בסיעתא דשמיא

Scaling the Walls of the Labyrinth: Psalms 67 and Ana b’Koaḥ

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. . . .

הושׁענות | Hoshanot by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, translation by Gabbai Seth Fishman

A supplemental Hoshanot liturgy for Sukkot confessing a selection of humanity’s crimes against creation. . . .

הושׁענות | Hoshana for Healing and Consolation by Rabbi Dr. Dalia Marx (trans. Aharon Varady)

A supplemental hoshana (prayer for salvation) for healing and consolation for the sake of true love, needed blessings, rainfall in a timely fashion, paths and their repair, mountains and their crossing, goals and objectives, lasting memories, good dreams, cosmic goodness, etc. . . .

ברכת הגשם | A Geshem Prayer Invoking the Matriarchs by Rabbi Jill Hammer

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. . . .

Tkhine of the Matriarchs for Yizkor on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Yamim Tovim

“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. . . .

A Prayer for Candle-lighting by Chaya Kaplan-Lester

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. . . .

סוכות | Ushpizin and Ushpizata: Inviting the Avot and Imahot into your Sukkah by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

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. . . .

An den ersten Tagen des Laubhüttenfestes: A prayer for the first days of Sukkot by Fanny Neuda (1855)

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.“ . . .

Am Laubhüttenfest beim Kreisgang mit dem Lulaw und Esrog by Fanny Neuda (1855)

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. . . .

Occupy the Lulav by Virginia Avniel Spatz

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. . . .


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