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אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים | El Malé Raḥamim (Prayer for the Departed), interpretive translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים שׁוֹכֵן בַּמְּרוֹמִים,
הַמְצֵא מְנוּחָה נְכוֹנָה עַל כַּנְפֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה,
בְּמַעֲלוֹת קְדוֹשִׁים וּטְהוֹרִים
כְּזוֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ מַזְהִירִים,
(שם) אֶת נִשְׁמַת‏
שֶׁהָלַךְ לְעוֹלָמוֹ,
תְּהֵא מְנוּחָתוֹ.
Compassionate, Highest God!
Grant repose under Your Sh’khinnah’s wings
in the company of saints and pure ones
who radiate light like the bright sky,
and among them may the soul of my (name of deceased)
who has gone to other realms
find gentle rest.

I will offer as Mitsvah,
alms to honor their memory.

May their soul find itself
in the garden of delight
and may their remains be undisturbed
and may their soul be bound up
in the chain of life.

לְזֶה אֲנִי אוֹמָר
אָמֵן׃
To this I say,
Amen.

This “praying translation” of El Malé Raḥamim is included in Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi’s Sabbath Supplement to his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi ~ As I Can Say It (for Praying in the Vernacular) (2009) where he suggests it may be used by a mourner when and where there is no minyan.

Macy Nulman writes in his entry on “El Malé Raḥamim” in Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer (1993, pp. 92-93):

Ayl Malay Rahamim came into being in Western and Eastern communities, where it was recited for the martyrs of the Crusades and the Chmielnicki massacres. Eliezer Landshuth has various versions of this prayer, as it was recited in different parts of Europe.4 Israel Davidson has twenty-two versions listed in his Thesaurus of Medieval Hebrew Poetry.

In most prayer books, the phrase differs as to al kanefay hashekhinah (“on the wings of Divine Presence”) or taḥat kanefay hashekhinah (“under the wings of Divine Presence”). Some prayer books give both versions side by side. According to Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (SHeLaH), the correct version is al kanefay hashekhinah since the word taḥat is used in conjunction with proselytes (gerim), as it is written, Asher bat laḥashot taḥat kenafav–“Under whose wings thou art come to take refuge” (Ruth 2:12). In addition the prayer for a convert to Judaism reads, Sheva laḥashot taḥat kanefay Elohay Yisrael (“who came to find protection under the wings of the God of Israel”). A further distinction is made between al and taḥat in that the latter is used to mean heavenly protection from danger, whereas the former refers to spiritual elevation as indicated in this prayer.

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