“Tsaar Balei Ḥayyim” ([It is forbidden to cause] suffering to a living creature), source unknown. Many thanks to Tiferet Zimmern-Kahan for recording the niggun for the song and to Naftali Ejdelman and The Jewish Daily Forward for providing the lyrics. . . .
We are grateful to Dr. James VanderKam for preparing this critical text of the Book of Jubilees (Sefer Yubalim) in its Ge’ez translation in Ethiopic script. The book of Jubilees is an early Jewish deutero-canonical text originally written in Hebrew and composed during the Second Temple period sometime before Maccabean struggle (164 BCE). . . .
For the reading of Megillat Ruth on Shavuot, I have presented here the Masoretic text of Ruth according to the R’ Seth (Avi) Kaddish’s experimental Miqra ‘al pi haMesorah side-by-side with Yehoyesh (Yehoash) Blumgarten’s masterful translation in Yiddish. . . .
This tekhina (supplication) upon candlelighting for Shavuot in Hebrew and Yiddish appears in the Maḥzor for Shavuot Rav Peninim (Vilna 1911) although we are uncertain whether it first appeared here. We welcome your help in correctly attributing and translating it. . . .
“Tkhine of the Matriarchs for Yizkor on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Yamim Tovim” 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. shgiyot mi yavin, ministarot nakeni. . . .
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. . . .
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. . . .
This prayer is based on the personal prayer said on holidays before Torah reading. The grammar has been adapted as plural rather than singular, so that the couple says the prayer together before their ritual of Kiddushin (betrothal). . . .
Each day between the beginning of Passover and Shavuot gets counted, 49 days in all, 7 weeks of seven days. That makes the omer period a miniature version of the Shmitta and Yovel (Jubilee) cycle of 7 cycles of seven years. Just as that cycle is one of resetting society’s clock to align ourselves with freedom and with the needs of the land, this cycle too is a chance to align ourselves with the rhythms of spring and the spiritual freedom represented by the Torah. . . .