Extras in the Siddur

Editors of siddurim (prayer books) have included a variety of bonus materials.

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A similarly lengthy piyyut provides a detailed historical introduction to the reading of the Torah on Shavuot. Akdamut, written in Aramaic, serves as a poetic preamble to the revelation of the Torah (and falls into the category of reshut, a piyyut of "permission" that is placed before an important liturgical act, in this case the recitation of the Ten Commandments). It describes the heavenly events that accompanied the creation of the world, all seen as mere prelude to God's giving of the Torah to the Israelites.

Originally, these poems as well as other liturgical poems and special readings for the festivals were included in machzorim (special holiday prayer books). As communities decreased the numbers of additional poems that were recited, machzorim became common primarily for the High Holidays, and these few poems were taken into the siddur, though machzorim for all the festivals continue to be published and used by some Jews.

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Rabbi Daniel Kohn

Rabbi Daniel Kohn, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, was ordained from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1991. He is the author of several books on Jewish education and spirituality who currently writes and teaches throughout the San Francisco Bay area.