זמר לט”ו באב מאת ר’ אברהם ב”ר חלפון
הִתְבַּשֵּׂ֫רוּ בְנֵי עֶלְיוֹן / כִּי נִחַם יי צִיּוֹן
אַזְכִּיר חֲסָדֶ֫יךָ מַלְכִּי / לְנֶ֫גֶד כָּל נִבְרָאֶ֫יךָ וּדְבַר גְּבוּרוֹת יְחַו חִכִּי / אֲשֶׁר פְּעַלְתָּם לִירֵאֶ֫יךָ בַּחֲמִשָּׁה־עָשָׂר בְּאָב, כִּי / נִמְלְצוּ לְחִכִּי פְלָאֶ֫יךָ וְאֶכְתְּבֵ֫ימוֹ עַל גִּלָּיוֹן / וְאָשִׁיר בָּם עֲלֵי הִגָּיוֹן
הִתְבַּשֵּׂ֫רוּ בְנֵי עֶלְיוֹן כִּי נִחַם יי צִיּוֹן
בְּיוֹם . . .
This is a faithful transcription of the תְּחִנָה לְשַׁבָּת מְבָרְכִים רֹאשׁ חוֺדֶשׁ מְנַחֵם אָב (“Tkhine for Shabbat Mevorkhim Rosh Ḥodesh Menaḥem Av”) which first appeared in ש״ס תחנה חדשה (Shas Tkhine Ḥadasha), a collection of tkhines published by Ben-Zion Alfes in Vilna, 1922. . . .
This is a faithful transcription of the תְּחִנָה לְשַׁבָּת מְבָרְכִים רֹאשׁ חוֺדֶשׁ תַּמוּז (“Tkhine for Shabbat Mevorkhim Rosh Ḥodesh Tamuz”) which first appeared in ש״ס תחנה חדשה (Shas Tkhine Ḥadasha), a collection of tkhines published by Ben-Zion Alfes in Vilna, 1922. . . .
“Tkhine of the Matriarchs for the New Moon of Tishrei [Rosh Hashanah]” by Rebbetsin Seril Rappaport is a faithful transcription of her tkhine included in “תחנה אמהות מן ראש חודש אלול” (Tkhine of the Matriarchs for the New Moon of Elul) published in Vilna, 1874, as re-published in 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. . . .
“Tkhine of the Matriarchs for the New Moon of Elul” by Rebbetsin Seril Rappaport is a faithful transcription of her tkhine published in Vilna, 1874, as re-published in 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. . . .
In 1785 Friedrich Schiller wrote his ‘An die Freude\ an ode ‘To Joy’, describing his ideal of an equal society united in joy and friendship. Numerous copies and adaptations attest to its popularity at the time. The slightly altered 1803 edition was set to music not only by Ludwig van Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony but also by other composers such as Franz Schubert and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Hs. Ros. PL B-57 contains a Hebrew translation of the first edition of the ode (apparently rendered before the 1803 alteration), revealing that the spirit of the age even managed to reach the Jewish community in the Netherlands. Whereas the imagery of Schiller’s original is drawn from Greek mythology, the author of the שִׁיר לְשִׂמְחָה relies on the Bible as a source. In fact, he not only utilises Biblical imagery, but successfully avoids any allusion to Hellenistic ideas whatsoever. . . .
Y.L. Peretz rejected cultural universalism, seeing the world as composed of different nations, each with its own character. Liptzin comments that “Every people is seen by him as a chosen people…”; he saw his role as a Jewish writer to express “Jewish ideals…grounded in Jewish tradition and Jewish history.” This is Peretz lampoon of the popularity of Friedrich Schiller’s idealistic paean made famous as the lyrics to the climax of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. . . .
Tu Bish’vat is sometimes referred to as the day in which the sap begins to rise in the trees. From where does this teaching arise? . . .
The time of Sukkot is a time of fullness and generosity, but also a time to pray for the coming season. Shemini Atzeret, the festival when we pray for rain, is an expression of our need for water, which in the Jewish tradition symbolizes life, renewal, and deliverance. Tefillat Geshem, a graceful fixture of the Ashkenazic liturgy, invokes the patriarchs as exemplars of holiness and model recipients of God’s love. This prayer uses water as a metaphor for devotion and faith, asking that God grant us life-sustaining rain. While its authorship is unknown, it is sometimes attributed to Elazar Kallir, the great liturgist who lived sometime during the first millenium. Each year, we are reminded of our people’s connection to the patriarchs and to the rhythms of water, spiritual and physical sources of life, through this medieval piyyut. While we know that rain is a natural process, formal thanksgiving for water as a source of life, energy, and beauty reminds us that our Creator is the source of our physical world and its many wonders. . . .
I have come to see That we are not the only creatures who are B’tzelem Elohim, We are all in God’s image. So today, on Rosh Ḥodesh Elul, On the New Year of the Domesticated Beasts, Let’s give thanks to the bugs Like the four questioning children Wise and snarky and simple and oblivious, Like the four worlds of the kabbala The earth, the sky, the heart and the spirit We give thanks and acknowledge The bugs we have domesticated The bugs who serve us in their wild state The bugs that hurt us or gross us out And the bugs who live only for themselves, without any reference to us. . . .
In the year 5775 (2015), the vernal equinox coincided with Rosh Ḥodesh Nissan, the Hebrew month known also as Aviv (Spring), as well as the onset of Shabbat, and a total solar eclipse. Here is a short meditation to receive the shabbat in embrace of the new season. . . .
Here’s a first draft of a brief liturgy for last night, for solstice plus Ḥanukah. Note that this is a kind of eco-liturgy, but it also stands on its own without imposing an ecological overlay. Since it’s still solstice all day, you may want to use this prayer now, or at dusk tonight. . . .
This Tu BiShvat haggadah focuses on healing the wounded Earth today, with passages on major policy questions facing the human race in the midst of a great climate crisis and massive extinctions of species. In each of the Four Worlds in this Haggadah (Earth, Water, Air, Fire) there are traditional, mystical, and poetical passages, and in each there are also contemporary passages on aspects of public policy (Earth: food and forest; Water: fracking; Air: climate; Fire: alternative and renewable energy sources.) These policy-oriented passages help make this a distinctive Haggadah. After these passages, this Haggadah encourages Seder participants to take time for discussion. They may also decide to omit some passages and/or add others. The desire for such a Haggadah grew from discussions of the Green Hevra, a network of Jewish environmental organizations. Thanks to Judith Belasco, Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Sybil Sanchez, Rabbi David Seidenberg, Richard Schwartz, Rabbi David Shneyer, and Yoni Stadlin for comments on an earlier draft of this Haggadah. . . .
Supplemental prayers for the Birkat Hamazon on Tisha b’Av, Tu b’Av, and Shabbat Naḥamu by Gabriel Wasserman . . .
This is the month when we tell the story Of the escape from the narrow place. This is the month of Shabbat Shirah, When we sing the song of liberation. We give thanks for freedom. This is the month when we talk of wine and nuts and fruit, The New Year of the Trees. This is the month of Tu Bishvat When we eat the gifts of our planet. We give thanks to the earth. . . .
Ḥaza”l suggest that at this season in particular, we honor the spirits of our friends and teachers, the trees. On Rosh HaShanah La’Ilan, the New Year of The Tree, we connect with the spirits of those trees. According to Rabbi Tzvi Elimelekh of Dinov (B’nei Yissakhar):
On this day the saraf, the sap containing the Holy Sparks in those trees, begins its upward flow. That saraf contains a spiritual dimension, a ‘fire’ or ‘burning energy’, the sacred sparks that the fruits of the Holy Land contain in abundance. On this day, HaShem our Creator begins to place the first sacred sparks into the tree, from where the fruits of the coming year will emerge. Those sparks can ignite the reponsive soul with a burning desire to rise even higher and closer to HaShem.
. . .
The four teachings above are connected with the Four Worlds that the kabbalists saw as the architecture of the universe. When the Kabbalistic community of Tz’fat created the Seder for Tu BiShvat/ Yah BiShvat, they unfolded these Four Worlds in four cups of wine and four sorts of fruit and nuts (one sort so ethereal it was invisible and untouchable). This year, the full moon of Shvat will fall on Shabbat Shira itself, January 24-25. . . .
Rain is important in every society, but particularly so in places like Eretz Yisrael, where rain only falls during a defined portion of the year. It is critical, then, that the “rainy season” in fact be rainy, since no rain can be expected for the remainder of the year. Accordingly, prayers, liturgies, and fast days relating to rain (or the lack thereof) played, and continue to play, a prominent role in Jewish tradition. Our tefillot today contain two major references to rain: “hazkarat geshamim” (better known as “mashiv haruaḥ umorid hagashem“) and “she’eilat geshamim“, found in the weekday Amidah in the 9th berakhah, “birkat hashanim“. There, an alternating liturgy was established: during the dry months, we say “v’tein berakhah“, whereas during the rainy season, we say “v’tein tal umatar livrakhah“, an explicit request for the rain to fall. Consensus emerged around the opinion of Rabban Gamliel in Mishnah Ta’anit 1:3 that “she’eilat geshamim” should begin on the 7th of Marḥeshvan (15 days after Shmini Atzeret, the 22nd of Tishrei). This would give pilgrims from as far away as the Euphrates (a 15-day journey) sufficient time to return home in dry weather. This is current practice in Eretz Yisrael to this day. . . .
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. . . .
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. . . .
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.“ . . .
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. . . .
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. . . .
Tu B’Av, the fifteenth of the month of Av, comes in July or August, at a time when the air is sweltering, the sun is ever-present, and the green plant life is wilting. In Israel, Av is a month of extreme heat when nothing grows. It comes just six days after the 9th of Av, Tisha B’Av, the holiday of mourning, when the Temple is destroyed, when the Shekhinah grieves like a widow who has lost her mate. The first of Tammuz, when we recognize our exile and mortality, lingers in the heat of the air. Yet Tu B’Av is a holiday of dancing and choosing lovers, a holiday of life. It is a turning around of time. It is the moment when the fallen fruit breaks open to reveal the new seed. . . .
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.” . . .
When the spring (Aviv) season arrives, a blessing is traditionally said when one is in view of at least two flowering fruit trees. In the northern hemisphere, it can be said anytime through the end of the month of Nissan (though it can still be said in Iyar). For those who live in the southern hemisphere, the blessing can be said during the month of Tishrei. . . .
The Open Siddur Project is pleased to offer the world the first freely licensed Seder Megillat Esther. We would like to thank our contributors: the Jewish Publication Society for sharing an authoritative digital edition of their 1917 English Translation of the TaNaKh (The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text), Christopher Kimball and the Westminster Leningrad Codex digitzation project for an authoritative digital text of the TaNaKh. We would also like to thank Rabbi Rallis Wiesenthal for his contribution of the Siddur Bnei Ashkenaz, Shmueli Gonzales for his transcriptions of siddurim witnessing the Nusach Ha-Ari, and Aharon Varady, the editor of opensiddur.org and founder of the Open Siddur Project. If you have any free licensed resources representing other nuschaot and minhagim, please share them. . . .
For aspiring ba’al koreh (readers) of Megillat Esther studying its various styles of cantillation (Hebrew, ta’amei hamiqra or in Yiddish, trope), a fair number of recordings are popping up online, but only one so far is being shared with a free/libre, copyleft license thanks to Gabriel Seed, lead developer of zemirotdatabase.org. The audio file is free to redistribute and remix under the CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported license. We’re honored to share Gabriel’s recording of a zarqa table for Megillat Esther read in the Nusaḥ Ashkenaz style. Megillat Esther – Ta’amei Hamiqra: MP3 | OGG . . .
In the wake of the continued uprooting of fruit trees and human settlements in the Land of Israel, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights shared the following petitionary prayer. . . .
Tu biShvat, the 15th of the month of Shevat, was designated by the Talmud as the New Year for the Trees. It was tax time for HaShem, a time of tithing for the poor. This tithing has its origin in the following Torah verse: “Every year, you shall set aside a tenth part of the yield, so that you may learn to revere your God forever.” The Kabbalists of 17th century Safed developed the model of tikkun olam that we embrace today — healing the world by gathering the scattered holy sparks. To encourage the Divine flow — shefa — and to effect Tikkun Olam, the Kabbalists of Safed (16th century) created a Tu biShvat seder loosely modeled after the Passover seder. In recent decades we have learned how the well being of trees is intimately connected to the well being of all creation. This relationship is clearly stated in the following Midrash: “If not for the trees, human life could not exist.” (Midrsh Sifre to Deut. 20:19) Today the stakes of environmental stewardship have become very high. Tu biShvat calls upon us to cry out against the enormity of destruction and degradation being inflicted upon God’s world. This degradation includes global warming, massive deforestation, the extinction of species, poisonous deposits of toxic chemicals and nuclear wastes, and exponential population growth. We are also deeply concerned that the poor suffer disproportionately from environmental degradation. Rabbi Abraham Heschel wrote: “[Human beings have] indeed become primarily tool-making animal[s], and the world is now a gigantic tool box for the satisfaction of [their] needs…” . . .