned according to Nusach Ashkenaz, I would daven...


Le‘ilui nishmat Leib ben Yitzchak Ya’akov Sears, a”h - Yartzeit: 30 Shevat, Rosh Chodesh Adar
Le'ilui nishmat Yosef ben Shmuel Zeitlin, a"h - Yartzeit: 18 Menachem Av
We continue with our new series of minhagim and hanhagot tovot of Breslov. We invite you to peruse our previous entries by accessing our archives.
Nusach ha-Tefillah (continued)
Rabbi Noson Tzvi Kenig of Bnei Brak compiled a "Breslover Siddur" that includes numerous Breslov teachings on various parts of the prayer service, published as Siddur Sha'arei Ratzon. However, the nusach is the standard Chassidic Nusach Sefard, and does not reflect any special Breslover nusach ha-tefillah.
* * *
According to oral tradition, the Rebbe once remarked, "If I had been born into a family that davenned according to Nusach Ashkenaz, I would daven according to Nusach Ashkenaz." Reb Dovid Zeitlin, who grew up in the Oberlander community that follows Nusach Ashkenaz, once asked Reb Gedaliah about this sichah. He answered, "We need to know what the Rebbe meant by this: to whom he said it, and under what circumstances" (Cf. Si'ach Sarfei Kodesh I, 90).
* * *
EDITOR: It is noteworthy that in Chayei Moharan (“Ma’alat Toraso u-Sefarav”) 366, the Rebbe relates his teachings to the order of the daily prayers. He states, “We are still standing before ‘Barukh she-amar,” but after ‘Hodu.’" Aside from the mystical meaning of this remark, it also happens to reflect nusach Sefard / nusach ARI.
* * *
Reb Zalman Naftalis heard from Rav Moshe Bick and his son, Rav Avraham Bick, direct descendants of the rabbonim of Medzhibuzh, that although the Baal Shem Tov davenned from the Siddur ARI, his shul followed nusach Ashkenaz. This was the nusach of the shul before the Baal Shem Tov came to Medzhibuzh. Historically, only yechidim davenned from the Siddur ARI during this period. The sectarian emphasis on Chassidim davenning according to nusach ARI, special clothing for men and women, takanot, etc., came from the school of the Maggid, and especially from the Rebbe Reb Melekh and his talmidim.
* * *
Breslover Chassidim traditionally daven according to the version of Nusach Sefard -- i.e., the Chassidic rite, which is rooted in Nusach Ashkenaz -- that was popular in the Ukraine, with a few minor variations noted below.
* * *
The Siddur most commonly used by Ukrainian Chassidim was Rabbi Moshe of Slavita’s Siddur Avodah U-Moreh Derekh. It is likely that the Breslover Chassidim in Uman and environs also used this Siddur (heard from Rabbi Mordekhai Twersky, Hornestiepler Rebbe of Flatbush).
* * *
Other popular nusach Sefard Siddurim available in the Ukraine were Ohr la-Yesharim, printed in Zhitomir, and Tefillah Yesharah, AKA the “Berditchever Siddur.” Both contain the commentary Keser Nehorah by Rabbi Aharon of Zhelikhov (author of Keter Shem Tov, the first anthology of teachings from the Baal Shem Tov).
* * *
When asked which printed Siddur the Breslover Chassidim used in the Ukraine, Rabbi Michel Dorfman replied with temimut u-peshitut, “The Chassidisheh Siddur, not the Misnagdisheh Siddur (i.e. Nusach Ashkenaz)!” From this, it would seem that all Chassidim in the region followed the same basic nusach, more or less.
* * *
Reb Gedaliah's nusach is presented below, where indicated. The nusach that Reb Gedaliah received from Reb Avraham was Reb Nosson’s nusach. However, he did not receive everything. Therefore, he told his talmidim that in place of what he was not mekabel, they should follow what Rav Chaim Vital writes in Sha'ar ha-Kavannot (primarily in the section Inyan Tefillat Shacharits, pp. 50-51) in the name of the ARI zal, since this is the most reliable source. (Details of Reb Gedaliah's nusach were heard from Rabbi Elazar Kenig, Rabbi Noach Cheifetz, Rabbi Yisrael Davis, Rabbi Dovid Shapiro, and Rabbi Chaim Man. The nusach of Sha'ar ha-Kavannot is presented with annotations in the recent collection of minhagei ARI zal, Even ha-Shoham, Vol. I, Hilchot Berakhot Nusach ha-Tefillah, pp. 106-115; also cf. ibid. 119-125, Seder ha-Shemoneh Esreh according to Pri Eitz Chaim, pp. 165-174. Rabbi David Kafsian argues that the derekh of Breslov is deeply connected to that of the ARI zal, and whenever it is possible to fulfill the words of the ARI zal, one should do so; see Sefer Heikhal Ariel [2002], beginning.)
* * *
Reb Gedaliah did not teach his family members his personal nusach ha-tefillah, and only gave it over to a few talmidim who urged him to do so. (This is true of most of his other minhagim, as well.) Thus, Reb Gedaliah’s nusach was not stressed when the Tzefat community was established, and the nusach of the community does not always correspond to what is written here. Reb Gedaliah considered the generic nusach Sefard to be basically nusach ARI. Most members of the Tzefas kehillah use the Tefillat Kol Peh Nusach Sefard Siddur published by Eshkol (heard from Rabbi Elazar Kenig and Rabbi Chaim Man).
* * *
Rabbi Nachman Burshteyn also said that for many decades, Breslover Chassidim in Yerushalayim used the Tefillat Kol Peh Nusach Sefard Siddur.
* * *
Reb Elazar has told Sefardic members of his kehillah not to change their nusach ha-tefillah.
However, if at some point they wish to change to the nusach of the community, which is basically the Chassidic Nusach Sefard, they are permitted to do so. This seems to be the common approach to this issue elsewhere, as well.
To be continued
(With permission from The Breslov Center for Spirituality and Inner Growth http://www.nachalnovea.com/breslovcenter)

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