Teimani Halakhah

Why Teimani halakhah?

To reconstruct the ancient Netzarim halakhah, modern Netzarim were faced with the challenge of restoring the lacuna left by nearly 2,000 years of dormancy. To fill this lacuna, based on the state of the first-century Jewish community described in Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT, the Netzarim adopted as the base set the halakhah, tradition and culture that scholars consistently regard as most authentic and uninfluenced by external forces: the Teimanim (Yemenite Jews).

Instead of “assuming” 4th-century C.E. Hellenist Roman-pagan doctrines unless Jesus and the “saints” specifically declared otherwise, like the Christians do, the Netzarim restored the most pristine set of halakhah on the planet — the same halakhah that Ribi Yәhoshua knew, practiced and taught! Oriented exactly opposite to Christians, the Netzarim assert Teimanim halakhah unless Ribi Yәhoshua specifically declared otherwise — and he didn’t.

The Teimanim best reflect the 1st-century Jews and the 1st-century observant (i.e., non-secular / non-Hellenist) Jewish community, who — undiluted by European caucasian or 4th-century pagan and anti-Torah Roman Christianity defined the parameters (for which cf. Qimron on Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT) within which Ribi Yәhoshua lived, taught Torah, and defined his original followers — the Netzarim.

It is the Teimanim who have most pristinely preserved the Judaism and liturgy not only of the 1st-century which Ribi Yәhoshua and his original Netzarim followers practiced and taught, but which dates back to Har Sinai — the Judaism which Ribi Yәhoshua taught and championed.

The most respected scholars in the world are virtually unanimous that the Teimani liturgy and sidur is the most pristine written record on the planet of how Ribi Yәhoshua and his original Netzarim followers — as well as all other 1st century religious Jews — prayed. The Teimani liturgy and sidur differs significantly from the Sepharadi liturgy and sidur and even moreso from the Ashkenazi liturgy and sidur.

Recognized by historians as the most ancient, undiluted and pristine halakhah and liturgy from Har Sinai, Teimani tradition is, therefore, the most authentic example of Judaism on the planet.

Therefore, because Teimani liturgy best reflects 1st-century Judaism as corroborated by Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT — which describes the 1st-century Judaism endorsed by Ribi Yәhoshua — Teimani liturgy is embraced as Netzarim liturgy; and all Netzarim are expected to make it their life study to learn and adopt Teimani — Hebrew — liturgy as their own liturgy.

Distinguishing features

The Baladi-rite prayer in its current textual form, at least in its uniqueness as a text that stands in a distinct category of its own and that does not fully conform with any other version, belongs without question to the Babylonian or eastern branch of the prayer ritual variants, a branch whose first clear formulation came through Rabbi Saadia Gaon and his Siddur. By simple comparison with other prayer-rites of other Jewish communities, the Yemenite version shows distinct signs of antiquity, in which, generally-speaking, it is possible to say that it is the version least adulterated of all prayer versions practised in Israel today, including the original Ashkenazi version.[61] In spite of a general trend to accommodate other well-known Jewish traditions (e.g. Sephardic, etc.), the Baladi-rite prayer book has still retained much of its traditional distinguishing features. Among them:

  • In the Baladi-rite tradition, there is no “confession of sins” (Hebrew: וידוי) arranged in alphabetical order, nor is there any confession said immediately prior to saying taḥanūnim (supplications) during nefilat panim following the Standing Prayer. Rather, the custom is to lie upon the floor on one’s left side, cover one’s head in his talith and to say the supplication,Lefanekha ani korea, etc., followed by Avinu malkeinu, avinu attah, etc., excepting Mondays and Thursdays on which days the petitioner will also add other suppliant verses such as, ana a-donai eloheinu, etc., and wehu raḥum yikhaper ‘awon, etc., as are found in the Sephardic prayer books.[62]
  • The version of the Kaddish used in the Baladi-rite is also unique, containing elements not found in the Siddur used by other communities, and is believed to date back in antiquity.
  • In the earlier Baladi-rite prayer books one could not find at the conclusion of the morning, afternoon, and evening prayers the text now widely known as Aleinu le’shebeaḥ (Hebrew: עלינו לשבח), but only in the Mussaf-prayer said on Rosh Hashanah. Unique to Jewish prayer rituals, today, the custom among adherents to the Baladi-rite is to say Aleinu le’shebeaḥ only during the Morning (shaḥrith) and Evening (‍ ’​arvith) prayers, but not in the Afternoon prayer (minḥah).[68][69]
  • The older prayer books also contained formularies of documents (Marriage contracts, bills of divorce, court waiver of rights to payment,[70] legal attestations,[71] etc.) which are lacking in the modern prayer books. Most also contained themodi operandi for Havdallah ceremonies at the conclusion of Sabbath days and festival days, and for establishing symbolic joint ownership of a shared courtyard ( ‘erub), and for separating the dough portion (ḥallah), as well as for the redemption of one’s firstborn son (pidyon haben) and for the ceremony of circumcision. So, too, the Old Baladi-rite prayer books contained a brief overview of the laws governing the making of tassels (tzitzit) worn on garments, and the writing of door-post scripts (mezuzah), inter alia. Most also contained a copious collection of liturgical poems and penitential verse (selichot).
  • The single individual who prays alone and who is unable to join a quorum of at least ten adult men (minyan) follows nearly the same standard format as those who pray among the congregants. However, unlike the congregation, he that prays alone alters the Kaddish by saying in its place what is known as Bĕrīkh shĕmeh deḳuddsha bĕrikh hū le’eilā le’eilā, etc., both, before and after the Standing Prayer.[72][73]
  • The single individual who prays alone does not say the Keddusha (e.g. Qadosh, Qadosh, Qadosh), but rather says, “Keddushath Adonai Tzevo’oth” (Hebrew: קדושת יי’ צבאות), in lieu of the words Qadosh, Qadosh, Qadosh, insofar that the Talmud (Berakhoth 21b) requires a quorum of at least ten adult males to say the Keddusha.[74]

Scroll of Antiochus

(Megillath Benei Ḥashmunnai)

  • One of the more salient features of all the older Baladi-rite prayer books,[75] as well as those compiled by Rabbi Yiḥya Bashiri, is the Aramaic Scroll of Antiyuchas[76] with Saadiah Gaon‘s Arabic translation, the original Aramaic being written by the elders of the Schools of Shammai and Hillel.[77]

Aramaic Scroll of Antiochus written with Babylonian supralinear punctuation, including a Judeo-Arabic translation

Tractate Avoth

According to 16th–17th century Yemenite prayer books, many Yemenites, but not all, recited but only the first chapter of Avoth after the Shabbath Minchah prayer, doing so throughout the entire year.[78] Beginning with the 17th century, external influence[79]—just as with the Shami prayer text—brought about completely changed customs, with the prevalent custom today being to read the entire tractate throughout the Sabbaths between Passover and Shavuoth, a chapter each Shabbath.[80] Rabbi Yosef Shalom Koraḥ was quoted[81] as pointing out that in the synagogues of RabbiYiḥye Qafih and Rabbi Yiḥye al-Abyadh, rather than apportioning the learning for the Sabbaths between Pesaḥ and Atzeret,[82] they would learn the entire tractate withMaimonides‘ commentary during the two days of Shavuoth.[83]

First night of Shavuoth

The old Yemenite siddurim did not mention anything unique about the night ofShavuoth compared to other holidays; the practice relating to the Tikkun came to Yemen only from approximately the second half of the eighteenth century.[84]Furthermore, while in most of the synagogues in Yemen they would learn the “Tikkūn” printed in Machzorim and SefardicSiddurim, in some they would learn the Sefer Hamitzvot compiled by Maimonides, while by Rabbi Yihya Qafih it was learnt in its original Arabic.[84] Even among the Baladi-rite congregations in Sana’a who embraced Kabbalah, they received with some reservation the custom of the kabbalists to recite the “Tikkūn” all throughout the night, and would only recite the “Tikkūn” until about midnight, and then retire to their beds.[85]

Other features peculiar to the Baladi-rite

  • On the night of Passover, the Baladi-rite Siddur requires making four separate blessings over the four cups of wine prior to drinking them, as prescribed by the Geonim and the Jerusalem Talmud.[86]
  • The Yemenite custom is to make a blessing over the hand washing prior to dipping a morsel (karpas) into a liquid, especially during the night of Passover.[87]
  • The blessing over the Hanukkah candles is with the preposition “of” (Heb. של), as in: ברוך אתה יי’ אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להדליק נר שֶׁלַּחֲנֻכָּה.[88]
  • The Baladi-rite custom requires making the blessing, “to dwell in the Sukkah,” each time one enters his makeshift booth during the seven days of Sukkoth, even though he had not intended to eat a meal there, in accordance with teachings brought down by Rabbi Isaac ibn Ghiyyat (1038–1089)[89] and by Maimonides.[90]
  • The Grace said after meals (Heb. ברכת המזון) shows an old format, lacking the additions added in subsequent generations by other communities.[91] (Open window for text)
  • The “Counting of the Omer” (sefirath ha-ʻomer) between Passover and Shavu’oth is said in Aramaic, rather than in Hebrew. The emissary of the congregation (Shaliach Tzibbur) commences by making one blessing over the counting and fulfills thereby the duty of the entire congregation, although each man makes the counting for himself.[86][94]
  • The textual variant of the third benediction (Ḳeddushah) said in the Mussaf Prayer on Sabbath days shows signs of an early tradition, believed to antedate the version used by other communities (both, Ashkenaz and Sepharad), insofar that the original version was said without mentioning Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Eḥad.[95]
  • The Evening Prayer (ʻArvith) on weekdays is unique in that, in the second blessing said after Ḳiryat Shema, there is an extension enacted by the Geonim, now abandoned by most other communities.[102] (Open window for text)
  • The third blessing of the Amidah retains the same form throughout the Ten Days of Repentance, even on weekdays, with the addition of ובכן.
  • In Yemenite public service (both, Baladi and Shami), the pesukei dezimra of the Morning Prayer is chanted in unison by the whole sitting congregation, unlike other communities where only one person, usually the Shaliach Tzibbur (precentor), recites it aloud.[104] The same rule applies to the recital of the Qiryath Shema.[105]
  • In Yemenite public service (both, Baladi and Shami), only one person says the Kaddish at any given time, but never two or more simultaneously. Moreover, in every Kaddish the words וְיִמְלוֹךְ מַלְכוּתֵיהּ וְיַצְמַח פּוּרְקָנֵיהּ וִיקָרֵב מְשִׁיחֵיהּ וְיִפְרוֹק עַמֵּיהּ are incorporated. The yod in the word וימלוך is vocalized with a ḥiraq, and the lamad with a ḥolam.[106]
  • The custom of the Baladi-rite is to answer “Amen” at the conclusion of the benediction known as Yotzer in the Morning Prayer, as also to answer “Amen” during the Evening Prayer at the conclusion of the benediction, Ma’ariv ‘Aravim.[107]
  • The Cohenim do not have a custom to wash their hands prior to their standing up to bless the congregation.[108]
  • The Baladi-rite custom, on any given Monday or Thursday, as well as on Rosh Ḥodesh (New Moon), is to return the Scroll of the Law (Torah) to the ark after reading it in the synagogue, before the congregation recites Ashrei yoshəvei vethəkha, ‘odh yehallelukha seloh, etc. (אשרי יושבי ביתך עוד יהללוך סלה). This rule, however, does not apply to Sabbath days and Festival days.[109]
  • The Yemenite custom (both, Baladi and Shami) when reciting the Hallel is that the congregation attentively listens to theShaliach Tzibbur reading without repeating the words of the Hallel, but only cites the word “Hallelujah,” in a repetitious manner, after each verse. “Hallelujah” is repeated 123 times, like the number of years attained by Aaron the High Priest. The congregation will, however, repeat after the Shaliach Tzibbur only a few selected verses from the Hallel, considered as lead verses.[110]

Selections from siddur

The ‘Standing Prayer’ known as the Eighteen Benedictions, or Amidah, as prescribed in the Yemenite Baladi-rite tradition, and which is recited three times a day during weekdays, is here shown (with an English translation):[111]

Nishmath Kol Hai is recited on the Sabbath day, and dates back to the 1st century CE:.