Motivating this question are the instructions in the ArtScroll Siddur for the two versions of kel erekh apayim, said on weekdays before taking out the sefer torah: one is identified as “נוסח אשכנז, פיהם, ופולין קטן”, the other as “נוסח פולין גדל וליטא”. Similarly, selichos are listed as “מנהג פולין” or “מנהג ליטא”.

My question is in two parts:

  • What do “פיהם”‎, “פולין גדל”‎, “פולין קטן”‎, “ליטא”‎, etc. specifically refer to? and (more importantly)
  • When classifying Ashkenazi minhagim, which regions of Europe are significant?

(By “significant” I might [for example] include Frankfurt am Main [ק״ק פפד״מ] since its minhagim were historically important and distinct from elsewhere in the Germanies, but the simple fact that the one-horse town of Magyaslozckin had some unique minhagim of its own would not rate it a mention.)

  • Related? judaism.stackexchange.com/q/37799/5323
    – MTL
    Commented Oct 12, 2014 at 4:39
  • Definitely related: a proper answer to my question would cover הגר=Hungary. Commented Oct 12, 2014 at 23:40
  • The ideal answer would enable someone to find his ancestors’ home town on a map of Europe, look up what region this was in during (e.g.) the 1600s, and identify the general set of relevant minhagim. NBZ’s answer is a very good start. Commented Oct 12, 2014 at 23:50

2 Answers 2


The very influential and authoritative Ashkenazi Siddur Sfat Emet and its associated machzorim and chumash include references to two distinct major minhagim corresponding to the ones specified by ArtScroll:

  1. Polnischer Ritus (Polish rites) = נוסח פולין גדל וליטא and מנהג פולין
  2. Deutscher Ritus (German rites) = נוסח אשכנז, פיהם, ופולין קטן and מנהג ליטא

and Frankfurt am Main (ק״ק פפד״מ) as subset of 2.

Despite their names, they are referring to a longitudinally (east-west) very broad latitudinal (north-south) division, where 1. is north, and 2. is south. It spans all of northern Europe, thus spanning at least from the Rhineland to the Baltic states.* Thus, Hamburg is in "Poland"!

Besides Kel Erekh Apayim, and Selichos, other differences are:

  • Order of Avinu Malkeinu
  • Order of morning blessings
  • Haftora selection
  • Sim Shalom/Shalom Rav dependency
  • Inclusion of certain V'yiten lecha passages

[Source: My family is from the area, and that siddur and those minhagim are still in use there. I just visited for Rosh Hashana and went over it again.]

* E.g. 1. includes the northern Greater Poland (פולין גדל), whereas 2. includes the southern Lesser Poland (פולין קטן).

  • If you are looking for a siddur for מנהג פוליןת I suggest looking at the מחזור פולין מכול השנה. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 20:23

First, read up on the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It is very interesting and plays a big role in Jewish historiy, especially vis a vis the Russians.

ליטא is Lithuania and most likely corresponds to the part south of the grey area on this map. (Polish borders were extremely dynamic) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rzeczpospolita2nar.png

The two polands are regions of Poland (see links) פיהם is Yiddish for Bohemia (Pihm)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_Poland http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Poland

Other important ashkenazi regions throughout Jewish history include the Rhineland and the Pale (Pale of Settlement)

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