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“Avinu Malkeinu,” dvar tefillah by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

The words of Avinu Malkeinu are a little different from the standard translation. It doesn’t say in Hebrew, “we have no good deeds” (ein lanu ma’asim tovim), but rather, “there are no deeds in us” (ein banu ma’asim). The p’shat (literal meaning) implies that whatever we have done in the past does not have to live inside of us — we can release our deeds and be released from them, fully, to start over, like a newborn, to become whoever we need to become.


Contribute a translationSource (English)
“Avinu Malkeinu” —
It says, no deeds
not good-bad, not beautiful-ugly
no trace of the past in us to
constrain, condone, condemn
our forward path,
not regret, not mistakes, not strife, nor failure
or triumph,
ki ein banu ma’asim.
What-for-ever in us is is the now, the aha
of one instant — just!
So here, bring your lovely-most self
nothing else
to meet-greet the unladen year.
Clear the channel; become hollow
as a bone.
What you are
becoming now here, for the Source of Life:
a wellspring of tsedaqah and
ḥesed, of righteous love,
a fountain of blessing.

“Avinu Malkeinu” by Rabbi David Seidenberg, versified paraliturgical commentary on the prayer Avinu Malkenu, was first offered on Shabbat Tshuva in 2022 (5783).




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