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Developments Within The Statutory Text Of The Birkat Ha-Mazon In Light Of Its Poetic Counterparts

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Chapter Summary

The birkat ha-mazon prayer, recited at the conclusion of every meal, occupies a primary place within Judaism's liturgy for the home. It is therefore unsurprising that the manuscripts of the Cairo Geniza, representing daily Jewish life in the Mediterranean between the 10th and 13th centuries, abound with copies of this prayer. Within the poetic versions of the birkat ha-mazon, the verse citations form an organic component of the prayer, while within the statutory text, the verses are marginal appendages belonging to a later stage. The comparison of the poetic forms of the birkat ha-mazon with the corresponding statutory text thus serves to shed light upon the puzzling sporadic appearance of Biblical proof texts within the statutory text, as well as upon the surprising adoption of the additional Covenant Phrase into a benediction which already included a sufficient number of covenant references.

Keywords: birkat ha-mazon; Cairo Geniza; Covenant Phrase; Judaism's liturgy; statutory text



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