This is an intention that I composed for the conclusion of a performance piece, Inner Fire, created and performed by my Mistabra Institute for Jewish Textual Activism at Brandeis University in 2002. It is as relevant today as ever. Please use it for inspiration when you light Ḥanuka candles. . . . → Read More: Kavvanah for Ḥanukah Candle-Lighting
Every Jewish holy day, even Shabbat and the highest ones, we call forth all the 22 Hebrew Letters to join us in celebration. For those of us who study Kabbalah from within the realm of the Alef-Bet, Ḥanukah is unique in that we are given a magical tool with which to activate these signs and wonders. . . . → Read More: A Blessing for Dreidel Spinning
לְשֵׁם יִחוּד קֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא וּשְׁכִינְתֵּהּ, בִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ וּרְחִימוּ וּדְחִילוּ, לְיַחֵד שֵׁם י״ה בְּו״ה בְּיִחוּדָא שְׁלִים בְּשֵׁם כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל. הִנְנִי מְכַוֵּן בְּהַדְלָקַת נֵר חֲנוּכָּה לְקַיֵם מִצְוַת בּוֹרְאִי כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוּוּנִי חֲכָמֵינוּ ז”ל לְתַקֵן אֶת שׁוֹרְשָׁה בְּמָקוֹם עֶלְיוֹן:
וּבְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁתְּהֵא חֲשׁוּבָה וּמְקֻבֶּלֶת וּמְרֻצָּה לְפָנֶיךָ מִצְוַת הַדְלָקַת נֵר . . . → Read More: Kavvanah for the Mitzvah of Kindling the Ḥanukah Lights by Rebbe Tzvi Elimelech Spira of Dinov
Herr des Weltalls, reich geschmückt mit deinen Gaben und Segnungen hast du die Natur. Das Thal mit seinem üppigen Grün, der Berg mit seinem Kranz von Wäldern, das Gefilde mit seiner lachenden Frucht ist ein Erzeugnis; deiner Gnade, zum Segen deiner Menschenkinder, zur Nahrung ihres Leibes, zur Stillung ihrer Bedürfnisse, zur Ergötzung ihres Auges, zum Balsam ihrer Wunden; und kein Blättchen ist so klein, kein Grashalm so niedrig in dem weiten Reiche der Natur, daß es nicht wohlthuende heilsame Kräfte für uns enthielte. . . . → Read More: Am Laubhüttenfest beim Kreisgang mit dem Lulaw und Esrosg by Fanny Neuda (1855)
The essential idea of the liturgy of Ushpizin is to invoke the energies of the seven lower Sefirot in the proper order, so that Shefa, blessing and sustenance, can be drawn down into the world. This is the essence of Kabbalistic liturgy, and a liturgy of the imahot would only make sense if it were to follow that pattern. That means we have the playfully serious task of finding a stable order for the imahot where no clear order exists. . . . → Read More: אושפיזין | Ushpizin and Ushpizata: Inviting the Avot and Imahot into your Sukkah
As part of our ongoing project creating a new digital edition of Fanny Neuda’s collection of tkhines in German, Stunden Der Andacht (1855), we are setting her prayers (for the first time ever) side by side with that of her work’s first English translation, Hours of Devotion (1866) by Rabbi Moritz Mayer. Abermals ist ein Fest für uns eingetreten, ein Fest, ganz verschieden von dem, das wir erst jüngst begangen. Jenes feierten wir durch Thränen und Bußübungen, durch Kasteiung und Entbehrung, dieses feiern wir in Freuden mit Jubel und Lobgesängen, wie da geschrieben steht: „Und ihr sollt Euch freuen vor dem Ewigen, eurem Herrn, sieben Tage lang.“ . . . → Read More: An den ersten Tagen des Laubhüttenfestes: A prayer for the first days of Sukkot by Fanny Neuda (1855)
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. . . . → Read More: Scaling the Walls of the Labyrinth: Psalms 67 and Ana b’Koaḥ
Please God Let me light More than flame tonight. More than wax and wick and sliver stick of wood. More than shallow stream of words recited from a pocket book. . . . → Read More: A Prayer for Candle-lighting by Chaya Kaplan-Lester
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. . . . → Read More: 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. . . . → Read More: Occupy the Lulav by Virginia Avniel Spatz
In 1960, Sara Levi-Tanaiׁ (1910-2005) published the now popular Ḥanukah song and melody Banu Ḥosekh l’Garesh in a songbook, Zman Ḥeyn (p.49) by the Publishing House of the Composers’ League in cooperation with the Center for Culture and Education (הופיע בספר/חוברת “זמר חן”, בית הוצאה של איגוד הקומפוזיטורים בשיתוף עם המרכז לתרבות ולחינוך). The work . . . → Read More: When will Banu Ḥoshekh L’Garesh enter the Public Domain?
תלמוד ירושלמי מסכת עבודה זרה פרק א ה”א – דף לט טור ג
רב אמר קלנדס אדם הראשון התקינו. כיון דחמא לילייא אריך אמר אי לי שמא שכתוב בו הוא ישופך ראש ואתה תשופנו עקב שמא יבוא לנשכיני ואומר אך חושך ישופיני.
כיון דחמא איממא ארך אמר קלנדס קלון דיאו. ואיתא כמאן דאמ’ בתשרי . . . → Read More: Ḥanukah Sources in Rabbinic Midrash
Just in time for Ḥanukah, Chajm Guski shares a חנוכה מדריך (Ḥanukah Madrikh), Handbook for Ḥanukah, with a Deutsch translation and transliteration of the blessings on lighting the Ḥanukiah, the kavanah, HaNerot HaLalu, and the piyyut, Maoz Tzur. . . . → Read More: A Ḥanukah Madrikh by Chajm Guski
It started as a project to compile a siddur that I could daven from. Living in Chicago, most of the siddurim which are available are Artscroll, Birnbaum, etc. Just to try and find a Rodelheim, or Baer’s Avodat Yisroel is nearly impossible. That was about twelve years ago. . . . → Read More: סידור שפת ישראל | Siddur Sefas Yisroel, a nusaḥ Ashkenaz siddur dedicated to the memory of the Bad Homburg Jewish community
When Rav Yiztḥak Luria, zt”l, also known as the Holy Ari, davvened in Eretz Yisroel he brought about a series of liturgical innovations witnessed in later siddurim. His particular nusaḥ bridged minhag Ashkenaz and minhag Sefarad (the customs of the Rheinland Jews and the customs of the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula) with the teachings of his school of Kabbalists. When two centuries later, the Ḥassidic movement blossomed in Eastern Europe, it found purchase in Lithuania among a mystical school centered around Rav Schneur Zalman of Lyady, the Alter Rebbe and founder of the ḤaBaD movement within Ḥassidism. The Alter Rebbe compiled his own siddur, the Siddur Torah Ohr, “according to the tradition of the Ari.” . . . → Read More: סידור תורה אור | Siddur Torah Ohr: the Nusaḥ Ha-Ari according to Rav Schneur Zalman of Lyadi
Before the Koren-Sacks Siddur (2009), there was the Authorised Daily Prayer Book first published in 1890 and used by Jews throughout the British Empire, while there was a British Empire. It was originally published under the authorization of Great Britain’s first Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler with a Hebrew liturgy based on Isaac Seligman Baer’s Seder Avodat Yisroel (1868). The translation by Rabbi Simeon Singer (1846-1906) was the most extensive English translation of the Siddur ever published, and for this reason most editions are simply referred colloquially as The Singer Siddur. The Standard Prayer Book, published by Bloch in 1915, was an American reprint of The Authorized Daily Prayer Book. . . . → Read More: The Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Empire (trans. Rabbi Simeon Singer, 1890)