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Nusach of the Libyan Jews


Rabbi Moshe Leib Halberstadt

Adar 11, 5770
Shalom I was discussing the now non-existent Libyan Jewish community with a friend and ended up debating what Nusach they used. Did they have their own Nusach or did they use the normal Sefardi Nusach? Thanks
I spoke to Rabbi Levi Nachum, the author of the Libyan Nusach Siddur “Od Yosef Chai” and head of the Libyan community in Yerushalayim. He told me that in the last few centuries the Libyan Jews prayed in the “Tefilat Hachodesh” and “Beit Oved” Siddurim which are according to the Sephardic Nusach. It should be noted that the Jewish community of Libya is one of the most ancient Jewish communities. Some attribute the beginning of the Libyan Jewish community to the period of the First Temple in the time of Shlomo Hamelech. Others attribute it to the period of the exile of the Ten Tribes. However, about 500 years ago many Jews who were exiled from Spain during the Spanish expulsion emigrated to countries in Africa, among them were famous Rabbis such as Rabbi Shimon Lavie (author of Sefer Ketem Paz on the Zohar, and the composer of the famous liturgical poem “Bar Yochai” on the holy Tanna Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) who arrived at Tripoli, Libya. So it is possible that they prayed in their own original Libyan Nusach prior to this period, and the Sephardic Nusach arrived in Libya due to the influence of the Sephardic immigrants, but Rabbi Nachum told me that he does not have any information on what Nusach they prayed so many years ago.
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