With a new English translation by Michael Haruni
Introductory pieces by Rabbi Daniel Landes & Rabbi Dr. Zvi Grumet
Nehalel a complete, strictly traditional siddur in which photographs depicting central meanings of the texts direct your attention to what prayers are about.
Nehalel is modeled on the Nevarech bencher, which in 1999 pioneered the idea of juxtaposing prayers with photographs portraying their meanings. Messages still continually come in from people discovering Nevarech, telling us that Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals) " a prayer they may have recited every day since childhood " is suddenly brought to life by the photographs alongside its text. Nehalel now brings this coming-to-life effect to the full orthodox liturgy.
With this use of photographs, Nehalel makes us powerfully aware of the themes that intersect in the Siddur. The liturgy celebrates the Creator of our spectacular environment " the cosmic, earthly and Eretz-Yisraeli, the universal human environment as well as the national. It speaks our thanks for the gift of our lives within these; and through it we plead for personal, national and human welfare. Repeatedly, the Siddur recounts the catastrophes in our history, of destruction and exile, and then turns to our redemptions " the pattern intensely realized during the last century; and on almost every page we point to Jerusalem as the central symbol of the complete redemption we yearn for.
The images in Nehalel reflect these different themes. The photos are partly contemporary and partly historical; partly of the natural order, partly of human reality; partly from Eretz Yisrael, partly from a much wider panorama. Many are drawn from various archives " some documenting the dark times in Europe, others showing the triumphs of modern Zionism.
The result is a work that makes the themes of the liturgy conspicuous to us as we pray " with a force that possibly no siddur has achieved ever before.
Nehalel has been six years in development. Extensive resources have gone into developing a reliable and accurate, fully orthodox Hebrew text that is contemporary yet strictly within the bounds of tradition.
The new English translation is both elegant and literal, in a living idiom while uncompromisingly faithful to the meaning of the original.
Nehalel beShabbat contains well over six hundred pages of full-color print on high quality paper.
The Hebrew font used in Nehalel is graceful and readable. It also incorporates " for users attentive to these pronunciation issues " an easily read symbol for stressed syllable, and clearly visible distinctions between kamatz katan and kamatz gadol, as well as between sheva na and sheva nach.
Instructions, throughout Nehalel, are designed to assist those users relatively unfamiliar with the liturgy and practice, while remaining unobtrusive to the mavin. They are written in a style that tries, where conciseness enables it, to avoid promoting automaton-like motions, and to address instead the user's quest for meaning.
First and foremost, Nehalel is a siddur for davening with " a siddur for holding when standing before the Almighty, helping you achieve a vivid awareness of the meanings in prayer, and of the Being to Whom you communicate them.
Praise for Nehalel BeShabbat
I was immediately taken aback by the beauty and structure of the new "Nehalel beShabbat" siddur. This nusach Ashkenaz siddur, containing all the relevant prayers for Shabbat, is extremely unique and represents a fresh new dimension in the publication of siddurim. Similar to the "Nevarech" bencher, the Nehalel siddur is packed with extremely powerful and stunning full-color glossy photographs. Each photograph compliments the prayer that appears on the page. The words of the prayer that correspond to the picture are highlighted, bolded, or otherwise stand out. The photographs are intended to assist the worshipper in finding inspiration in the words he is reciting.
Here are a few examples of the synthesis between the photographs and the prayers: One of the photographs that accompanies Lecha Dodi features a panoramic nighttime view of the Old City of Jerusalem with the words "v'nivneta ir al tila" highlighted. Indeed, there are dozens of photographs of Jerusalem, the Old City, the Temple Mount, and the Kotel that are dispersed throughout the siddur and feature at various mentions of Jerusalem. The Hashem Malach immediately following Lecha Dodi has a picture of giant roaring waves with the words "mikolot mayim rabim"highlighted. The Kiddush page features large clusters of grapes on a vine corresponding to "borei pri hagafen". In birchot hashachar, the blessing "hamechin mitzadei gaver" features Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon.
As part of the Shir Hama'alot that follow the Shabbat afternoon mincha, Tehillim 123 features the infamous Nazi-Era photograph of a rabbi wearing tefillin being taunted by Nazi soldiers on the streets of Poland with the words "rabat sava la nafsheinu; hala'ag hashananim habooz l'gei yonim". There is also a prayer for the government of the United States of America (featuring the seal of the president of the United States) and for The United Kingdom (featuring the Royal Seal). There is an index at the back of the siddur which identifies and explains each photograph.
This siddur is extremely Zionist in nature, complete with the prayer for the State of Israel and the soldiers of the IDF. It also has a prayer for soldiers still missing in action, not to mention a special Harachaman for the soldiers in the Birkat Hamazon. So too, many of the photographs are of Zionist themes, such as the famous Ben Gurion Declaration of independence, Kibbutz and kibbutznik related photographs, as well as highlights of modern aliyah (e.g. "v'hu yolicheinu komemiyot l'artzeinu").
There is an extensive introduction to the siddur that addresses the philosophical and halachic issues relating to having photographs in a siddur. It would be remiss not to point out that many of the photographs in the siddur include women, and in some cases, the sleeve lengths and neckline exposure do not meet halachic consensus.
The "Nehalel" Siddur certainly offers readers a colorful and alternative prayer experience. The typeset is exceptionally crisp, clear, and well-spaced making for a very pleasurable read. The English translation is an impressive merge of modern and ecclesiastical English. The "Adonai" transliteration rather than the more common "Hashem", "God" or "Lord" is an important feature for those who pray in English. Women are well represented with their own zimun, a misheberach and baruch shepetarani for bat mitzva girls, and more. Even those who, for whatever reason, will choose not to use the Nehalel Siddur for regular worship will still find it to be an attractive showpiece and "coffee table" item.
~ Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of The Dalet Amot Halacha Series (5 Vol.) and the General Editor and Halacha columnist at Torah Musings
As someone who had been teaching liturgy for a long time at the Jewish Theological Seminary first I was a bit skeptical about a Siddur with photographs whether it could be a meaningful and inspiring prayer book. Nehalel BeShabbat is a wonderful interplay of text and image and how they mutually enhance each other.
~ Dr. Menahem Schmelzer, Professor Emeritus of Liturgy, Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, NY