תפילה לפני שחיטה | Prayer before Kosher Slaughter, by Eliyah ben Shlomo Avraham haKohen (Sefer Shevet Musar, 1712)

Hebrew (source) English (translation)

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ
ה׳ אֱלֹהַי וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתַי,
בַּעַל הָרַחֲמִים כֻּלָם,
חָפֵץ בְּתִּיקוּן כָּל נֶפֶשׁ הַחוֹטֵאת
לְבִּלְתִּי יִדָח,
אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִרְבָּה לְהַכְעִיסֶךָ.
May it be your will,
YHVH my elo’ah and elo’ah of my ancestors,
the most Merciful of all,
the One who desires the repair of every nefesh (being/spirit) that has transgressed
without exception,
even those who have angered you many times —

וְאִם שׁוֹלַחַת בְּרֶשֶׁת לְרַגְלָהּ
שֶׁתִּלָכֵּד בְּתּוֹךְ גוּף בְּהֵמָה, חַיָה, אוֹ עוֹף
שֶׁאֲנִי שוֹחֵט,
שֶׁתִּתַּתְקֵן עַל יְדֵי בְּרָכָה
שֶּׁבֵּרַכְתִי עַל שְׁחִיטָתָהּ
וְעַל יְדֵי הֶכְשֵׁר הַסַכִּין,
כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוִתָה לַעֲשוֹת.
If she is delivered (for slaughter) trapped as a gilgul nefesh,[1]lit. l’raglah “by her leg,” (unclear). A reference to a human soul transmigrated into an animal body 
caught within the body of a domesticated animal, wild animal, or bird
that I am slaughtering,
then may (her spirit) be repaired by the blessing
that I have said over her slaughter
and (over) the kashrut of the knife,
as you have commanded it.

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינִי כְּדַי וְהָגוּן שֶׁתִּתַּקֵן עַל יָדִי,
קִיּוּם דְּבָרֶיךָ שֶׁאֲנִי מְקַיֵים,
לְבָרֵךְ וְלִשְׁחוֹט בְּסַכִּין מְתוּקָּן,
יְתַקֵן אוֹתָהּ לְהוֹצִיאָהּ מִכַּאן,
אִם יֶשְׁנָהּ,
וּלְהַחֲזִירָהּ מַדְרֵגַת אָדָם כְּבַתְּחִילָה,
Even though I am not worthy to make such a tikkun (spiritual repair) myself,
may the fulfillment of your commandments that I am fulfilling
through blessing and slaughtering with a proper knife
be a tikkun for her (the gilgul nefesh) to bring her out of here,[2]i.e., the animal in which she is trapped 
if she is here,[3]if there is such a gilgul here in the animal 
(in order) to return her to the spiritual rank of human being as at the beginning,

כִּי אֵינְךָ חָפֵץ בְּמוֹת הָרָשָׁע מִיתַה תַּכְלִית,
כִּי אִם לְבַקֵשׁ לָהּ תִּיקוּן לְטַהֵר אוֹתָהּ,
עַד יָשׁוּב לְעוֹבְדֶךָ וּלְקַיֵים תּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֺת,
כְּדֵי לְהַנְחִיל גַן עֵדֶן,
וּלְהַרְבּוֺת בִּשְׂכָרָהּ.
For you do not wish for the complete death of the wicked person,
but wish for the repair of their (spirit) to purify them,
until they return to you and to the fulfillment of your mitsvot,
so as to inherit the Garden of Eden,
and to be abundant in merit.

וְכִּיוָן שֶׁכַּוָונָתְךָ זוּ,
רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים,
אַל תַּבֵּט בְּמַעֲשַׂי הָרָעִים
אִם יֶשׁ בִּי בְּשָׁעָה זוּ שֶׁאֲנִי שׁוֹחֵט,
כְּדַי שֶׁיִהְיֶה תִּקוּן מַה יִקָּרֵא עַל שְׁמִי,
כְּדַי לְזַכּוֹת אֶת נִשְׁמָתִי שֶׁנָתַתָּ בִּי,
כְּדַי שֶּׁתָּבַע שְׁתֵּצֵא מִמֶנִי
אַל תֵּצֵא עֲרוּמָה מִזְכֻיוֹת,
And because of this,
Master of the Cosmos,
may you not look upon my wicked deeds –
if there are any in me at this time at which I am slaughtering –
so that there will be a tikkun (repair) that will be attributed to my name,
so that the soul that you have placed in me be made virtuous,
so that the demand to leave through me (by my slaughtering)
will not be devoid of merit.

לָכֵן מַפִּיל אֲנִי תְּחִנָּתִי לִפְנֵי כִסֵא כְבוֹדֶךָ
שֶׁתַּעֲלִים וְתְּכַסֶה
חֲטָאַי וַעֲוֺנוֹתַי וּפְּשָׁעַי
בְּעֵת וּבְעוֹנָה הַזֹאת,
כְּדֵי שֶׁיִתַּתְקֵן עַל יְדֵי אֵיזֶה נִיצוֹץ שֶׁל קְדוּשָׁה
אִם יֵשׁ בִּבְהֵמָה אוֹ חַיָה אוֹ עוֹף שֶׁאֲנִי שׁוֹחֵט.
Therefore I am presenting my plea before your Throne of Kavod:
that you will eradicate and cover
my sins and transgressions and crimes
in this time and season
so that she (the gilgul) will be repaired by a spark of holiness
if there are any in the domesticated animal, wild animal, or bird that I am slaughtering.

כִּי בַּעַל הָרַחֲמִים אַתָּה,
חָפֵץ לְזַכּוֹת הַנְשָׁמוֹת,
בָּרוּךְ הַמְטַהֵר וְהַמְתַקֵן וְהַמְזַכֶּה
נַפְשוֹת עַמוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל׃
For you are the Most Merciful,
who desires making souls virtuous.
Blessed is the One who purifies and repairs and brings merit
to the souls of their people Yisra’el.

This prayer to be recited prior to the blessing over sheḥitah first appeared in ספר שבט מוסר Sefer Shevet Mussar (Constantinople, 1712), chapter 36, by Eliyah ben Shlomo Avraham ha-Kohen (1650-1729). Shevet Mussar, on ethics, is divided into fifty-two chapters corresponding to the weeks of the year, and taken for the most part from the Or Ḳadmon of Eliyah’s contemporary, Moshe Ḥagis, as well as earlier works: the Tokaḥot of the Spanish poets, the Orḥot Ḥayyim, and the Roḳeaḥ of Eleazar of Worms. Chapter 36 concerns sheḥitah and the reincarnation of souls.

The process of kosher slaughter involves the shoḥet making a blessing over the slaughter at the beginning of their shift. The concern of this prayer, to be said before the blessing, is whether there may be a transmigrated soul (gilgul nefesh) in one of the animals slated for slaughter. This prayer then transforms the activity of slaughter into a ritual for potentially releasing and repairing the spiritual journey of souls that had been placed in animal bodies in order that they be rectified of past misdeeds.

Many thanks to Yedidyah Greenberg of the Jewish Initiative for Animals, in helping to identify this prayer, and with incredible gratitude to Devora Steinmetz for her corrections to our initial translation.

Source

Sefer Shevet Mussar (Constantinople, 1722)

This source appears with some small variations in the Sefaria database.

Notes   [ + ]

  1. lit. l’raglah “by her leg,” (unclear). A reference to a human soul transmigrated into an animal body
  2. i.e., the animal in which she is trapped
  3. if there is such a gilgul here in the animal

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