Last week I presented an excellent essay, Achieving Kavana: Praying from the Heart, by Rookie Billet, featured in a new prayerbook, Siddur Avodat Halev (Rabbinical Council of America, 2018). This week, some other features in this new siddur.
In any evaluation of any commentary on the siddur, one must take into serious consideration how the texts that use Tehillim are given serious attention. As you should know, many sections of the siddur are made up of selections from the Psalms.
What makes this siddur unique is that the editors have elected to use an outstanding English translation of the Tehillim, the Koschitzky edition of the Da’at Mikra Bible, for all the Tehillim-based prayers. This translation has the approbation of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, zt’’l, who wrote that in his opinion, it “will surely help to enhance the worshiper in better comprehending the deep meaning of this sacred text.”
Another important feature of this work is that unlike most other Hebrew/English siddurim, this edition contains the entire Book of Psalms in both the original Hebrew and the English translation. According to the editors, the reason for this decision, in spite of the many pages it adds to the siddur, is that as more and more people recite Tehillim in the original Hebrew, they now have the opportunity to utilize a high-quality English translation to better understand the Hebrew text.
he prayerbook’s commentary, according to its editors, draws on a wide range of sources. In addition to referencing basic Biblical, Talmudic and Midrashic literature, the commentary incorporates a wide-ranging inclusive spectrum of rabbinic-based sources spanning from the early 11th century to modern times. This range includes the insights of many of great rabbinic thinkers of all eras, highlighting novel insights and analyses of key prayer texts and themes by leading rabbis, scholars, and teachers.
Another feature is the recognition given by the editors to the many halachic aspects found in the text. This section, reviewed by Rav Hershel Schechter, takes into consideration traditional practices that have been sanctioned by recognized sources in halachic literature, and respected minhagim that have been widely adopted and practiced in the Orthodox community here and elsewhere.
In terms of practical halacha as related to prayer, this edition conveniently provides numerous and detailed instructions directly on the relevant pages that serve to answer whatever questions might arise.
I highly recommend this new siddur as a valued addition to your personal library.