Thanks for your question. The question itself is multi-pronged. Valid, in line, Klal Yisrael, other Jewish values. Actually three questions in one.
Let's begin with the basics. Over the course of our Siddur history, the Jewish people have seen many variations of Siddurim. Our generation is no different, and we have many different prayer books. However, different is not the same as differing. A Birnbaum Siddur, a Rinat Yisrael Siddur, a Moznaim Siddur, an ArtScroll Siddur, a Hirsch Siddur - they are different, but not differing. The main body of prayer is essentially the same. The commentaries are different, the vastness of the content varies, but the Siddurim are interchageable. One could use any of these with little difficulty.
There are different prayer traditions, what are are referred to as the nusach (text) - as in Ashkenaz, Sfard, Ari, etc. We have historically divergent communities, based on geography. But again, even though the actual text may differ, the differences are more nuance than real substance.
Different Siddur texts, on their own, do not constitute a compromise of Klal Yisrael, or "other Jewish values," whatever they may be.
And we have added items to our text in recent times, including prayers for the country in which one resides, and as well the State of Israel, among others. I might add that it bothers me no end that there are those who refuse to join in the prayer for the State of Israel. That strikes me as a rejection of the fundamental Jewish value of Hakarat HaTov, recognizing and acknowledging the good. (Was that the "other Jewish values" that you meant?).
But tampering with our time honored texts is a serious matter. The siddur has been a unifying text, allowing Jews to go from place to place, country to country, and be at home in any house of prayer. Aside from the Halakhic issues, the idea of making a siddur and placing within it a text of one's own choosing is somewhat arrogant, and definitely divisive.
There is room for having addendums at the end of a standard Siddur with further contemplations. But not for intruding on and changing the text that has been sanctified by time.
The Jewish value of tefilah (prayer), dates back to both the Biblical and Rabbinic time periods. Originally, examples such as Moses’ prayer on behalf of Miriam (Numbers 12:13) or Hannah’s prayer to have a child (I Samuel 2) seem to flow from the heart without any “script.” Indeed, in Tractate Berakhot (31a-b), Hannah is held up as a model for Jewish prayer and we are taught that like Hannah, “one who prays must direct his or her heart.” In other words, kavanah (spiritual intention) has always been a critical component of tefilah. Numerous examples throughout Tractate Berakhot confirm that our liturgy began in a very fluid way. Yet throughout the years, the traditional liturgy became standardized, and by the 9th century we find Seder Rav Amram- the first comprehensive set of rules, regulations, and liturgy on which much of our modern day Siddur is based.
Historically there has always been a tension between keva and kavanah, fixed liturgy or rote prayer versus prayer that comes from the heart. And there are technically very few prayers that one is obligated to say in order to fulfill his or her obligation for prayer during each prayer service. This would suggest an allowance for flexibility within the tradition, and an opportunity for innovation.
Having said this, I would caution against dismissing the traditional liturgy. I am certainly in favor of liturgical modifications made in the spirit and style of the tradition, such as the insertion of the matriarchs in the Amidah. And there are occasions that call for innovation and creativity within a traditional liturgical context. But I think that it is a mistake to “replace” the traditional liturgy in its entirety, or dismiss large pieces of it as irrelevant. Our liturgy is beautiful prayer and poetry written over thousands of years, and at its core it is meant to help us learn how to connect with ourselves, our community and our God.
We should be willing to be creative and to add personal meaning to our prayers, and we can be innovative to a point, but we must also strive to strike a balance that honors the rich tradition of our ancient prayers.
In the original spirit of incorporating prayer into our daily lives, I would also add that whenever we pray we should ask ourselves what these prayers mean, and explore what implications the themes and messages in these prayers might have for the way in which we live our daily lives. In short, creativity is valid, and authentic, but let’s not give up on our ancient wisdom and poetry so quickly.
This response has a bias, in that I was the major author of our congregation's Machzor.
It is only reasonable that each movement would have its own Siddur and Machzor. The theology of Orthodoxy is antithetical to that of Reform, and there are radical differences held by Conservatism, Reconstructionism and others.
Our congregation decided that the movement’s Machzor did not meet our needs. As part of the introduction, we wrote, “This prayer book is a response to the need of the Reform Jew to create his or her own intellectually valid and emotionally/spiritually satisfying High Holy Day experience. Through the vehicle of creative paraphrase of translations, using equivocal language, the congregant has the opportunity of hearing the Hebrew, whether chanted, spoken or sung, and responding to the feeling tones of the past, while providing his or her own interpretive meaning to the English text. . . . Whether the congregant has lived a lifetime in a synagogue, or has just entered for the first time, the content and style are intended to give him or her the feeling of being simultaneously an integral part of a world wide people as well as an individual in search of self.”
Klal Yisrael is not dependent on uniformity, but rather the acceptance of all Jews as members of an historic peoplehood, regardless of individual philosophies.
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