A Yom Kippur Primer (Liturgical Highlights)

yom kippur

A dear friend and close colleague of some twenty years in the Department of Religion, not Jewish, asked about Yom Kippur. Just what is Yom Kippur and what exactly does one do all day, assuming of course that one is there from start to finish, or at least for large segments of the day? I explained to her the basic components. To be sure, most people shift in and out of attention. But the entire structure of this thing is really quite astonishing. I’m including below extracts that for me are the highlights of the Yom Kippur Machzor, or liturgical text. In terms of aesthetic judgment, the technical term is sublime. There is in it so much human dust and death, and so much light, subtle liturgical reasoning, and the canny bending of God to human purposes. The linear presentation of the Hebrew original and English translation is from the online site Sefaria. What I like about the translation arrangement is the way liturgical phrase is given its own short line that allows the image to pop out. What you won’t get from this post is how, experientially, the form of the entire prayer service from beginning to end loops over and over in swooping repetitive circles. Yom Kippur is an immense and theatrical thing.

 

Here are the special, one-off  component-pieces:

–Kol Nidre; a spectral invocation in which the community gathers at night at the start of the memorial fast to nullify all vows that one might make between this Yom Kippur and the one to follow. The purpose is to get the human creature off the hook, on the assumption that a vow is serious business.

–The main order of prayer including readings from Torah and prophets and many special interpolations specific to Yom Kippur

–Yizkor:  A memorial service during the day for parents and loved ones, after the Torah service.

–Avodah: a liturgical re-enactment of the Temple service for Yom Kippur read towards the end of the morning service as it stretches into the mid afternoon.

–Martyrology: a liturgical service towards the end of the morning service as it stretches into the mid afternoon marking the memory of Jew martyrs, originally focused on  the time of the Roman persecution, but long since expanded in scope to include the Crusades and Holocaust.

–Jonah: The biblical book, a tale of repentance, is read in the late afternoon.

–Neila or Closing: The ark is opened as the sun sets for this concluding service.

 

Repeating features that appear and re-appear throughout the entire liturgical day:

–U’netaneh Tokef: an invocation in which the community imagines (anticipates) itself being but dust and ash passing before the eternity of God on the Day of Judgment. Who will live and  who will die this coming year?  But right action mitigates the severity of the decree. (See text below)

Vidui/Confession: the detailed catalogue of human sin. It repeats ad infinitum throughout the entire 24+ hour day (See text below)

Avinu Malkeinu: (Our Father Our King): Repeating itself regularly at the very end of each major component parts of the liturgy, this Yom Kippur favorite expresses confidence that God is merciful and that we’re off the hook. (See text below)

SOME MAJOR LITURGICAL HIGHLIGHTS

KAPPAROT

Note: this is a ritual performed in the afternoon performed only by the most observant, usually ultra-orthodox. A chicken substitute is taken, swung around one’s head, and then slaughtered according to the laws of kashrut. Traditionally, the food goes to the poor. I’m including the blessing because it is extraordinarily powerful. Look for these motifs: the human, the dark pit, angels, and a rooster.

בְּנֵי אָדָם,

Children of men!

יֽשְׁבֵי חֽשֶׁךְ

Those who sit in darkness

וְצַלְמָוֶת,

and in the shadow of death

אֲסִירֵי עֳנִי וּבַרְזֶל:

bound in affliction and [chains of] iron.

יוֹצִיאֵם מֵחֽשֶׁךְ

He brought them out from darkness,

וְצַלְמָוֶת,

from the shadow of death,

וּמוֹסְרוֹתֵיהֶם יְנַתֵּק:

and their shackles, He broke.

אֱוִילִים

They are fools—

מִדֶּֽרֶךְ פִּשְׁעָם,

because of their transgression

וּמֵעֲו‍ֹנֹתֵיהֶם

and their iniquities—

יִתְעַנּוּ:

they cause their own affliction.

כָּל־אֹֽכֶל תְּתַעֵב נַפְשָׁם,

All manner of food is abhorred by their soul,

וַיַּגִּֽיעוּ עַד־שַֽׁעֲרֵי־מָוֶת:

and they draw near until the gates of death.

וַיִּזְעֲקוּ אֶל־יְהֹוָה

[Then] they cried out to Adonoy

בַּצַּר לָהֶם,

in their distress;

מִמְּצוּקוֹתֵיהֶם יוֹשִׁיעֵם:

from their anguish, He delivered them.

יִשְׁלַח דְּבָרוֹ וְיִרְפָּאֵם,

He sends His word and heals them,

וִימַלֵּט מִשְׁחִיתוֹתָם:

and delivers them from destruction.

יוֹדוּ לַיהֹוָה חַסְדּוֹ,

Let them thank Adonoy for His kindness,

וְנִפְלְאוֹתָיו לִבְנֵי אָדָם:

and for His wonders to the children of man.

אִם־יֵשׁ עָלָיו מַלְאָךְ

If there be for him an angel,

מֵלִיץ אֶחָד מִנִּי־אָֽלֶף,

one interceding angel among a thousand,

לְהַגִּיד לְאָדָם יָשְׁרוֹ:

to vouch for man’s uprightness;

וַיְחֻנֶּֽנּוּ, וַיֹּֽאמֶר,

then [God] is gracious unto him, and says:

פְּדָעֵֽהוּ מֵרֶֽדֶת שַֽׁחַת,

“Redeem him from going down to the pit,

מָצָאתִי כֹֽפֶר:

I have found a ransom [for him.]”
A man should make the following declaration: (Each time you say, “This is my” revolve the rooster around your head)

זֶה חֲלִיפָתִי,

This is my exchange,

זֶה תְּמוּרָתִי,

this is my substitute,

זֶה כַּפָּרָתִי,

this is my atonement.

זֶה הַתַּרְנְגוֹל יֵלֵךְ לְמִיתָה,

This rooster shall go to its death,

וַאֲנִי אֶכָּנֵס וְאֵלֵךְ

and I shall proceed

לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים אֲרוּכִים

to a good, long life

וּלְשָׁלוֹם:

and peace.

 

KOL NIDREI (ALL OUR VOWS)

Note the nullification. Our vows are not vows. And the emphasis placed on consent. 

 

The following declaration is made by the Chazzan and repeated three times:

עַל דַּֽעַת הַמָּקוֹם

With the consent of the Almighty,

וְעַל דַּֽעַת הַקָּהָל.

and consent of this congregation,

בִּישִׁיבָה שֶׁל מַֽעְלָה

in a convocation of the heavenly court,

וּבִישִׁיבָה שֶׁל מַֽטָּה.

and a convocation of the lower court,

אָֽנוּ מַתִּירִין

we hereby grant permission

לְהִתְפַּלֵּל עִם הָעֲבַרְיָנִים:

to pray with transgressors.

כָּל נִדְרֵי

All vows,

וֶאֱסָרֵי

and things we have made forbidden on ourselves,

וּשְׁבוּעֵי

and oaths,

וַחֲרָמֵי

and items we have consecrated to the Temple,

וְקוֹנָמֵי

and vows issued with the expression “konum,”

וְכִנּוּיֵי.

and vows which are abbreviated,

וְקִנוּסֵי

and vows issued with the expression “kanos,”

דִּנְדַֽרְנָא.

that we have vowed,

וּדְאִשְׁתַּבַּֽעְנָא.

and sworn,

וּדְאַחֲרִימְנָא.

and dedicated,

וּדְאָסַֽרְנָא עַל נַפְשָׁתָֽנָא.

and made forbidden upon ourselves;

מִיּוֹם כִּפּוּרִים זֶה

from this Yom Kippur

עַד יוֹם כִּפּוּרִים

until next Yom Kippur—

הַבָּא עָלֵֽינוּ לְטוֹבָה.

may it come to us at a good time—

בְּכֻלְּהוֹן אִחֲרַֽטְנָא בְהוֹן.

We regret having made them;

כֻּלְּהוֹן יְהוֹן שָׁרָן.

may they all be permitted,

שְׁבִיקִין, שְׁבִיתִין,

forgiven, eradicted

בְּטֵלִין וּמְבֻטָּלִין,

and nullified,

לָא שְׁרִירִין

and may they not be valid

וְלָא קַיָּמִין:

or exist any longer.

נִדְרָֽנָא לָא נִדְרֵי.

Our vows shall no longer be vows,

וֶאֱסָרָֽנָא

and our prohibitions

לָא אֱסָרֵי.

shall no longer be prohibited,

וּשְׁבוּעָתָֽנָא לָא שְׁבוּעוֹת:

and our oaths are no longer oaths.

 

 

U’NETANEH TOKEK

וּנְתַנֶּה

Let us describe

תֹּקֶף קְדֻשַּׁת הַיּוֹם.

the great holiness of this day,

כִּי הוּא נוֹרָא וְאָיוֹם.

for it is awesome and frightening.

וּבוֹ תִנָּשֵׂא מַלְכוּתֶֽךָ.

On this day, Your Kingship is uplifted,5

וְיִכּוֹן בְּחֶֽסֶד כִּסְאֶֽךָ.

and Your throne is established with kindness,6

וְתֵשֵׁב עָלָיו בֶּאֱמֶת.

and You sit upon it in truth.7

אֱמֶת כִּי אַתָּה הוּא דַיָּן

True that You are judge,

וּמוֹכִֽיחַ וְיוֹדֵֽעַ וָעֵד.

admonisher, knower and witness;

וְכוֹתֵב וְחוֹתֵם וְסוֹפֵר וּמוֹנֶה.

and You inscribe, seal, record and count,

וְתִזְכֹּר כָּל הַנִּשְׁכָּחוֹת.

and recall all forgotten things.8

וְתִפְתַּח אֶת סֵֽפֶר הַזִּכְרוֹנוֹת.

You open the book of records

וּמֵאֵלָיו יִקָּרֵא.

and it reads of itself;

וְחוֹתָם יַד כָּל אָדָם בּוֹ.

and the signature of every man is in it.

וּבְשׁוֹפָר גָּדוֹל יִתָּקַע.

A great shofar is sounded,

וְקוֹל דְּמָמָה דַקָּה יִשָּׁמַע.

and a silent, gentle voice is heard;

וּמַלְאָכִים יֵחָפֵזוּן.

and the angels are alarmed,

וְחִיל וּרְעָדָה יֹאחֵזוּן.

pangs of fear and trembling seize them,9

וְיֹאמְרוּ

and they declare,

הִנֵּה יוֹם הַדִּין.

“behold the Day of Judgment.”

לִפְקֹד עַל צְבָא מָרוֹם בַּדִּין.

The heavenly host is arraigned in judgment,

כִּי לֹא יִזְכּוּ בְעֵינֶֽיךָ

for they are not guiltless in Your eyes

בַדִּין.

in judgment.10

וְכָל בָּאֵי עוֹלָם יַעַבְרוּן לְפָנֶֽיךָ

All mankind pass before You

כִּבְנֵי מָרוֹן.

like young sheep.11

כְּבַקָּרַת רוֹעֶה עֶדְרוֹ.

As a shepherd inspects his flock,

מַעֲבִיר צֹאנוֹ תַּֽחַת שִׁבְטוֹ.

making his sheep pass under his rod,

כֵּן תַּעֲבִיר וְתִסְפֹּר וְתִמְנֶה.

so do You cause to pass, count, number,

וְתִפְקֹד נֶֽפֶשׁ כָּל חָי.

and review the soul of every living being,

וְתַחְתֹּךְ קִצְבָה לְכָל בְּרִיּוֹתֶֽיךָ.

determining the life-span of every creature;

וְתִכְתֹּב אֶת גְּזַר דִּינָם:

and You record the decree of their judgment.

בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה יִכָּתֵבוּן

On Rosh Hashana their decree is inscribed,

וּבְיוֹם צוֹם כִּפּוּר יֵחָתֵמוּן.

and on Yom Kippur it is sealed,12

כַּמָּה יַעַבְרוּן.

how many will pass away

וְכַמָּה יִבָּרֵאוּן.

and how many will be created,

מִי יִחְיֶה. וּמִי יָמוּת.

who will live and who will die;

מִי בְקִצּוֹ.

who will come to his timely end,

וּמִי לֹא בְקִצּוֹ.

and who to an untimely end;

מִי בַמַּֽיִם. וּמִי בָאֵשׁ.

who will perish by fire and who by water;

מִי בַחֶֽרֶב. וּמִי בַחַיָּה.

who by the sword and who by beast;

מִי בָרָעָב. וּמִי בַצָּמָא.

who by hunger and who by thirst;

מִי בָרַֽעַשׁ. וּמִי בַמַּגֵּפָה.

who by earthquake and who by the plague;

מִי בַחֲנִיקָה וּמִי בַסְּקִילָה.

who by strangling and who by stoning;

מִי יָנוּחַ.

who will be at rest

וּמִי יָנֽוּעַ.

and who will wander about;

מִי יִשָּׁקֵט.

who will have serenity

וּמִי יִטָּרֵף.

and who will be confused;

מִי יִשָּׁלֵו.

who will be tranquil

וּמִי יִתְיַסָּר.

and who will be tormented;

מִי יֵעָנִי.

who will become poor

וּמִי יֵעָשֵׁר.

and who will become wealthy;

מִי יִשָּׁפֵל.

who will be brought to a low state

וּמִי יָרוּם:

and who will be uplifted.
Congregation:

וּתְשׁוּבָה וּתְפִלָּה וּצְדָקָה

But repentance, and prayer and charity

מַעֲבִירִין אֶת רֽוֹעַ הַגְּזֵרָה:

annul the severity of the decree.

כִּי כְּשִׁמְךָ כֵּן תְּהִלָּתֶֽךָ.

For as Your Name, so is Your praise,

קָשֶׁה לִכְעֹס וְנֽוֹחַ לִרְצוֹת.

You are slow to anger and easy to pacify;

כִּי לֹא תַחְפֹּץ בְּמוֹת הַמֵּת.

For You do not desire death [for the sinner]

כִּי אִם בְּשׁוּבוֹ מִדַּרְכּוֹ וְחָיָה.

but that he turn from his evil way and live.

וְעַד יוֹם מוֹתוֹ

And even until his dying day,

תְּחַכֶּה לּוֹ.

You wait for him—

אִם יָשׁוּב מִיַּד תְּקַבְּלוֹ:

if he repents, You immediately accept him.

אֱמֶת כִּי אַתָּה הוּא יוֹצְרָם.

True, You are their Creator,

וְאַתָּה יוֹדֵֽעַ יִצְרָם.

and You know their impulse

כִּי הֵם בָּשָׂר וָדָם:

that they are [but] flesh and blood.

אָדָם יְסוֹדוֹ מֵעָפָר

Man, his beginning is from dust

וְסוֹפוֹ לֶעָפָר.

and ends in dust;

בְּנַפְשׁוֹ יָבִיא לַחְמוֹ.

risking his life, he gets his bread,

מָשׁוּל כְּחֶֽרֶס הַנִּשְׁבָּר.

he is like a potsherd that is breakable,

כְּחָצִיר יָבֵשׁ.

like grass that withers,

וּכְצִיץ נוֹבֵל.

like the flower that fades,

כְּצֵל עוֹבֵר.

like the shadow that passes,

וּכְעָנָן כָּלָה.

like the cloud that vanishes,

וּכְרֽוּחַ נוֹשָֽׁבֶת.

like the wind that blows,

וּכְאָבָק פּוֹרֵֽחַ.

like the dust that flies,

וְכַחֲלוֹם יָעוּף:

and like a fleeting dream.

וְאַתָּה הוּא מֶֽלֶךְ

But You are the King,

אֵל חַי וְקַיָּם:

the Almighty, the living and everlasting God.
The Ark is closed

 

 

WHAT IS “MAN”? REASONING WITH GOD

וְאַתָּה יוֹדֵֽעַ

But You know

שֶׁאַחֲרִיתֵֽנוּ רִמָּה וְתוֹלֵעָה,

that our ultimate end is the worm,

לְפִיכָךְ

and therefore

הִרְבֵּֽיתָ סְלִיחָתֵֽנוּ.

You have increased the means of our pardon.

מָה אָֽנוּ. מֶה חַיֵּֽינוּ.

What are we? What is our life?

מֶה חַסְדֵּֽנוּ.

What are our acts of kindness?

מַה צִּדְקֵֽנוּ.

What is our righteousness?

מַה יְּשׁוּעָתֵֽנוּ.

What is our deliverance?

מַה כֹּחֵֽנוּ. מַה גְּבוּרָתֵֽנוּ.

What is our strength? What is our might?

מַה נֹּאמַר לְפָנֶֽיךָ

What can we say before You,

יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ

Adonoy, our God and God of our fathers?

הֲלֹא כָּל הַגִּבּוֹרִים

Are not all the mighty men

כְּאַֽיִן לְפָנֶֽיךָ

as nothing before You?

וְאַנְשֵׁי הַשֵּׁם כְּלֹא הָיוּ

Famous men as though they had never been?

וַחֲכָמִים כִּבְלִי מַדָּע

The wise as if they were without knowledge?

וּנְבוֹנִים

And men of understanding

כִּבְלִי הַשְׂכֵּל

as if they were devoid of intelligence?

כִּי רֹב מַעֲשֵׂיהֶם תֹּֽהוּ

For most of their actions are a waste

וִימֵי חַיֵּיהֶם

and the days of their life

הֶֽבֶל לְפָנֶֽיךָ.

are trivial in Your presence.

וּמוֹתַר הָאָדָם מִן הַבְּהֵמָה

The superiority of man over the beast

אָֽיִן

is nil

כִּי הַכֹּל הָֽבֶל.

for all is futile.

אַתָּה הִבְדַּֽלְתָּ אֱנוֹשׁ

[Nevertheless], You have set man apart

מֵרֹאשׁ,

from the beginning,

וַתַּכִּירֵֽהוּ

and recognized him [as worthy]

לַעֲמוֹד לְפָנֶֽיךָ.

to stand before You.

 

VIDUI (CONFESSION)

Note: this is the famous catalogue of sins, voiced not in the first person singular of the individual, but in the first person plural of the community. Also, note that the conclusion is not on the fact that human beings “are” sinners, but that they sin because they are “flesh and blood” or “dust,” just as God created them.

 

אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ

Our God and God of our fathers,

תָּבֹא לְפָנֶֽיךָ תְּפִלָּתֵֽנוּ,

let our prayer come before you

וְאַל תִּתְעַלַּם מִתְּחִנָּתֵֽנוּ

and do not ignore our supplication.

שֶׁאֵין אֲנַֽחְנוּ עַזֵּי פָנִים

For we are not so brazen-faced

וּקְשֵׁי עֹֽרֶף

and stiff-necked

לוֹמַר לְפָנֶֽיךָ

to say to you,

יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ

Adonoy, our God, and God of our fathers,

צַדִּיקִים אֲנַֽחְנוּ וְלֹא חָטָֽאנוּ

“We are righteous and have not sinned.”

אֲבָל אֲנַֽחְנוּ וַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ חָטָֽאנוּ:

But, indeed, we and our fathers have sinned.

אָשַֽׁמְנוּ.

We have trespassed [against God and man, and we are devastated by our guilt];

בָּגַֽדְנוּ.

We have betrayed [God and man, we have been ungrateful for the good done to us];

גָּזַֽלְנוּ. דִּבַּֽרְנוּ דֹּֽפִי.

We have stolen; We have slandered.

הֶעֱוִֽינוּ.

We have caused others to sin;

וְהִרְשַֽׁעְנוּ.

We have caused others to commit sins for which they are called רְשָׁעִים, wicked;

זַֽדְנוּ.

We have sinned with malicious intent;

חָמַֽסְנוּ.

We have forcibly taken others’ possessions even though we paid for them;

טָפַֽלְנוּ שֶֽׁקֶר.

We have added falsehood upon falsehood; We have joined with evil individuals or groups;

יָעַֽצְנוּ רָע.

We have given harmful advice;

כִּזַּֽבְנוּ. לַֽצְנוּ.

We have deceived; we have mocked;

מָרַֽדְנוּ.

We have rebelled against God and His Torah;

נִאַֽצְנוּ.

We have caused God to be angry with us;

סָרַֽרְנוּ.

We have turned away from God’s Torah;

עָוִֽינוּ.

We have sinned deliberately;

פָּשַֽׁעְנוּ.

We have been negligent in our performance of the commandments;

צָרַֽרְנוּ.

We have caused our friends grief;

קִשִּֽׁינוּ עֹֽרֶף.

We have been stiff-necked, refusing to admit that our suffering is caused by our own sins.

רָשַֽׁעְנוּ.

We have committed sins for which we are called רָשָׁע, [raising a hand to hit someone].

שִׁחַֽתְנוּ.

We have committed sins which are the result of moral corruption;

תִּעַֽבְנוּ.

We have committed sins which the Torah refers to as abominations;

תָּעִֽינוּ.

We have gone astray;

תִּעְתָּֽעְנוּ:

We have led others astray.

סַֽרְנוּ

We have turned away

מִמִּצְוֹתֶֽיךָ

from Your commandments

וּמִמִּשְׁפָּטֶֽיךָ הַטּוֹבִים

and from Your good laws,

וְלֹא שָֽׁוָה לָֽנוּ.

and we have gained nothing from it.

וְאַתָּה צַדִּיק

And You are the Righteous One

עַל כָּל הַבָּא עָלֵֽינוּ.

in all [punishment] that has come upon us;

כִּי אֱמֶת עָשִֽׂיתָ

for You have acted truthfully

וַאֲנַֽחְנוּ הִרְשָֽׁעְנוּ:

and we have acted wickedly.

מַה נֹּאמַר לְפָנֶֽיךָ

What shall we say before You,

יוֹשֵׁב מָרוֹם.

Who dwells on high;

וּמַה נְּסַפֵּר לְפָנֶֽיךָ

and what shall we relate to You

שׁוֹכֵן שְׁחָקִים.

Who dwells in the heavens?

הֲלֹא כָּל הַנִּסְתָּרוֹת וְהַנִּגְלוֹת

For everything, both hidden and revealed,

אַתָּה יוֹדֵֽעַ:

You know.

אַתָּה יוֹדֵֽעַ רָזֵי עוֹלָם.

You know the mysteries of the universe,

וְתַעֲלוּמוֹת סִתְרֵי כָל חָי:

and the hidden secrets of every individual.

אַתָּה חוֹפֵשׂ כָּל חַדְרֵי בָֽטֶן

You search all our innermost thoughts,

וּבוֹחֵן כְּלָיוֹת וָלֵב:

and probe our mind and heart.

אֵין דָּבָר נֶעְלָם מִמֶּֽךָּ.

There is nothing hidden from You,

וְאֵין נִסְתָּר

and there is nothing concealed

מִנֶּֽגֶד עֵינֶֽיךָ:

from Your sight.

וּבְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶֽיךָ

And so may it be Your will

יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ.

Adonoy our God and God of our fathers,

שֶׁתְּכַפֵּר לָֽנוּ

that You pardon us

עַל כָּל חַטֹּאתֵֽינוּ.

for all our careless sins,

וְתִסְלַח לָֽנוּ

and that You forgive us

עַל כָּל עֲו‍ֹנוֹתֵֽינוּ.

for all our deliberate sins,

וּתִמְחָל לָֽנוּ

and that You grant us atonement

עַל כָּל פְּשָׁעֵֽינוּ:

for all our rebellious sins:

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּאֹֽנֶס וּבְרָצוֹן:

under compulsion and willingly.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּאִמּוּץ הַלֵּב:

by callously hardening the heart.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בִּבְלִי דָֽעַת:

inadvertently.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּבִטּוּי שְׂפָתָֽיִם:

with an utterance of the lips.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּגָלוּי וּבַסָּֽתֶר:

openly and secretly.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּגִלּוּי עֲרָיוֹת:

in sexual immorality.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּדִבּוּר פֶּה:

through [misuse of our power of] speech.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּדַעַת וּבְמִרְמָה:

with knowledge and with deceit.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּהַרְהוֹר הַלֵּב:

by improper thoughts.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּהוֹנָֽאַת רֵֽעַ:

by cheating a fellow-man.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּוִדּוּי פֶּה:

with [mere] verbal confession.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בִּוְעִידַת זְנוּת:

by joining in a lewd gathering.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּזָדוֹן וּבִשְׁגָגָה:

intentionally and unintentionally.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּזִלְזוּל הוֹרִים

by insufficient respect for parents

וּמוֹרִים:

and teachers.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּחֹֽזֶק יָד:

by using coercion [to harm others].

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּחִלּוּל הַשֵּׁם:

by desecrating the Divine Name.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּטִפְשׁוּת פֶּה:

with foolish talk.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּטֻמְאַת שְׂפָתָֽיִם:

with impurity of the lips.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּיֵֽצֶר הָרָע:

with the Evil Inclination.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּיוֹדְעִים וּבְלֹא יוֹדְעִים:

knowingly and unknowingly.

וְעַל כֻּלָּם אֱלֽוֹהַּ סְלִיחוֹת.

And for all of these, God of pardon,

סְלַח לָֽנוּ. מְחַל לָֽנוּ.

pardon us, forgive us,

כַּפֶּר לָֽנוּ:

grant us atonement.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּכַפַּת שֹֽׁחַד:

by forcing someone to give or take bribes.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּכַֽחַשׁ וּבְכָזָב:

by false denial and false promise.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּלָשׁוֹן הָרָע:

by evil talk [slander].

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּלָצוֹן:

by scoffing.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּמַשָּׂא וּבְמַתָּן:

in business dealings.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּמַאֲכָל וּבְמִשְׁתֶּה:

in eating and drinking.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּנֶֽשֶׁךְ וּבְמַרְבִּית:

by [taking or giving] interest and by usury.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בִּנְטִיַּת גָּרוֹן:

by haughtily stretching forth the neck.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּשִׂקּוּר עָֽיִן:

with gazing of the eyes.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּשִֽׂיחַ שִׂפְתוֹתֵֽינוּ:

by the prattle of our lips.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּעֵינַֽיִם רָמוֹת:

with haughty eyes.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּעַזּוּת מֶֽצַח:

with impudence.

וְעַל כֻּלָּם אֱלֽוֹהַּ סְלִיחוֹת.

And for all of these, God of pardon,

סְלַח לָֽנוּ. מְחַל לָֽנוּ.

pardon us, forgive us,

כַּפֶּר לָֽנוּ:

grant us atonement.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בִּפְרִֽיקַת עֹל:

by throwing off the yoke [of heaven].

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בִּפְלִילוּת:

in passing judgment.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בִּצְדִיַּת רֵֽעַ:

by entrapping a fellowman.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּצָרוּת עָֽיִן:

by a begrudging eye.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּקַלּוּת רֹאשׁ:

by lightmindedness.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּקַשְׁיוּת עֹֽרֶף:

by being stiff-necked [stubborn].

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בְּרִיצַת רַגְלַֽיִם לְהָרַע:

by running to do evil.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בִּרְכִילוּת:

by talebearing.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בִּשְׁבֽוּעַת שָׁוְא:

by swearing in vain.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּשִׂנְאַת חִנָּם:

by unwarranted hatred.

עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

For the sin we committed before You

בִּתְשֽׂוּמֶת יָד:

by breach of trust.

וְעַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ

And for the sin we committed before You

בְּתִמְהוֹן לֵבָב:

by a confused heart.

וְעַל כֻּלָּם אֱלֽוֹהַּ סְלִיחוֹת.

And for all of these, God of pardon,

סְלַח לָֽנוּ. מְחַל לָֽנוּ.

pardon us, forgive us,

כַּפֶּר לָֽנוּ:

grant us atonement.

וְעַל חֲטָאִים

And for sins

שֶׁאָֽנוּ חַיָּבִים עֲלֵיהֶם

for which we are obligated to bring

עוֹלָה:

a burnt-offering.

וְעַל חֲטָאִים

And for sins

שֶׁאָֽנוּ חַיָּבִים עֲלֵיהֶם

for which we are obligated to bring

חַטָּאת:

a sin-offering.

וְעַל חֲטָאִים

And for sins

שֶׁאָֽנוּ חַיָּבִים עֲלֵיהֶם

for which we are obligated to bring

קָרְבַּן עוֹלֶה וְיוֹרֵד:

a “fluctuating” offering.

וְעַל חֲטָאִים

And for sins

שֶׁאָֽנוּ חַיָּבִים עֲלֵיהֶם

for which we are obligated to bring

אָשָׁם וַדַּאי

a guilt-offering for certain

וְתָלוּי:

or for doubtful trespasses.

וְעַל חֲטָאִים

And for sins

שֶׁאָֽנוּ חַיָּבִים עֲלֵיהֶם

for which we incur the penalty

מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת:

of lashing for violations of Rabbinic law.

וְעַל חֲטָאִים

And for sins

שֶׁאָֽנוּ חַיָּבִים עֲלֵיהֶם

for which we incur the penalty

מַלְקוּת אַרְבָּעִים:

of forty lashes.

וְעַל חֲטָאִים

And for sins

שֶׁאָֽנוּ חַיָּבִים עֲלֵיהֶם

for which we incur the penalty

מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמָֽיִם:

of death at the hand of Heaven.

וְעַל חֲטָאִים

And for sins

שֶׁאָֽנוּ חַיָּבִים עֲלֵיהֶם

for which we incur the penalty

כָּרֵת וַעֲרִירִי:

of excision and childlessness.

וְעַל חֲטָאִים

And for sins

שֶׁאָֽנוּ חַיָּבִים עֲלֵיהֶם

for which we are liable

אַרְבַּע מִיתוֹת

to any of the four death penalties

בֵּית דִּין.

inflicted by the [Rabbinic] Court [which are]:

סְקִילָה. שְׂרֵפָה.

stoning, burning,

הֶֽרֶג. וְחֶֽנֶק.

beheading or strangulation.

עַל

For [transgressing]

מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה

positive commandments,

וְעַל

and for [transgressing]

מִצְוַת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה.

prohibitive commandments,

בֵּין שֶׁיֶּשׁ בָּהּ

whether the prohibition can be corrected

קוּם עֲשֵׂה.

by a specifically prescribed act,

וּבֵין שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ

or whether it cannot be corrected

קוּם עֲשֵׂה.

by a specifically prescribed act,

אֶת הַגְּלוּיִים לָֽנוּ

for those of which we are aware

וְאֶת שֶׁאֵינָם גְּלוּיִים לָֽנוּ.

and for those of which we are not aware.

אֶת הַגְּלוּיִים לָֽנוּ

For those of which we are aware,

כְּבָר אֲמַרְנוּם לְפָנֶֽיךָ.

we have already declared before You

וְהוֹדִֽינוּ לְךָ עֲלֵיהֶם.

and confessed them unto You;

וְאֶת שֶׁאֵינָם גְּלוּיִם לָֽנוּ

and for those of which we are not aware,

לְפָנֶֽיךָ הֵם גְּלוּיִים וִידוּעִים.

before You they are revealed and known,

כַּדָּבָר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר

as it is said,

הַנִּסְתָּרֹת

“The hidden things

לַיהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ.

belong to Adonoy, our God,

וְהַנִּגְלֹת לָֽנוּ

but the revealed things are for us

וּלְבָנֵֽינוּ עַד עוֹלָם.

and for our children forever,

לַעֲשׂוֹת

that we might fulfill

אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת:

all the words of this Torah.”

כִּי אַתָּה סָלְחָן לְיִשְׂרָאֵל

For You are the Pardoner of Yisrael,

וּמָחֳלָן לְשִׁבְטֵי יְשֻׁרוּן

and the Forgiver of the tribes of Yeshurun

בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר

in every generation,

וּמִבַּלְעָדֶֽיךָ אֵין לָֽנוּ מֶֽלֶךְ

and beside You, we have no King

מוֹחֵל וְסוֹלֵֽחַ אֶלָּא אָֽתָּה:

Who forgives and pardons—only You!

אֱלֹהַי. עַד שֶׁלֹּא נוֹצַֽרְתִּי

God, before I was formed,

אֵינִי כְדַאי,

I was unworthy [to be created].

וְעַכְשָׁו שֶׁנּוֹצַֽרְתִּי

And now that I have been formed,

כְּאִלּוּ לֹא נוֹצַֽרְתִּי.

it is as if I had not been formed.

עָפָר אֲנִי בְּחַיָּי.

I am like dust while I live,

קַל וָחֹֽמֶר בְּמִיתָתִי.

how much more so when I am dead.

הֲרֵי אֲנִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ

Here I am before You

כִּכְלִי מָלֵא בוּשָׁה וּכְלִמָּה.

like a vessel filled with shame.

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶֽיךָ

May it be Your will,

יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהַי וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתַי

Adonoy, my God, and the God of my fathers,

שֶׁלֹּא אֶחֱטָא עוֹד.

that I shall sin no more,

וּמַה שֶּׁחָטָֽאתִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ

and the sins I have committed before You,

מָרֵק בְּרַחֲמֶֽיךָ הָרַבִּים.

cleanse them in Your abundant mercies;

אֲבָל לֹא עַל יְדֵי

but not through

יִסּוּרִים וָחֳלָיִם רָעִים:

suffering and severe illness.

 

AVINU MALKEINU (OUR FATHER OUR KING)

Note: This poem-prayer concludes each of the different segments that compose the entire Yom Kippur liturgy as its confident conclusion. Note might be taken that the concluding motif is not God in the attribute of justice, judgment, and law, but mercy and love. One suspects that there is no little theurgy here, i.e. the bending of God to human intentions and purposes.  By naming God as merciful one makes God merciful.

The Ark is opened:

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

חָטָֽאנוּ לְפָנֶֽיךָ:

we have sinned before You.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father our King!

אֵין לָֽנוּ מֶֽלֶךְ אֶלָּא אָֽתָּה:

we have no King except You.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

עֲשֵׂה עִמָּֽנוּ

deal with us [kindly]

לְמַֽעַן שְׁמֶֽךָ:

for the sake of Your Name.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

חַדֵּשׁ עָלֵֽינוּ שָׁנָה טוֹבָה:

renew for us a good year.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

בַּטֵּל מֵעָלֵֽינוּ כָּל גְּזֵרוֹת קָשׁוֹת:

annul all harsh decrees concerning us.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

בַּטֵּל מַחְשְׁבוֹת שׂוֹנְאֵֽינוּ:

annul the designs of those who hate us.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

הָפֵר עֲצַת אוֹיְבֵֽינוּ:

thwart the plans of our enemies.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

כַּלֵּה כָּל צַר וּמַשְׂטִין מֵעָלֵֽינוּ:

rid us of every oppressor and adversary.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

סְתוֹם פִּיּוֹת מַשְׂטִינֵֽנוּ

close the mouths of our adversaries

וּמְקַטְרִיגֵֽנוּ:

and our accusers.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

כַּלֵּה דֶּֽבֶר וְחֶֽרֶב וְרָעָב וּשְׁבִי

remove pestilence, sword, famine, captivity,

וּמַשְׁחִית וְעָו‍ֹן

destruction and [the burden of] iniquity

מִבְּנֵי בְרִיתֶֽךָ:

from the members of Your covenant.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

מְנַע מַגֵּפָה מִנַּחֲלָתֶֽךָ:

withhold the plague from Your inheritance.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

סְלַח וּמְחַל לְכָל עֲו‍ֹנוֹתֵֽינוּ:

forgive and pardon all our iniquities.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

מְחֵה וְהַעֲבֵר פְּשָׁעֵֽינוּ

blot out and remove our transgressions

וְחַטֹּאתֵֽינוּ מִנֶּֽגֶד עֵינֶֽיךָ:

and sins from before Your eyes.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

מְחוֹק בְּרַחֲמֶֽיךָ הָרַבִּים

erase in Your abundant mercy

כָּל שִׁטְרֵי חוֹבוֹתֵֽינוּ:

all records of our liabilities.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

הַחֲזִירֵֽנוּ

bring us back

בִּתְשׁוּבָה שְׁלֵמָה לְפָנֶֽיךָ:

in wholehearted repentance before You.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

שְׁלַח רְפוּאָה שְׁלֵמָה

send complete healing

לְחוֹלֵי עַמֶּֽךָ:

to the sick among Your people.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

קְרַע רֹֽעַ גְּזַר דִּינֵֽנוּ:

tear up the evil [parts] of our sentence.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

זָכְרֵֽנוּ בְּזִכָּרוֹן טוֹב לְפָנֶֽיךָ:

remember us favorably before You.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

חָתְמֵֽנוּ בְּסֵֽפֶר חַיִּים טוֹבִים:

seal us in the Book of Good Life.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

חָתְמֵֽנוּ

seal us

בְּסֵֽפֶר גְּאֻלָּה וִישׁוּעָה:

in the Book of Redemption and Deliverance.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

חָתְמֵֽנוּ

seal us

בְּסֵֽפֶר פַּרְנָסָה וְכַלְכָּלָה:

in the Book of Maintenance and Sustenance.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

חָתְמֵֽנוּ בְּסֵֽפֶר זְכֻיּוֹת:

seal us in the Book of Merits.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

חָתְמֵֽנוּ

seal us

בְּסֵֽפֶר סְלִיחָה וּמְחִילָה:

in the Book of Pardon and Forgiveness.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

הַצְמַח לָֽנוּ יְשׁוּעָה בְּקָרוֹב:

cause deliverance to spring forth for us soon.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

הָרֵם קֶֽרֶן יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמֶּֽךָ:

raise up the might of Yisrael Your people.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

הָרֵם קֶֽרֶן מְשִׁיחֶֽךָ:

raise up the might of Your anointed.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

מַלֵּא יָדֵֽינוּ מִבִּרְכוֹתֶֽיךָ:

fill our hands with Your blessings.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

מַלֵּא אֲסָמֵֽינוּ שָׂבָע:

fill our storehouses with abundance.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

שְׁמַע קוֹלֵֽנוּ

hear our voice,

חוּס וְרַחֵם עָלֵֽינוּ:

spare us and have compassion upon us.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

קַבֵּל

accept

בְּרַחֲמִים וּבְרָצוֹן אֶת תְּפִלָּתֵֽנוּ:

our prayer with compassion and favor.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

פְּתַח שַׁעֲרֵי שָׁמַֽיִם לִתְפִלָּתֵֽנוּ:

open the gates of heaven to our prayer.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

זָכוֹר כִּי עָפָר אֲנָֽחְנוּ:

remember, that we are dust.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

נָא אַל תְּשִׁיבֵֽנוּ

please do not turn us away

רֵיקָם מִלְּפָנֶֽיךָ:

empty-handed from You.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

תְּהֵא הַשָּׁעָה הַזֹּאת

let this hour be

שְׁעַת רַחֲמִים

an hour of compassion

וְעֵת רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶֽיךָ:

and a time of favor before You.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

חֲמוֹל עָלֵֽינוּ

have compassion upon us,

וְעַל עוֹלָלֵֽינוּ וְטַפֵּֽנוּ:

and upon our children and infants.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

עֲשֵׂה לְמַֽעַן

do it for the sake of those

הֲרוּגִים עַל שֵׁם קָדְשֶֽׁךָ:

who were slain for Your Holy Name.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

עֲשֵׂה לְמַֽעַן

do it for the sake of those

טְבוּחִים

who were slaughtered

עַל יִחוּדֶֽךָ:

for [proclaiming] Your Unity.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

עֲשֵׂה לְמַֽעַן

do it for the sake of those

בָּאֵי בָאֵשׁ וּבַמַּֽיִם

who went through fire and water

עַל קִדּוּשׁ שְׁמֶֽךָ:

for the sanctification of Your Name.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

נְקוֹם נִקְמַת דַּם עֲבָדֶֽיךָ הַשָּׁפוּךְ:

avenge the spilled blood of Your servants.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

עֲשֵׂה לְמַעַנְךָ אִם לֹא לְמַעֲנֵֽנוּ:

do it for Your sake if not for ours.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

עֲשֵׂה לְמַעַנְךָ וְהוֹשִׁיעֵֽנוּ:

do it for Your sake and deliver us.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

עֲשֵׂה לְמַֽעַן רַחֲמֶֽיךָ הָרַבִּים:

do it for the sake of Your great mercy.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ

Our Father, our King!

עֲשֵׂה לְמַֽעַן

do it for the sake

שִׁמְךָ הַגָּדוֹל הַגִּבּוֹר וְהַנּוֹרָא

of Your great, mighty, and awesome Name

שֶׁנִּקְרָא עָלֵֽינוּ:

which is proclaimed upon us.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ חָנֵּֽנוּ וַעֲנֵֽנוּ

Our Father, Our King! favor us and answer us

כִּי אֵין בָּֽנוּ מַעֲשִׂים

for we have no accomplishments;

עֲשֵׂה עִמָּֽנוּ צְדָקָה וָחֶֽסֶד

deal with us charitably and kindly

וְהוֹשִׁיעֵֽנוּ:

and deliver us.
The Chazzan says the following once, and is repeated by the congregation:

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ

“Hear Yisrael, Adonoy is our God,

יְהֹוָה אֶחָד:

Adonoy is One.”
The Chazzan says the following three times, and is repeated by the congregation:

בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם

Blessed [is His] Name,

כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ

Whose glorious kingdom

לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד:

is forever and ever.
The Chazzan says the following seven times, and is repeated by the congregation:

יְהוָֹה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים:

Adonoy, He is God.
The Chazzan recites the following Kaddish:

יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּשׁ שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא

Exalted and sanctified be His great Name

בְּעָלְמָא דִּי בְרָא

in the world which He created

כִרְעוּתֵהּ

according to His will;

וְיַמְלִיךְ מַלְכוּתֵהּ

and may He rule His Kingdom

בְּחַיֵּיכוֹן וּבְיוֹמֵיכוֹן

in your lifetime and in your days,

וּבְחַיֵּי

and in the lifetime

דְכָל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל,

of the entire House of Yisrael,

בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב

speedily and in the near future—

וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן:

and say Amein.

יְהֵא שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא מְבָרַךְ

May His great Name be blessed

לְעָלַם וּלְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָּא:

forever and for all eternity.

יִתְבָּרַךְ וְיִשְׁתַּבַּח

Blessed and praised,

וְיִתְפָּאַר וְיִתְרוֹמַם וְיִתְנַשֵּׂא

glorified, and exalted and uplifted,

וְיִתְהַדָּר וְיִתְעַלֶּה וְיִתְהַלָּל

honored and elevated and extolled

שְׁמֵהּ דְקוּדְשָׁא, בְּרִיךְ הוּא

be the Name of the Holy One, blessed is He;

לְעֵֽלָּא וּלְעֵֽלָּא

far above

מִכָּל בִּרְכָתָא וְשִׁירָתָא,

all the blessings and hymns,

תֻּשְׁבְּחָתָא וְנֶחֱמָתָא,

praises and consolations

דַּאֲמִירָן בְּעָלְמָא, וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן:

which we utter in the world—and say Amein.

תקיעה גדולה:
One blast of the shofar is sounded:

לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם:

Next year in Yerushalayim:

תִּתְקַבֵּל

May there be acceptance

צְלוֹתְהוֹן וּבָעוּתְהוֹן

of the prayers and supplications

דְּכָל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל

of the entire House of Yisrael

קֳדָם אֲבוּהוֹן דִּי בִשְׁמַיָּא

before their Father in heaven.

וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן:

And say, Amein.

יְהֵא שְׁלָמָא רַבָּא מִן שְׁמַיָּא

May there be abundant peace from heaven

וְחַיִּים

and life

עָלֵֽינוּ וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל

for us and for all Yisrael,

וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן:

—and say Amein.

עוֹשֶׂה הַשָּׁלוֹם

He Who makes the peace

בִּמְרוֹמָיו

in His high heavens

הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם

may He, make peace

עָלֵינוּ וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל

for us and or all Yisrael,

וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן:

and say, Amein.
The Ark is closed:

 

 

 

 

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American Association of University Professors Statement Against BDS (University of Michigan)

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For those following the recent controversy at the University of Michigan surrounding the case of a professor who agreed to write and then declined, on narrow political grounds, to write a letter of recommendation for an undergraduate upon learning that the student wanted to pursue a semester abroad at a university in Israel. The professor expressed himself in an email to the student with great politeness. You can read this article about the American Association of University Professors AAUP position against academic boycotts, with a link to the full statement and an interesting reference to South Africa under Apartheid.

 

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Caffeine Suppositories (Yom Kippur)

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After excruciating headaches this Yom Kippur, I appreciate that this definitely seems to be a thing. From the Forward, you  can read the article here about the use of caffeine suppositories to ease the horrible effects of withdrawal on the Yom Kippur fast. For the high-minded, file this under the categories of “religion,” “ritual,” and “the body.” There is no appreciation for pain in the Jewish liturgical tradition. Against the severity of the fast and other restrictions imposed by the Mishnah and aware of the atoning power of suffering, the holiday Machzor is, for all that, more forgiving about human flesh, and more coy in its expression before the Almighty.  Between Rosh Ha’Shanah and Yom Kippur, the High Holiday liturgy returns to this thought many times. Here I am, a vessel filled with shame. Be it your will, God that I sin no more, and cleanse me of sin, but not through suffering and severe illness. Because no one should suffer too much, not even on Yom Kippur. I don’t think I’m simply making this up.

הֲרֵי אֲנִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ

Here I am before You

כִּכְלִי מָלֵא בוּשָׁה וּכְלִמָּה.

like a vessel filled with shame.

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶֽיךָ

May it be Your will,

יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהַי וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתַי

Adonoy, my God, and the God of my fathers,

שֶׁלֹּא אֶחֱטָא עוֹד.

that I shall sin no more,

וּמַה שֶּׁחָטָֽאתִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ

and the sins I have committed before You,

מָרֵק בְּרַחֲמֶֽיךָ הָרַבִּים.

cleanse them in Your abundant mercies;

אֲבָל לֹא עַל יְדֵי

but not through

יִסּוּרִים וָחֳלָיִם רָעִים:

suffering and severe illness.

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Andrew Cuomo (This is What State-Wide Politics Looks Like)

Having sparred continuously with friends to my left, I’m delighted that Cuomo won the primary for governor and that the entire slate of progressive candidates lost their bid for state wide office (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General). Mostly because it confirms a long-term article of faith of mine that politics is by definition dirty business, and that there’s no way you can understand “the political” without understanding its root in human corruption. I don’t think my high minded friends get this. I’d have been happy to have been able to vote for an alternative to Cuomo, had there been an actual choice. Reading the politicial postmortems, this is what politics looks like.

First, the cardinal virtue in politics is winning, nothing more and nothing less. If you don’t win, then that’s it. Progressives in deep blue (and primarily white?) districts taught the Democratic Establishment that lesson. That was not enough to win progressives a single seat for three primary state-wide offices (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General), all of which was won by Team Cuomo.

Second, politics has everything to do with three basic things plus a fourth. The three most basic building blocks are [1] money, [2] political connections and endorsements, and [3] taking care of constituents. Nothing else matters, certainly not personal virtue. Without an iota of joy, Cuomo delivered on every single point. He had the National Organization of Women, the LGBT Human Rights Campaign, and most of the unions. He got the white, black, and brown vote. He absolutely dominated the Bronx and could have beat Nixon alone with the vote he got in that and three more NYC boroughs. Nixon had no one and no constituents.

The only thing that Cuomo was unable to provide was [4] hope, or rather the illusion of hope, which is always hype or mixed with hype. This is probably why he won’t make it very far in presidential politics. (I’d like to see him try and I’d enjoy nothing more than a Trump-Cuomo series of debates). But for this November, he has delivered over a long career enough progressive goods (minimum wage, marriage equality, choice, paid leave, a ban on fracking) to be palatable enough for most Democrats to beat a no-name Republican challenger. And Cuomo has gone after Trump like a gangster in a year when everyone not behind the President hates his guts and his party. We’ll wait to see if Cuomo roars to the left as he heads into the general election with an eye on 2020.

As for Nixon, Williams, and Teachout, they talked a good game on the trail and on social media, but did they run a progressive wave? Gloating, Cuomo said not even a ripple, but it was probably at least that, a ripple, maybe a riptide. We’ll see what they do, not what they say, and how the political process will necessarily begin to compromise them if they are any good at it.  Progressives will be able to push from below, but I suspect that they will ever stand a chance in larger than regional politics without taking care of the first three of these basic components of politics. The key to progressive momentum will be whether elected officials will be able to make connections and deliver the goods by way of actual pork to constituents. More to the point, is there a progressive politician out there with the killer instinct that unseating Trump and the GOP in 2020 will require?

The keywords in this illuminating article in the NYT are “bludgeon,” “brushback,” “unsubtle,” “contempt,” “outspend,” “constituents.” If I were a so-called progressive, I would be horrified. Here’s what I’m highlighting:

Mr. Cuomo, like his aides, could scarcely mask his contempt for the social media tactics of his erstwhile opponent, on Friday dismissing the buzz around Ms. Nixon’s celebrity campaign as “some Twittersphere dialogue where I tweet you, you tweet me and between the two of us we think we have a wave.”

“Not even a ripple,” he added.

Mr. Cuomo, who served as campaign manager for his father, the former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, more than three decades ago, has more or less cornered the support of every significant institutional player in New York and across the country.

At one point, he was announcing the endorsements of Hillary Clinton, Joseph R. Biden and Tom Perez, the Democratic national chairman; Ms. Nixon was countering with City Council members and community activists.

Ms. Nixon would have been New York’s first female governor, but the state’s chapter of the National Organization for Women was with Mr. Cuomo. She would have been the state’s first gay governor, but the nation’s leading gay-rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, stood with him, not her.

And when it was clear that the Working Families Party, a minor party in New York with outsize influence among progressives, was going to endorse Ms. Nixon, its labor union financiers who were allied with Mr. Cuomo pulled out of the party entirely.

They were able to reach out to groups, and create that base fear of, ‘What happens to my constituents, what happens to my legislation, what happens to this project if I step out?’” said L. Joy Williams, a senior adviser to Ms. Nixon.

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U’netaneh Tokef is a Wolfish Prayer

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wolf

I used to think I understood the U’netaneh Tokef, the famous High Holiday piyyut, or liturgical poem. It’s expression centered on the sublime eternity of God, the fleeting and uncertain condition of human life (how many will live and how many will die this year?), and the power of repentance, prayer, and charity to relieve the severity of the divine decree if not the decree itself (a fine point that often gets lost in translation). One day we die. The question is how and under what conditions? Whom by fire? Whom by water? Most readings tend to stop at this pious, picaresque point as a guide to fear and terror before God, pictures of human submission to the fiat of fate, and the importance of right human action on the meditation anticipating today, in life, the great Day of Death and Judgement. In this picture, mortal human communities, the community of Israel, are but sheep.

But the poem does more than that if you look closely and keep reading. The first thing to note is that at no point in this part of the liturgy is human sin and sinfulness at all mentioned as basic to this terrifying reckoning. This image is ontological, not ethical, about being and non-being before which there is no ultimate appeal. But even more to the point is the mirroring that appears at the bottom of the poem. Now we are given to see how God’s Name matches God and how God matches God’s Name. The one reflects the other. The names are נָאֶה (na’eh), connoting a match or a mirror marked by freshness, fineness, fittingness, and fairness. So the not pious upshot is now this. God’s Name reflects or mirrors “our name,” the name Israel, and the name Israel reflects or mirrors God’s name, which means, at the conclusion of the poem, that it is not so much for us to act, because, after all, we really cannot. God should rather act for the sake of God’s Name and sanctify God’s Name through those who sanctify God’s Name. On the Day of Judgment, God is called upon to sanctify God’s own name in mirror image to the sanctifying power that the community of Israel holds over God.

This is canny prayer. It only looks docile and submissive. But it’s not. The u’netaneh tokef starts sheep-like only to soften the severity of a divine decree by way of right human action and then it utterly flips the very ratio defining human precarity and divine power. The image of the great and terrible King has no choice once brought into this mirroring logic. After all, the only way for God to sanctify God’s name is to sanctify the people, to lift them up out of the human condition and to join them into a reflection of God and the community of angels, the subject of the sublime Kedushah that follows immediately upon recitation of the U’netanah Tokef in the liturgical order of the Mahzor, high holiday prayer book. Continue reading

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(Our Apocalyptic Future) The Last Rosh Ha’Shana (Power Out at Hall of Languages)

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If the future looks like this, will this be the last Rosh Ha’Shanah ever, the last Rosh Ha’Shana on planet Earth? The other day after two days of intense unseasonable heat, the AC in the Hall of Languages at Syracuse University went out. The lights began to flicker in all the offices and up and down the hall. And then the entire electric system collapsed. The building was evacuated just before the alien life forms came in search of prey.  In the burning heat, I found among scattered garbage a discarded bottle of bottled water on the lawn in the quad.

alien

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Trump and Confederate Flags at the New York State Fair 2018

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I’ve been going to the New York State Fair annually for a bit over ten years and have been posting from there every summer since I began blogging. The New York State Fair is It carnivalesque in all the ways that will be immediately recognized by critical theorists. I have unfailingly enjoyed it as such, drawn deeply into the massive pulse of human, animal, and machine life of the place. There was, of course, also always something incredibly grotesque about the Fair, says the professor from his own position of class privilege.

For the most of my time spent there, which was after 2008, the Fair stood out as a super-conservative social place. That was part of the carnival environment, one particular to Central New York. But that conservative social space was hedged in by the larger liberal cultural space shaped politically by President Obama. You saw the gun loving, flag waving, anti-Obama t-shirts. They were always “deplorable,” “clinging” to their guns and God. You knew what it was all about, the local racism they reflected, but you could move through it. These things mattered, to be sure, but they mattered less than they do today. Whatever real cultural and political force they exhibited were kept in check, their worse impulses kept under a rock. This says the university professor from his own position of class privilege.

Then the ratio between the smaller social space of the Fair and the political sphere and larger culture flips structurally in 2017, the first Fair after Trump’s inauguration. Today, the Fair no longer represents the form of a contradiction between a super conservative “place” embedded in a larger liberal cultural “space.” Instead, what has always been a carnivalesque and even cartoonish rightwing place, pocked here and there by exhibitions of conservative resentment and racial animus, now more clearly reflects and is reflected in the larger cultural space of the American public sphere shaped politically by President Trump. A takeaway from the new Bob Woodward book, the White House looks something more like a large State Fair in miniature, and this reflects upon the country as a whole.

It’s not just the Trump at the State Fair. It’s also the Confederate flag, which has worked its little poison into the county and State fairgrounds north of the Mason-Dixon. According to a quick Google search, you can see how starting around 2014 or 2015, vendors start selling shirts and other items emblazoned with Confederate flags. Activists start registering complaints about their appearance at county fairs, for instance in Delaware County. In 2017 at the New York State Fair, there were a lot more Confederate flags and emblems at the t-shirt vending booths. This year, vendors were strongly encouraged not to sell them, although there were those generally smaller venues that continued to sell them.

I remain of mixed mind and basically confused by the Fair.

On the one hand, if I focus on the t-shirt vendors, it is because they have always set the affective political tone of the place. They have always signaled a form of wild conservative expression. With Trump in office, that vibe feels all the more aggressive, even anti-Black. Messages are made by the combination of gun culture emblems, Confederate flag emblems, and the Trumpian political shot clearly directed against the NFL protests and Black Lives Matter (“I Stand for the Flag and Kneel for the Cross,” “Blue Lives Matter”). I asked one of the vendors about the Trump shirts and he said that they were selling like hotcakes. These shirts on sale at the Fair reflect and feed into the malignity of the culture at large under Trump and magnified by Trump, says the professor from a position of class privilege.

On the other hand, thinking more self-critically, I stopped myself at a certain point to ask who, in fact, were wearing these shirts. Because among all “those people” buying these shirts only a few were wearing them at the Fair. We saw maybe 4 or 5 or 6 Trump shirts on any given day, which is not a lot compared to the tens of thousands of people visiting the fairgrounds on that any given day. Shirts for guns were more common than for Trump. Maybe all those Trump shirts and other rightwing swag sold at the Fair were taken back home as memorabilia, trophies, talismans, or simply as gifts for friends and family. And even these shirts and swag expressed less confidence than one might have assumed at first glance. Provocatively in your face, they were self-conscious and maybe self-pitying. They were less “Make America Great Again” and more “If You Are Offended by Trump, You Won’t Like Me” or If You Are Offended by This Flag, I’ll Help You Pack,” of which there were two versions, American and Confederate.

So what is that I’m looking at at the State Fair in terms of a human political mass. Am I to assume that every white person at the Fair is a Trump supporter, a Trump voter? The statistics would probably bear that out on the main. But, then, so what? While the Fair felt Trumpy, the people were not necessarily; or they were and they weren’t, and without a t-shirt signaling political intentions, there is no way to know for sure in a crowd full of strangers. Case by case, mostly what you saw was a wide diversity of people in the hundreds and in the thousands, presumably working class and middle class, from all walks of racial, ethnic, and religious life, white, brown, and black, including lots of immigrants from the Middle East.

The people at the Fair were all or for the most part grouped in little family and other social packs going about their business. I’m not sure if in this setting “apolitical” is the right word for people milling about and mixing, having a good time. The people were out for the day or for the evening, exhibiting livestock, participating in competitions, checking out the animals, on a date, chasing after small children, hanging out with friends, going on rides, playing the games, stressed out and exhausted, most of them eating deep fried food and drinking beer.

Coming home back to New York City, I picked through an essay in last week’s New York Times Week in Review by Corey Robin about “the New Socialists” (not a word about state control of the economy). There were articles on the Senate race in Texas by Beto O’Rourke, and about Aretha Franklin and John McCain, articles online about anti-Semitism in the British Labour Party. There were also the latest episodes of Who is America?. There was also a petty scandal in the Jewish press about a candidate for the New York State Senate who claimed she was Jewish, or that her family was Jewish, which does not seem to be the case. The school year has begun, there are confirmation hearing for a new super-right Supreme Court Justice, and elections in November, and an early September heat wave that just blew out the entire electricity of the building where I work. None of this is cool. It’s hot as hell.

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