The past, present and future are timelessly linked
in the spinning circle of life.
Our past was the seed that became the present.
We can make it bloom in the future
if we nurture it with love, respect, and
understanding of the shared culture and heritage that we call life.
יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּשׁ שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא. ( Cong : אָמֵן) בְּעָלְמָא דִּי בְרָא כִרְעוּתֵהּ וְיַמְלִיךְ מַלְכוּתֵהּ, וְיַצְמַח פֻּרְקָנֵהּ וִיקָרֵב מְשִׁיחֵהּ. ( Cong :אָמֵן) בְּחַיֵּיכוֹן וּבְיוֹמֵיכוֹן וּבְחַיֵּי דְכָל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל, בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב. וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן:
( Cong : אָמֵן. יְהֵא שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא מְבָרַךְ לְעָלַם וּלְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָּא, יִתְבָּרֵךְ:)
יְהֵא שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא מְבָרַךְ לְעָלַם וּלְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָּא, יִתְבָּרֵךְ, וְיִשְׁתַּבַּח,וְיִתְפָּאֵר, וְיִתְרוֹמֵם, וְיִתְנַשֵּׂא, וְיִתְהַדָּר, וְיִתְעַלֶּה, וְיִתְהַלָּל, שְׁמֵהּ דְקֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא. ( Cong : אָמֵן) לְעֵלָּא מִן כָּל בִּרְכָתָא וְשִׁירָתָא,תֻּשְׁבְּחָתָא וְנֶחֱמָתָא, דַּאֲמִירָן בְּעָלְמָא, וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן: ( Cong : אָמֵן)יְהֵא שְׁלָמָה רבָּא מִן שְׁמַיָּא וְחַיִּים טוֹבִים וְעַל כָּל יִשְֹרָאֵל,וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן:
Take three steps back, standing in one place one must bow to the right when saying “בִּמְרוֹמָיו עשֶֹׁה שָׁלוֹם” , bow forward when saying “ הוּא” , bow to the left when saying “ יַעֲשֶֹה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ” and bow to the front when saying “וְעַל כָּל יִשְֹרָאֵל”
עשֶֹׁה שָׁלוֹם ( During the Ten Days of Penitence add - הַשָּׁלוֹם) בִּמְרוֹמָיו הוּא יַעֲשֶֹה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ וְעַל כָּל יִשְֹרָאֵל, וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן:
Yitgadal v'yitkadash sh'mei raba b'alma di-v'ra chirutei, v'yamlich malchutei b'chayeichon uvyomeichon uvchayei d'chol beit yisrael, ba'agala uvizman kariv, v'im'ru: "amen."
Y'hei sh'mei raba m'varach l'alam ul'almei almaya.
Yitbarach v'yishtabach, v'yitpa'ar v'yitromam v'yitnaseh, v'yithadar v'yit'aleh v'yit'halal sh'mei d'kud'sha, b'rich hu, l'eila min-kol-birchata v'shirata, tushb'chata v'nechemata da'amiran b'alma, v'im'ru: "amen."
Y'hei shlama raba min-sh'maya v'chayim aleinu v'al-kol-yisrael, v'im'ru: "amen."
Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya'aseh shalom aleinu v'al kol-yisrael, v'imru: "amen."
Mourner.--Magnified and sanctified be his great name in the world which he hath created according to his will. May he establish his kingdom during your life and during your days, and during the life of all the house of Israel, even speedily and at a near time, and say ye, Amen.
Cong. and Mourner.--Let his great name be blessed for ever and to all eternity.
Mourner.--Blessed, praised and glorified, exacted extolled and honored, magnified and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be he; though he be high above all the blessings and hymns, praiser and consolations, which are uttered in the world; and say ye, Amen.
Mourner.--May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life for us and for all Israel; and say ye, Amen.
Mourner.--He who maketh peace in his high places, may he make peace for us and for all Israel; and say ye, Amen.
הִנֵּה מַה טּוֹב וּמַה נָעִים שֶבֶת אַחִים גַם יָחַד
Hineh Mah tov umah na'im she http://www.zemirotdatabase.org/view_song.php?id=17 vet achim gam yachad.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity
At the start of the Amidah, it is customary to take three steps backward, then three steps forward and remain standing with your feet together through the entire Amidah. This is meant to remind us that we are standing in the presence of God, and should enter the spiritual realm with respect and reverence
אֲדֹנָי שְׂפָתַי תִּפְתָּח וּפִי יַגִּיד תְּהִלָּתֶֽךָ
Adonai, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.
In some communities the first paragraph of the Amidah begins with a bow towards the Torah.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ ואִמּוֹתֲינוּ, אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם, אֱלֹהֵי יִצְחָק, וֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב, אֱלֹהֵי שָּׂרָה, אֱלֹהֵי רִבְקָה, אֱלֹהֵי לֵאָה וֵאלֹהֵי רָחֵל, הָאֵל הַגָּדוֹל הַגִּבּוֹר וְהַנּוֹרָא, אֵל עֶלְיוֹן, גּוֹמֵל חֲסָדִים טוֹבִים, וְקֹנֵה הַכֹּל, וְזוֹכֵר חַסְדֵי .אָבוֹת וְאִמָּהוֹת, וּמֵבִיא גוֹאֵל לִבְנֵי בְנֵיהֶם, לְמַֽעַן שְׁמוֹ בְּאַהֲבָה. מֶֽלֶךְ עוֹזֵר וּמוֹשִֽׁיעַ וּמָגֵן. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, מָגֵן אַבְרָהָם וְעֶזְרַת שָּׂרָה
Blessed are You, Adonai our God and God of our ancestors: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, (some communities may add): Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel. The great, mighty and revered God, the most high God, who bestows lovingkindness, and is Master over all things; who remembers the pious deeds of the patriarchs (some communities may add): and matriarchs, and in love will redeem us for their sake. O Ruler, Helper, Saviour and Shield. Blessed are You, Adonai the Shield of Abraham and Sarah.
.אַתָּה גִּבּוֹר לְעוֹלָם אֲדֹנָי, מְחַיֵּה הַכֹּל (מֵתִים) אַֽתָּה, רַב לְהוֹשִֽׁיעַ. :
Winter מַשִּׁיב הָרֽוּחַ וּמוֹרִיד הַגֶּֽשֶׁם
Summer מַשִּׁיב הָרֽוּחַ וּמוֹרִיד הַטַל
מְכַלְכֵּל חַיִּים בְּחֶֽסֶד, מְחַיֵּה הַכֹּל (מֵתִים) בְּרַחֲמִים רַבִּים, סוֹמֵךְ נוֹפְלִים, וְרוֹפֵא חוֹלִים, וּמַתִּיר אֲסוּרִים, וּמְקַיֵּם אֱמוּנָתוֹ לִישֵׁנֵי עָפָר, מִי כָמֽוֹךָ בַּֽעַל גְּבוּרוֹת וּמִי דּֽוֹמֶה לָּךְ, מֶֽלֶךְ מֵמִית וּמְחַיֶּה וּמַצְמִֽיחַ יְשׁוּעָה. וְנֶאֱמָן אַתָּה לְהַחֲיוֹת הַכֹּל. .בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, מְחַיֵּה הַכֹּל (הַמֵּתִים). אַתָּה קָדוֹשׁ וְשִׁמְךָ קָדוֹשׁ, וּקְדוֹשִׁים בְּכָל יוֹם יְהַלְלֽוּךָ סֶּֽלָה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, הָאֵל הַקָּדוֹשׁ
You are forever mighty, Adonai; you give life to all (revive the dead). WINTER -- You cause the wind to shift and rain to fall. SUMMER -- You rain dew upon us. You sustain life through love, giving life to all (reviving the dead) through great compassion, supporting the fallen, healing the sick, freeing the captive, keeping faith with those who sleep in the dust. Who is like You, Source of mighty acts? Who resembles You, a Sovereign who takes and gives life, causing deliverance to spring up and faithfully giving life to all (reviving that which is dead)? Blessed are you, Adonai, who gives life to all (who revives the dead). You are holy and Your name is holy. Holy are those who praise You everyday. Blessed are You, Adonai, the holy God.
.אַתָּה קִדַּֽשְׁתָּ אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי לִשְׁמֶֽךָ, תַּכְלִית מַעֲשֵׂה שָׁמַֽיִם וָאָֽרֶץ, וּבֵרַכְתּוֹ מִכָּל הַיָּמִים, וְקִדַּשְׁתּוֹ מִכָּל הַזְּמַנִּים, וְכֵן כָּתוּב בְּתוֹרָתֶֽךָ
You hallowed the seventh day to honor Your Name by making it the pinnacle of the creation of heaven and earth. You blessed it above all the days and set it apart from all seasons. Thus it is written in Your Torah:
וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאָם. וַיְכַל אֱלֹהִים בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה, וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה. וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ, כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ, אֲשֶר בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת.
And the heaven and the earth were finished and all their host. And on the seventh day God had finished the work which God had made; and God rested on the seventh day from all the work which God had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it, because God rested thereon from all the work which God had created and made.
אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, רְצֵה בִמְנוּחָתֵנוּ, קַדְּשֵׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתֶיךָ, וְתֵן חֶלְקֵנוּ בְּתוֹרָתֶךָ, שַׂבְּעֵנוּ מִטּוּבֶךָ, וְשַׂמְּחֵנוּ בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ, וְטַהֵר לִבֵּנוּ לְעָבְדְּךָ בֶּאֱמֶת, וְהַנְחִילֵנוּ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצוֹן שַׁבַּת קָדְשֶׁךָ, וְיָנוּחוּ בָהּ יִשְׂרָאֵל מְקַדְּשֵׁי שְׁמֶךָ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, מְקַדֵּשׁ הַשַּׁבָּת.
Our God and God of our ancestors, accept our rest; hallow us by your commandments, and grant our portion in your Torah; satisfy us with your goodness, and gladden us with your salvation; purify our hearts to serve you in truth; and in your love and favor, Adonai our God, let us inherit your holy Sabbath; and may Israel, who sanctify your Name, rest thereon. Blessed are you, O God, who hallows the Sabbath.
רְצֵה, יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ, בְּעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל וּבִתְפִלָּתָם, וְהָשֵׁב אֶת הָעֲבוֹדָה לִדְבִיר בֵּיתֶךָ, וְאִשֵּׁי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וּתְפִלָּתָם בְּאַהֲבָה תְקַבֵּל בְּרָצוֹן, וּתְהִי לְרָצוֹן תָּמִיד עֲבוֹדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמֶּךָ.
Accept, Adonai, our God, your people Israel and their prayer; restore the service to the inner sanctuary of your house; receive in love and favor both the offerings of Israel and their prayer; and may the worship of your people Israel be ever acceptable unto you.
Bow as you recite "Modim Anachnu Lach"
וְתֶחֱזֶינָה עֵינֵינוּ בְּשׁוּבְךָ לְצִיּוֹן בְּרַחֲמִים. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, הַמַּחֲזִיר שְׁכִינָתוֹ לְצִיּוֹן. מוֹדִים אֲנַחְנוּ לָךְ, שָׁאַתָּה הוּא, יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד, צוּר חַיֵּינוּ, מָגֵן יִשְׁעֵנוּ, אַתָּה הוּא לְדוֹר וָדוֹר, נוֹדֶה לְּךָ וּנְסַפֵּר תְּהִלָּתֶךָ, עַל חַיֵּינוּ הַמְּסוּרִים בְּיָדֶךָ, וְעַל נִשְׁמוֹתֵינוּ הַפְּקוּדוֹת לָךְ, וְעַל נִסֶּיךָ שֶׁבְּכָל יוֹם עִמָּנוּ, וְעַל נִפְלְאוֹתֶיךָ וְטוֹבוֹתֶיךָ שֶׁבְּכָל עֵת, עֶרֶב וָבֹקֶר וְצָהֳרָיִם, הַטּוֹב, כִּי לֹא כָלוּ רַחֲמֶיךָ, וְהַמְרַחֵם, כִּי לֹא תַמּוּ חֲסָדֶיךָ, מֵעוֹלָם קִוִּינוּ לָךְ.
May our eyes behold your return to Zion in compassion. Blessed are you, God, who restores God's presence to Zion. We give thanks to you, for you are Adonai our God and the God of our ancestors for ever and ever; you are the Rock of our lives, the Shield of our salvation through every generation. We will give thanks to you and declare your praise for our lives which are committed to your hand, and for our souls which are in your charge, and for your miracles, which are daily with us, and for your wonders and your benefits, which are wrought at all times, evening, morning and noon. O you who are all-good, whose mercies fail not; you, merciful Being, whose lovingkindnesses never cease, we have ever hoped in you.
Bow as you recite the blessing "Hatov shimcha ul'cha na'eh lhodot."
וְעַל כֻּלָּם יִתְבָּרַךְ וְיִתְרוֹמַם שִׁמְךָ מַלְכֵּנוּ תָּמִיד לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד. (On the Sabbath of Repentance say: וּכְתוֹב לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים כָּל בְּנֵי בְרִיתֶךָ.) וְכֹל הַחַיִּים יוֹדוּךָ סֶּלָה, וִיהַלְלוּ אֶת שִׁמְךָ בֶּאֱמֶת, הָאֵל יְשׁוּעָתֵנוּ וְעֶזְרָתֵנוּ סֶלָה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, הַטּוֹב שִׁמְךָ וּלְךָ נָאֶה לְהוֹדוֹת.
For all these acts your Name, O our Sovereign, shall be continually blessed and exalted for ever and ever. [On the Sabbath of Repentance say:— O inscribe all the children of your covenant for a happy life.] And everything that lives shall give thanks to you for ever, and shall praise your Name in truth, O God, our salvation and our help. (Selah.) Blessed are you, Adonai, whose Name is All-good, and unto whom it is becoming to give thanks.
שָׁלוֹם רָב עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמְּךָ תָּשִׂים לְעוֹלָם, כִּי אַתָּה הוּא מֶֽלֶךְ אָדוֹן לְכָל הַשָּׁלוֹם. וְטוֹב בְּעֵינֶֽיךָ לְבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמְּךָ .יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּכָל עֵת וּבְכָל שָׁעָה בִּשְׁלוֹמֶֽךָ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, הַמְבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּשָּׁלוֹם
Grant abundant peace to Israel your people forever, for you are the Sovereign God of all peace. May it be pleasing to you to bless your people Israel in every season and moment with your peace. Blessed are you, Adonai, who blesses your people Israel with peace.
Meditation: When will you stand up and speak out? When will you step back and allow others to shine?
Practice: Take a private moment. Visualize any challenge in your life. See it in front of you, and stand up tall and face it. Take 3 steps backward, starting with your weak foot. Once completed, pause, standing with your feet together. Then take 3 steps forward, starting with your strong foot. Stand tall and erect, with your feet together, and breathe. The next move is yours.
Before the meal begins, we wash our hands.
Take a cup and fill it with water. Lift it with the right hand, then pass it to the left hand and pour the water over the right hand. Then pass the cup to the right hand and pour water over the left hand. Repeat this process until each hand has been rinsed three times. Then, recite the blessing.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָים
Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haOlam, asher kadishanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu al netilat yadayim
Blessed are You Lord our God, sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us and has commanded us concerning the hand-washing.
You should have two unbroken loaves of bread on the table, covered by a cloth or a napkin. Remove the napkin, touch both loaves with one hand and say the blessing:
ברוך אתה ה' אלוהינו מלך העולם המוציא לחם מן הארץ
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam,
Hamotzi lechem min haaretz.
Slice or tear the challah into enough pieces for everyone present. Sprinkle with salt, and distribute them.
שְׁמַע | יִשְׂרָאֵל, יְיָ | אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יְיָ |אֶחָד:
Sh'ma Yisra'eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
In an undertone:
בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד
Barukh sheim k'vod malkhuto l'olam va'ed.
Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.
Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), together, are known as the High Holy Days (or High Holidays).
For many, this is the only time of the year we go to synagogue. For others, it's a chance to reflect, take stock of the past year and make amends. It's a holiday season that is rich in symbols, like the shofar or apples dipped in honey.
Our booklet, High Holy Days: the Basics , explains the Days of Awe, starting with Rosh Hashanah and running through Yom Kippur, including what to expect at synagogue services, what the home celebrations may look like and concluding with a glossary of useful terms.
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Unetanneh Tokef or Un'taneh Tokef (ונתנה תוקף) (" Let us speak of the awesomeness ") is a piyyut that has been a part of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur liturgy in rabbinical Judaism for centuries. It is chanted while the Torah ark is open and the congregants are standing.
Let us now relate the power of this day's holiness, for it is awesome and frightening. On it Your Kingship will be exalted; Your throne will be firmed with kindness and You will sit upon it in truth. It is true that You alone are the One Who judges, proves, knows, and bears witness; Who writes and seals, Who counts and Who calculates. You will remember all that was forgotten. You will open the Book of Remembrances — it will read itself – and each person's signature is there. And the great shofar will be sounded and a still, thin voice will be heard. Angels will hasten, a trembling and terror will seize them — and they will say, 'Behold, it is the Day of Judgment, to muster the heavenly host for judgment!' — for even they are not guiltless in Your eyes in judgment.
All mankind will pass before You like a flock of sheep. Like a shepherd pasturing his flock, making sheep pass under his staff, so shall You cause to pass, count, calculate, and consider the soul of all the living; and You shall apportion the destinies of all Your creatures and inscribe their verdict.
On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed – how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword and who by beast, who by famine and who by thirst, who by upheaval and who by plague, who by strangling and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted. But Repentance, Prayer, and Charity annul the severe Decree.
For Your Name signifies Your praise: hard to anger and easy to appease, for You do not wish the death of one deserving death, but that he repent from his way and live. Until the day of his death You await him; if he repents You will accept him immediately. It is true that You are their Creator and You know their inclination, for they are flesh and blood. A man's origin is from dust and his destiny is back to dust, at risk of his life he earns his bread; he is likened to a broken shard, withering grass, a fading flower, a passing shade, a dissipating cloud, a blowing wind, flying dust, and a fleeting dream.
But You are the King, the Living and Enduring God.
There is no set span to Your years and there is no end to the length of Your days. It is impossible to estimate the angelic chariots of Your glory and it is forbidden to pronounce Your Name. Your Name is worthy of You and You are worthy of Your Name, and You have included Your Name in our name.
Unetaneh Tokef is a medieval prayer, of unknown authorship, recited in the Musaf Service of both Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur. Unetaneh Tokef affirms our own mortality, asking, “Who shall live and who shall die?” In it, we state that through teshuvah (repentance), tefilah (prayer), and tzedakah (acts of justice) we can transform our destiny and give meaning to our lives.
We shall ascribe holiness to this day, for it is awesome and terrifying. Your kingship is exalted upon it. Your throne is established in mercy. You are enthroned upon it in truth. You are the judge, the exhorter, the all-knowing, the witness. You are the One who inscribes and seals, remembering all that is forgotten. You open the book of remembrance, which speaks for itself, and the signature of each person is found there.
The great shofar is sounded. A still small voice is heard. The angels are dismayed, they are seized by fear and trembling as they proclaim: Behold the Day of Judgment! For all the hosts of heaven are brought for judgment, they shall not be innocent in Your eyes. All creatures shall parade before You as a troop. As a shepherd herds his flock, causing his sheep to pass beneath his staff, so do You count and record all the souls of the living, decreeing the length of their days, inscribing their judgment.
On Rosh Ha-Shanah it is inscribed, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed:
How many shall pass away and how many shall be born? Who shall live and who shall die? Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not? Who shall perish by water and who by re? Who by sword and who by wild beast? Who by famine and who by thirst? Who by earthquake and who by plague? Who by strangulation and who by stoning? Who shall have rest and who shall wander? Who shall be at peace and who shall be pursued? Who shall be at rest and who shall be tormented? Who shall be exalted and who shall be brought low? Who shall become rich and who shall be impoverished?
But repentance (teshuvah), prayer (te lah), and righteousness (tzedaka) transform the severe decree.
You are our Creator and You understand our inclination, for we are but flesh and blood. The origin of man is dust, his end is dust. He earns his bread by exertion and is like a broken shard, like dry grass, like a withered flower, like a passing shadow and a vanishing cloud, like a breeze that blows away and dust that scatters, like a dream that fades. But You are Soverign, God who lives for all eternity!
Over the course of our Yom Kippur prayers, we recite the Al Chet over and over again.
V’al kulam, Elo’ah s’lichot, s’lach lanu, m’chal lanu, kaper-lanu. “For the ways in which we have fallen short, oh God, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement,” we say. We take collective responsibility for our communal shortcomings, even for the ways in which we may not have failed individually. We acknowledge both our conscious and unconscious failings.
Al chet shechatanu lifanecha b’imutz ha’lev v’al chet shechatanu l’fanecha bi’v’li da’at. “For the sin of commission and for the sin of omission,” we say. But it is not just in our relationship with God that we have missed the mark. We have also wronged our fellow human beings, those who sit next to us and those we have never met but whose cries for help we failed to answer. At this time, we take a moment to reflect on how we fell short in our struggle to confront and stem the tide of the worst refugee crisis in history. We acknowledge both the actions we could have taken but did not and those we never knew to take in the first place.
Al chet shechatanu lifanecha – for the sin we commit when we fail to recognize the enormity and pervasiveness of the global refugee crisis.
Al chet shechatanu lifanecha when we close our eyes to the horrifying images of children clinging to the sides of boats unfit for sea travel, images of terrified parents passing their babies through barbed wire fences.
Al chet shechatanu lifanecha when we are unwilling to give tzedakah to our full capacity to ensure that refugees have safe housing, medical care, and food to eat.
Al chet shechatanu lifanecha when we remain silent with our voices and our votes instead of calling on the United States to be a world leader in responding to this crisis.
Al chet shechatanu lifanecha when we allow fear to give way to xenophobia.
Al chet shechatanu lifanecha when we assume that someone else will help.
Al chet shechatanu lifanecha when we absolve ourselves of the burden of tempering the decree faced by the 65 million refugees and displaced people around the world.
May our teshuvah, our tzedakah, and our tefilah enable us to do more in the year to come for those so desperately in need of our protection.
V’al kulam, Elo’ah s’lichot, s’lach lanu, m’chal lanu, kaper-lanu. For all these failings and more, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.
Download the PDF here: http://www.hias.org/sites/default/files/final_designed_high_holiday_liturgical_reading_2016-5777.pdf
The traditional confessional prayer, the Vidui, is composed of two parts, the Ashamnu and the Al Chet, that we read aloud on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The Ashamnu (translated as “we have trespassed” or “we are guilty”) is an abbreviated confession, an alphabetic acrostic, and written in first person plural. We recite this confessional in the plural to represent our shared responsibility and culpability in all of our lives and missteps. We also share this confessional as a reminder that forgiveness is also shared.
Use the modern interpretation of the Ashamnu below using the English alphabet and add in your missteps for each letter of the alphabet:
We have behaved arrogantly,
We have betrayed ourselves and our families,
We have acted out of contempt,
We have been dishonest,
We have erred out of ignorance,
We have forgotten who we are,
We have gossiped,
We have been hypocritical,
We have been insensitive,
We have justified bad decisions,
We have killed our impulse to do good,
We have looked the other way,
We have been mean,
We have been neglectful,
We have acted out of fear instead of love,
We have pushed too much,
We have been quiet when we should have spoken up,
We have been rageful,
We have stolen,
We have tried to teach when we should have tried to learn,
We have been untrue,
We have behaved violently,
We have withheld that which could have been given freely,
We have held others to unrealistic expectations,
We have yielded instead of moving forward,
We have zoomed too narrowly into challenges
by Sylvan Kamens & Rabbi Jack Riemer
At the rising sun and at its going down; We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter; We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring; We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer; We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of the autumn; We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends; We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as We remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength; We remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart; We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make; We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share; We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs; We remember them.
For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as, We remember them.
Fasting on Yom Kippur is not as obvious as one might think. Nowhere does the Torah explicitly command it. Instead, the verses teach us to “afflict ourselves” without defining the nature of this “affliction.”
We do know that Yom Kippur is about atonement and forgiveness. So how does “afflicting” ourselves through fasting relate to teshuva ? Many assume that fasting is a form of self-punishment, a way of balancing the scales for over-indulgence or rule-breaking. The pietists of medieval Ashkenaz called this teshuvat hamishkal, literally repentance of balance. The pleasure brought by sin must be accounted for and balanced by physical discomfort. But this does not connect fasting to the personal growth and psychological transformation.
In his commentary on Leviticus, the Abravanel (1437-1508, Portugal) connects fasting to our capacity to be like angels. When we abstain from food and water we demonstrate our spiritual identities. As another medieval commentator noted, when we fast our bodies are afflicted, but our souls rejoice. I find the sharp dualism hard to connect with. I do not conceive of myself as a good, pure soul in constant conflict with and chained to a corrupt, sinning body. I find an integrated identity more relevant.
The Talmud alludes to another approach that I find to be the most helpful. In the section dealing with fasting, the rabbis note that Yom Kippur is referred to as a shabbaton, a day of rest. From this perspective, when we abstain from eating and drinking, we are actually “resting” or “pausing” from these activities. The discomfort we feel on Yom Kippur is not a direct result of the absence of physical pleasure but rather, from the psychic and spiritual pain brought on by sin.
When we act in ways that betray our inner goodness and contradict the essence of who we are as beings in relationship with God and each other, our souls are in pain. While this pain is always present, many of us ignore it, cover it up, or distract ourselves with physical pleasure.
On Yom Kippur we “rest” from these distractions and allow the “affliction” in our hearts (from pain caused, opportunities missed, and alienation from our best selves) to be fully experienced and felt. This type of affliction can then push us towards growth, forgiveness and transformation!
Rabbi Zvi Hirschfield teaches Talmud, Halakha and Jewish Thought.
From "The Pardes Companion to Yom Kippur": http://elmad.pardes.org/2016/09/the-pardes-companion-to-yom-kippur/
We asked JQYers to share, in six words, what will be on their minds this Yom Kippur. These are some of our thoughts and prayers.