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Siddur Hiddur Tefillah

A prayer book to beautify our prayers

User's Guide

My siddur uses a unique arrangement of the tefillot. The initial goal was to reduce the weight by reducing the number of pages, but I've also come to realize that it helps me to better feel the underlying structure of our tefillot. It also has the advantage that one is always aware of the once-a-year variants, so when it comes time to use them, one knows exactly where they are.

But the tradeoff is that it will take you a little study to learn how to find your way around the pages of the siddur.

Note: The thumbnails in this user's guide have not yet been color-corrected for being on screen (RGB) instead of print (CMYK).

Kabbalat Shabbat (pp. 1-7)

Why start with Kabbalat Shabbat? Because it had to go someplace before the start of Arvit, and this was a good place to put it where it won't interrupt the flow of other sections.

Page 1: Both versions of Yedid Nefesh are here -- the traditional one is on top, and the more historically accurate one is on bottom. I did not consider this a "gendered" text so both editions are the same.

Birchot ha-Shachar (pp. 8-21)

This is of course where you'll start in the morning.

Page 12: This is the only instance of "Adon Olam" and "Yigdal" in the book. If you need them at the end of a Shabbat or Yom Tov service, you'll come back here.

Page 15: A typographical reminder of the meaning of the text and the arc of time that transcends our universe.

Pesukei d'Zimrah (pp. 21-36)

One Pesukei d'Zimrah for all days. (I first saw this in the Ben-Zion Bokser siddur.) When you reach the bottom of p. 23, you can include or skip Mizmor l'Todah depending on the day, and then you can continue on to Lam'natzeach on p. 24 or skip to Yehi Ch'vod on p. 29, depending on the day.

Note that each paragraph is marked with a small number and an arrow. This is to help you if you have fallen behind the shaliach tzibbur; the numbers are the priority of each paragraph. You don't need to flip back to the list and figure out which is which.

Page 34: Here's one spot where my personal practice is incorporated into the siddur. When I reach the end of the Song of the Sea, I keep going another two pesukim, to include "Va-Ta'an Lahem Miriam." (I've been doing this long before I had the idea of using this passage as the name for my two editions.) The additional lines are in parentheses, but they're printed in black because they are my practice. I have never seen this practice mentioned anywhere else.

Page 35: A little typographical twist to reinforce the meaning of the tefillot: the "Elef Elef Alfei Alafim" are, according to some, supposed to allude to every raindrop. Thus, they are arranged vertically like falling rain. Also, I find I tend to rush over those four words, and printing them like this makes me slow down and see each word as an individual expression of gratitude to Hashem.

Shema u'Virchoteha: Shacharit and Arvit (pp. 37-44)

Now we get into the more significant interleaved parts. Shacharit for all days begins with Barchu on page 37. The purple text on pp. 37 and 38 is for Shabbat; the black is either for all days (p. 37) or non-Shabbat days (p. 38); note the "skip Mah Rabu" instruction for Shabbat. I will admit that it wasn't until I was working out these two pages that I truly understood how these Shabbat-specific alterations function liturgically. The last line on page 38 joins both text streams back together.

Page 39: Shacharit continues on the top of the page. Arvit for all days starts below the line, with V'hu rachum on chol or with Barchu on Shabbat and Yom Tov. When you reach the bottom of the page, you'll turn the page as usual but skip the right-hand side and continue directly with Shema on page 41.

Page 40: Another typographical reminder: It is the practice of many to pause before reciting the chatimah, so that one can finish along with the chazan and avoid the question of whether answering "Amen" constitutes a hefsek. To remind you of this, the chatimah is printed afer a line break.

Page 41: This is Shema for both Shacharit and Arvit. The "thought bubble" just before the mention of Yetziat Mitzrayim in the third paragraph is to remind you, at Arvit, that we use this pasuk to fulfill our d'oraitah obligation to mention Yetziat Mitzrayim at night, so if your mind has been wandering, now is the time to concentrate on the meaning of the words once again.

At the end of page 41, we turn the page and once again split: at Shacharit, continue on the right-hand side (page 42); at Arvit, continue on the left-hand side (page 43). When you next turn the page, you'll either continue directly with Amidah (on the left-hand side) or continue with the appropriate passage for Arvit (on the right-hand side).

Amidah (pp. 45-63)

Yes, this is the one instance of Amidah in the entire book. If you think about the structure of Amidah, it always starts and ends with the same berachot, and the middle section is specific to the day and possibly to the service. The organizing principle here is "tadir v'she-eino tadir, tadir kodem" -- the more frequently needed, the earlier in the book. Let's dive in.

Page 45: The first three berachot. First, a typographic reminder to SLOW DOWN -- the first "Baruch Atah Hashem" is letterspaced. Then you just flow down the page. Note that on Rosh ha-Shanah you'll turn to page 53 before the chatimah. All other jumps are listed at the bottom of the page.

Also note the "what to do if you made a mistake" instructions on the bottom of the page. I tried to keep these short, because if you've made a mistake you don't want the instructions on what to do next to take so long to read that they create a hefsek.

Pages 46-47: Kedushah. Here's another case where I found that working out the flow on the page (which I think should be self-explanatory) really helped me to better understand how our tefillot fit together.

Again, note that on Rosh Ha-Shannah we turn to page 53 before the chatimah. All other jumps are listed at the bottom of the page.

Now, each type of day gets one or maybe two spreads of the following pages:

Pages 48-49: Chol. The gray passage in the first beracha is havdalah. You are responsible for knowing when to say v'ten bracha versus v'ten tal umatar livracha. The different permutations for fast days -- when to say Aneinu and whether it contains a chatimah or not, and what to do with Boneh Yerushalayim on Tish'a b'Av -- are all carefully given. Also, there are a few places where people commonly misgroup words in the chatima of a bracha; I've tried to counter those tendencies by adding maqafs.

Pages 50-51: Shabbat. Each of Arvit, Shacharit, Musaf, and Mincha are given, and they all combine after the horizontal line on the left-hand side.

Pages 52-53: Rosh Chodesh Musaf and Rosh Hashanah non-Musaf. Not much to say here; just follow the instructions. For Rosh ha-Shanah, the green instruction at the end merges you into the Yom Tov text on the next page

Pages 54-57: Yom Tov. Again, just follow the instructions. At Musaf, page 56 can be a little confusing -- the important thing is that each date starts off with the pesukim for that day's korban musaf, and then they all merge together with the last two lines on the page. During Chol ha-Moed Sukkot you then need to double back (in chutz la-aretz) to say the passage for the next day as well.

Pages 58-63: The final berachot. On all days, you end up with the giant "Retzei" on page 58.

The Al ha-Nissim for Yom Ha-Atzmaut on page 60 is discussed on my blog.

The spacing on page 61 is another set of typographic reminders. There is a pause before "Selah." And it's "vab'racha hamshuleshet, ba-Torah" and not "vab'racha, hamshuleshet ba-Torah."

On page 63, I didn't put in instructions for when to say Sim Shalom vs. Shalom Rav, because those were going to get very confusing -- as a Jew of German descent, I say Sim Shalom at minchah on Shabbat. Note that here again I use the common last line to merge the two flows back together.

My personal practice, which is not noted in the siddur, is to touch my lips on usfatai midaber mirmah and my chest over my heart at p'tach libi b'Toratecha.

Note as well that the ten-in-a-circle notation for Oseh ha-Shalom is inverted from all the others. That's because this is not my practice nor the practice of my community; we say Oseh shalom just like every other day of the year.

The Amidah ends with a miniature table of contents, for all the places where you may need to go next. The symbols also indicate whether you should say a full kaddish (kuf), a half kaddish (1/2), or no kaddish (null set) before continuing.

Tachanun (pp. 64-71)

This section includes, in order:

  • Tzidkat'cha tzedek, which immediately follows the Amidah on Shabbat mincha. (64)
  • The vidui, for those who say it. (64)
  • Avinu Malkeinu for both fast days and the ten days of repentance. (65-66)
  • "Long" Tachanun for Mondays and Thursdays (67-69)
  • "Short" Tachanun (70-71)

Hallel (pp. 72-75)

Taking of the lulav includes directions on how to assemble your arba minim, because every year I have to look it up and that's a pain.

You are expected to know whether you're skipping the two paragraphs in grey. (Rosh Chodesh, except Chanukah, and after the first yom tov of Pesach.)

I found a lovely Portuguese melody for Psalm 117 in Avraham Baer's Der Practische Vorbeter. I like it because it reinforces the idea that this is its own perek of Tehilim, and not glommed onto Psalm 118.

The stars in Psalm 118 remind you when you do -- and, just as important, when you don't -- shake your lulav.

Torah Reading (pp. 76-108)

Again, this is a single presentation that calls out the different initial paragraphs but joins together for the common passages.

The Parshiyot for during the week on on pages 80-93, and for other occasions following that on pages 94-99.