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EMET WE-YAẒẒIB:

The initial words of the morning benediction following the Shema' and closing with the Ge'ullah ("Redemption"). Recited by the priests after the Shema' in the morning service in the Temple hall, "lishkat ha-gazit" (Tamid v. 1), it has retained its place in the service ever since, and the rule afterward was made not to interrupt the connection between the last two words of the third portion of the Shema', the chapter on ẓiẓit, and "emet," as if the words, "the Lord your God"—"is true," formed one sentence (comp. Jer. x. 10; Ber. ii. 2; 14a, b). Zunz ("G. V." p. 383) thinks the original benediction contained only forty-five words, but the fact that it had the name "Emet we-Yaẓẓib" in the earliest times upsets his theory of the original simplicity of the benediction. The first sentence, "True and firm, established and enduring, right and faithful, beloved and precious, desirable and pleasant, revered and mighty, well ordered and acceptable, good and beautiful [a strange mixture of Hebrew and Aramean words], is Thy word unto us forever and ever," refers to the Shema' as a solemn profession of the unity of God. This is followed by two other sentences, beginning with "Emet," referring possibly to the two other sections of the Shema', while the other sentences beginning with "Emet"—the German liturgy has three, the Sephardic five—are addressed to God, and lead on to the idea of God as Redeemer.

That the "Emet we-Yaẓẓib" should contain references to God's kingdom, to the redemption of Israel from Egypt, and to the wonders of the Red Sea, is a rule made as early as the tannaitic time (Tosef., Ber. ii. 1; Yer. Ber. i. 3d). Zunz (l.c.) assigns the latter part, describing in poetic and partly alphabetic-acrostic form the wonders of divine redemption, to payyeṭanim of the geonic age. The tone, however, of exuberant joy at Israel's redemption, the accentuation of the "humble," and the special reference to the Song of Moses as the hymn of "great rejoicing," indicate a Ḥasidean origin (comp. Philo, "De Vita Contemplativa"; Rev. xv. 3). Still, the concluding formula was not fixed before the geonic time (see Zunz, l.c.; Rapoport. "Kalir," p. 146; Liturgy).

Bibliography:
  • Abudraham, Siddur Shaḥarit;
  • Landshut, in Edelman's Hegyon Leb, p. 50, Königsberg, 1845;
  • Beer, Abodat Yisrael, p. 84, Rödelsheim, 1868;
  • Herzfeld, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, iii. 196, note 1.
A. K.
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