Collection of all references to prayer found in rabbinic literature organized according
to liturgical, chronological, and subject categories and making them available to students
and researchers of prayer.
The concept of prayer is very broadly defined. It encompasses:
· the statutory prayers and the benedictions mentioned in rabbinic literature, both those
that later entered siddurim, and those restricted to the rabbinic period alone (such as
· ceremonial readings (like the Torah reading).
· prayer in general.
· spontaneous prayers, whether attributed to contemporaries or to biblical figures.
· prayer in the synagogue context.
The rabbinic corpus includes:
· all tannaitic works Mishnah, Tosefta, halakhic midrash.
· all amoraic sources the Talmuds, early aggadic midrash.
· late Midrash (Tanhuma, Midrash Psalms, etc.).
The rabbinic treatment of prayer is scattered throughout the various rabbinic sources.
Some issues are dealt with at length, others briefly, whereas still others receive but passing
mention A particular issue may also appear in more than one source.
The database enables retrieval of all the sources relating to a particular body of prayers, or
a single prayer found therein, and can be refined according to chronological stratum, works,
or figures mentioned in the sources.
The main contribution of the database lies in its subject categories classification.
Grounded in a broad-branched system of categories from the field of prayer research, a
distinction is made between primary and secondary categories. An example of a primary
category that classifies the sources according to the person undertaking an activity is:
"àôéåï äîúôìì" the worshiper's characteristics. At present, its several dozen subdivisions into
secondary categories include: "women","mourners","the sightless" among others.
A Developing Database
The current scope and features of the database are not final. We aim to expand
the database corpus primarily via the inclusion of additional rabbinic sources
(cf. the database corpus), or other corpora (apocrypha, sectarian literature, etc.), and
through the addition of prayers and figures to the various categories.
The database's most dynamic aspect inheres in the continuous refining of the subject
categories and updating of the classification system. We anticipate innovative contributions
from other fields, such as the sociology and anthropology of prayer, to the classification
Heading the database project is Dr. Uri Ehrlich of the Goldstein-Goren Department
of Jewish Thought, Ben-Gurion University, Beer-Sheva. To date, the research has been
carried out at Ben-Gurion University, mainly by graduate students in the department.
Our hope is that publication of the database on the web will facilitate scholarly
cooperation, whether permanent or transient, with regard to prayer in general or specific
fields of prayer studies.
It is also envisioned as a tool for graduate students, who can in turn make a contribution to
the database from their fields of research.
We thank the following institutions for backing this project:
The Israel Science Foundation, which funded this project from 1999 to 2001.
The Bar-Ilan University Responsa Project, for the sources cited in the database.
The Leslie and Vera Keller Fund for the Nurturing of Jewish Heritage and the
Goldstein - Goren International Center for Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University for
making web publication of the database possible.