Sunday, January 22, 2023


We talk here often of the merits of positive secular learning, but we must reiterate that it should be done with caution. Even the revered poets may have sketchy backgrounds. Consider the English poet Lord Byron for example.  

Brittanica Article

In 1805 Byron entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where he piled up debts at an alarming rate and indulged in the conventional vices of undergraduates there. The signs of his incipient sexual ambivalence became more pronounced in what he later described as “a violent, though pure, love and passion” for a young chorister, John Edleston. Alongside Byron’s strong attachment to boys, often idealized as in the case of Edleston, his attachment to women throughout his life is an indication of the strength of his heterosexual drive. 

During the summer of 1813, Byron apparently entered into intimate relations with his half sister Augusta, now married to Colonel George Leigh. He then carried on a flirtation with Lady Frances Webster as a diversion from this dangerous liaison. The agitations of these two love affairs and the sense of mingled guilt and exultation they aroused in Byron are reflected in the series of gloomy and remorseful Oriental verse tales he wrote at this time: The Giaour (1813); The Bride of Abydos (1813); The Corsair (1814), which sold 10,000 copies on the day of publication; and Lara (1814). 

Seeking to escape his love affairs in marriage, Byron proposed in September 1814 to Anne Isabella (Annabella) Milbanke. The marriage took place in January 1815, and Lady Byron gave birth to a daughter, Augusta Ada, in December 1815. From the start the marriage was doomed by the gulf between Byron and his unimaginative and humorless wife; and in January 1816 Annabella left Byron to live with her parents, amid swirling rumours centring on his relations with Augusta Leigh and his bisexuality.

 At the end of the summer the Shelley party left for England, where Clairmont gave birth to Byron’s daughter Allegra in January 1817. In October Byron and Hobhouse departed for Italy. They stopped in Venice, where Byron enjoyed the relaxed customs and morals of the Italians and carried on a love affair with Marianna Segati, his landlord’s wife. 

Still want to read his poems?

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Brand New German-Jewish Siddur, "Tefiloh Sefas Jisrael" edited by Rallis Wiesenthal

Imminent  release from Goldschmidt Basel AG.

Some of the reasons that this siddur is different from others on the market.

Pesukei Tanach:

1. All pesukim which are quoted from Tanach are noted directly in front of the quoted verse or section itself. 

2. A posuk's taamei hamikro (from the Tanach Keter Aram Tzova) is marked. (This enables the supplicant to derive more meaning from how the notation breaks up the verse.) 

3. If a posuk's spelling of a particular word varies from the usual way it is written, it is still included with that spelling, unless it is too different for the Shatz to pronounce it properly.

4. Each verse of the section of Tehillim recited in the Birchos HaShachar, is written on a separate line to encourage the K'hal to recite them alternatively with the Shatz. This was the minhog in early times. Pesukim which are traditionally said alternatively in other prayers are also clearly demarcated. 

5. The words which contain a "Shva Na" are noted. 

6. Instructions on what and how something should be said are written before the section or included in the footnotes.

7. All sections of a particular tefilloh are included in that section without the need for undo paging.

8. Pauses within pesukim as well as periods at their end are noted.

"Siddur Tefiloh Sefas Yisroel"
The impetus for "Tefilloh Sefas Yisroel" was to assemble an authentic and comprehensive Nusach Ashkenaz siddur.
The world renowned expert in Ashkenazi Minhagim and Nusach HaTefillah is Moreinu HoRav Binyamin Schlomo Hamburger Shlito. HoRav Hamburger founded Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz (The Institute for German Jewish Heritage). It is the leading institute dedicated to the research, preservation and transmission of the unique religious values, customs, and folklore of German Jewry, as they existed prior to the Holocaust.
Ashkenazic communities gradually spread to various parts of Europe. Torah students from the core communities of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz went on to become Torah leaders in neighboring lands. Some examples are France (Rashi and others), Bohemia and Austria (the Or Zarua and others), Poland (Maharam Mintz, R’ Yakov Falk, and others), and Italy (the Shibolei Haleket, Mahari Mintz, and others).
In general, these communities continued to practice Ashkenazic customs in the lands they spread to. As a result, we refer to all European Jews — except the Spanish, Portuguese, and those Jews who came under their influence — as “Ashkenazim.” An indication of their Ashkenazic origin is the obvious linguistic link between Yiddish and German. However, due to oppression, migration, and a lack of insistence on rejection of any change, the heritage of those new communities eventually lost its Ashkenazic authenticity.
The concept of the authentic Ashkenazic tradition is not based on the geographical region, political district, or genealogical lineage of Germany or the German people; rather, the focus is on an unbroken chain of precise, supervised oral tradition from the time of the destruction of the Temple until today. No other tradition can make that claim.
I already daven from a “Nusach Ashkenaz” siddur? Aren't all “Nusach Ashkenaz” siddurim alike?
The fact that there are deviations from Minhag Ashkenaz are printed in the siddur without any mention of their being inauthentic — and in some cases directly opposed to authentic custom — gave rise to the misconception that they are, in fact, part of the original nusach.

Therefore, the Nusach Ashkenaz siddurim of today are not authentic Minhag Ashkenaz texts at all. They are based on an Ashkenazic version with additions and changes adopted in later years in Eastern Europe, just as Nusach Sepharad is based on a Sephardic version with many changes. A Sephardic Jew would not pray from an Eastern European Nusach Sefard siddur; similarly, an Ashkenazic Jew who wishes to follow the tradition of his ancestors will not find what he is looking for in the standard Nusach Ashkenaz siddur.

The time has come for a siddur suitable for those who wish to pray according to the authentic text of ancient Minhag Ashkenaz.

Why purchase this siddur, as opposed to the numerous siddurim on the market?
"Tefiloh Sefas Yisroel" is a) textually accurate, b) informative, and c) instructional, for both the novice and the scholar.  
Included within the siddur are some of the following highlights:
1) A complete siddur text for all weekday and festive occasions
2) Grace After Meals and blessings for various occasions
3) Lifecycle events: Circumcisions, Weddings, Funerals, etc.
4) The Torah Legacy from The Land Of Israel To Ashkenazic Lands   
5)  A Translation of German-Jewish Words & Phrases
6) The Recitation Of Liturgical Poetry
7) Exploring Various Ashkenazic Customs and Practices    
8) The Proper Pronunciation Of The “Choulom” Vowel
9) The Proper Recitation of the Name of G-d


Goldschmidt Basel AG | Mostackerstrasse 17 | CH - 4051 Basel
Tel. +41 61 261 61 91 | E-Mail

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Teach grammar

 “When it comes to religious education of girls, we must make the regular teaching of the Hebrew language, the main focus of our efforts. As soon as the child overcomes the difficulty of reading Hebrew, and even while she is overcoming it, she should be taught the basic rules of the Hebrew language, which can easily be achieved because girls mature early. Thereafter, simple and easily understandable grammar should prepare them for the translation of simple passages from the prayers and historical texts of the Holy Scriptures, followed by practice in translation and analysis. She should then proceed to active reading of selected biblical passages in the original language. The time now spent in school and at home in memorizing ’religion” and biblical history should be used for this purpose, and it is perfectly sufficient to learn religion and biblical history from the original source, from the Holy scriptures themselves. In this way, senior students are able to read the most magnificent passages from the Prophets, Psalms, proverbs, etc. but the children are spared the agony of memorization. This agony contributes not a little to the fact that in the eyes of children, religious school is considered either as unbearable, or just a necessary evil. There is no need to experiment on whether this can succeed; it has already been done with great success.  At the school of Rabbi Hirsch in Frankfurt am Main, girls are already competing with each other in reading the Holy Scriptures in the original language.”

Rav Ezriel Hildesheimer, R. Esriel Hildesheimer on Torah Study for Women, Tradition, Summer 2022 Issue 54.3, p. 142