ברכת המזון | Thanks for the Food, an interpretive translation of the Birkat Hamazon by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

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"Manatee nursing calf" (credit: Gaylen Rathburn, USFWS, Public Domain)

Manatee nursing calf” (credit: Gaylen Rathburn, USFWS, Public Domain)


שִׁ֗יר הַֽמַּֽ֫עֲל֥וֹת׃
A REACHING UP SONG

בְּשׁ֣וּב יְיָ אֶת־שִׁיבַ֣ת צִיּ֑וֹן
הָ֝יִ֗ינוּ כְּחֹלְמִֽים:
אָ֤ז יִמָּלֵ֢א שְׂחֹ֡ק פִּינוּ֘
וּלְשׁוֹנֵ֢נוּ רִ֫נָּ֥ה
אָ֭ז יֹֽאמְר֣וּ בַגּוֹיִ֑ם
הִגְדִּ֥יל יְיָ לַֽעֲשׂ֥וֹת עִם־אֵֽלֵּה:
הִגְדִּ֥יל יְיָ
לַֽעֲשׂ֣וֹת עִמָּ֑נוּ
הָ֜יִ֗ינוּ שְׂמֵחִֽים:
We dream
How God will bring us back to Zion.
Then shall we laugh again.
Then shall we sing again.
Then shall it be said abroad:
“How great it is!
Look at what God has done for them!
If God had done the same for us,
We too would be glad.”

שׁוּבָ֣ה יְיָ אֶת־שְׁבִיתֵ֑נוּ
כַּֽאֲפִיקִ֥ים
בַּנֵּֽגֶב:
O God! Why don’t You bring us back?
As you bring back water
To the dried-up Negev streams?

הַזֹּֽרְעִ֥ים בְּדִמְעָ֗ה
בְּרִנָּ֥ה יִקְצֹֽרוּ:
Yes we will trust. We sowed with tears
We will reap with song.

הָ֘ל֤וֹךְ יֵלֵ֨ךְ׀ וּבָכֹה֘ נֹשֵׂ֢א מֶֽשֶׁךְ־הַ֫זָּ֥רַע
 
בֹּֽ֬א־יָבֹ֥א
בְרִנָּ֗ה
נֹ֝שֵׂ֥א אֲלֻמֹּתָֽיו׃
Those who go, casting out seeds,
Sometime feel like weeping.
Yet on they go, always trusting,
That they shall come back singing,
Bearing in the harvest sheaves.

[At Wedding Feast include]

דְּוֵי הָסֵר וְגַם חַרוֺן,
וְאָז אִלֵּם בְּשִׁיר יָרוֺן,
נְחֵֽנוּ בְּמַעְגְּלֵי צֶֽדֶק,
שְׁעֵה בִּרְכַּת בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן.
Remove all pain, all wrath take wing
Then even ones who are mute will sing
Guide us aright and far from sin
As we join in praising Aaron’s kin

זימון לברכת המזון
INVITATION AND CONSENT

 
 
חֲבֵרַי נְבָרֵךְ!‏‏
Leader:
Havey-rai n‘va-reyekh.
Friends, let us give praise.

 
 
יְהִ֤י שֵׁ֣ם יְיָ מְבֹרָ֑ךְ מֵֽ֝עַתָּ֗ה וְעַד־עוֹלָֽם׃ (תהלים קיג:ב)
Response:
Y’hi sheym Adonai m‘vorakh mey-ata v’ad olam.
May God’s name be praised, now and forever

 
 
 
 
יְהִ֤י שֵׁ֣ם יְיָ מְבֹרָ֑ךְ מֵֽ֝עַתָּ֗ה וְעַד־עוֹלָֽם׃ (תהלים קיג:ב)
בִּרְשׁוּת חֲבֵרַי נְבָרֵךְ [אֱלֹהֵינוּ] שֶׁאָכַלְנוּ מִשֵּׁלוֹ.
Leader:
Y’hi sheym Adonay m’vorakh mey-ala v’ad olam.
Bir’shut havey-rai, n‘vareykh Eloheynu
she-akhalnu mi-shelo.

May God’s name be praised, now and forever.
With your consent, friends, let us praise God,
of whose food we have partaken.

 
 
בָּרוּךְ [אֱלֹהֵינוּ] שֶׁאָכַלְנוּ מִשֵּׁלוֹ
וּבְטוּבוֹ חָיִינוּ!
Response:
Barukh Eloheynu she-akhalnu mi-shelo uv‘tuvo hayinu.
Praised be our God of whose abundance we have partaken
and by whose goodness we live.

 
 
בָּרוּךְ [אֱלֹהֵינוּ] שֶׁאָכַלְנוּ מִשֵּׁלוֹ
וּבְטוּבוֹ חָיִינוּ!
Leader:
Barukh Eloheynu she-akhalnu mi-shelo uv‘tuvo hayinu.
Praised be our God of whose abundance we have partaken
and by whose goodness we live.

 
 
בָּרוּךְ הוּא וּבָרוּךְ שְׁמוֹ.
Together:
Barukh hu u-va-rukh sh’mo.
Praised be God, and praised be God’s name.

THANKS FOR THE FOOD AND ITS NOURISHMENT

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
הַזָּן אֶת הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ בְּטוּבוֹ
בְּחֵן בְּחֶֽסֶד וּבְרַחֲמִים
Praise, yes, praise is Yours, O God,
Ruler of all time and space,
Who every day invites the world
To the feast of love, goodness and compassion:

You feed us–and we earned it not;
You sustain us—and we deserved it not;

הוּא נֹתֵ֣ן
לֶ֭חֶם
לְכָל־בָּשָׂ֑ר
כִּ֖י לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּֽוֹ (תהלים קלו:כה)׃
You so abundantly overwhelm us with
Your Goodness.
Food you provide for all Your creatures
Whom You love so abundantly.

וּבְטוּבוֹ הַגָּדוֹל
תָּמִיד לֹא חָסַר לָֽנוּ
וְאַל יֶחְסַר לָֽנוּ מָזוֹן
לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד
And because you are so good to us,
We have never lacked sustenance in the past
And we believe that we will never lack food
In the future.

בַּעֲבוּר שְׁמוֹ הַגָּדוֹל:
 
 
 
כָּאָמוּר: פּוֹתֵ֥חַ אֶת־יׇדֶ֑ךָ
וּמַשְׂבִּ֖יעַ לְכָל־חַ֣י רָצֽוֹן (תהלים קמה:טז)׃
This You do for Your own repute
That You may be known as:
The one who sustains,
The One who supports,
The one who provides food for each
creature’s needs.

כִּי הוּא זָן
וּמְפַרְנֵס לַכֹּל
וּמֵטִיב לַכֹּל וּמֵכִין מָזוֹן
לְכָל בְּרִיּוֹתָיו אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא.
For Your feast is prepared for all,
And Your table is set for all;
You know well what each one needs,
For You did create all.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ
הַזָּן אֶת הַכֹּל.
Therefore do we praise and. thank You,
the One who nourishes all.

THANKS FOR THE EXODUS,
THE TORAH, THE HOLY LAND–
AND FOR THE JOY OF EATING

נוֹדֶה לְּךָ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ עַל שֶׁהִנְחַֽלְתָּ
לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ אֶֽרֶץ חֶמְדָה טוֹבָה וּרְחָבָה
We thank You, Adonai our God, because You settled
our ancestors in a land desirable and good and wide.

וְעַל שֶׁהוֹצֵאתָֽנוּ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
מֵאֶֽרֶץ מִצְרַֽים
וּפְדִיתָֽנוּ מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים
You removed us, Adonai our God, from the straits
and narrow places of Egypt, and freed us from being
at home in servitude.

וְעַל בְּרִיתְךָ שֶׁחָתַֽמְתָּ בִּבְשָׂרֵֽנוּ
וְעַל תּוֹרָתְךָ שֶׁלִּמַּדְתָּֽנוּ
וְעַל חֻקֵּֽיךָ שֶׁהוֹדַעְתָּֽנוּ
וְעַל
חַיִּים
חֵן
וָחֶֽסֶד
שֶׁחוֹנַנְתָּֽנוּ
We thank You for the promise sealed in our flesh,
For the Torah teaching which You impart to us,
And for the limits of conduct which
You made us know;
For life,
for beauty,
for love,
with which You are so generous.

וְעַל אֲכִילַת מָזוֹן
שָׁאַתָּה זָן וּמְפַרְנֵס אוֹתָֽנוּ תָּמִיד בְּכָל יוֹם
וּבְכָל עֵת וּבְכָל שָׁעָה.
And we thank You for the joy of eating which
You grant us while You nourish us, everyday,
every moment.

THANKS FOR THE GOOD EARTH AND HER PRODUCE


וְעַל הַכֹּל יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
אֲנַחְנוּ מוֹדִים לָךְ
וּמְבָרֲכִים אוֹתָךְ יִתְבָּרַךְ שִׁמְךָ
בְּפִי כָל חַי תָּמִיד לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד:
For all this, Our God,
We worship and thank YOU,
Whose name is praised
By ever new expressions of life.

כַּכָּתוּב:
וְאָֽכַלְתָּ֖ וְשָׂבָ֑עְתָּ וּבֵֽרַכְתָּ֙ אֶת־יְיָ אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ
עַל־הָאָ֥רֶץ הַטֹּבָ֖ה
אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָֽתַן־לָֽךְ (דברים ח:י)׃
We do this to fulfill Your command which states:
“Eat Your fill praising Adonai your God
for the earthy goodness which the Almighty
so freely gave to you.”

 
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ
עַל הָאָֽרֶץ וְעַל הַמָּזוֹן.
Therefore we say:
Praise to You O God
for the earth and for its food.

AS A MOTHER WOMBS HER CHILDREN IN MERCY

רַחֵם יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמֶּךָ
וְעַל יְרוּשָׁלַֽםִ עִירֶֽךָ
וְעַל צִיּוֹן מִשְׁכַּן כְּבוֹדֶֽךָ
וְעַל מַלְכוּת בֵּית דָּוִד מְשִׁיחֶֽךָ
Have pity, O God, on
Israel Your people
Jerusalem Your city;
Zion Your glory’s shrine
And the heir to David’s throne.

וְעַל הַבַּֽיִת
הַגָּדוֹל וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ
שֶׁנִּקְרָא
שִׁמְךָ עָלָיו:
אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
אָבִֽינוּ רְעֵֽנוּ [בשבת: רוֹעֵנוּ] 
זוּנֵֽנוּ פַרְנְסֵֽנוּ וְכַלְכְּלֵֽנוּ וְהַרְוִיחֵֽנוּ
וְהַרְוַח לָֽנוּ
And pity the Holy House
The Temple Of Grandeur
Where it was so easy
To call upon You.
Our God, Source of our being,
Mother, Father, Provider, Sustainer,
You nourish and support us,
Yet still allow us our independence.

יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מְהֵרָה מִכָּל צָרוֹתֵֽינוּ וְנָא אַל תַּצְרִיכֵֽנוּ
יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ לֹא לִידֵי מַתְּנַת בָּשָׂר וָדָם
וְלֹא לִידֵי הַלְוָאָתָם
O God, keep us free from needs that enslave us.
Permit us not to depend on gifts, handouts or loans.
For even when others offer help, what they give is
little and the indignity is great.

כִּי אִם
לְיָדְךָ הַמְּלֵאָה הַפְּתוּחָה הַקְּדוֹשָׁה וְהָרְחָבָה
שֶׁלֹּא נֵבוֹשׁ
וְלֹא נִכָּלֵם לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד.
But may we only rely
On Your full, broadly open hand,
So we never lose self-respect,
Nor suffer shame or disgrace.

[בשבת:]
WHEN WE ALSO GIVE THANKS
FOR THE SABBATH’S REST

רְצֵה
וְהַחֲלִיצֵֽנוּ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
בְּמִצְוֹתֶֽיךָ
וּבְמִצְוַת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי
הַשַּׁבָּת הַגָּדוֹל וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ הַזֶּה.
כִּי יוֹם זֶה גָּדוֹל וְקָדוֹשׁ
הוּא לְפָנֶֽיךָ
לִשְׁבָּת בּוֹ וְלָנֽוּחַ בּוֹ
בְּאַהֲבָה כְּמִצְוַת
רְצוֹנֶךָ.
בִּרְצוֹנְךָ הָנִֽיחַ לָֽנוּ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ שֶׁלֹא תְהֵא צָרָה
וְיָגוֹן וַאֲנָחָה בְּיוֹם מְנוּחָתֵֽנוּ
וְהַרְאֵֽנוּ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
בְּנֶחָמוֹת צִיּוֹן עִירֶֽךָ וּבְבִנְיַן
יְרוּשָׁלַֽםִ עִיר קָדְשֶֽׁךָ
כִּי אַתָּה הוּא בַּֽעַל הַיְשׁוּעוֹת
וּבַֽעַל הַנֶּחָמוֹת.
In commanding us You share your will with us.
In commanding us You impart in us the strength
to fulfill the commandment.
We thank You for the commandment of the seventh day
the great Shabbat, the holy Shabbat, this Shabbat.
A great day it is, holy it is, a day in which we
live Your presence.
We rest on it; we relax on it, we enjoy its peace;
Loving You all the more for the limits You set
on our actions by Your will.
On this day of rest–may there be no pain,
no worry, no anguish, stress or sighing.
On this Sabbath day open our eyes to the vision
of the consolation of Zion, and the upbuilding
of Jerusalem, Your holy city.
For you are at liberty to freely give liberation
and consolation.

WHEN WE CELEBRATE
HOLY SEASONS

אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ,
יַעֲלֶה

וְיָבֹא וְיַגִּיעַ
וְיֵרָאֶה וְיֵרָצֶה
וְיִשָּׁמַע
וְיִפָּקֵד וְיִזָּכֵר

זִכְרוֹנֵֽנוּ
וּפִקְדּוֹנֵֽנוּ

Our God and God of our ancestors,
May this prayer we offer to You,

Rise and come and reach You,
Be noted and accepted and
Heard by You;
Be remembered and acted upon:

As You become aware of us
As You remember us.


וְזִכְרוֹן אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ,
וְזִכְרוֹן מָשִׁיחַ
בֶּן דָּוִד עַבְדֶּֽךָ,
וְזִכְרוֹן יְרוּשָׁלַםִ
עִיר קָדְשֶֽׁךָ,
וְזִכְרוֹן כָּל עַמְּךָ בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל
לְפָנֶיךָ,
You remembered our parents,
You will remember the Mashiach
David’s son,
You are mindful of Jerusalem
Your city,
You are mindful of Israel
Your people.

‏לִפְלֵיטָה
וּלְטוֹבָה וּלְחֵן וּלְחֶֽסֶד
וּלְרַחֲמִים וּלְחַיִּים וּלְשָׁלוֹם.
Allow them all to find their way
To goodness, to grace, to kindness,
to mercy, to life, and to peace.

רֹאשׁ הַחֹדֶשׁ
חַג הַמַּצּוֹת
חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת
שְׁמִינִי חַג עֲצֶרֶת
חַג הַשָּׁבֻעוֹת
רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה
New Moon Day
Pesach
Sukkot
Shemini Atzeret
Shavuot
Rosh Hashana

זָכְרֵֽנּוּ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ בּוֹ לְטוֹבָה [אָמֵן].
וּפָקְדֵֽנוּ בוֹ לִבְרָכָה [אָמֵן].
וְהוֹשִׁיעֵֽנוּ בוֹ לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים [אָמֵן].
Think well of this day
Be mindful on it for our blessing
Grant us the good life on it.

וּבִדְבַר
יְשׁוּעָה וְרַחֲמִים
חוּס וְחָנֵּנוּ וְרַחֵם עָלֵֽינוּ וְהוֹשִׁיעֵֽנוּ,
כִּי אֵלֶֽיךָ עֵינֵֽינוּ,
כִּי אֵל מֶֽלֶךְ
חַנּוּן וְרַחוּם אָֽתָּה.
And as concerns such matters as
salvation and mercy
Pity us, be kind, save us, be gentle,
For our eyes look to You–
Divine, Majestic One
Yet also Kind and Gentle.

WE REMEMBER OTHERS AS
WE REMEMBER JERUSALEM

וְגַם שֶׁאָכַלְנוּ וְשָׁתִינוּ
חָרְבַּן בֵּיתְךָ הַגָּדוֹל וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ לֹא שָׁכַחְנוּ
 
 
אַל תִּשְׁכָּחֵנוּ לָנֶצַח
וְאַל תִּזְנָחֵנוּ לָעַד
כִּי אֵל מֶלֶךְ גָּדוֹל וְקָדוֹשׁ אָתָּה
We ate and drank
Yet we forget not that
there is exile, destruction,
famine, fear and want.
Please, forget us not,
But in remembering us,
Remember all in want.

וּבְנֵה
יְרוּשָׁלַֽםִ
עִיר הַקֹּֽדֶשׁ
בִּמְהֵרָה בְּיָמֵֽינוּ.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ
בֹּֽנֶה בְרַחֲמָיו
יְרוּשָׁלָֽםִ.
אָמֵן.
Make this world
A place of holiness,
Now in our lifetime,
As you rebuild Jerusalem
Praised are you, O God,
Who in building up mercy
Builds Jerusalem.
Amen—do as we believe!

WE THANK YOU FOR ALL
THAT YOU ARE TO US

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
הָאֵל
אָבִֽינוּ
מַלְכֵּֽנוּ
אַדִּירֵֽנוּ בּוֹרְאֵֽנוּ גֹאֲלֵֽנוּ יוֹצְרֵֽנוּ
קְדוֹשֵֽׁנוּ קְדוֹשׁ יַעֲקֹב
רוֹעֵֽנוּ
רוֹעֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל
הַמֶּֽלֶךְ הַטּוֹב וְהַמֵּטִיב לַכֹּל
Praise, yea praise to You, O God,
Source of our being
Merciful Mother
Mighty Father
Powerful Ruler
Redeeming Creator
Holy Artist,
Jacob’s Sanctifier,
Guiding Shepherd,
Israel’s Shepherd,
Sovereign who is good to all.

 
שֶׁבְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם הוּא הֵטִיב

הוּא מֵטִיב
הוּא יֵיטִיב לָֽנוּ:

In Your goodness you do not discriminate,
Doing good day by day according to that day’s needs.

So You did act out of goodness in the past,
And so will You deal with us in the future.


הוּא גְמָלָֽנוּ
הוּא גוֹמְלֵנוּ
הוּא יִגְמְלֵנוּ לָעַד
לְחֵן
לְחֶֽסֶד
וּלְרַחֲמִים וּלְרֶֽוַח
הַצָּלָה
וְהַצְלָחָה
בְּרָכָה
וִישׁוּעָה
נֶחָמָה
פַּרְנָסָה וְכַלְכָּלָה

וְרַחֲמִים וְחַיִּים וְשָׁלוֹם וְכָל טוֹב
וּמִכָּל טוֹב
אַל יְחַסְּרֵֽנוּ.

You give of Your Self,
You gave of your Self,
You will give of Your Self
Freely and completely
kindly and mercifully
generously and abundantly
to save us,
to prosper us,
to bless us,
to redeem us
to console us
to sustain and support us—

in mercy, life and in goodness,
while not diminishing
the good You hold in store for us for eternity.

WE PRAY FOR THE MESSIANIC AGE AND
TIMES OF PEACE

הָרַחֲמָן.
 
 
 
הוּא יְזַכֵּֽנוּ לִימוֹת הַמָּשִֽׁיחַ
וּלְחַיֵּי
עוֹלָם הַבָּא:
Compassionate One!
Help us
so that we may be worthy of being alive
when Mashiach finally arrives.
Grant strength and loving kindness to Mashiach,
to David’s descendants,
to the very ends of time.

 
עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו
 
הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵֽינוּ וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל [וְעַל כָּל יוֺשְׁבֵי תֵבֶל].
 
וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן.
O God!
We know that You can make peace on high:
That is not too difficult.
Grant peace to us and to all Israel:
That is more difficult:
Grant us peace!

INVOCATION FOR THE FUTURE

הָרַחֲמָן. הוּא
Haraḥaman Hu

הָרַחֲמָן.
הוּא יִמְלֹךְ עָלֵֽינוּ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד׃
Kind-hearted One!
Rule over us always.

הָרַחֲמָן.
הוּא יִתְבָּרַךְ בַּשָּׁמַֽיִם
וּבָאָֽרֶץ׃
Caring One!
Be involved with our heaven
and on our earth.

הָרַחֲמָן.
הוּא יִשְׁתַּבַּח
לְדוֹר דּוֹרִים
וְיִתְפָּֽאַר בָּֽנוּ לָעַד לָנֵֽצַח נְצָחִים
וְיִתְהַדַּר בָּֽנוּ לָעַד
וּלְעוֹלְמֵי עוֹלָמִים׃
Feeling One!
You who are praised from one
generation to the next,
Take pride in us always.
May our lives honor You
in this world and in the next.

הָרַחֲמָן.
הוּא יְפַרְנְסֵֽנוּ בְּכָבוֹד׃
Merciful One!
Grant us an honorable livelihood.

הָרַחֲמָן.
הוּא יִשְׁבּוֹר עֹל גָלוּת מֵעַל צַוָּארֵֽנוּ
וְהוּא יוֹלִיכֵֽנוּ קוֹמֲמִיּוּת לְאַרְצֵֽנוּ׃
Warm-hearted One!
Break the restraints that make
us strangers. Lead us home with dignity.

הָרַחֲמָן.
הוּא יִשְׁלַח בְּרָכָה מְרֻבָּה
בְּבַֽיִת הַזֶה וְעַל שֻׁלְחָן זֶה שֶׁאָכַֽלְנוּ עָלָיו׃
Generous One!
Send abundant blessing to this
home and to this table.

הָרַחֲמָן.
הוּא יִשְׁלַח לָֽנוּ
אֶת אֵלִיָּֽה הַנָּבִיא
זָכוּר לַטּוֹב,
וִיבַשֵּׂר לָנוּ [בִּמְהֵרָה] בְּשׂוֹרוֹת טוֹבוֹת יְשׁוּעוֹת
וְנֶחָמוֹת׃
One who grants
Pleasant Surprises
Send Elijah the prophet–of
blessed memory–
To bring good news of liberation
and consolation.

הָרַחֲמָן.
הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יְבָרֵךְ אֶת־[אָבִי מוֹרִי] בַּֽעַל הַבַּֽיִת הַזֶּה וְאֶת־[אִמִּי מוֹרָתִי] בַּעֲלַת הַבַּֽיִת הַזֶּה
אוֹתָם וְאֶת־בֵּיתָם וְאֶת־זַרְעָם
וְאֶת־כָּל־אַשֶׁר לָהֶם:
Compassionate One!
Bless and protect all of us,
our loved ones and our families,
our endeavors and our possessions.

אוֹתָנוּ וְאֶת כָּל אַשֶׁר לָֽנוּ,
כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּרֲכוּ אַבְרָהָם בַּכֹּל (בראשית כד:א),
שָׂרָה בְּאֶמוּנָה,
יִצְחָק מִכֹּל (בראשית כו:לג),
יַעֲקֹב כֹּל (בראשית לג:יא),
רָחֵל בְּאַהֲבָה,
לֵיאָה בְּחֶסֶד,

כֵּן יְבָרֵךְ אוֹתָֽנוּ כֻּלָּנוּ יַֽחַד בִּבְרָכָה שְׁלֵמָה. וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן.[1]I’ve adapted the Hebrew attributes of the Imahot according to Reb Zalman’s formulation in English, which might predate Harry P. Solomon’s formulation of הֵיטִיב (בראשית יב:טז), טֹבַת (בראשית כד:טז) טוֺב (בראשית כט:יט), טוֺב for Sarah, Rivkah, Raḥel, and Leah, respectively, published in Reconstructionist in March of 1988, “Including the Matriarchs: A Proposal for Birkat ha-Mazon.”–Aharon Varady

May we all be blessed
like Abraham–with everything
like Sarah–with faithfulness
like Isaac–by everyone
like Jacob–in everyway
like Rachel–with warmth
like Leah–with love.[2]Where is Rivka in Reb Zalman’s Imahot formulation? Perhaps it was a mistake in the girsah (manuscript)? We don’t know. If you do, please contact us.

And to all this let us say, Amen!


 
 
 
 

בַּמָּרוֹם יְלַמְּדוּ עֲלֵיהֶם וְעָלֵֽינוּ זְכוּת,
שֶׁתְּהֵא לְמִשְׁמֶֽרֶת שָׁלוֹם,
וְנִשָּׂא בְרָכָה מֵאֵת יְיָ וּצְדָקָה
מֵאֱלֹהֵי יִשְׁעֵנוּ.

Sublime One!
Interpret our act as prompted by
good intentions, as an act of
surrender, worthy of blessing from You.

And even if we are not deemed worthy,
then accept our act of thanksgiving
as a kind favor on Your part.
O Helping God!


וְנִמְצָא חֵן וְשֵֽׂכֶל טוֹב
בְּעֵינֵי אֱלֹהִים
וְאָדָם.
May we ever be found pleasant and wise
by you God
and by all our fellow human beings.

WE ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER BEFORE LEAVING THE TABLE

יְר֣אוּ אֶת־יְיָ קְדשָׁ֑יו
כִּ֘י אֵ֥ין מַ֝חְסּ֗וֹר לִֽירֵאָֽיו:

כְּ֭פִירִים רָשׁ֣וּ
וְרָעֵ֑בוּ

וְדֹֽרְשֵׁ֥י יְיָ
לֹֽא־יַחְסְר֥וּ כָל־טֽוֹב׃ (תהלים לד:י-יא)

Fear Our God, you who make God holy!
Fearing only God, what will you lack?

Those who are self-sufficient, like young lions,
May starve in relying on their own strength.

But those who seek Only God
Shall not lack all that is good.


הוֹד֣וּ לַֽיְיָ כִּי־ט֑וֹב
כִּ֖י לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּֽוֹ׃ (תהלים קמה:טז)
Give thanks to God who is so good,
Whose kindness is ever wise to the world.

בָּר֣וּךְ הַגֶּ֔בֶר אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִבְטַ֖ח בַּֽיְיָ
וְהָיָ֥ה יְיָ מִבְטַחֽוֹ׃ (ירמיהו יז:ז)
Blessed are they who trust in God,
For God will ever be their guarantor.

נַ֤עַר הָיִ֗יתִי גַּם־זָקַ֥נְתִּי
וְֽלֹֽא־רָאִ֣יתִי צַדִּ֣יק נֶעֱזָ֑ב
וְ֝זַרְע֗וֹ מְבַקֶּשׁ־לָֽחֶם׃ (תהלים לז:כה)
I was young, now I’m old
Yet never saw a Zaddik so forsaken
That their child seeks only bread.

How can this be? How could this happen?
Surely blessings will be heaped on those
Who are really righteous, fair and just.

מַה שֶׁאָכַֽלְנוּ
יִהְיֶה לְשָׂבְעָה
וּמַה שֶׁשֶּׁתִֽינוּ
יִהְיֶה לִרְפוּאָה
וּמַה שֶׁהוֺתַֽרְנוּ
יִהְיֶה לִבְרָכָה
May what we ate
be a source of satisfaction
What we drank
A source of health
What we left a source
a source of blessing.

 
וַיִּתֵּן לִפְנֵיהֶם
וַיֹּאכְלוּ וַיּוֹתִרוּ
כִּדְבַר יְהוָה.
According to Scripture:
“The host set food before them,
They ate and left enough for others,
As God has spoken.”[3]2 Kings 4:42-44. (Thanks to Hannah Rocha for identifying the verse.) cf. Ruth 2:14

יְיָ עֹ֖ז ׀ לְעַמּ֣וֹ יִתֵּ֑ן
יְיָ ׀ יְבָרֵ֖ךְ אֶת־עַמּ֣וֹ בַשָּׁלֽוֹם׃ (תהלים כט:יא)
God will surely give strength to our people
God will bless our folk with SHALOM!

The style by which Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l translated Jewish liturgy in English was neither literal nor idiomatic, but highly interpretive and interspersed with his own ḥiddushim (innovations). Showing Reb Zalman’s translation side-by-side with the Jewish liturgy helps to illuminate his understanding of the liturgy — it’s deeper meaning as well as how it might be communicated to a contemporary audience. In the version I have prepared above, I have set the interpretive translation of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l side-by-side with the liturgical Hebrew that may have inspired it. In several places, Reb Zalman’s formulation departs from the traditional Ashkenazi nusaḥ. Where there is no Hebrew, we can more easily observe where Reb Zalman has expanded upon the blessing. Still, my work was not exhaustive and I appreciate any corrections to the nusaḥ (liturgical custom) of the Hebrew that may have inspired Reb Zalman’s interpretation in English.

The interpretive translation of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l was first shared online by Gabbai Seth Fishman at his website, Jewish Renewal Chassidus.

Notes   [ + ]

1. I’ve adapted the Hebrew attributes of the Imahot according to Reb Zalman’s formulation in English, which might predate Harry P. Solomon’s formulation of הֵיטִיב (בראשית יב:טז), טֹבַת (בראשית כד:טז) טוֺב (בראשית כט:יט), טוֺב for Sarah, Rivkah, Raḥel, and Leah, respectively, published in Reconstructionist in March of 1988, “Including the Matriarchs: A Proposal for Birkat ha-Mazon.”–Aharon Varady
2. Where is Rivka in Reb Zalman’s Imahot formulation? Perhaps it was a mistake in the girsah (manuscript)? We don’t know. If you do, please contact us.
3. 2 Kings 4:42-44. (Thanks to Hannah Rocha for identifying the verse.) cf. Ruth 2:14

6 comments to ברכת המזון | Thanks for the Food, an interpretive translation of the Birkat Hamazon by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

  • gabrielseed

    This is beautidul – I noticed another text that Reb Zalman based on – the line which you left with no Hebrew parallel between רצה and ובנה is based on the end of ‘Edot Mizrah text of רצה – וְגַם שֶׁאָכַלְנוּ וְשָׁתִינוּ חָרְבַּן בֵּיתְךָ הַגָּדוֹל וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ לֹא שָׁכַחְנוּ אַל תִּשְׁכָּחֵנוּ לָנֶצַח וְאַל תִּזְנָחֵנוּ לָעַד כִּי אֵל מֶלֶךְ גָּדוֹל וְקָדוֹשׁ אָתָּה

  • Yaasher Koach! I am so thrilled to see this.
    Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, just wanted to send this text from Reb Zalman, alav hashalom.
    Reb Zalman was reminding me every year to tell folks about this text.
    It feels nice to those of us who are ambivalent about Thanksgiving because it is a secular Yom Tov and we feel a pull toward secularism on this day and away from Yiddishkeit. So this nicely gives us a little stikkele something geshmak.
    Good yom tov!
    Hebrew:
    בִּימֵי הַמְהַגְרִים נְקִיֵי הַדַעַת,
    כְּשֶׁהִגִיעוּ לְאֶרֶץ מִקְלָטָם,
    וְסָבְלוּ רָעָב וָקוֹר,
    וְנָשְׂאוּ רִנָה וּתְפִילָה
    לְצוּר יְשׁוּעָתָם,
    עָמַדְתָ לָהֶם בְּעֵת צָרָתָם
    וְעוֹרַרְתָּ חֶמְלַת הַתּוֹשָׁבִים
    הָאִינְדִיָנִים עֲלֵיהֶם,
    וְהֶאֱכִילוּם מָזוֹן, בַּרְבּוּרִים וְתִירָס
    וְכָל מַעֲדָנִים.
    הִצַלְתָּם מֵרָעָב וְיָגוֹן,
    וְהֶרְאֵתָ לָהֶם דַרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם
    עִם תּוֹשָׁבֵי־הָאָרֶץ.
    עַל כֵּן בְּרִגְשֵׁי תוֹדָה קָבְעוּ
    יוֹם תּוֹדָה כָּל שָׁנָה וְשָׁנָה
    לְזֵכֶר לְדוֹרוֹת,
    וּמַאֲכִילִים סְעוּדוֹת
    הוֹדָיָה לְאוּמְלָלִים.
    לָכֵן גַם אָנוּ מוֹדִים לְךָ
    עַל הַטוֹבוֹת בְּחַיֵינוּ.
    אֵל הָהוֹדָאוֹת, אֲדוֹן הַשָׁלוֹם,
    מוֹדִים אֲנַחְנוּ לָךְ.
    English:
    In the days of the Puritan pilgrims,
    When they arrived in the land of their haven,
    And suffered from hunger and cold,
    And sang and prayed
    To the Rock of their Salvation,
    You stood by them in their time of trouble
    And aroused the compassion
    Of the native Indians,
    Who gave them food, fowl and corn
    And many other delicacies.
    You saved them from starving and suffering,
    And You showed them ways of peace
    With the inhabitants of the land.
    Feeling gratitude, they established therefore
    A day of Thanksgiving every year
    For future generations to remember,
    And they feed the unfortunate
    With feasts of Thanksgiving.
    Therefore do we also thank You
    For all the goodness in our lives.
    God of kindness, Lord of peace,
    We thank You.

  • […] And this year, we have the extra blessing of being able to use a beautiful side-by-side formatting of Reb Zalman’s singable translation of Birkhat Hamazon which you can find on the Open Siddur Project, by clicking here. […]

  • […] And this year, we have the extra blessing of being able to use a beautiful side-by-side formatting of Reb Zalman’s singable translation of Birkhat Hamazon which you can find on the Open Siddur Project, by clicking here. […]

  • […] innovative translation of the Ashkenazi Grace After Meals by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the father of the Jewish […]

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