When looking at Hebrew Liturgy we look at the religious phenomenon of the Jehudiem or Jews where their liturgy represents a communal response to and participation in the sacred through activities reflecting praise, thanksgiving, remembrance, supplication, or repentance, giving themselves to their Bore or Divine Creator, the Elohim Hashem יהוה (YHWH) Jehovah in the hope to form a strong basis for establishing a good relationship with God.
We must now turn back to a most difficult subject — the growth of the Liturgy.
We are not concerned here with indications of the ritual used in the Temple. Of the prayer-book as it is at present, the earliest parts are the Shemaʽ (Deut. vi. 4, &c.) and the anonymous blessings commonly Liturgy. called Shemoneh ʽEsreh (the Eighteen), together with certain Psalms. (Readings from the Law and the Prophets [Haphṭarah] also formed part of the service.) To this framework were fitted, from time to time, various prayers, and, for festivals especially, numerous hymns.
The earliest existing codification of the prayer-book is the Siddūr (order) drawn up by Amram Gaon of Sura about 850. Half a century later the famous Gaon Seadiah, also of Sura, issued his Siddūr, in which the rubrical matter is in Arabic. Besides the Siddūr, or order for Sabbaths and general use, there is the Maḥzōr (cycle) for festivals and fasts. In both there are ritual differences according to the Sephardic (Spanish), Ashkenazic (German-Polish), Roman (Greek and South Italian) and some minor uses, in the later additions to the Liturgy.
The Maḥzor of each rite is also distinguished by hymns (piyyūṭīm) composed by authors (payyeṭanīm) of the district. The most important writers are Yoseh ben Yoseh, probably in the 6th century, chiefly known for his compositions for the day of Atonement, Eleazar Qalīr, the founder of the payyetanic style, perhaps in the 7th century, Seadiah, and the Spanish school consisting of Joseph ibn Abitur (died in 970), Ibn Gabirol, Isaac Gayyath, Moses ben Ezra, Abraham ben Ezra and Judah ha-levi, who will be mentioned in a following chapter; later, Moses ben Naḥman and Isaac Luria the Kabbalist.[For the history of the very extensive literature of this class, Zunz, Literaturgeschichte der synagogalen Poesie (Berlin, 1865), is indispensable.]
Hebrew Literature by Arthur Ernest Cowley
Shema, (Hebrew: “Hear”), the Jewish confession of faith made up of three scriptural texts (Deuteronomy 6:4–9, 11:13–21; Numbers 15:37–41), which, together with appropriate prayers, forms an integral part of the evening and morning services.
Piyyūṭ (pl. Piyyūṭīm) = piyut (piyutim) = liturgical poem:one of several types of liturgical compositions or religious poems, some of which have been incorporated into Jewish liturgy and have become virtually indistinguishable from the mandatory service, especially on the Sabbath and on Jewish religious festivals.
Piyyutim have been written since Temple times. Most piyyutim are in Hebrew or Aramaic, and most follow some poetic scheme, such as an acrostic following the order of the Hebrew alphabet or spelling out the name of the author.
Shemoneh ʽEsreh = Shemoneh Esreh (the Eighteen – Standing Prayer) = Tefilat HaAmidah (pl. amidoth): central prayer of the Jewish liturgy – the main section at each of three daily prayer services in a typical weekday: morning (Shacharit), afternoon (Mincha), and evening (Ma’ariv), recited while standing up.
Siddūr = siddur (pl. siddurim) (order) = Jewish prayer book of daily prayers
Maḥzōr= machzor (pl. mahzorim – machzorim): Jewish festival prayer book, as distinguished from the siddur, the prayer book used on the ordinary Sabbath and on weekdays., arranged according to liturgical chronology and used throughout the entire year, on the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and by some also on on the three pilgrimage festivals of Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot.
Eleazar Qalīr = Eleazar HaKalir = Eleazar ben Killir = Eleazar Kalir: medieval Byzantine Jewish poet who composed Piyyutim which have continued to be sung through the centuries during significant religious services, including those on Tisha B’Av and on the sabbath after a wedding. Translations of some of his hymns into German are found in Leopold Zunz in Sachs‘s edition of the prayer-book, and in Gustav Karpeles‘ Zionsharfe.
Amram Gaon = Amram bar Sheshna = Amram ben Sheshna = Gaon or generally accepted spiritual leader and head of the Jewish Talmud Academy of Sura, Babylonia, during the 9th century. He authored many Responsa, but his chief work was liturgical. He was traditionally regarded as the first Jewish authority to write a complete domestic and synagogal liturgy for the year, the Siddur Rav Amram (“Order of Prayers of Rabbi Amram”), which took the form of Sheʾelot U-teshubot a long responsum (“questions and answers”) to the Jews of Spain, is still extant and was an important influence on most of the current rites in use among the Jews.
Hai ben Sherira = Hai Gaon, last medieval Jewish theologian and outstanding Babylonian gaon, or head, of the Talmudic academy of Pumbedita during the early 11th century, remembered for the range and profundity of the exceptionally large number of responsa (authoritative answers to questions concerning interpretation of Jewish law) he wrote.
In his forty-fourth year he became associated with his father as “av bet din,” and with him delivered many joint decisions. According to Sefer HaKabbalah of physician and historian, Rabbi Abraham ben David (Abraham ibn Daud = Ravad), he was the last of the Geonim (title accorded to prominent Jewish spiritual leaders, scholars or great rabbi).