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A Delightful Tkhine for a Pregnant Woman to Say (ca. early 17th c.)

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

A delightful tkhine for a pregnant woman to say:

[Part 1]

Lord of the world, my God, I humbly beg you, with a broken heart, and with my weak body, to confirm my baby in Torah, as a person of honor and riches.

I beg you, lord of the whole world, do not diminish my honor when you give me a child, so it may have honor and riches, and be honored by you, for it is written in your holy Torah that we should multiply and people your holy Torah to learn and carry out your commandments.

So may the blessing of Avraham, Yitsḥaq, and Yaaqov be confirmed as you promised. Oh, lord of the universe, accept my tears, so they may not be locked away forever. Hear my weeping, so I may be worthy, like Ḥannah, the saintly woman, to have a son, as she had her son, the prophet Shmuel.

I beg you to bestow me with honor so I may be worthy to have a son, a talmudic scholar. And I beg you, merciful god, to make kosher the seed of all the daughters of Yisrael, that come into the world. And may I give birth to a strong and tall man, fine of figure, to honor your divine presence. And may he be a rich man, a talmudic scholar, a strong and handsome man, and tall. I beg you, merciful God, give me a son, a talmudic scholar, or a daughter who may marry a talmudic scholar, for to be the wife of a talmudic scholar is as good as being a talmudic scholar.

I beg you, loving God of truth, whose Name lives forever, answer me, forgive my sins, and accept my prayer. Hear those who call out to you, hear them and answer them. Holy God, loving God, your true name is eternal. I beg you to answer this plea that comes from the bottom of my heart, and may my prayer be answered.

Be merciful to me, so I may be worthy to bear a kosher child, who will have no blemish, and no deformity. And may you put good words into his mouth, the words of your beloved Torah, so that he will know how to carry out your commandments, and to keep all 613 that you commanded on Mount Sinai. And endow him with a fine face and good hearing, and straight limbs, both arms and legs. And may he soar like an eagle, and be strong as a lion, and run like a deer, to fulfill your beloved commandments, the Torah, and all good deeds.

Beloved one and only God of all creatures, I beg you to honor me and be merciful to me, and to heal me like a doctor. But doctors are only mortals. When they heal, they combine healing with payment, but they are not sure whether or not their cure will work. And those they have helped may need to return to them, uncured. But your healing is eternal, and the sick do not need a second visit. Therefore, beloved lord God, heal me with your healing. You know the people that you created. Be merciful over me, and open my womb in virtue, so I may give birth to a talmudic scholar.

And may my seed smell sweetly, and not be spoiled, and not go unblessed, but blossom into fulfillment just as good, rich earth yields its grain from a fine crop. May my seed also grow to praise the blessed Name, and to make your Name holy, and to worship you alone, always and forever.

Amen.

[Part 2]

And in supplication, archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, I beg you as your servant to put my case to the blessed Holy One, so my prayer may be answered and I may be worthy to bear beautiful children, of fine figure and full of grace in God’s eyes, and in the eyes of the people.

And may my prayer be accepted by you as once the priests made sacrifice in the Temple. May our lives now be reckoned like the sacrifice so we might receive your forgiveness, and may my words be accepted like the blessed spices. And may you accept our prayers, and may you give me beautiful, fair children, tall and strong, to be your servants.

Amen.

[Part 3]

Raise your eyes to the heavens and say this:

I stand before you, God, my God, God on high, you are the lord of the whole world, and your kingdom is great and strong, and you know the thoughts that your people have in their hearts.

I stand before you and ask from the bottom of my heart, to be forgiven and pardoned by everyone for everything that I have done either by word or by deed. For I forgive, I forgive everyone their sins, be they man or woman, young or old.

So I beg you, mighty God on high, you are forgiveness and pardon, and before you the whole world trembles, and may all whom you have created forgive me. At this time as I call out to you.

May my prayer come before you and may you answer it as you answer the prayers of all saintly men and saintly women. And may you lock up the mouths of my accusers who would speak ill of me before you.

Amen. Selah.

[Part 4]

God, God of Yisrael, who sits with the keruvim, King, King of kings, and Ark of arks, blessed is the name of his glorious kingdom for all eternity.[1]The formula, barukh shem kevod malkhuto, l’olam va’ed — recited after Deuteronomy 6:4 in the Shema.

I beg you, God, you, who created the whole world, and all creation. You are God, and there is no other, you reassure me day and night.

And all the highest angels in heaven, on earth, and on the mountains, tremble at your beloved Name. And all are frightened and tremble at your mighty Name. You are mighty and your great wonder is mighty. Who can tell of it?

And even when our mouths are full, we still cannot find the words to tell one part of your wonder. And we are silenced by all your wonder, and you have performed great wonders for our forefathers, and every day you do more than we can ever express.

[Part 5]

Lord of the world, master of mercy, I beg you, highest of lords, who is merciful to all those you have created, from the smallest to the greatest, and who nourishes them with your great mercy, and with your immense grace, so I beg you, my God, and god of my forefathers be merciful to me, and to the fruit I carry in my body.

And may you overlook the sins and misdeeds of my youth and of my adulthood, and forgive all the sins that I confess to you with all my heart.

Say with great kavone:
 
Master of forgiveness, I come to you to call out for your help, and I call out to you from the depths of my burdened heart that weighs heavily in me. May you help me and the fruit in my body, as only you can help a child in its mother’s body. As King David, may he rest in peace, said, “I thank you for I am awesomely, wondrously fashioned. Wondrous are your works and my soul knows it well.”[2]Psalms 139:14.

I beg you, God, my God, to let me benefit from the merit of Avraham, Yitsḥaq, and Yaaqov, and Sarah, Rivqah, Raḥel, and Le’ah, and the merit of all saintly men and women since the beginning of the creation of the world. May their merit benefit me, and may you send the holy angels to protect me and the child in my body. Beloved lord God, I beg for mercy. May you be merciful to me, and may you give strength and energy to me and to my child.

[Part 6]

God of hosts, I call out to you to protect me and my child, and when it comes to the time when my child shall be brought into the world, may you protect me, mighty God and powerful God, and awesome God.

I place myself and my child into your hands, as you hold the key to these things. No one can override the highest angel in heaven, and in your hands is great mercy and grace, which you bestow on a child as it is born into this world.

Therefore I beg you, God on high, god of mercy, in your great mercy is my assurance of a safe birth. For help is yours as you are named God full of mercy and may I live in your great mercy and grace, so I may bear my child into the world without pain, like the saintly women who were not inscribed as eve so they did not need to suffer in pain.

Lord of the whole world, god on high. Great and awesome God, who can praise you enough? Who can know how to speak of the great strength that you give to me? I beg you, God on high, let my prayer be accepted by you, as you accepted the holy sacrifices that were brought every day to the altar.

And may my prayer be accepted as you accepted the prayer of Ḥannah the prophetess, when she was blessed with her fruit. You heard her prayer and she gave birth to the prophet Shmuel. So may my prayer which I send to you from the bottom of my heart, come before you, and may you answer my call with great mercy and compassion.

And I beg you, God on high, and God of my forefathers, accept my prayer.

Amen. Selah.

[Part 7]

Lord of the world, I begin to speak, I beg without forgiveness, my tongue is silenced by the enormity of the sins I have committed that remain unconfessed, and lie heavily upon me, like the harshest sins that are no longer remembered. There are so many that my mouth cannot speak of them all and my tongue cannot search them out. They have covered me from head to foot so I cannot free them from my trembling body, and it frightens me greatly.

So I beg you for your mercy, for God does not desire that a sinner shall die a sinner, not until they have repented with all their heart and have shown remorse for their sins for you wish to be merciful and accept their repentance. This reassures me and so I beg you, god, to accept this prayer from one who repents to you with all her heart, and may you take into account my good deeds with your great mercy. I beg you to accept this prayer that I offer you.

Lord of all the world, I have sinned before you by day and by night, when lying down and when I rise, my body is full of sin. I am ashamed to come before you in my stained garments, and my heart is embittered for when I leave this world and stand before you I will remember that I corrupted my own body with pleasures that lasted no longer than the blink of an eye, and now my soul is corrupted for ever, and shall be bound in red because of the punishing angels[3]Angels who inflict pain on those in their graves who are evil or have not repented. who were created because of the sin of man.

Almighty God, how was I so foolish? How can the blessed Name show me mercy when he has chosen me to rule over cows and over all animals, and all things on the earth, and yet I, foolish woman that I am, cannot rule over my own body, but have sinned and transgressed many times and have been worse than a cow or an ox or a donkey.

I am a sinner who has chosen evil over good, and have not thought about bitter death and how I must suffer, therefore I beg you, almighty God, create in me a new heart, remove the stains from my tainted heart, banish the evil inclination, and forgive my foolishness, for my body is only ashes and earth. When the blessed Name takes my soul and when my body is returned to the earth, and my limbs are full of fear, and my heart is consumed with weeping and shouting, if I, heaven forbid, do not repent of all the transgressions of my lifetime, may the blessed Name stand by me, so I may serve his glorious name. And sin no more.

And so I beg you to be merciful God on high in heaven. I beg you for mercy when you assess my service and my deeds woe to me, woe to my soul, how will it be when you look to me for purity and find none. I put my trust in your mercy and hope you will accept my wholehearted repentance which I shout out, weeping and fasting and giving charity. May my tears wash away my sins, and may my fasting be accepted by you in place of the Temple sacrifices, and if the yetser haRa threatens to take me over and forces me to sin against my will, I will do my utmost to protect myself. And may you protect me from the yetser haRa and prevent him from leading me astray so I never sin again.

Almighty God, highest lord, you are one in the whole world. There is no other god but you. You, who gave me my body and soul, may you turn my sins to merit, and protect me from the yetser haRa, and may you instill in me the yetser haTov, and remove all those things that hinder my repentance. And may I pass before you into eternity.

Amen. Selah.

This is an English translation prepared by Devra Kay from an unpublished manuscript containing tkhines for a pregnant woman (see Devra Kay, Seyder Tekhines: The Forgotten Book of Jewish Prayer for Jewish Women, Jewish Publication Society, 2004, p.203-213). The manuscript can be found in the Bodleian Library, Shelfmark Opp 666, and is listed in Adolph Neubauer’s 1886 catalog of Hebrew manuscripts in the Bodleian Library’s collection as “Occasional prayers in Hebrew-German cursive characters [incomplete]. Ashkenaz, early 17th century.” Devra Kay argues that “all the pages are there and can be rearranged to form a complete book” possibly an early antecedent to the Seder Tkhines. Unfortunately, a transcription of the manuscript was not published along with Kay’s translation. If you can provide such a transcription, or help with obtaining a digital copy of this manuscript, please contact us.

I have tagged this prayer as problematic because it contains language biased in favor of male progeny. –Aharon Varady

 


 

Notes   [ + ]

  1. The formula, barukh shem kevod malkhuto, l’olam va’ed — recited after Deuteronomy 6:4 in the Shema.
  2. Psalms 139:14.
  3. Angels who inflict pain on those in their graves who are evil or have not repented.

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