בסיעתא דשמיא

A Prayer for Knowledge of the Messiah by Rosa Emma Salaman (1851)

Oh! Lord God! I come to ask counsel of Thee. Give me, I beseech Thee, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

Oh! God of wisdom, let thy power and thy might be seen in me, for the knowledge that I shall have of thy holy word.

Great God! Almighty Creator! enlighten my spirit, that I may . . .

A Prayer for the Love of God by Rosa Emma Salaman (1851)

This prayer and “A Prayer for Knowledge of the Messiah” were published as “Two Short Prayers” with a lengthy introduction probably penned by Isaac Leeser in the Occident 9:5, Ab 5611/August 1851, p.253-255. . . .

מגילת איכה | Megillat Eikhah (Lamentations) for Tisha b’Av (translation by Rabbi David Seidenberg, neohasid.org)

This translation of Laments, the book of mourning poems read on Tish’a B’Av, uses principles of the Buber-Rosenzweig Bible. It strives to be “concordant”, translating related Hebrew words with related English words and following the order and syntax of the Hebrew where possible. It also focuses on the more physical, earthy meaning of words, in order to draw the reader from modern towards more ancient ways of seeing and feeling. Sometimes alternate translations are given, indicated by a slash. (When reading aloud, simply pick one of the translations. For YHVH, you can read Adonai or Hashem or “the Eternal”.) James Moffat’s 1922 translation was consulted. As a somewhat literal translation, Laments uses “He” and “His” as pronouns for God, even though Torah and common sense command us not to make an exclusively male or female image of God. If you are using Laments liturgically, please feel encouraged to change the pronouns. For brief essays on the theology of Eikhah and more, see the bottom of this page. This work is dedicated to all refugees fleeing war and upheaval, and to our remembering their needs. . . .

תשעה באב | Prayer for Tisha b’Av by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l (translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

During the time before there was a State of Israel, those ideals in our hearts which we tried to practice and which we wanted others to practice, seemed not achievable where we were because, we felt we had no influence over our world where we were. And so, the longing for our homeland was tied into the longing for our dreams and our vision. Now that the state of Israel is with us, our dreams and our visions still remain distant from our lives and therefore when we say the Tisha B’av prayers we need to remind ourselves of the distance between that which we would have in this world and that which we do have. . . .

תשעה באב | Eikha for the Earth: Sorrow, Hope, and Action from the Shalom Center

Tisha b’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, has historically been a day to mourn the Destruction of the First and Second Temples, centers of Israelite practice before the rise of Rabbinic Judaism (First Temple 975 BCE – 586 BCE; Second Temple 515 BCE – 70 CE) and the exiles that followed those destructions. Over the course of Jewish history this day of mourning and fasting has also come to commemorate many other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout history. This year we are beginning a new tradition. We are suggesting that in addition to, or instead of (depending on the norms of your community and personal practice) the traditional observance of Tisha b’Av, the time has come to use this powerful day to mourn the ongoing destruction of the “temple” that is our Earth, a tragedy for all peoples, creatures and living things, but one that is not complete and thus, with sufficient will and action, is in part, reversible. . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Alelai Li: Woe is me! by Elazar ben Killir, circa 7th century CE (translated by Rachel Salston)

Alelai Li” is a kinah recited on the morning of Tisha bAv. It was written by HaKalir around the 7th century. According to the Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, it is number 17 of 50. The title is the refrain of the poem and is an onomatopoeic whimper (try saying it aloud, focusing on the alliteration). It is difficult to translate the opening word “im” which means “if” or “should”. This is an allusion to Job 10:15, “If I have done evil, then woe unto me.” I have decided to translate the kinah not in the conditional tense (which would render “If these horrible things happened, then woe is me!”) but as a lament upon memory; however, the former would be a more accurate (if not more awkward in English) translation. Adding to the awkwardness of the poem’s language is the feminine conditional verb that each line has after the word “im”. I have maintained this strange verb tense and placement in my translation by using the English progressive tense. The kinah ends with a collection in lines in a different meter suggesting that the Holy One (and the paytan himself) is angered that the Jewish people announce their sufferings but not their transgressions. . . .

אז בהלוך ירמיהו | Az Bahalokh Yirmiyahu: Then As Jeremiah Went, by Elazar ben Killir circa 7th century CE (translated by Gabriel Seed)

Az Bahalokh Yirmiyahu is a kinah, “based on Eikhah Rabati Petikhta 24, in which Jeremiah says to God: “I am like a father who prepared to take his only son to be married, and the son tragically died under the wedding canopy. Do you not feel any pain for me or for my son?” God responds: “Go and rouse Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses from their graves, for they know how to cry…” (Daniel Goldschmidt, Seder Kinot le-Tisha b’Av, Jerusalem, 1972, 98). . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Eli Tsiyon v’Ar’eha (Mourn Zion and her cities) translated by Joel Goldstein

Mourn Zion and her cities, like a woman in her birth pains, And like a maiden wrapped in sack-cloth for the husband of her youth Mourn the palace that was abandoned in the sheep’s negligence of its flock, and for the coming of the revulsion of God within the Temple’s rooms. For the exile of the servants of God, who sing her songs, and for their blood that was spilled like the waters of her rivers. . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Esh Tukad b’Kirbi: A Fire Shall Burn Within Me, translated by Gabriel Seed

Aish Tukad is a kinah for Tisha B’av, usually recited towards the conclusion of the set of dirges for the morning service (in Goldshmidt’s numbering, it is number 32 of our 46 Kinot). According to Goldshmidt’s introduction, the structure of this Piyyut is based on a Midrash in Eicha Zuta 19, where Moses’ praises for God and Israel are seen as parallel to Jeremiah’s laments, thus creating the concept of a comparison between the joy of the Exodus and the pain of the Temple’s destruction. . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Oy Meh Haya Lanu: Oy What Has Happened to Us, by Baruch ben Samuel d.1221 (translated by Rachel Salston)

Oy Meh Haya Lanu” is a kinah traditionally recited on the night of Tisha b’Av directly after the reading of Eikha. According to the Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, it is number 1 of 50. The title is the refrain of the poem, a reflective lament. This kinah is based on the fifth and final chapter of Eikha, taking the opening phrase of each line of the megillah as the first line of each couplet and poetically expanding the description for the second. This translation is an attempt to convey the vulgarity and horror of the paytan’s depiction of the destroyed Jerusalem in vernacular English. The kinah ends just as the megillah ends, with the four verses of pleas for redemption. . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | v’Ahimah Miyamim Yamimah: I Will Wail for All Time (translated by Hillary and Daniel Chorny)

V’ahimah Miyamim Yamimah” is a kinah that recounts the tragic tale of the children of Rabbi Yishmael as told in the Babylonian Talmud (Gittin 58a). The handsome brother and fair sister were separated and sold into slavery during the conquest of Jerusalem. Their respective masters, not knowing the two were siblings, paired them with the intent of creating beautiful offspring. In their shared cell, the two wept all night until morning, when they recognized one another. They cried on each other’s necks until their souls departed from their bodies. The narrator of our story laments their terrible fate, ending each verse with a haunting refrain: “And so I will wail for all time.” . . .

The Last Tisha b’Av: A Tale of New Temples by Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow and Rabbi Phyllis Ocean Berman

Long ago there came a Ḥassid, visiting from Vitebsk to see his Rebbe. Struggling up hills, over cobblestones, through narrow alleyways, the Ḥassid came panting, shaking, to the door of a pale and quiet synagogue. So pale, so quiet was this shul that the pastel paintings on the wall and ceiling stood out as though they were in vivid primary colors. As the Ḥassid came into the shul, he saw his Rebbe high on a make-shift ladder, painting a picture on the ceiling above the bimah. . . .

בורא עד אנה | Borei Ad Anah, “Creator! How long” (after 1492 C.E.)

Bore ‘Ad Anah” is a kinah recited in a number of Sephardic communities on Tisha B’av (or in some cases on Shabbat Hazon, the Shabbat preceding Tisha B’av), particularly in the Spanish-Portuguese and North African traditions. The author is unknown, but his name is likely Binyamin based on the acrostic made up of the first letters of the verses. In the kinah, the Children of Israel are compared to a wandering dove caught in a trap by predators, crying out its father, God. The kinah was likely written as a poignant response to the Spanish Inquisition, appropriate to Tisha B’av since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain occurred on the 9th of Av in the year 1492. The version presented here was likely censored, as many manuscripts have the fifth verse presented in the following manner directly calling out their Catholic oppressors,” יועצים עליה עצות היא אנושה זרים העובדים אלילים שלושה אם ובן ורוח כי אין להם בושה גדול ממכאובי.” “They counsel against her and she languishes, the strangers who worship three idols, father, son and spirit, for they have no shame and great is my suffering.” . . .

A Prayer for Compassion During Violent Conflict by Trisha Arlin

We pray for those of us Who are so angry That we have lost compassion for the suffering Of anyone who is not a member of our group. And we pray for those of us Who cannot see the suffering Behind the loss of that compassion. We pray for the strength To resist the urge to inhumanity That we feel in times of fear and mourning. We pray for the courage To resist the calls to inhumanity That others may make upon us in times of crisis. . . .

Birkat Hamazon additions for Tisha b’Av, Shabbat Naḥamu, and Tu b’Av by Gabriel Wasserman

Supplemental prayers for the Birkat Hamazon on Tisha b’Av, Tu b’Av, and Shabbat Naḥamu by Gabriel Wasserman . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | A Memory’s fire burns within me still, adapted from “Esh Tukad b’kirbi” by Andrew Meit

“A Memory’s fire burns within me still” was adapted by Andrew Meit from Gabriel Seed’s translation of the kinah, Aish Tukad b’kirbi (“A Fire Shall Burn Within Me”). . . .


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