Siddur Ba-eir Hei-teiv --- The Transliterated Siddur

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Learn to sing the Ba-r'chu --- the Call to Worship Print E-mail
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All transliterations, commentary, and audio recordings are copyright © 1997, 1998, 2002, 2009, or 2016 by Jordan Lee Wagner. All rights reserved.

Here are melodies used for Ba-r'chu on various occasions:

  • This is a traditional chant for the Ba-r'chu of the Shacharit (morning) service.
  • This is a traditional chant for the Ba-r'chu of the Shabbat Maariv (Friday evening) service.
  • This is another variation on the traditional Ba-r'chu chant of the Friday night service. This recording is hosted at VirtualCantor.com, a highly recommended resource.

Ba-r'chu (The Call to Assembly)

... Long ago this core service was the whole service. The Sh'ma Section was begun with The Call to Assembly; and the sacrifi­cial service (now the Amidah) ended with the Priestly Blessing. The Call to Assembly is named for its first word, Ba-r'chu. The entire congregation stands up for the Ba-r'chu. It is traditional to bow toward Jerusalem. (In America, this is toward the eastern wall of the synagogue, where the Ark generally is)...

...And then the Reader repeats the congregational re­sponse. This exchange is a major signpost in the service. The congregation then sits for Yotseir Or (in the morning) or Ma^ariv Aravim (at night).

The Ba-r'chu requires a minyan. The Ba-r'chu is one of the three places in the liturgy where all present are expected to stand, even if not worshipping.

In Sephardic shuls on Friday night, which is the start of the Sabbath, the Ba-r'chu gains an introductory meditation known as K'gav-nah D'i-nun. This is a complex mystical passage from the Zohar (a classic mystical commentary on the Torah). K'gav-nah D'i-nun describes God in some of Her mystical attributes. Although other parts of the congregational liturgy may deal with God's feminine aspects, K'gav-nah D'i-nun is the only frequently-occurring part of congregational liturgy to address God as feminine. It is not translatable or intelligible without training in Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). The basic idea is that the limitations imposed on us by material existence make it impossible to understand divine unity fully, but that the experience of the holiness of the Sabbath (which is felt as we start the Shabbat Ma-ariv service) will enable insights that are more nearly in unison with those apparent in the transcendental reality that is hidden from us.

Both the Ba-r'chu and the Priestly Benediction are still in the liturgy, but they no longer constitute the extremes of the service. A support structure developed around the Sh'ma-Amidah service, and expanded outward. Just as the Sh'ma picked up attendant bless­ings over time, the core service was eventually surrounded by atten­dant sections before and after.

The following diagram shows the structure of Jewish services with the...

--- adapted from "The Synagogue Survival Kit" by Jordan Lee Wagner, publ. by Rowman & Littlefield. 1997.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 December 2009 15:19

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