Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Koren Siddur on Yedid Nefesh

I recently received the new Koren Siddur with Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks' translation. This is a beautiful siddur. If you're looking for a nice English translation of the traditional siddur, this one is well worth checking out. It is far superior to the popular Artscroll Siddur. Rabbi Sacks' prose is a much more enjoyable and meaningful read.

Two interesting things about this siddur:

1) The Hebrew pages are on the left with the English translations on the right hand pages. This unconventional approach --usually its the reverse -- makes sense because you start reading in the center, no matter which language you're reading. This makes it easier to flow from one to the other. Additionally, it means that if you usually daven from the Hebrew, there's a shift in the direction you're looking which may affect right-brain left-brain cognition and therefore, at least in the short term, change your kavannah experience. More on that concept here.

2) The version of "Yedid Nefesh" Koren chose to use is based on the original handwritten manuscript by the author, Safed kabalist Rabbi Elazar Azikri (1533-1600). The changes make the poem even more beautiful, and some of the seemingly difficult to translate in context words become clear. Of course, this is not the way Jewish communities sing the words, but perhaps people will start to use this version. Just beautiful!