Preface by the translator
The Jerusalem Fine Art Prints workshop is publishing a renewed edition of the Complete Italian Machazor, edited by Rabbi Dr. Menachem Emanuel Artom z”l, who also translated all scripts into modern Italian, adding detailed remarks which explain the texts and indicate the rules for conducting a prayer, emphasizing customs characteristic of the different Jewish communities in Italy, as well as the Italian Synagogue in Jerusalem, which follow these customs. The Italian prayer customs are the oldest surviving today and were brought to Italy directly from the second Jewish Temple, following its destruction.
The renewed publication of the Complete Italian Machazor has of lately become vital, since the volumes which had been published by the late Carucci printing house in Rome, in the last few years of the past century, were sold out, and it is not possible today to acquire the complete set. The Complete Italian Machazor fulfills all the needs of the public thirsty for precision studies but lacks cognizance in the Biblical field, liturgy and the form in which the prayers are to be uttered. In the course of generations, many values of the Jewish culture have been forgotten and now, by means of this Complete Italian Machazor, people who wish to learn more can satisfy their needs and complete what is missing.
In this edition, every possible means have been taken to ensure that the Hebrew texts, words and punctuation, will be rendered precisely and without any mistakes, so that the accuracy of the Complete Italian Machazor will be equal to that of other Machazors. The goal of the Complete Italian Machazor is not to serve as a sort of scientific or critical textbook, but to grant a precise text to whoever attends prayer according to the Italian custom, or is interested in familiarizing themselves with the Italian customs in their current form. The text in the Complete Italian Machazor is arranged in a convenient way especially for prayer, and allows for minimum page turning. Most parts that are repetitious in the different prayers, appear in succession so that there is no need to search for them in the Complete Italian Machazor. The Complete Italian Machazor contains both prayers for different feast days and prayers for the Sabbath and Yom Chol.
The Complete Italian Machazor is divided into Three Volumes.
The different communities, which follow the Italian customs, share similar texts although there are some differences in the liturgy, which have been kept by some communities and in others have been omitted. The Complete Italian Machazor contains clear remarks denoting the customs of each and every community, and clarifies these differences: in Hebrew and Italian in the Hebrew text, and in Italian in the Italian text.
The older classical publications of the Italian Machazor include chapters, especially liturgy, that some communities have omitted. Adding them in the proper place for their utterance would possibly have interrupted whom ever follows the prayer in Synagogue. On the other hand, these chapters are of significant poetic value and are of great importance for the research of prayer throughout history. For these reasons, these chapters are included in the Complete Italian Machazor as an appendix, in a way that does not hinder the worshiper and yet grants researchers of liturgy and the history of prayer an important and effective tool. In order to allow a deep understanding of these chapters, the necessary translation and commentary have been included.
The Complete Italian Machazor also includes liturgy which had been uttered by different communities, and which had until now been kept in handwritten form or printed pamphlets that were hard to acquire and which had compelled the handling of more than one book during prayer. Some of the texts that appear in these volumes are printed for the first time, and quite a few, especially the poetic compositions and the writings dealing with special Sabbath days and fasting days, appear for the first time in Italian translation particularly and in a European language in general.
The basis for the text in the Complete Italian Machazor was partly taken from the version of the Italian Machazor printed in Bologna during the years 1540-1541. The Bologna Machazor is not the only edition of the Italian Machazor, but it was the most widely used edition at the time when local customs were forming. In any case when the commentary by Yochanan Treves “Kimcha De Avishona”, which appears in the Bologna edition, and is written in the margins of the Machazor, is different from the text version of the current edition, preference has been given to the version of the commentary. In places within the text where in all communities a commentary different from that of Treves is used, the faithfulness of the Machazor text was not kept. For instance, the addition of the introduction to Morid haTal and the second blessing of haAmida, which are not included in the Bologna Machazor, or the omission of the paragraph from the Mishna which contains a liturgical list of the days of the week at the end of Tefilat Shacharit and instead, adding the poems themselves of every day of the week, or addition to the introduction of Kabalat Shabbat, Bameh Madlikin, Amar Rabbi Elazar, Al Israel, Mizmor LeDavid, Lecha Dodi and Mizmor Shir leYom haShabbat, which had not appeared in the Bologna Machazor since these texts were not customary during the mid sixteenth century. Moreover, there was meticulousness for not including all printing errors, especially in punctuation, which had been found in previous Machazors.
The Complete Italian Machazor reflects the Judaic-Zionist doctrine of Rabbi Dr. Menachem Emanuel Artom z”l, and it also contains texts which are usually omitted from other publications that usually contain only the customs from abroad. Stress has been given to the special prayer for Israel, which is customary in the Italian Synagogue, founded in Jerusalem in the year 1941. In addition to the prayer for the safety of the State of Israel, which also appears in other editions of the Italian Custom, a Seder Avoda for the Day of Independence has also been added to the Complete Italian Machazor.
We wish to remark on and outline the work of translation and commentary. The translation of texts that appear in the Complete Italian Machazor which are very different from one another, texts of liturgy and poetry, formulas of prayer sequences that are usually very simple, and poetic writings that were composed hundreds of years ago, all contain very different elements such as the style and rhythm, although they are based on the presumption that whomever uses them for prayer is well versed in the Torah and the Rabbinical texts in general, and the Midrash in particular. This complexity is fraught with sizeable difficulties, many of them having to do with the need to take into consideration different and often contradictory demands, besides credibility to the original text. In other words, to the most important skill of the translation stage: expressing the implication of the thought in a way, which is as close to the original meaning of the writer as humanly possible. The Complete Italian Machazor includes text, which is faithful to today's Italian language, both modern and literary, so that the text is well understood and suitable for any person that speaks modern day Italian. This fact makes the text readable and usable as a didactic tool in schools and courses of Jewish culture for grown-ups, as an aid to researchers and as a support tool for the self-taught person. This goal is fraught with difficulties since the characteristics of lofty Jewish poetry and prose is the presentation of many synonyms in order to describe similar things. The search for synonyms from the original work often entails the use of words that are not normally used and sometimes even words from the distant past. Another characteristic of these Jewish writings is the use of sentences that contain words of different meanings, or words that resemble one another, that have the same phonetic sound and either a similar meaning or a different meaning altogether. In many cases there is great difficulty in translating to a different language the true meaning of the original script, but anywhere this is possible, the translation seeks to do so by choosing Italian words, which will grant the reader a sense of the tone and a taste of the original. It goes without saying that such a translation might seem strange or unsuitable for daily conversation, or even unaccountable to proper syntax rules. Yet, it seems that in order to maintain the original script's meaning, it was important to make such alterations. On the other hand, the translation as it appears in the Machazor is free from sticking to the original at any cost, since it was necessary to add words which explain terms that were self-evident in the original script and were therefore unnecessary. The syntactic quality of Hebrew in general, and of the liturgy of prayers in particular, is incomprehensible today to those who are less proficient, since the original writings were intended for a highly educated public which knew many things that are unknown today. As long as the interpretation included an added word or short sentence, it was included in the body of the text, but when dealing with a complex sentence, which required a lengthy and detailed explanation, it would appear in the remarks underneath the sentence. In this way, the written sentence might not be as intelligible but the reader can turn to the remarks.
The remarks also include sentences to which the translator feels there is more than one possible meaning and also details about writers of each script, when they are known, and notes on the origins of sentences taken from other writings, like the Bible, the Talmud and the Midrashim. In the remarks is also a note on the type of poetry and the unique scale and style of each and every composition.
In the new edition of the Machazor is an added text appendix of the customs of the Artom family, according to a pamphlet that was printed in limited copies in the year 1989 by Rabbi Dr. Menachem Emanuel z”l, to commemorate his first grandson's Bar-Mitzvah. Also included were the Pesach Haggadah and Birkat haMazon, as was customary in the family tradition, which stemmed from the custom of 'Apam' (Asti, Fossano, Moncalvo), three ancient communities in Northwest Italy, that do not exist today.
One of the prevalent problems which today's Jew encounters as he reads the ancient Jewish compositions, is that of the right way in which to read these texts, especially the problem of when the Kamatz (aa-Heb. Vowel) is small, then it should be read: O, or when it is lengthy, then it should be read: Ah; The Schwa (heb. vowel sign), whether it is Na or Nach and where the balance of every word is found. The Complete Italian Machazor aids in dealing with such problems by giving special reference marks in the text.