by Michael J. Broyde
Hardcover, 163 pages (including index)
ISBN 13: 978-965-524-036-8
Havineinu, an abridged version of the daily prayer (Shemoneh Esreh), was once a useful, well known
prayer said in pressing situations. Because it is brief, it is an ideal prayer for dangerous situations where
one's ability to pray or concentrate on the longer text of the daily prayer is compromised.
Yet, over the last several hundred years, the recitation of Havineinu has functionally ceased. This
book addresses the legal analysis used to explain that change. This shift in perspective has been
gradual, yet the resulting profound change in the interpretation of halachic texts has had a direct
influence on the understanding and practice of Jewish law. This book examines the sources
and processes that have shaped the contours of Havineinu over time, exemplifying the subtle changes
that occur in the development of halacha as a result of chiddush -- innovation.
About the Author:
Michael Broyde is a Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law and a Senior Fellow and a Project Director
at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. He was the founding Rabbi of the Young Israel of
Toco Hills in Atlanta, GA, and serves as a rabbinical judge (dayan) at the Beth Din of America, the largest Jewish
law court in America. Rabbi Broyde received advanced rabbinical (dayanut) ordination at Yeshiva University and a
Juris Doctor from New York University, and has published more than seventy–five articles and three books on various
aspects of Jewish law, ethics and religion.
Praise for Innovation in Jewish Law
The first-century rabbinic sage Rabbi Yose told the following story: "Once I entered the ruins of Jerusalem to pray. Elijah [the prophet] came and guarded the entrance until I finished my prayer. Afterward he said to me . . . you ought to have prayed a shortened prayer." The prayer in question, at least initially, appears to have been havineinu ("Grant us, Lord . . ."), a condensation of the shemoneh esrei, or eighteen benedictions which are at the center of Jewish prayer. But matters of Jewish law are rarely simple. Michael J. Broyde, a pulpit rabbi, leading halachic decisor in the Modern Orthodox community and law professor at Emory, traces the discussion of this prayer and the circumstances under which it is permissible to substitute it for the shemoneh esrei, from moments of extraordinary danger to simple booklessness or outright illiteracy. As Broyde points out, "prayer in an ancient, dangerous, and bookless society is quite different from prayer in a modern, safe, and text-rich place." Nowadays the prayer is so little-used that it doesn't even appear in the ArtScroll Siddur. Discussions of change in Jewish law are often driven by big issues, in particular the equal treatment of women. It is precisely Broyde's aim to observe and anatomize the process when the ideological stakes are lower. His case study is a tour de force, though it will leave those large disputes about the relationship between Jewish law and contemporary morals unaltered.
-Jewish Review of Books