In Avignon, France, in 1767, Eliyahu Karmi (Elijah Crémieux) compiled a siddur preserving the nusaḥ of the Comtat Venaissin titled the סדר התמיד (Seder HaTamid). Just after the section for תפלת שחרית (the morning prayers), Karmi provides the following advice for how to organize one’s workday: . . . → Continue reading: After Shaḥarit: Abiding Advice for Daily Living by Eliyahu Carmi (1767) translated by Abe Katz
For the sin which we have committed before You through diminishing the image of God. . . . → Continue reading: For the Sin of Torture: A Communal Confession by Rabbi Ed Feld
Almost everyone who is Jewish knows that Kol Nidre is about releasing vows and has participated in the ceremony. Few know the parallel ritual done in small groups before Rosh Hashanah. Traditionally, right before Rosh Hashanah one performs this simple ritual with three friends, each in turn becoming the petitioner, while the other three act as the beit din, the judges in a court. The ritual is a wonderful way to enter the holidays as well as to prepare oneself for what will happen on Yom Kippur. . . . → Continue reading: Hatarat Nedarim: The Release of Vows by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
This is Effron Esseiva’s morning Amidah (standing prayer) for weekdays. Effron writes, “It’s called Shmonei Esrei (18) because it used to have eighteen brakhot (blessings). However, it has an additional brakha to bring it to nineteen. This is my interpretation of the Teissa Esrei (19) with abridged kavvanot (intentions).” . . . → Continue reading: My Weekday Amidah
The time we are in now is a time to ask: are we so determined to undo God’s rainbow covenant? Will we truly burn the sea, chemically and literally, with the oil we unleash from inside the Earth? Will we flood the sea with death as the land was flooded according to the Noah story of so long ago? As the cleanup continues and the effects will continue for decades, what new floods will we unleash in the coming years? . . . → Continue reading: יום קשת מ״ב בעומר | The 42nd Day of the Omer is Rainbow Day
Psalm 67 is a priestly blessing for all the peoples of the earth to be sustained by the earth’s harvest (yevulah), and it is a petition that all humanity recognize the divine nature (Elohim) illuminating the world. Composed of seven verses, the psalm is often visually depicted as a seven branched menorah. There are 49 words in the entire psalm, and in the Nusaḥ ha-ARI z”l there is one word for each day of the Sefirat haOmer. Similarly, the fifth verse has 49 letters and each letter can be used as a focal point for meditating on the meaning of the day in its week in the journey to Shavuot, the festival of weeks (the culmination of the barley harvest), and the festival of oaths (shevuot) in celebration of receiving the Torah. Many of the themes of Psalm 67 are repeated in the prayer Ana b’Koaḥ, which also has 49 words, and which are also used to focus on the meaning of each day on the cyclical and labyrinthine journey towards Shavuot. . . . → Continue reading: Scaling the Walls of the Labyrinth: Psalms 67 and Ana b’Koaḥ
Every year on Yom ha-Atzmaut I feel a certain sense of frustration about its liturgy, and the failure of Religious Zionism to shape the holiday into one that would make a clear and definite religious statement. The “festive” prayer for Yom ha-Atzmaut is a hotchpotch of Yom Kippur, Kabbalat Shabbat, Shabbat Mevarkhim, and Pesaḥ. One gets a sense that there is an avoidance of hard issues. Even such a simple thing as saying Hallel with a blessing is not yet self-evident, but a subject of constant debate. Every year, there seem to be more leading rabbis, who adopt crypto-Ḥaredi stances, issuing pronunciamentos as to why one must not enter into the doubt of saying a brakha levatala, an unnecessary blessing, in this case. (As I was typing these words, I was interrupted by a phone call from a friend with this very question!) Bimhila mikvodam (no affront to the honor due them intended), but what on earth do they think the Talmud is talking about when it says that “On every occasion that Israel are in distress and then delivered, they are to recite the Hallel” (Pesaḥim 116a), if not the likes of Yom ha-Atzmaut? . . . → Continue reading: על הניסים | Yom ha’Atzmaut: Theological and Liturgical Reflections on the day and on Al Hanissim
We lift Miriam’s cup, Dancing prophet celebrating the world that is now. And we tell God we are grateful For the water from the earth that was Miriam’s gift, Welcome necessity, On God’s behalf. Miriam announces joy! And teaches us to save ourselves. Miriam, the bringer of mercy, There’s no prayer for her in the haggadah– So make one up! . . . → Continue reading: פסח | Two Cups: Elijah and Miriam
Jacob b. Jehuda of London, the author of that valuable contribution to the literary side of Anglo-Jewish history, the Talmudical compendium Etz Chaim, so providentially rescued and preserved for us, never dreamt, when he noted down, in the year 1287, the Ritual and Agada of the Seder Nights according to English usage, that he was . . . → Continue reading: פסח | The Ritual of the Seder and the Agada of the English Jews Before the Expulsion.
A haggadah shared by Michael Plotke that he made for his family many years ago based on the haggadah of the late Rebbe of ḤaBaD, R’ Menachem Mendel Schneerson. . . . → Continue reading: פסח | The Plotke Family Haggadah
The following prayer for the government was composed by Congregation Beth Shalome in Richmond, Virginia in 1789. Please note the acrostic portion of the prayer in which the initial letters of the succeeding lines form the name: Washington. . . . → Continue reading: Prayer for the Government in honor of George Washington, First President of the United States of America by Kahal Kadosh-Beit Shalome (1789)
Exalted are you Lincoln. Who is like you! You were highly respected among Kings and Princes. All that you accomplished you did with a humble spirit. You are singular and cannot be compared to anyone else. Who among the great are like Lincoln? Who can be praised like you? . . . → Continue reading: Memorial Prayer for Abraham Lincoln by Isaac Goldstein the Levite (1865)
The Tu Bishvat seder is a metaphor. But usually we use metaphor in our daily lives to accomplish, persuade, inspire or explain. There is something we’re bending metaphor to accomplish. This meditation is an exercise in free-thinking. Here, just play with metaphor for the sake of expressing and exploring your emotional state, history, anticipations and apprehensions. Each of the quotations from the Torah or rabbinical writings below represents an emotion. After we say the blessing over the olives, read the quotations, pick one (or more) that resonate, and play with the metaphor to reach a deeper understanding of yourself and others. . . . → Continue reading: ט״וּ בִּשְׁבָט | A Tu Bishvat Seder Meditation on the World of Yetzira by Ben Murane
From [the Holy One’s] form/to’ar the constellations are shimmering, and God’s form projects the exalted ones. And Her crown blazes [with] the mighty, and His garment flows with the precious. And all the trees will rejoice in the word, and the plants will exult in His rejoicing, and His words shall drop as perfumes, flowing forth flames of fire, giving joy to those who search them, and quiet to those who fulfill them. . . . → Continue reading: ט״וּ בִּשְׁבָט | On Sweet Fruit and Deep Mysteries: Kabbalistic and Midrashic Texts to Sweeten your Tu Bishvat Seder from Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)
An original liturgical poem inspired by the Modah|Modeh Ani prayer. . . . → Continue reading: A Kavanah for Waking Up by Andrew Shaw
Thankful am I in your Presence, Spirit who lives and endures, for You’ve returned to me my soul with compassion. Abundant is your faith! . . . → Continue reading: מודה אני | Modah/Modeh Ani (translation by Andrew Shaw)
Nomi Lerman and I were co-teacher’s this past season at Kolot Ḥayeinu’s religious school in Park Slope Brooklyn this past season, and as a Ḥanukah present we made a Ḥanukah Madrikh for our Kittah Gimmel class. I’m certain there are Jewish educators all over the world preparing curricular resources for Ḥanukah right about now and hope that by sharing this they can take it and improve on it, or else we’ll save them some energy so they’ll be able to do even more mitzvot. . . . → Continue reading: חנוכה | Nomi and Aharon’s Ḥanukah Madrikh!
Aware of the willow [aravah], we awaken our “mouths,” our ability to communicate by voice, hand or type; we acknowledge the precious gift of communications from others, the 99% and the 1%, about their circumstances, their needs, offerings and hopes. Aware of the palm branch [lulav], we awaken our “spines,” our central strength; we acknowledge fellow citizens who take a stand, whether we agree with their stand or not, toward a vision of common good. Aware of the myrtle [hadas], we awaken our “eyes,” our ability to receive through whichever channels are available to us; we acknowledge our responsibility to remain open to others’ thoughts and experiences while also exercising discernment. Aware of the citron [etrog], we awaken our “hearts,” our source of connection; we acknowledge our inter-dependence and the importance of standing, expressing ourselves and learning from others. . . . → Continue reading: Occupy the Lulav by Virginia Avniel Spatz
In Uman, Ukraine (and in [the Breslov [community] in general) during the repetition of Rosh Hashanah Musaf, when when the ḥazan gets to the special brokha in the Amidah for Yamim Nora’im [the Days of Awe]: . . . → Continue reading: ברסלב | From Uman to the Olam: Clapping for the Holy Majesty during the Days of Awe (neohasid.org)
Thank you to Nili Simchai and Yosh Schulman for sharing the Farsi (Persian) Nusaḥ of this profound minhag — the order of reciting kavvanot (intentions) for the New Year. Please help the Open Siddur Project by helping to translate and transcribe all of the Hebrew and Farsi in this seder. Sol’e nu Mobarak! سال نو مبارک — L’shanah Tova! . . . → Continue reading: The Seder of Kavanot for the Feast of Rosh Hashanah according to a Farsi Nusaḥ
Once upon a time when the Temple still stood, the Rosh Hashanah La’behemot celebrated one means by which we elevated and esteemed the special creatures that helped us to live and to work. Just as rabbinic Judaism found new ways to realize our Temple offerings with tefillot — prayers — so too the Rosh Hashanah La’behemot challenges us to realize the holiness of the animals in our care in a time without tithes. The New Years Day for Animals is a challenge to remind and rediscover what our responsibilities are to the animals who depend on us for their welfare. Are we treating them correctly and in accord with the mitzvah of tza’ar baalei chayim — sensitivity to the suffering of living creatures? Have we studied and understood the depth of ḥesed — lovingkindness — expressed in the breadth of our ancestors teachings concerning the welfare of animals in Torah? Rosh Hashanah La’behemot is the day to reflect on our immediate or mediated relationships with domesticated animals, recognize our personal responsibilities to them, individually and as part of a distinct and holy people, and repair our relationships to the best of our ability. . . . → Continue reading: ראש השנה לבהמות: explanation and ritual for Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot (New Years Day for Animals)
Since the Jewish calendar is not affixed to the sun, but corrected by a leap year to its seasons, Tu B’Av does not normally fall on the summer solstice. And yet, the relationship between Tu B’Av and the zenith of the summer is alluded to in Rav Menashya’s statement regarding Tu B’Av, “From this day onwards, he who increases [his knowledge through study as the nights grow longer] will have his life prolonged.” . . . → Continue reading: ט״ו באב | Tu B’Av: sources for study and celebration on the 15th of Av
We are grateful to Rabbi Arthur Waskow for contributing his expansion of and meditation on the Shema, originally composed the 6th of Tishrei, 5764 (October 2nd, 2003).
Sh’ma: An Interpretation for the 21st Century
Sh’sh’sh’ma Yisra’el — Listen, You Godwrestlers! Pause from your wrestling and hush’sh’sh To hear — YHWH/ Yahh
Hear in the stillness . . . → Continue reading: Shema by Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Tisha B’Av (the midsummer day of Jewish mourning for the ancient Temples in Jerusalem, and of hope for a transformed future) falls this year, 2011, on Monday evening/Tuesday, August 8-9. In our generation, it can be focused on the endangered Earth as the sacred Temple of all Humanity.
Through The Shalom Center, Tamara Cohen has . . . → Continue reading: תשעה באב | Lament & Hope for Earth: Tisha B’Av for Our Generation (by the Shalom Center and Tamara Cohen)
The idea that tragedy and disaster are punishment for our sins is alien to most most modern Jews. The author(s) of Eikhah believed that what happened to Zion was divine punishment. (This is one reason why it is hard to connect the Holocaust with what we mourn on Tish’a B’av.) Besides the obvious consolation of believing that the tragedy had meaning, the reader might also consider that for the ancients, the two choices were to believe that the destruction was punishment, or that God simply had no interest in them. It is easy to imagine why people would choose the image of a punishing God over the complete absence of God – though the latter possibility is suggested in the very last line of the text, before we go back to repeat the more comforting line “Turn us…” . . . → Continue reading: תשעה באב | Megillat Eikhah (Lamentations) for Tisha B’Av by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)
Please, God Adonai, Who creates the skies and drapes them over the earth, Who spreads out the earth and its descendants, Who grants life to its nations, and vigor to those who walk upon it, You positioned borders on earth and sustained sovereigns and states. These United States, too, Your hands arranged. They began in distress, but through Your great and abundant kindness, have grown like a cedar in Lebanon, adding vitality, strength, and success with each generation. America’s wings stretch from sea to shining sea, and over far islands. Like the sun at its zenith, it lights the world and its inhabitants with laws and ordinances good and upright, righteous and fair. . . . → Continue reading: Prayer for the Government by Avraham Hyman Charlap (1916)
The day after humankind’s first landing on the Lunar surface July 20, 1969, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on a poetic and topical innovation to the Kiddush Levana, the Blessing over the Moon, by Israeli Armed Forces’ Chief Chaplain General Shlomo Goren in the IDF Siddur. . . . → Continue reading: Dancing with the Moon: innovations in the Kiddush Levana in light of the first moon landing
Given that the Torah forbids impressing our imaginations with illustrations of the divine, some other method is necessary to perceive divine Oneness. One method is found in the verse in Psalms 16:8, “I have set YHVH before me at all times.”
שִׁוִּיתִי יְהוָה לְנֶגְדִּי תָמִיד׃ Shiviti YHVH l’negdi tamid I have set YHVH before me at all times.
. . . → Continue reading: שִׁוִּיתִי | Shiviti: perceiving the world as an expression of divine Oneness
We are grateful to the Adamah Fellowship at Isabella Freedman for sharing the morning prayers for their Avodat Lev (Heart Work). The arrangement of prayers is organized on a one page songsheet, with translations shared with a Creative Commons Attribution/ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) 3.0 Unported license. . . . → Continue reading: Seder Avodat Lev: early morning prayers of the farmers of Adamah
We are hereby ready to fulfill our obligation of K’vod Habriot, respect for the dignity of every human being. We pray that our fellow citizens shall not be the source of suffering in others. We commit ourselves to raise our voices in support of universal human rights, to know the heart of the stranger, and to feel compassion for those whose humanity is denied. May our compassion lead us to fight for justice. Blessed is the Source of Life, who redeemed our ancestors from Egypt and brought us together this night of Passover to tell the story of freedom. May God bring us security and peace, enabling us to celebrate together year after year. Praised are you, Source of Righteousness, who redeems the world and loves justice and freedom. . . . → Continue reading: פסח | Pesaḥ Seder Supplements on Economic Justice, Slavery, and other issues of Tzedek