8

Someone asked me recently if I knew where the origins of the Bracha of Shalom Rav (instead of Sim Shalom at Mincha and Ma'ariv) are from. As far as I knew the Nusach is not found in the Gemara nor the Rambam. The only real lead I could find was from the book Jewish Liturgy and its Developments by Abraham Zebi Idelsohn (taken from Google Books):

Shalom rav is another version of the prayer for peace. It is now used in the Ashkenazic ritual for the Minha and Maariv services. It is first mentioned in the eleventh century, and was first introduced by M. Rothenberg. However, as Dr. Finkelstein rightly points out, the fact that Provence, Avignon, and Carpentras have only this version for all services would indicate that it is very old.

The footnote is not available in the excerpt. I was wondering if anyone had any more information on the origins of this Nusach, or how to find more information from the excerpt I found (eg. is there a Siddur of Meir of Rothenburg that I don't know of; who is Dr. Finkelstein?).

  • 2
    some background beureihatefila.com/files/2008-12-19_Tefila_Newsletter.pdf – rosends Dec 10 '15 at 15:23
  • @Danno Beurei Hatefillah is one of the first sources I contact regarding a tefilla question like this. I saw this, and it is about as thorough an answer as you would find anywhere. Please do us a favor and excerpt something as well as link to this and post as answer. I don't have that much time to do it now, and you should be getting the votes for this, not me. – DanF Dec 10 '15 at 15:38
  • Shalom Rav is from Nusach Eretz Yisrael. It is not found in the Rambam or R' Sa'adia Gaon as it does not appear in Nusach Bavel (or by extension, the Talmud Bavli) which is the primary influence for both. See also Ahavah Rabbah, which is also from Nusach E"Y, as is Baruch Oseh haShalom in the Amidah for Yomim Noraim. – Noach MiFrankfurt Dec 10 '15 at 19:36
  • @NoachmiFrankfurt Ahavah rabbah and ahavat olam are mentioned in the bavli brachot 11b – Double AA Dec 10 '15 at 21:45
9

Two variants of Shalom Rav was found in the Cairo Geniza. Given the similarities between Cairo and Israeli nusachos, it is assumed to have been the Nusach Eretz Yisrael in the days of the tannaim and Israeli amora'im. Another indication is that Nusach Provence, the berakhah was always "Shalom Rav". The Provencial community, which was a true center of Jewish Life and Torah in the days of the rishonim, had a strong tradition of being refugees from the Roman conquest of Israel. So it would seem this is the Nusach Eretz Yisrael.

This is one of a number of cases where Sepharadim follow Nusach Bavel and Ashkenazim find a compromise between Nusach Bavel and Nusach Eretz Yisrael. This is believed to be historically caused by the number of captives from Eretz Yisrael taken back to Italy by the Roman army, whose descendents then go up to Ashkenaz in Charlemagne's day. In fact, the Jews of Luneil had a tradition that they were descendents of the city of Yericho. Luneil is from luna (French: moon) in the same way Yericho would be from yareiach (Hebrew: moon).

The Provencal community ended up joining Ashkenaz. The bulk of Ashkenazic Jewry, though, were invited up from Italy by Charlemagne, who needed an economic backbone for the heart of the Holy Roman Empire. But many of these Italian Jews were also descendents of Israel; many taken back to Rome with the departing armies.

Another example is the preservation of the Israeli "LeDor vaDor", using it instead of "Atah Qadosh" when saying Qedushah.

So it looks like splitting our time between Sim Shalom when this is a tefillah in which duchaning is allowed and Shalom Rav when it is not is a legacy of how Minhag Ashkenaz was formed. Descendents of Israel and Bavel relocated to the same area, and had to make a common minhag for this community, and the result was a bit of compromise.

This idea about the origins of Minhag and Nusach Ashkenaz (including these two cases, piyut, and much more) are discussed at length in the writings of Prof.s Agus and Ta-Shma, and others.

  • 1
    Great answer. Sources with web references will make your answer much better and help anyone who wants to follow up further – Yoni Dec 17 '15 at 3:00
  • The problem is, I had a useful answer, but entirely based on recollections from classes taken a lont time ago. I don't have text references, and when I learned this stuff, the the web was still about a decade away. – Micha Berger Dec 17 '15 at 19:15
  • @MichaBerger Super interesting... but I don't understand why there should be an etymological connection between the name of the city Luneil and Yericho, unless the Jews with that tradition founded the city of Luneil. Can you explain? – SAH Nov 23 '18 at 16:39
  • Exactly -- the legend is Luneil was indeed founded by Jews from Yericho in the 1st cent CE en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunel – Micha Berger Nov 23 '18 at 20:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .