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אֶפְתַּח פִּי לְךָ אָדוֹן | Eftaḥ Pi L’kha Adōn, a seliḥah for Kristallnacht by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

https://opensiddur.org/?p=39819 אֶפְתַּח פִּי לְךָ אָדוֹן | Eftaḥ Pi L'kha Adōn, a seliḥah for Kristallnacht by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer 2021-10-19 12:28:22 There's a lot of controversy over Yom haShoah as a date. One of the key issues is this: traditionally, the ways Jews mourn communal tragedies is through establishing a fast day. It's forbidden to fast during the month of Nisan. It's hard to pick any specific date to commemorate a tragedy as enormous as the Shoah, but one which seems appropriate to me would be 16 Marḥeshvan, the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the November Pogrom. This piyyut is a seliḥah for Kristallnacht, to be recited on 16 Marḥeshvan (or 15 Marḥeshvan on years like 5782 where the sixteenth falls on a Thursday). Text the Open Siddur Project Isaac Gantwerk Mayer Isaac Gantwerk Mayer https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Isaac Gantwerk Mayer https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27) Kristallnacht (16 Marḥeshvan) Yom haShoah (27 Nisan) Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust פיוטים piyyutim קינות Ḳinnot השואה the Shoah 21st century C.E. 58th century A.M. Alphabetic Acrostic Third Reich acronym
There’s a lot of controversy over Yom haShoah as a date. One of the key issues is this: traditionally, the ways Jews mourn communal tragedies is through establishing a fast day. It’s forbidden to fast during the month of Nisan. It’s hard to pick any specific date to commemorate a tragedy as enormous as the Shoah, but one which seems appropriate to me would be 16 Marḥeshvan, the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the November Pogrom. This piyyut is a seliḥah for Kristallnacht, to be recited on 16 Marḥeshvan (or 15 Marḥeshvan on years like 5782 where the sixteenth falls on a Thursday).

Note: “The CAUSE” is used to translate the Divine Name YHVH, based on the philosophical idea of God as the Prime Mover and on the interpretation of the Name as a causative form of the copula – “causes to be.” This translation also uses the pluralis majestatis to refer to the Divine. This is not meant to imply that God is more than one, ḥas v’shalom, but rather to reflect the vastness and majesty of God while also avoiding gendered language. (Find Ibn Ezra’s commentary on Genesis 1:1 for a discussion of the pluralis majestatis when referring to God.)

[If you’d like to commission a Jewish creative work, check out my website at igmjewishcreativeworks.com!]

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)
אֶפְתַּח פִּי לְךָ אָדוֹן וּבְקוֹל רָם אַפְגִּֽיעַ.
אֵיכָה הִכּֽוּנִי מְנָאֲצַי וְאֵיפֹה לִי מוֹשִֽׁיעַ.
אָמְרוּ הָאַכְזָרִים, “בְּלֵיל זֶה אֶת־הָעָם נַפְרִֽיעַ.“
אֵל־נְקָמ֥וֹת יְהֹוָ֑ה
אֵ֖ל נְקָמ֣וֹת הוֹפִֽיעַ׃
I open my mouth to You, Master, and full-voiced I plea.  
How my insulters[1] Hebrew m’na’atsai, a paronomasic reference to the Nazi party.  struck me! And where is my rescuer?
The cruel ones said “On this night we will harass the people.”
God of vengeance, CAUSE,
God of vengeance, appear![2] This and every bold line to come is a verse from Psalm 94, the psalm around which this seliḥah is written. 
בְּחֹֽדֶשׁ מַר כַּמָּֽוֶת, זָמְמוּ הַטְּמֵאִים.
בְּלִיעָלִים אָמְרוּ “אָֽנוּ לְדַם יְהוּד צְמֵאִים!”
בִּבְדֹֽלַח מְשֻׁבָּר הָיוּ הָרְחוֹבוֹת מְלֵאִים.
הִ֭נָּשֵׂא שֹׁפֵ֣ט הָאָ֑רֶץ
הָשֵׁ֥ב גְּ֝מ֗וּל עַל־גֵּאִֽים׃
In a bitter-as-death month,[3] Referring to the month of Marḥeshvan, in which the pogrom of Kristallnacht occurred. A famous midrash says that it is referred to as Marḥeshvan because it’s a bitter (mar) month.  the impure conspired.  
The lowlifes said, “We thirst for Jew blood!”
In broken crystal were the streets full.
Arise, Judge of the earth,
pay back the arrogant!
גָּלֻיּוֹת הַפַּעֲמַֽיִם – כֻּלָּם הֻכְרְחוּ וְזָֽזוּ.
גַּם עַֽתָּה גַּם כָּרִאשׁוֹנָה, בָּתֵּי הָעָם בָּזָֽזוּ.
גָּאַֽלְתָּ, כְּמִקְרָא כָּתוּב, גָּאַֽלְתָּ אֶת־עַם־זוּ.
עַד־מָתַ֖י רְשָׁעִ֥ים ׀ יְהֹוָ֑ה
עַד־מָ֝תַ֗י רְשָׁעִ֥ים יַעֲלֹֽזוּ׃
The twofold exiles, all were forced to move.  
This time too, as the first, the peoples’ houses they looted.
You saved, the scripture writes, You saved this people.
How long will the wicked, CAUSE,
how long will the wicked exult?
דָּם הָעָם נִשְׁפַּךְ בְּיָדָם לִבָּם קָשֶׁה כָּאֶֽבֶן.
דִּמְדְּמוּ הַחֲצֵרוֹת כְּלַהֲבוֹת בְּתֶֽבֶן.
דְּמוּת הַשָּׁוְא שְׁתִיקָה שָׁלְטָה מִפַּֽחַד שׂוֹנְאֵי גָּֽוֶן.
יַבִּ֣יעוּ יְדַבְּר֣וּ עָתָ֑ק
יִ֝תְאַמְּר֗וּ כׇּל־פֹּ֥עֲלֵי אָֽוֶן׃
The people’s blood was spilled by their hand, their hearts hard as stone.  
The courtyards glared like fire in straw.
The false image! Silence[4] The combination of “false” and “silence” is shav shtika, a paronomasic reference to the Nazi emblem.  ruled from fear of the diversity-haters.
They open and speak insolence,
all evildoers talk about!
הָיְתָה אֵימָה בְּלֵב אֻמָּה וּפַֽחַד הָיָה לָֽנוּ.
הַֽאמְבּוּרְג וִין וְעַד בֶּעְרְלִין חָרְדוּ פֶּן־יְעֻנּוּ.
הָרְסוּ הִשְׁמִידוּ עַד־חׇרְבָה אֶת־כֹּל אֲשֶׁר בָּֽנוּ.
עַמְּךָ֣ יְהֹוָ֣ה יְדַכְּא֑וּ
וְֽנַחֲלָתְךָ֥ יְעַנּֽוּ׃
There was fear in the people’s heart, and terror was ours.  
Hamburg, Vienna, and even Berlin, shook, lest they be oppressed.
They destroyed and pillaged all that was ours to a ruin.
Your people, CAUSE, they crush;
Your inheritance they oppress!
וְסוֹף דָּבָר שֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת רִבּוֹא מִבְּנֵי הָעָם נִטְבָּֽחוּ.
וְאֵין מִסְפָּר לִבְנֵי אֵיירָֽאפֶּע שֶׁבְּיָד צוֹרֵר הֻזְנָֽחוּ.
וּמִי יִמְנֶה אֶת־אַֽנְשֵׁי חַֽיִל שֶׁהַמְּנָאֲצִים טָבָֽחוּ.
אַלְמָנָ֣ה וְגֵ֣ר יַהֲרֹ֑גוּ
וִ֖יתוֹמִ֣ים יְרַצֵּֽחוּ׃
And at the end, six hundred myriads[5] Equivalent to six million  of the people were butchered,  
And numberless Europeans neglected by the stressor’s hand.
And who can count the soldiers who the insulters butchered?
Widow and stranger they kill,
and orphans they murder!
זָֽנוּ אַחֲרֵי יִצְרֵֽיהֶם כִּי הִתְחִֽילוּ לַעֲקֹב.
זָדוּ וּבִקְּשׁוּ חֲנוּיוֹת עִם־חַלּוֹנוֹת לִנְקֹב.
זֶֽרַע קֹֽדֶשׁ נִדְכָּא, הַמִּישׁוֹר הָיָה לֶעָקֹב.
וַ֭יֹּ֣אמְרוּ לֹ֣א יִרְאֶה־יָּ֑הּ
וְלֹא־יָ֝בִ֗ין אֱלֹהֵ֥י יַעֲקֹֽב׃
They whored after their impulses after which they had started to follow.  
They plotted and sought out stores with windows to pierce.
The holy seed is crushed; the plain has become rugged terrain!
And they say they don’t know Yah,
or understand the God of Jacob!
חָרָה לָהֶם קִיּוּם הָעָם אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם הִגְעִֽילוּ.
חִדְּשׁוּ נֶגְדָּם עֲלִילַת דָּם שֶׁעֲלֵיהֶם הֶעֱלִֽילוּ.
חֻקּוֹת שָׁוְא מִנּוּרֶעְמְבֶּֽעְרְג בְּנֵי בֶּעְרְלִין הֵחִילוּ.
בִּ֭ינוּ בֹּעֲרִ֣ים בָּעָ֑ם
וּ֝כְסִילִ֗ים מָתַ֥י תַּשְׂכִּֽילוּ׃
The existence of the people that was disgusting to them angered them.  
They renewed the blood libel that they had libeled against them.
The Berliners enforced the worthless laws of Nuremberg.
Understand, boors among the people,
and fools, when will you comprehend?
טַלְטַלִּים אָחֲזוּ בְּעַם כְּחוֹזֵי בִּכְסִיל שָׁבִיט.
טְמֵאִים הִתְגּוֹדְדוּ נֶגְדָּם כְּשֶׁמּוֹשֵׁל הוֹשִׁיט שַׁרְבִיט.
טַף וְנָשִׁים לֹא רֻחֲמוּ, אֶת־חֶרְפָּתֵֽנוּ נָא־הִבִּיט!
הֲנֹ֣טַֽע אֹ֭זֶן הֲלֹ֣א יִשְׁמָ֑ע
אִֽם־יֹ֥צֵֽר עַ֗֝יִן הֲלֹ֣א יַבִּֽיט׃
Tremors took hold of the people like those seeing a comet in Orion.[6] We learn that a comet does not pass through Orion, and if it were to pass Orion the world would be destroyed. (Berakhot 58b)    
The impure massed against them when the dictator lifted his staff.
Children and women were spared; please see our shame!
Should the ear-Planter not hear?
Should the eye-Crafter not see?
יַלְדֵיהֶם לָמְדוּ עָלַי “טָמֵא הוּא כְּצָרַֽעַת!”
יְדֵיהֶם סָלְדוּ בְּעוֹרִי כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא לָגַֽעַת.
יְקָרַי נִגְנְבוּ מִלְּפָנַי עַל־רִשְׁעַת הַטַּבַּֽעַת.
הֲיֹסֵ֣ר גּ֭וֹיִם הֲלֹ֣א יוֹכִ֑יחַ
הַֽמְלַמֵּ֖ד אָדָ֣ם דָּֽעַת׃
Their children learned about me, “He is impure like leprosy!”  
Their hands flinched from my skin so as not to touch.
My loved ones they stole from me, for the evil of the Ring![7] In this case, referring to the multiple pro-German groups known as the Deutscher Bund.  
Shall the nation-Discipliner not rebuke;
the Teacher of human knowledge?
כְּקִיא וְצוֹאָה רָאוּ לִי כְּאַשְׁפָּה מָלֵא זֶֽבֶל.
כַּיּוֹם עֶשְׂרִים צוֹם בְּסִיוָן הַיּוֹם הוּא לִי בְּאֵֽבֶל.
כַּמָּה עוֹד זְמַן וְעַד־מָתַי נִרְאֶה בְּסוֹף הַסֵּֽבֶל?
יְֽהֹוָ֗ה יֹ֭דֵעַ מַחְשְׁב֣וֹת
אָדָ֑ם כִּי־הֵ֥מָּה הָֽבֶל׃
Like vomit and filth they saw me, like a refuse heap full of garbage.  
Like the twentieth day, the fast of Sivan,[8] The fast of 20 Sivan was put in place by the Va’ad of the Four Lands to commemorate multiple tragedies of that day, including early blood libels in France and the Khmelnytsky massacres of the 1650s. (Find “Emunei Shlumei Yisrael — a seliḥah witnessing the Blois incident of 1171 by Hillel ben Yaaqov of Bonn.”) Just as seliḥot piyyutim were written for that fast day, thus this piyyut is meant to be recited as a seliḥah on 16 Marḥeshvan.  is today for me in mourning.
How much longer, and until when will we see the end of suffering?
The CAUSE knows that human thoughts
are wasted breath.
לָֽנוּ מַסְפִּיק תּוֹכֵחוֹת הִגַּֽדְנוּ כְּבָר דַּיֵּֽנוּ!
לְאָדָם קָרָֽאתָ אַיֶּֽכָּה וּלְךָ אַיֶּֽכָּה קָרָֽאנוּ.
לְהַאֲמִין בְּפָסוּק זֶה נָא־תֵּן־לוֹ בְּלִבֵּֽנוּ.
אַשְׁרֵ֤י ׀ הַגֶּ֣בֶר אֲשֶׁר־תְּיַסְּרֶ֣נּוּ יָּ֑הּ
וּֽמִתּוֹרָתְךָ֥ תְלַמְּדֶֽנּוּ׃
We have had enough rebuke! We have already said “Enough for us!”  
To Adam You called “Where are you?” and to You “Where are you” we call.
Please, let my heart believe in this verse:
Content is the man who Yah disciplines,
whom You instruct from Your Torah.
מָרָה נַפְשִׁי מִלַּעֲנָה כִּי כׇּל־תֵּֽבֵל הֻשְׁחַת.
מָה שֶׁבָּרָֽאתָ בְּשָׁבֽוּעַ יֻחְרַב בְּשָׁעָה אַחַת.
מְהֵרָה הוֹצֵא אֶת־עַמְּךָ מִפַּֽחַד וּמִפַּֽחַת!
לְהַשְׁקִ֣יט ל֭וֹ מִ֣ימֵי רָ֑ע
עַ֤ד יִכָּרֶ֖ה לָרָשָׁ֣ע שָֽׁחַת׃
My soul is bitterer than wormwood for all earth is destroyed.  
What You made in a week would be ruined in one hour.
Quick, bring your people out from fear and peril!
Calm it in bad days,
until for the wicked a pit is dug.
נִטְהַר דָּוִד מְחַטְּאוֹתָיו וְהִלְבִּין הוּא בְּאֵזוֹב.
נֶהֱרַגְנוּ עַל־פָּחוֹת כִּי הוּא נִטְמָא בְּטֻמְאַת זֹב.
נָא־הָקֵם אֶת־פָּסוּק זֶה שֶׁאַתָּה לֹא תַּעֲזֹב!
כִּ֤י ׀ לֹא־יִטֹּ֣שׁ יְהֹוָ֣ה עַמּ֑וֹ
וְ֝נַחֲלָת֗וֹ לֹ֣א יַעֲזֹֽב׃
David was purified from his sins and blanched with hyssop.  
We are killed for less, for he was impure with flow-impurity.
Please, fulfill this verse, that You will not leave us!
For the CAUSE will not abandon THEIR people,
nor leave THEIR inheritance.
סַכָּנָה קָמָה עָלַי, נִנְשַׁכְתִי מִכֶּֽלֶב.
סָגְרוּ אוֹתִי בְּמַחֲנֵיהֶם, פִּגְרִי הוּא הִשְׁתַּלְהֵב.
סִגְּפֽוּנִי בְּעִנּוּיִים, הֲלֹא שִׁמְךָ הוּא יֵעָלֵב?
כִּֽי־עַד־צֶ֭דֶק יָשׁ֣וּב מִשְׁפָּ֑ט
וְ֝אַחֲרָ֗יו כׇּל־יִשְׁרֵי־לֵֽב׃
Danger has come upon me, I am bitten by a dog.[9] The Nazis used dogs in their concentration camps to keep the inmates in line. Many Holocaust survivors have developed post-traumatic canine phobia on account of this.    
They locked me up in their camps, my corpse was aflame.
They tormented me with oppressions, is Your Name not being insulted?
For to righteousness will return justice,
and after it all the upright-hearted.
עֶלְיוֹן הַבִּֽיטָה וּרְאֵה, אָֽנוּ טוֹבְעִים כְּמוֹ אֶֽבֶן!
”עֲנֵֽנוּ־נָא!“ זָעַֽקְנוּ כִּי נֶאֱכָלִים כְּמוֹ תֶּֽבֶן!
עַד־אָנָה נְחַכֶּה בְּשָׁוְא? הַעוֹד עוֹלָם תִּתְנַוֵּן?
מִֽי־יָק֣וּם לִ֭י עִם־מְרֵעִ֑ים
מִי־יִתְיַצֵּ֥ב לִ֗֝י עִם־פֹּ֥עֲלֵי אָֽוֶן׃
Higest! Look and see, we are drowning like stone!  
“Answer us, please!” we call, for we are eaten like straw!
How long will we wait in vain? Will the world forever decay?
Who will stand up for me against the wicked;
who will rise for me against the evildoers?
פַּֽחַד וּפָֽחַת וּפַח עָלַי, מִלֵּֽאתִי בְּיֵאוּשִׁי.
פָּגְעוּ בִּי עַד־מִדַּי וְעוֹד, אֵין מִדָּה לְעׇנְשִׁי.
פָּרְצוּ בְּחַלּוֹנוֹתַי וְטִמְּאוּ אֶת־מִקְדָּשִׁי.
לוּלֵ֣י יְ֭הֹוָה עֶזְרָ֣תָה לִּ֑י
כִּמְעַ֓ט ׀ שָׁכְנָ֖ה דוּמָ֣ה נַפְשִֽׁי׃
Fear and peril and pitfall are upon me, I am filled with despair.  
They struck me more than enough and more, unmeasurable my punishment.
They split my windows and defiled my temple!
Were the CAUSE not my help,
in a second my soul would dwell in silence.
צַדִּיקִים הַהֲרוּגִים עַל־שִׁמְךָ רוֹאֶה אֲנִי
צוֹם וּבְכִי וּמִסְפְּדִי לְמַעֲנָם לוּלֵא לְמַעֲנִי
צָרִיךְ אֲנִי לְהִתְוַדֶּה — עַל מַהוּ שֶׁהִצְדַּקְתַּֽנִי?
אִם־אָ֭מַרְתִּי מָ֣טָה רַגְלִ֑י
חַסְדְּךָ֥ יְ֝הֹוָ֗ה יִסְעָדֵֽנִי׃
The righteous who were killed for Your name I see.  
Fasting and weeping and mourning, for them, were it not for me.
I must confess — for what did You judge me righteous?[10] Many survivors of the Holocaust have documented struggling with survivor’s guilt. The horror of the Holocaust is enhanced by how capricious it is.  
If I said my foot would slip,
Your mercy, CAUSE, would support me.
קָרוֹב אַתָּה” כָּתוּב בַּסֵּֽפֶר תְּהִלּוֹת הַחֲמִישִׁי.
קָשֶׁה לִי לִרְאוֹת בָּזֶה וּלְקָרֵר אֶת־רֹאשִׁי.
קְרֹא אֶקְרָא בְּשִׁמְךָ — לֹא בַּעֲלִי אַךְ אִישִׁי!
בְּרֹ֣ב שַׂרְעַפַּ֣י בְּקִרְבִּ֑י
תַּ֝נְחוּמֶ֗יךָ יְֽשַׁעַשְׁע֥וּ נַפְשִֽׁי׃
“Close are You” is written in the fifth book of psalms.[11] Two words from Psalm 145, also known as Ashrei. The book of Psalms is also divided into five books, with the fifth one extending from Psalm 107 to the end.    
It is hard for me to see this, or to cool my head.
Let me call, call by Your name — not “my master,” but “my husband!”[12] Imagery from Hosea 2:18, used to reflect a renewed closeness to God. 
With so many disturbing thoughts within me,
Your consolation covers my soul.
רְאֵה וְהַבִּֽיטָה־נָא כִּי אוֹיְבֵיֽנוּ מְלֵֽאֵי צְחוֹק!
רוֹקְדִים לְזִמְרוֹת הַשִּׂנְאָה – וּפִדְיוֹן הוּא רָחוֹק!
רָמִֽיתָ יָֽמָה אֶת־פַּרְעֹה — אֵיפֹה מִשְׁפָּט וָחֹק?
הַֽ֭יְחׇבְרְךָ כִּסֵּ֣א הַוּ֑וֹת
יֹצֵ֖ר עָמָ֣ל עֲלֵי־חֹֽק׃
See and look, please, for our enemies are full of laughter!  
They dance to songs of evil — and redemption is far!
You threw Pharaoh in the sea — where is that law and justice?[13] Referencing both the Song of the Sea and the incident of healing waters in Exodus chapter 15.  
Will the seat of lust partner with you?
The maker of toil through law?
שָׁחֹר כַּמָּֽוֶת שִׂמְלָתָם, כִּבְנֵי אֱדוֹם הִצְדִּיעוּ.
שָׁפְכוּ דָּם־תַּם וְאֵין־הֶבְדֵּל אִם־כֵּן אוֹ־לֹא הִטְמִֽיעוּ.
שַׁלֵּם אוֹתָם לְפִי־גְּמוּלָם כִּי אֶת־עַמְּךָ הִכְנִֽיעוּ!
יָ֭גוֹדּוּ עַל־נֶ֣פֶשׁ צַדִּ֑יק
וְדָ֖ם נָקִ֣י יַרְשִֽׁיעוּ׃
Black as death their shirts,[14] The Blackshirts were the paramilitary wing of the Italian Fascist party. Technically the Nazi SA wore brown shirts, but let’s call it poetic license.  like the Edomites they saluted.[15] Before the Nazi salute was the Nazi salute, it was the Roman imperial salute. “Edomites” is a standard rabbinic euphemism for Rome.    
They spilled innocent blood, not distinguishing whether or not they assimilated.[16] One of the unique aspects of racial antisemitism when compared to religious or cultural antisemitism is that even people of Jewish origin who assimilate completely are considered Jews. Unlike the Crusaders or the Inquisition, converting to Catholicism wouldn’t save you.  
Pay them back per their deserts, for they have subjugated Your people!
They band against the righteous soul,
and do wicked to innocent blood.
תָּשִׁיב־לָהֶם אֶת־כׇּל־גְּמוּלָם,” אֶזְעַק בְּכַעֲסִי!
תַּשְׁמִידֵם כִּי הִשְׁמִידֽוּנוּ וְעוֹד תִּקְרָא שִׂישִׂי!
תַּקִּיף לָעַד אַתָּה בִּלְבַד נִסִּי וּמָנוּסִי.
וַיְהִ֬י יְהֹוָ֣ה לִ֣י לְמִשְׂגָּ֑ב
וֵ֝אלֹהַ֗י לְצ֣וּר מַחְסִֽי׃
“Return to them all they deserve,” I cry in my anger!  
Destroy them as they destroyed us, so You may again call “Rejoice!”
Eternally mighty, You alone are my miracle and refuge.
The CAUSE was my fortress,
my God a stronghold-rock.
יִצְעַק חֹקֵר, “הֲרַגְתֶּם! אַל־תִּבְרֹֽחַ מִדִּין דָּנֵֽינוּ!”
בְּנִיתֶם אֲבַדּוֹנְכֶם רְהַטְתֶּם מִלְּפָנָיו, הַכַּיּוֹם הִנֶּֽנּוּ!
וְיַעֲלוּ הַמּוֹשִׁיעִים לִשְׁפֹּט אֶת־הַר אוֹיְבֵֽינוּ.
חִזְקוּ וְעִמְצוּ, בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֵל יָדִין אֶת־דִּינֵֽנוּ!
וַיָּ֤שֶׁב עֲלֵיהֶ֨ם ׀ אֶת־אוֹנָ֗ם
וּבְרָעָתָ֥ם יַצְמִיתֵ֑ם
יַ֝צְמִיתֵ֗ם יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ׃
The investigator will cry: “You killed them! Do not flee from the judgement We judged!”
You built your own doom and ran from it, like today we are still here!
And the rescuers will arise to judge the mount of our enemies.[17] A reference to Obadiah 1:21  
Be strong and courageous, Israelites, God will judge your judgement!
Their evil will be made to return upon them,
putting an end to them in their wickedness;
the CAUSE our God will put an end to them.

 

Notes

Notes
1 Hebrew m’na’atsai, a paronomasic reference to the Nazi party.
2 This and every bold line to come is a verse from Psalm 94, the psalm around which this seliḥah is written.
3 Referring to the month of Marḥeshvan, in which the pogrom of Kristallnacht occurred. A famous midrash says that it is referred to as Marḥeshvan because it’s a bitter (mar) month.
4 The combination of “false” and “silence” is shav shtika, a paronomasic reference to the Nazi emblem.
5 Equivalent to six million
6 We learn that a comet does not pass through Orion, and if it were to pass Orion the world would be destroyed. (Berakhot 58b)
7 In this case, referring to the multiple pro-German groups known as the Deutscher Bund.
8 The fast of 20 Sivan was put in place by the Va’ad of the Four Lands to commemorate multiple tragedies of that day, including early blood libels in France and the Khmelnytsky massacres of the 1650s. (Find “Emunei Shlumei Yisrael — a seliḥah witnessing the Blois incident of 1171 by Hillel ben Yaaqov of Bonn.”) Just as seliḥot piyyutim were written for that fast day, thus this piyyut is meant to be recited as a seliḥah on 16 Marḥeshvan.
9 The Nazis used dogs in their concentration camps to keep the inmates in line. Many Holocaust survivors have developed post-traumatic canine phobia on account of this.
10 Many survivors of the Holocaust have documented struggling with survivor’s guilt. The horror of the Holocaust is enhanced by how capricious it is.
11 Two words from Psalm 145, also known as Ashrei. The book of Psalms is also divided into five books, with the fifth one extending from Psalm 107 to the end.
12 Imagery from Hosea 2:18, used to reflect a renewed closeness to God.
13 Referencing both the Song of the Sea and the incident of healing waters in Exodus chapter 15.
14 The Blackshirts were the paramilitary wing of the Italian Fascist party. Technically the Nazi SA wore brown shirts, but let’s call it poetic license.
15 Before the Nazi salute was the Nazi salute, it was the Roman imperial salute. “Edomites” is a standard rabbinic euphemism for Rome.
16 One of the unique aspects of racial antisemitism when compared to religious or cultural antisemitism is that even people of Jewish origin who assimilate completely are considered Jews. Unlike the Crusaders or the Inquisition, converting to Catholicism wouldn’t save you.
17 A reference to Obadiah 1:21

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