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There are two (Ok, three if you count Teimani) traditional families of nusach in use - Ashkenaz (the Nusach which people from northern/eastern Europe traditionally prayed in) and Eidot Hamizrach (the Nusach which people from Arab/Muslim countries prayed in).

Then, in the 1700s with the spread of Chassidus, a few new Nuschaos appeared:

  1. "Nusach HaAri" - the Nusach instituted by R' Shneur Zalman of Liadi (he sifted through [60 IIRC] siddurim to find a Nusach which works according to Halacha, Kabbalah and Dikduk)
  2. Nusach Sefarad - the standard siddur used by other Chassidim. It combines Nusach Ashkenaz with Eidot Hamizrach (so it would work according to Kabbalah) and is somewhat similar to "Nusach HaAri".

Who edited this Nusach Sefarad? I haven't heard that it be done by "a big Rov". Was it done by different publishers? If so, who says they know anything about Halacha, Kabbalah or Dikduk?

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hebrewbooks.org/… – user2709 May 2 '13 at 23:18
If you check the sidurim of various hasidic sects that have published sidurim under the imprimatur of their grand rabbis, you'll find that the nuschaos vary. There is, thus, no single nusach S'farad. Since your question is who redacted 'nusach S'farad', I think there answer is that the grand rabbi of Karlin redacted one version, the editor of ArtScroll redacted another, and so on. In other words, any correct answer will have to be a (rather extensive) list. If that's what you seek, fine, but you should probably make it explicit in the question; if it's not, then what do you seek? – msh210 May 3 '13 at 19:08
@msh210 did the Karliner Rebbe (R' Aharon/Shlomo) edit a siddur? – Shmuel Brin May 3 '13 at 22:54
@ShmuelBrin, I'm not sure, but there is a Karlin sidur. It was just an example, anyway. – msh210 May 5 '13 at 5:54
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The Baal Shem Tov and his disciples would pray from prayer books called 'Siddur Ha-Ari' whose main purpose was to present the kavvanot of the Arizal on the words of prayer. These were handwritten manuscripts; later a few versions were printed (here is a page from the one used by the Besht himself). Because the kavvanot sometimes assume certain variations in the wording and order of prayers as found only in the liturgy of Sephardic Jews, these wordings appear in these manuscripts-- though the manuscripts were written for and used by Ashkenazim. There is little uniformity, though, between the text of the prayers in these various versions--the editors and copyists didn't pay attention to establishing particular wordings of the prayers, their goal being the presentation of the kavvanot.

As the use of 'Siddur Ha-Ari' became important to the people who identified as Hasidim, common people, even those who had no use for the kavvanot, wanted to pray from siddurim that conformed to this new liturgical tradition, and printers started printing siddurim without kavvanot but with the variations that had come to seem like hallmarks of this version of prayers. There were many editions, drawing on the many manuscripts and editions of the siddurim with kavvanot that had preceded them.

The siddur edited by R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi is one of the many editions of the Hasidic prayer book produced during this process. As far as the 'authority' of the other editions, I guess it's no different or worse than that of the many nusah ashkenaz siddurim edited and printed by various printers who made decisions and choices over the generations.

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