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Prayer for the Evening of the Day of Atonement (נעילה), by Rabbi Moritz Mayer (1866)

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The day hath turned, the sun has turned and is going down, we approach Thy heavenly gates.

Almighty God! Once more, ere we depart from this sacred place, we would raise our eyes and hearts to Thee, our King and Father, in profound devotion and humility. From the morning we have sought Thee, and Thou hast caused us to find Thee; we have afflicted our souls and bodies, and thou hast accepted this trespass-offering; we have called upon Thee, and Thou hast hearkened unto our fervent supplications; we have longed for peace and consolation, and behold! peace has entered our spirit, and our hearts are filled with consolation through Thy divine grace and mercy. Bent down beneath the heavy burden of our guiltiness, and conscious of our various iniquities, we entered this Thy holy dwelling place, to spend the day in Thine immediate presence; the morning of this solemn day found us in fear and anxiety before Thee, O all-just Judge! we trembled before Thy judgment. But we prayed unto Thee, Lord of love and mercy! and confessed our manifold sins and transgressions,—from the depths of our depressed hearts we implored Thee, “O, forgive us, Father, forgive us!”—We turned unto Thee with the solemn promise, never to forsake Thee again; with childlike confidence in Thy compassion we invoked Thy help for the amendment of our ways, and now our souls are become serene, our hearts calm and contented, our minds cheerful and tranquil. We raise ourselves from the dust, for Thy heavenly light of grace and salvation shines upon us, filling us with the beatific hope and conviction, that Thou wilt return unto all them that have returned unto Thee.

Therefore, God! do we thank Thee for this Day of Atonement and its benefits and blessings. Thanks be unto Thee that Thou hast preserved us to this day, and thus enabled us to perceive, confess and repent our sins. Thanks be unto Thee for the spirit wherewith Thou hast this day filled us, for the sacred vows and resolves which Thou hast caused us to utter before Thee, to begin a new, better and purer life. Oh! do Thou so strengthen and enlighten us, that we may fulfill those pious vows and perform those sacred resolves, that we may never forsake Thee again, or deviate from Thy holy Law, but entirely give ourselves up unto Thy guidance, and follow the paths of virtue and rectitude. Oh! may our hearts ever be filled with fervent love for Thee, and our souls permeated by profound reverence for Thine exalted name, and unshaken confidence in Thine infinite goodness and mercy, in Thine unfailing wisdom and justice.—As we live through Thy grace and goodness, so make us diffusers of Thy mercy and kindness among our fellowmen, to do good unto all, to feed the hungry, to help the poor and needy, to assist the widows and orphans, to comfort the afflicted, to alleviate the sufferings of the sick, to uplift the oppressed, and thus prove, by our deeds, that we are ever mindful of our sublime destination on earth, that we are truly visible images of Thy being, commanded to be holy as Thou art holy.

And as we now enjoy the delight of Thy salvation, and feel happy at the sound of the voice proclaiming peace: “I, even I, am he who blotteth your transgressions, for mine own sake, and will remember your sins no more”[1]Isaiah 43:25.—”I have forgiven you,” so let us always find delight in making ourselves worthy of Thy love of Thy mercy, of Thy forgiveness!

Heavenly Father! Do Thou enable us henceforth to live in the spirit of this our ardent prayer, to behold and enjoy, whenever Thou wilt summon us hence, the peace and salvation which Thou hast reserved for those who fear Thee and love Thee in sincerity and truth, to leave this sublunary world, as we shall this day depart from this Sanctuary, with our holy profession upon our lips:

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד׃ (דברים ו:ד)
“Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One in Unity”[2]Deuteronomy 6:4.
now and for evermore, Amen!

“Prayer for the Evening of the Day of Atonement (נעילה)” is one of thirty prayers appearing in Rabbi Moritz Mayer’s collection of tehinot, Hours of Devotion (1866), of uncertain provenance and which he may have written. –Aharon Varady

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Notes   [ + ]

  1. Isaiah 43:25.
  2. Deuteronomy 6:4.

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