בסיעתא דשמיא

A Blessing for Peace, Health, Joy, Prosperity, and Kindness by Reb Zalman

A blessing by Reb Zalman for Peace, Health, Joy, Prosperity, and Kindness which he wrote in spray paint on a municipal water tank behind his house in Colorado. . . .

Israelite Samaritan Kiddush for the Shabbat Evening Meal, translated by Benyamim Sedaka

Benyamim Sedaka’s English translations of the Israelite-Samaritan “Blessing on the Food” (Kiddush) and Abraham ben Marchiv Tsedaka Hassafari’s opening to the Friday night Shabbat meal . . .

ודוי | Vidui meditation by Danny Cohen

Vidui means acknowledgment. It is not about self-flagellation or blame, but about honesty, coming into contact with our lives, our patterns and experiences, and ultimately about teshuva and learning. In contacting the pain and suffering which our modes of being have given rise to, our regret can help us to willfully divest ourselves of them and awaken the yearning for those modes of being which are life-affirming, supportive of wholeness, connection, integrity, and flourishing. With each one we tap on our heart, touching the pain and closed-heartedness we have caused, and simultaneously knocking on the door that it may open again. . . .

ימים נוראים | My Ten Days of Repentance Writing Exercise

David Wolkin writes, “I’ve been pushing this writing exercise for a while now, but I taught a class with it in my home on Sunday and it proved to be powerful and connecting for all of us in the room. If you’re reflecting/repenting this season, you might benefit from this.” . . .

תחנה אײדער אפרויא גײט אין טבילת מצוה | Tkhine for when a Woman Goes to Immerse in the Mikve

“Tkhine for when a Woman Goes to Immerse in the Mikve” by an unknown author is a faithful transcription of the tkhine published in Rokhl m’vakoh al boneho (Raḥel Weeps for her Children), Vilna, 1910. I have transcribed it without any changes from The Merit of Our Mothers בזכות אמהות A Bilingual Anthology of Jewish Women’s Prayers, compiled by Rabbi Tracy Guren Klirs, Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1992. shgiyot mi yavin, ministarot nakeni. If you can translate Yiddish, please help to translate it and share your translation with an Open Content license through this project. . . .

אײן אנשפראכע געגען עין הרע | An Incantation against the Ayin hoReh

This tkhine offers a formula for providing relief to a very ill person, and as such, should only be used as a supplement to recommendations provided by an expert physician or nurse. The source of the tkhine is Tkhine of a Highly Respected Woman, Budapest, 1896; and transcribed from The Merit of Our Mothers בזכות אמהות A Bilingual Anthology of Jewish Women’s Prayers, compiled by Tracy Guren Klirs, Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1992. . . .

ספר יצירה | Sefer Yetsirah, the earliest recoverable text

The text of the Sefer Yetsirah presented here follows the “experimental exercise” produced by A. Peter Hayman in his Sefer Yeṣira: Edition Translation and Text-Critical Commentary, “Appendix III: The Earliest Recoverable Text of Sefer Yesira” (Mohr Siebeck, 2004). For details on his construction and his review of the available recensions of Sefer Yetsirah, please refer to Hayman’s complete commentary. Numbers in parentheses indicate sections. I have added spaces between sections indicate traditional chapter breaks. Square brackets indicate some doubt as to whether the included wording was present in the earlier form of the text (p.124). . . .

עמידה | An Amidah for associating blessings with memory by Rabbi Dr. Oren Steinitz

As powerful a practice as a standing meditation may be, reciting the familiar words of the Amidah with intention can prove to be a major challenge. The words may become rote, and the davvener may wonder if the ancient formulas are even meaningful to them. In this adaptation of the Amidah, Oren Steinitz treats each B’rakhah as a prompt to remind ourselves what we are praying for and shares his own thoughts as an example. Rabbi Steinitz originally wrote the “Memory Amidah” in 2013, during the Davennen Leadership Training Institute cohort 7, and revised it for sharing here through the Open Siddur Project in 2016. . . .

לְמַלְמֵל וּלְהַמהֵם | The non-cognitive experience of ambient mumbling in communal Jewish prayer by R’ Elie Kaunfer

The mode of silently reading prayers puts the worshiper in the realm of the cognitive—just as we might experience reading a book on the subway. But the act of mumbling moves from a purely cognitive experience to a more viscerally emotional act. The aesthetic effect of this mumbling serves a dual purpose: Besides its own value as a way of engaging in prayer, it provides a contrast to the truly silent parts of the prayer: the Amidah. . . .

On Belief Held in the Act of Prayer by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman

The one who prays to Hashem Yitbarakh should hold the belief that, from the start, there was a cause brought about by the everlasting One, and that S/He is the source of all completions, and S/He created all the worlds at the time when it arose in Hir will. . . .

ברכות | Bringing blessing to all life on Earth, a d’var tefilah on making blessings over foods by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

The Talmud (Brakhot 35a-b) teaches that eating food without saying a brakhah (a blessing) beforehand is like stealing. A lot of people know that teaching, and it’s pretty deep. But here’s an even deeper part: the Talmud doesn’t call it “stealing”, but מעילה ׁ(“me’ilah“), which means taking from sacred property that belongs to the Temple. So that means that everything in the world is sacred and this Creation is like a HOLY TEMPLE. . . .

האותיות של האבג״ד בעברית | A Periodic Table of the Hebrew Aleph Bet Emphasizing Phonetic Grouping, Symbolic Association, and Diversity of Letter Form

Basic Hebrew letter and vowel lists adorn the opening pages of a number of siddurim published a century ago — evidence of the centrality of the Jewish prayer book as a common curricular resource. But the Hebrew letters are not only essential to fluency in Hebrew language, they are also the atomic elements composing the world of the rabbinic Jewish imagination. This is especially so for those who conceive in their devotional literary practices an implicit theurgical capability in modifying and adapting the world of language though interpretation, translation, and innovative composition. To create a world with speech relies on thought and this creative ability is only limited by the facility of the creator to derive meaning from a language’s underlying structure. This, therefore, is a table of the Hebrew letters arranged in order of their numerical value, in rows 1-9, 10-90, and 100-9000, so that elements with similar numerical structure, (but dissimilar phonetic amd symbolic attributes) appear in vertical columns. Attention has been given to the literal meaning of the letter names and the earliest glyph forms known for each letter in the Hebrew abgad. . . .

בִּרְכָּת הָבָּיִת | Birkat Habayit: Blessing for the Home

The Birkat Habayit is perhaps the most popular blessing in the Jewish world, appearing as a hanging amulet inside the entrance of many houses of Jews of all streams. I have added niqud to the blessing and I am very grateful to Gabriel Wasserman for his corrections to my vocalization. . . .

Masking the Liturgy by Rabbi Dr. Joshua Gutoff

I wanted my students to start thinking of prayers as expressions of an interior world, rather than as descriptions of the exterior one. I suggested to them that they think of a prayer as a kind of mask, much like the ones worn in religious rituals by many peoples. The job of the mask-wearer is to discover the reality on the “inside” of the mask and bring it to life. . . .

שׁמושׁ תהלים‬ | Shimush Tehillim (the Theurgical Use of Psalms) attributed to Hai ben Sherira Gaon

The Shimmush Tehillim is a medieval work providing prescriptive theurgical associations for Psalms and verses from Psalms. It has been historically attributed to Rav Hai Gaon (939-1038 CE) but any definitive statement of authorship is lacking. The suggestion that portions of the Shimush Tehillim were authored during the late Geonic period in Iraq isn’t implausible. We also know that Hai Gaon was knowledgeable of Hekhalot writings that should at least be considered part of the same thought world as the Shimmush Tehillim. Writings found in the Shimush Tehillim have been found in manuscripts dating from the 12th century. This digital transcription of Shimush Tehillim derives from Elias Klein Békéscsaba’s 1936 compilation. This edition should not be considered a critical text, as earlier editions certainly exist. Not all of the Psalms are identified as having a particular theurgical use. . . .

A Prayer before Torah Study by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

My Lord Creator of all, Master of all worlds, Supreme, compassionate and forgiving, Thank You for Your Torah, Thank You for allowing me to learn from it And to move toward serving You. Thank You for revealing some of the Mysteries of Your Way. . . .

Prayer Before Studying Kabbalah by Rav Yitzḥak Luria (translated by Aharon Varady)

Master of the worlds and Lord of Lords, Father of Compassion and Forgiveness, we give thanks before you [haShem] Elohainu, Elohai of our ancestors, by bowing and kneeling for having brought us near to your Torah and to your sacred work, and for granting us a portion in the hidden insights of your holy Torah. . . .

Kavanot when Washing One’s Body Before Shabbes by Eyal Raviv

This is pre-Shabbos reflection that can be done in a shower or bath. Shabbat is a time when I am less focused on my selfish desires and instead my thoughts drift to my place in the larger community and world. I find myself doing some version of this before Shabbos most weeks and am welcome for the time to reflect on truly what it is to cease from lay work and consider the work that needs to be done to make the world a better place. . . .

יוֺם פַּיִי | On the Rabbinical Approximation of Pi by Boaz Tsaban and David Gardner

There is a Rabbinical tradition that the value of pi is hidden within a ktiv-kri (reading-versus-writing disparity) in I Kings 7:23. According to Hebrew scriptural tradition, the word meaning ‘line’ is written as קוה, but read as קו. . . .

תנ״ך | Miqra `al pi ha-Mesorah: A New Experimental Edition of the Tanakh Online

Miqra `al pi ha-Mesorah is a new experimental edition of the Tanakh in digital online format, now available as a carefully corrected draft of the entire Tanakh. Two features make this edition of the Tanakh unique: Full editorial documentation and a free content license. Full editorial documentation: Various editions of the Torah or Tanakh in Hebrew may seem identical to the untrained eye, but the truth is that each and every edition—from Koren to Breuer and from Artscroll to JPS—makes numerous important editorial decisions. In most editions these decisions are not transparent, and the student of Torah therefore relies upon the good judgment of the editor. But in Miqra `al pi ha-Mesorah the entire editorial process and the reasoning behind it are fully described in all of their details: Every stylistic alteration and every textual decision made regarding every letter, niqqud, and ta`am in the entire Tanakh is documented. . . .

תפילת הזכרת הורים כשאין מניין לאמירת קדיש | “Gebet Statt Kaddisch” Memorial Prayer For When There is No Minyan (trans. Jonah Rank)

Please Lord, Sovereign of Compassion, God, Arbiter of the spirits of all flesh, Parent of Orphans and Judge of widows: God, from the source of Your holiness! May my prayer and the Torah of life that I have learned come before you on account of the soul . . .

אלף באלול | The Council of All Beings on the New Year’s Day festival for Animals, Rosh Hashanah LaBehemot (ראש השנה לבהימות)

Domesticated animals (beheimot) are halakhically distinguished from ḥayot, wild animals in having been bred to rely upon human beings for their welfare. As the livelihood and continued existence of wild animals increasingly depends on the energy, food, and land use decisions of human beings, the responsibility for their care is coming into the purview of our religious responsibilities as Jews under the mitzvah of tsa’ar baalei ḥayyim — mindfullness of the suffering of all living creatures in our decisions and behavior. Rosh Hashanah LeBeheimot is the festival where we are reminded of this important mitzvah at the onset of the month in which we imagine ourselves to be the flock of a god upon whose welfare we rely. The Council of All Beings is an activity that can help us understand and reflect upon the needs of the flock of creatures that already rely upon us for their welfare. . . .

תחינה לתחילת יומן חדש | Prayer for Beginning a New Journal

May my thoughts seek truth and integrity, the humility that is commensurate with my ignorance, the compassion that arises from the depths of awareness, as depths speak to depths… . . .

Knowing But Not Revealing: A Purim Tax Deduction Loophole

Because we cannot live on two planes, we are granted the opportunity to disguise our external features. We develop the capacity to know each others hearts and find even greater satisfaction in the exchange. Yet, too often, we act as if someone else — who looks remarkably like oneself — is going to provide the support for nonprofit organizations we deem are necessary for a decent life. We assume / hope / pray that someone “else” is doing our part. It’s their turn to make a critical contribution, even a small one, that gives relief, replaces a worn-out part, opens the door wide enough to make a difference. . . .

Source texts on Jewish Prayer and Spirituality

דומיה – Silence לְךָ דֻמִיָּה תְהִלָּה אֱלֹהִים בְּצִיּוֹן וּלְךָ יְשֻׁלַּם נֶדֶר: תהלים פרק ס”ה (ב’)‏ To You silence is praise, God in Zion, (Psalm 65.2-3) אֵין עוֹמְדִים לְהִתְפַּלֵּל, אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ כֹּבֶד רֹאשׁ.‏ חֲסִידִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים הָיוּ שׁוֹהִים שָׁעָה אַחַת – וּמִתְפַּלְלִים, כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּכַוְּנוּ אֶת לִבָּם לַמָּקוֹם.‏ אֲפִלּוּ הַמֶּלֶךְ שׁוֹאֵל בִּשְׁלוֹמוֹ – לֹא יְשִׁיבֶנּוּ;‏ וַאֲפִלּוּ נָחָשׁ כָּרוּךְ . . .

Mikveh Meditation for Erev Shabbat by Rabbi Haviva Ner-David and Shira Gura

The following is a meditation I wrote (with the help of my friend Shira Gura, who teaches meditation and Yoga) to be used on Friday before Shabbat at the mikveh. It is based on midrashim related to Shabbat (for example, the notion that we receive an additional soul on Shabbat), as well as meanings behind mikveh in general (for example, the connection between the waters of Creation and the mikveh waters), and on some kavanot (sacred intentions) that came out of the Kabbalah and Ḥassidut movements. There is a strong tradition to write kavanot to use before immersing in the mikveh, since, as Maimonides writes in his Mishneh Torah 11:15, “If a person immerses but without buttressing him or herself [with sacred intention], it is as though he or she has not immersed at all.” . . .

Life Sentence by Eprhyme

‘Life Sentence’ is a poetic exploration of solitary authorship — interpreting the old-world literary tradition and archetypes for the ‘ADD’ generation. This is a boundary and genre-crossing work that exists at the intersection of Radical Jewish, Indy and Hip-Hop culture. . . .

ברצלב | From Uman to the Olam: Clapping for the Holy Majesty during the Days of Awe (neohasid.org)

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]: . . .

The Seder of Kavanot for the Feast of Rosh Hashanah according to a Farsi Nusaḥ

Thank you to Nili Simhai and Yosh Schulman for sharing the Farsi (Persian) Nusaḥ of this punful minhag — the order of reciting kavvanot (intentions) for the New Year. Profound thanks are also due to Rabbi Simcha Daniel Burstyn of Kibbutz Lotan for his translation. 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! . . .

ברצלב | Prayer for the Ability to Pray Alone by Reb Natan of Nemirov from the teachings of Rebbe Naḥman (from Likutei Tefillot volume 2, tefillah 11 (224))

Master of the Universe, grant me the ability to be alone; may it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grass — among all growing things and there may I be alone, and enter into התבודדות(hitbodedut) prayer, to talk with the One to whom I belong. . . .

A Ten-Step, Four-Worlds, One-Earth Tashlikh by Avi Dolgin

Avi Dolgin shares his mindful practice for maintaining “tashlikh consciousness” in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah. . . .

Blessing Group Torah Study with Brakhot, Kaddish, and Kavvanah by Arthur Waskow

What the Rabbis taught about teaching and learning was that all Torah study should begin and end with blessings, just as eating does. Often, in liberal Jewish circles today, these blessings are not done. But without them, it is easier for Torah study to feel like a mere academic discussion, devoid of spirit. And where the blessings are said but only by rote, it is easier for Torah study to feel merely antiquarian and automatic. In Jewish-renewal style, how can we bring new kavvanah — spiritual meaning, intention, focus, intensity — to these blessings — and therefore to the process of Torah study itself? . . .

שמע | An illustrated meditation on the unification of imagination and awareness through empathy

When works are printed bearing shemot, any one of the ten divine names sacred to Judaism, they are cared for with love. If a page or bound work bearing shemot falls to the ground it’s a Jewish custom to draw up the page or book and kiss it. Just as loved ones are cared for after they’ve fallen and passed away, when the binding fails and leaves fall from siddurim and other seforim they are collected in boxes and bins and brought for burial, where their holy words can decompose back into the earth from which their constituent elements once grew, and were once harvested to become paper and books, and ink, string, glue. While teaching at the Teva Learning Center last Fall 2010, I collected all our shemot that we had intentionally or unintentionally made on our copy machine, or which we had collected from the itinerant teachers who pass through the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center on so many beautiful weekend shabbatonim. While leafing through the pages, I found one and kept it from the darkness of the genizah. . . .

תפילת יחיד | Tefillat yaḥid: a prayer for when praying by oneself by David Zvi Kalman

God and God of my forefathers and foremothers, as I stand here in an innermost room and pray, so too should you in an innermost room heed my questions, my praises and my requests, both from the utterances of my mouth and the utterances of my heart. Even if I am silent, you will know that my tefilla is directed towards you, who is One and whose name is One, alone in all the worlds. My heart is awake and my voice knocks. Open for me, my Lord, my Perfect One, the gates of Tefilla. . . .


בסיעתא דארעא