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Cursing the Christians?A History of the Birkat HaMinim$

Ruth Langer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199783175

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199783175.001.0001

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(p.187) Appendix 1 Geniza Texts of the Birkat HaMinim

(p.187) Appendix 1 Geniza Texts of the Birkat HaMinim

Source:
Cursing the Christians?
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

This appendix reproduces (with permission) the data generated by Prof. Uri Ehrlich and his Jewish Liturgy Project as part of his creation of a critical edition of the geniza texts for the entire ‘amidah and published in our joint article in 2007.1 Translation and discussion of these versions appear in Chapter 2. Here I provide a brief introduction to each version, followed by an eclectic version of its text,2 and then critical apparatus that indicates the additions or deletions to that text found in the various manuscripts. Any physical lacunae in an individual manuscript are noted only in the list of manuscripts, not in this critical apparatus. Not indicated here (or in any appendix in this volume) are graphical variants like abbreviations or errors, unless they seem of significance. Similarly, there is no notation of corrections or additions made by the scribe himself or details about how the scribe recorded the standard statutory blessing formula introducing the concluding blessing. In the critical apparatus, the following abbreviations appear: ח'=חסר (missing) and נ'=נוסף (added). In this appendix, because assigning a chronology to the geniza fragments is impossible, the manuscripts’ numbers represent their library (the Hebrew letter) and their order according in that library’s internal numbering (the Arabic number). Some of these numbers will overlap with the numbers assigned in the subsequent appendices, where the Hebrew letter represents the regional rite and the number a chronological order. Thus, here, א represents “Oxford,” but in subsequent appendices it stands for “Ashkenaz.”

Version 1: Land of Israel

This is the better documented rite from the Land of Israel, represented in the geniza in eight manuscripts. It contains, aside from the concluding blessing in the usual simple form of the Land of Israel, two of the components standard elsewhere—the initial curse of meshummadim and the curse of noẓerim/minim—as well as two expansions on these lines. The first of these makes the curse of the meshummadim provisional, reversible if they repent. In contrast, the curse of the noẓerim and minim adds a citation of Psalm 69:29, asking that they be granted no positive future whatsoever. It reads:

למשומדים אל תהי תקוה

אם לא ישובו לתורתך

הנצרים והמינים כרגע יאבדו

ימחו מספר חיים ועם צדיקים אל יכתבו

ברוך אתה יי מכניע זדים

(p.188) Variants

לתורתך] נ17 בתורתך. ימחו] א3 ,נ2 וימחו. חיים] א3 ,ק12 החיים. ימחו מספר חיים] ק72 ח'.‏

Manuscripts

א3 Oxford, Bodleian Heb. d. 55.33–34, a word is missing between ועם and אל.‏

נ2 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 694.10, several words are missing between יכתבו and זדים.‏

נ13 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 3027.7–8, complete.

נ17 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 3810.4–5, the beginning of the text is missing, up to the word תהי; approximately three words are missing between בתורתך and יאבדו; several words are missing between צדיקים and זדים.‏

ק12 Cambridge, T-S 8 H 24.5, a word is missing between תהי and אם, and between יי and זדים.‏

ק32 Cambridge, T-S H 18.3, complete.

ק34 Cambridge, T-S K 27.18, approximately seven words are missing between אל and והמינים; approximately five words are missing between ימחו and כתבו'; the concluding benediction is missing after the word יי.‏

ק72 Unidentified Schechter 1; information based on Schechter’s description.3

Version 2: Land of Israel

Version 2 appears in only two geniza manuscripts. It clearly belongs to the rite of the Land of Israel because of its concluding benediction and its expansion of the curse of the minim/noẓerim. On the other hand, it introduces an element not found in the better documented Version 1: the curse of the empire. This appears in between the other two elements, in a location analogous to where it appears in the earlier Babylonian exemplars. It reads:

למשומדים אל תהי תקוה

ומלכות זדון מהרה תעקר בימינו

והנצרים והמינים כרגע יאבדו

ימחו מספר החיים ועם צדיקים אל יכתבו

ברוך אתה יי מכניע זדים

Variants

בימינו] ק31 ח'. והנצרים] ק31 הנצרים

(p.189) Manuscripts

ק31 Cambridge, T-S Glass 20.57, a word is missing between מספר and חיים.‏

ק35 Cambridge, T-S K 27.33, complete.

Version 3: Babylonia

Version 3 is probably the earliest of the Babylonian versions, appearing in eight exemplars. It includes only three lines in its body: the curses of meshummadim, the empire, and minim/noẓerim. This version’s concluding benediction, typical of the Babylonian rites, is compound. A quarter of the manuscripts include the expansion of the curse of the minim and noẓerim characteristic of the rites of the land of Israel. A different quarter name “enemies” instead of “evildoers” in the concluding benediction, suggesting that this particular development is not tightly tied to the introduction of the line cursing enemies in the other Babylonian rites. This version reads:

למשומדים אל תהי תקוה

ומלכות זדון מהרה תעקר בימינו

והנצרים והמינים כרגע יאבדו

ברוך אתה יי שובר רשעים ומכניע זדים

Variants

מהרה] ק33 ח'. תעקר] ק23, ק26, נ' ותשבר. ק6, נ' ותשבר ותכניע. ק47 נ' ותשבר תכניע.‏

והנצרים] ק26 הנצרים. והנצרים והמינים] ק47 והמינים והמלשינים כולם. יאבדו] ק47 נ' וישמדו. ק5, ק57 נ' ימחו מספר החיים ועם צדיקים אל יכתבו.‏

רשעים] ק6, ק38 אויבים.‏

Manuscripts

ק5 Cambridge, T-S 8 H 9.12, a word is missing between למשומדים and תהי, and between זדון and תעקר.‏

ק6 Cambridge, T-S 8 H 10.2, complete.

ק23 Cambridge, T-S AS 104.168, complete.

ק26 Cambridge, T-S AS 105.105, two words are missing between למשומדים and תקוה.‏

ק33 Cambridge, T-S H 18.6, complete.

(p.190) ק38 Cambridge, T-S NS 120.89, three words are missing between למשומדים and מלכות; two words are missing between בימינו and כרגע; a word is missing between כרגע and ברוך.‏

ק47 Cambridge, T-S NS 151.96, complete.

ק57 Cambridge, T-S NS 196.52a, the beginning is missing, up to the word ומלכות.‏

Version 4A: Babylonia

Beginning with this much more richly represented version (twenty-one manuscripts), the birkat haminim adds its last element: the curse of enemies. Here this line appears in a relatively simple form, albeit one that is more elaborate than that which will become common in European rites. Perhaps because of the larger number of preserved manuscripts, there is also more variety among them. Thus, we see in these variants the first hints of elaborations on the verbs of the curse of the empire, both in the addition of uteshaber (and smash) to our base text (but note its absence from a quarter of the manuscripts) and in the addition of vetakhnia‘ (and humble) to another quarter of the manuscripts. This version reads:

למשומדים אל תהי תקוה

ומלכות זדון מהרה תעקר ותשבר בימינו

והנצרים והמינים כרגע יאבדו

וכל אויבי עמך וצורריהם מהרה יכרתו

ברוך אתה יי שובר רשעים ומכניע זדים

Variants

תקוה] ק28 נמחק: אם לא ישובו לתורתך.‏

ומלכות … בימינו] ק7 ח'. מהרה] ל1, ק21, ק22, ק25, ק33 חʹ. ותשבר] נ16, ק51, ק55 ,ק63.'ק65 ח'. נ14, פ2, ק19, ק28, ק48 נ' ותכניע. ק53 נ' ותכניע מהרה. בימינו] ל2 ח'.‏

והנצרים …יאבדו] ק55 ח'. והנצרים] ל2, ק19 הנצרים. ק7 וכל הנוצרים. ק51 נ' כלם.‏

אויבי] ק51 צוררי. וצורריהם] ק7, ק19, ק51, ק55 ח'. ק20, ק48, ק53, ק63 נ' כולם. מהרה] ,ל1, ק20, ק53, ק63, ק65 במהרה. ל2 המה. יכרתו] ק20, ק48, ק53, ק63, ק65 יכרתון. נ1, נ14, נ16, פ2, ק25 נ' וישברו. ק28 נ' ביד אחר: ושבור עול הגוים מעל צאורינו.‏

שובר רשעים] ק7 ח'. רשעים] נ14, ק6, ק38 אויבים. ק25 נ' במקומו אויבים.‏

Manuscripts

ל1 London, British Library Or. 5557 O 12, complete.

ל2 London, British Library Or. 5557 Z 15–16, complete.

(p.191) ל4 London, British Library Or. 12378.6, complete.

נ1 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 694.5–6, very fragmentary: the first word is missing; several words are missing between ומלכות and ותשבר; two words are missing between והנצרים and יאבדו and between עמך and יכרתו; a number of words are missing between ברוך and זדים.‎

נ14 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 3240.18, complete.

נ16 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 3774.9, complete.

פ2 Paris, Collection Jacques Mosseri VIII, 82.2, two words are missing between למשומדים and תקוה; a word is missing between ברוך and רשעים.‎

ק7 Cambridge, T-S 8 H 10.6, complete.

ק19 Cambridge, T-S AS 103.17, two words are missing between ברוך and שובר.‎

ק20 Cambridge, T-S AS 103.73, two words are missing between למשומדים and תקוה.‎

ק21 Cambridge, T-S AS 103.97, very fragmentary: several words are missing between למשומדים and ומלכות, between תעקר and והמינים, between עמך and ברוך, and between אתה and זדים.‎

ק22 Cambridge, T-S AS 103.277, continuous with T-S AS 105.103 (ק25).

ק25 Cambridge, T-S AS 105.103, continuous with T-S AS 103.277 (ק22).

ק28 Cambridge, T-S AS 108.4, a word is missing between ברוך and יי.‎

ק48 Cambridge, T-S NS 152.30, complete.

ק51 Cambridge, T-S NS 153.161, complete.

ק53 Cambridge, T-S NS 155.3, complete.

ק55 Cambridge, T-S NS 157.67, complete.

ק56 Cambridge, T-S NS 157.193, incomplete at the end, after the word והנצרים.‎

ק63 Cambridge, T-S NS 271.106, complete.

ק65 Cambridge, T-S NS 271.234, a word is missing between אתה and שובר.‎

Version 4B: Babylonia

This version, represented by seventeen manuscripts, is remarkable primarily for its significant elaboration on the curse of the enemies, to the point that this consists of three separate segments. While the fluidity of this line accounts for most of the variants to this text, it is important to note also that this version expands regularly on the list of verbs with which it curses the empire, and several exemplars add other categories of miscreants to the curse of the minim and noẓerim. Thus, this is in general a much more adamant curse. This is also the first Babylonian version examined in which the majority of exemplars read “enemies” instead of “evildoers” in the concluding benediction. It reads:

למשומדים אל תהי תקוה

ומלכות זדון מהרה תעקר ותשבר ותכניע בימינו

והנצרים והמינים כרגע יאבדו

וכל אויבי עמך וצורריהם מהרה יכרתו

ושבור עול הגוים מעל צוארינו

(p.192) ואל תתן תקומה לכל אויבי נפשינו

ברוך אתה יי שובר אויבים ומכניע זדים

Variants

ומלכות] נ10 מלכות. ותשבר] נ6 ומשביר. ותכניע] ק54 נ' ותאביד מהרה.‏

והנצרים והמינים] נ6 והנוצרים ומינים. נ10 נ' והמלשינים וכל בעלי זרוע. ק3 נ' והמלשינים והמוסרים כולם. ק15, ק64 נ' כולם. ק27 נ' והכופרים וכל בעלי זרוע. ק54 והמינים והנצרים והכופרים וכל בעלי זרוע כולם. ק58 הנצרים והמינים והמלשינים והמוסרים כולם. ק60 נ' ובעלי .'זרוע. ק62 נ' והמלשינים והמוסרים. כרגע…וצורריהם] נ10 ח'. כרגע יאבדו] ק27, ק60 ח.'יאבדו] ק15 ח'.‏

אויבי] ק60 אויבנו ואויבי. עמך] ק54, ק60 נ' ישראל. וצורריהם] ק3 ושונאיהם וצורריהם ומבקשי רעתם. ק15 נ' כולם. ק27 נ' ומבקשי רעתם כולם. ק54, ק60 נ' ומבקשי רעתם. ק58, ק64 נ' ושונאיהם ומבקשי רעתם כולם. ק69 נ' ושונאיהם כולם. מהרה] ק15, ק24, ק37 במהרה. ק64 ח'. מהרה יכרתו] נ6 ח'. יכרתו] נ10 נ' ויאבדו וישמדו. ק3 יכנעו וישמדו. ק27 נ' וישברו וישמדו ויאבדו. ק54, ק58, ק69 נ' וישמדו ויאבדו. ק60 נ' ויאבדו. ק64 ישמדו וישברו.‏

ושבור] נ10, ק3, ק69 שבור. ק27, ק54 אנא למען שמך שבור. ק60 אנא למענך שבור. הגוים] ק42, ק54, ק69 נ' מהרה.‏

ואל… נפשינו] נ6, ק8, ק18, ק24, ק37, ק61 ח'. ואל] נ10 אל. תקומה] ק42, ק54 נ' ואחרית. נפשינו] ק3 נ' ומבקש רעתנו. ק42 נ' ומבקשי רעתנו בכף אויבנו אל תמסרינו. ק27, ק54 נ' וביד (ק54: וכף) אויבנו אל תמסרינו.‏

אויבים] ק8, ק18, ק24, ק27 רשעים. ק42, ק54 רשעים ואויבים.‏

Manuscripts

נ6 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 2168.28–32, the fragment ends after the word אויבים.‎

נ10 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 2527.8, complete.

ק3 Cambridge, Or. 1080 3.2, complete.

ק8 Cambridge, T-S 8 H 10.12, complete.

ק15 Cambridge, T-S Arabic 36.12, complete.

ק18 Cambridge, T-S AS 102.110, complete.

ק24 Cambridge, T-S AS 104.228, a word is missing between יכרתו and עול, and between מעל and ברוך.‎

ק27 Cambridge, T-S AS 107.111, the beginning of the text is missing, up to the word והכופרים.‎

ק37 Cambridge, T-S NS 120.87, complete.

ק42 Cambridge, T-S NS 124.109, the beginning is missing, up to the phrase מהרה מעל צוארינו.‎

ק54 Cambridge, T-S NS 156.7, complete.

ק58 Cambridge, T-S NS 196.7, two words are missing between ואל and לכל; a word is missing between אתה and שובר.‎

ק60 Cambridge, T-S NS 197.60, several words are missing between נפשינו and שובר.‎

(p.193) ק61 Cambridge, T-S NS 271.2, complete.

ק62 Cambridge, T-S NS 271.44, incomplete at the end, after the word והמוסרים.‎

ק64 Cambridge, T-S NS 271.157, a word is missing between עמך and ושנאיהם, and between וישברו and עול; incomplete at the end, after the word עול.‎

ק69 Cambridge, T-S NS 273.67, beginning is missing, up to the word ושונאיהם.‎

Version 5: Babylonia

This version is that found in the manuscripts of the Seder Rav ‘Amram Ga’on (not from the geniza), and that which became the dominant model in all the European rites. Although, like other Babylonian rites, this version curses “enemies,” it radically reorganizes the lines of the blessing and keeps all of them relatively short. Individual manuscripts continue to mention noẓerim as well as some other miscreants in what is now the second line. Others have a slightly more expansive list of verbs cursing the empire. Because only six manuscripts of this version appear in the geniza, it is difficult to assess the significance of these variants, most of which only appear in a single manuscript. The text reads:

למשומדים אל תהי תקוה

וכל המינים כרגע יאבדו

וכל אויבי עמך מהרה יכרתו

ומלכות זדון מהרה תעקר ותשבר בימינו

ברוך אתה יי שובר אויבים ומכניע זדים

Variants

תהי] ק13 נ' ביד אחר: להם.‏

וכל המינים] נ3 והנוצרים והמנים. ק5 וכל המינים וכל המלשינים. ק39 וכל הנוצרים והמינים. וכל … יכרתו] נ3, ח'.‏

וכל] נ5 כל. וכל אויבי עמך] ק71 וכל שנאיך. אויבי עמך] נ5 אויבינו וכל שונאינו. ק39 נ' וקמיהם.‏

תעקר ותשבר] נ5 נ' ותכלם ותכניעם. ק40 נ' ותכניע. ק71 נ' ותמגר ותכניע. ק13 ותשבר נמחק ביד אחר ונ': ותמגר. ק39 תעקר תשבר ותכניע.‏

אויבים] ק13 נמחק ביד אחר ונ': רשעים.‏

Manuscripts

נ3 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 920.14–15, the last word of the concluding benediction is missing.

נ5 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 1314.1–6, a word is missing between ותכניעם and בימינו, and between שובר and ומכניע.‎

ק13 Cambridge, T-S 10 H 1.5, complete.

(p.194) ק39 Cambridge, T-S NS 120.105, a word is missing between מהרה and תשבר; several words are missing between בימינו and אויבים.‎

ק40 Cambridge, T-S NS 121.37, a word is missing between תקוה and המינין, between מהרה and ומלכות, and between ומלכות and מהרה. Two words are missing between ותכניע and אתה.‎

ק71 Cambridge, T-S NS 289.1, complete.

Version 6: Babylonia

Version 6 is the text found in the Siddur Rav Sa‘adia Ga’on, and it may well reflect his personal revision of the liturgy. The twenty-four fragments of this version found in the geniza attest to its popularity, and the limited number of variants in these exemplars attest to Saadia’s personal authority. This version (with the exception of two manuscripts that have been “corrected” by later scribes) reduces the birkat haminim to a curse of the meshummadim and the empire, eliminating entirely its original objects, the minim (and perhaps the noẓerim). It also does not include any curse of enemies, including, with the exception of two manuscripts, in its concluding benediction. It reads:

למשומדים אל תהי תקוה

ומלכות זדון מהרה תעקר בימינו

ברוך אתה יי שובר רשעים ומכניע זדים

Variants

ומלכות] ק11, ק67 מלכות. זדון] נ15 נ' תעקר. תעקר] א4, ס1, ק9, ק45, ק49 נ' ותשבר. ק59 נ' ביד אחר: ותשבר. ל3 נ' ותשבר במהרה. בימינו] נ15, ק14, ק45 ח'. ק59, ק68 נ' ביד אחר: הנצרים (ק68: והנצרים) והמינים כרגע יאבדו וכל אויבי עמך וכל צורריהם מהרה (ק68: וצורריהם כלם במהרה) יכרתו.‏

רשעים] א1, ל3 אויבים. ק43 זידים, ותוקן ביד אחר: רשעים.‏

Manuscripts

א1 Oxford, Bodleian Heb. d. 51.73–78, complete.

א2 Oxford, Bodleian Heb. d. 55.15–16, complete.

א4 Oxford, Bodleian Hunt. 448, complete (not a geniza fragment).

ל3 London, British Library Or. 6197.33, a word is missing between ומלכות and מהרה, and between בימינו and אתה.‎

נ4 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 964.3–10.

נ11 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 2527.9, complete.

נ12 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 2947.2–3, complete.

(p.195) נ15 New York, Jewish Theological Seminary ENA 3751.3, two words are missing between למשומדים and תקוה; a word is missing between תעקר and אתה.‎

ס1 Cincinnati, Hebrew Union College Acc. 1246, a word is missing between למשומדים and תהי; two words are missing between ומלכות and תעקר.‎

פ1 Paris, Alliance Israélite Universelle IV.A.2, incomplete at the end, after the word בימינו.‎

ק9 Cambridge, T-S 8 H 10.17, complete.

ק11 Cambridge, T-S 8 H 11.3, complete.

ק14 Cambridge, T-S Arabic 36.11, complete.

ק16 Cambridge, T-S Arabic 36.54, complete.

ק36 Cambridge, T-S NS 38a.33, complete.

ק43 Cambridge, T-S NS 149.140, complete.

ק45 Cambridge, T-S NS 150.41, complete.

ק46 Cambridge, T-S NS 150.188, complete.

ק49 Cambridge, T-S NS 152.235, complete.

ק52 Cambridge, T-S NS 154.26, several words are missing between ומלכות and בימינו; the concluding benediction is missing after the word שובר.‎

ק59 Cambridge, T-S NS 196.24, complete.

ק66 Cambridge, T-S NS 272.30, complete.

ק67 Cambridge, T-S NS 272.65, the beginning is missing, up to the word מלכות; a word is missing between מהרה and בימינו, and between שובר and ומכניע.‎

ק68 Cambridge, T-S NS 272.77, two words are missing between למשומדים and תקוה; a word is missing after תעקר.‎ (p.196)

Notes:

(1) . “The Earliest Texts of the Birkat Haminim,” HUCA 76: Appendix A, 99–106.

(2) . Critical texts may be constructed in one of two ways. Eclectic texts reconstruct what the modern editor understands to be an ideal reading of the evidence, but the base text is not necessarily that of any particular manuscript. Here, manuscripts listed as “complete” cohere with that of the text presented. In all other appendices, where evidence is generally much richer and less fragmentary, I have followed the second method of presenting a single actual text as the base text and indicating the variants from it. A third method for constructing critical texts, that of presenting synoptic parallels, is not relevant to this short passage but appears in the table presented in Chapter 2, pp. 46–47.

(3) . S. Schechter, “Geniza Specimens,” JQR 10 (1898): 659.