Piyyutim to Introduce the First Aliyot of Each Book in the Torah, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

These are piyyutim written in a traditional style, meant to introduce the opening of each book in the Torah.

Each piyyut is in two sections – an opening (which spells out “Isaac”) and a closing (which spells out “Jacob”).

Each piyyut uses specific terminology related to the book itself:

  • The piyyut for Genesis uses imagery of creation.
  • The piyyut for Exodus uses “split,” a verb form found in the Song of the Sea.
  • The piyyut for Leviticus uses terminology related to the Temple and the sacrificial rite.
  • The piyyut for Numbers describes God with a word that can also mean “scout.”
  • The piyyut for Deuteronomy refers to God as “Rock,” a term used in Deuteronomy to great effect.

This is the intended liturgical usage for these piyyutim:

  • Once the first aliyah (the kohen aliyah in traditional communities) is called up by the gabbai, then the oleh (or the baal korei as a surrogate) reads the opening four lines.
  • After this, the oleh says the opening aliyah blessing and the first aliyah is read.
  • Then, the oleh says the closing aliyah blessing.
  • Then the closing four lines are recited by the same person who read the opening four.
  • Only after that, the second aliyah is called up, and the rest of the service proceeds as normal.

These piyyutim can be used at any time the opening line of the reading is said – on the Shabbat Minḥa/Monday/Thursday prior to the reading OR on the Shabbat morning of the reading proper. Because of this, the sheets arranged including the readings use two sizes – a larger size for the shorter first reading for weekdays, and a smaller size for the full first reading on Shabbatot. They can only be read when the first verse of the book is read.

Melodically, these piyyutim could be read in a melody based on Maqam Rast – the traditional Sephardi melody for the opening of a book.


Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

Piyyut for Genesis

יְהִי רָצוֹן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן
צֶמַח עוֹלָם, אֶחָד, רִאשׁוֹן
חַזֵּקְנוּ נָא, בַּזְּמַן הַבָּא,
קוֹרְאִים אֶת „בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא”
י May it be the will of the Highest God
צ Sprout of the universe, One, First:
ח Strengthen us, in the time to come!
ק We read “In the beginning created…”

יְהִי רָצוֹן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן
עֲנֵנוּ כִּי עַמְּךָ אֶבְיוֹן
קָרָאנוּ אֶת „בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא”
בְּרָא נָא אֶת הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא
י May it be the will of the Highest God:
ע Answer us, for Your people is in need!
ק We have read “In the beginning created…”
ב Create, please, the World to Come.

Piyyut for Exodus

יְהִי רָצוֹן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן
צֹהַר עוֹלָם, אֶחָד, רִאשׁוֹן
חַזֵּקְנוּ נָא, בִּזְכוּת אָבוֹת,
קוֹרְאִים אֶת „וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת”
י May it be the will of the Highest God
צ Light of the universe, One, First:
ח Strengthen us, in the merit of our ancestors!
ק We read “And these are the names…”

יְהִי רָצוֹן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן
עֲנֵנוּ כִּי עַמְּךָ אֶבְיוֹן
קָרָאנוּ אֶת „וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת”
בְּקַע נָא אֶת כָּל גָּלֻיּוֹת
י May it be the will of the Highest God:
ע Answer us, for Your people is in need!
ק We have read “And these are the names…”
ב Split apart, please, all exiles.

Piyyut for Leviticus

יְהִי רָצוֹן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן
צִדְקַת עוֹלָם, אֶחָד, רִאשׁוֹן
חַזֵּקְנוּ נָא, מִתּוֹךְ הַסְּנֶה,
קוֹרְאִים אֶת „וַיִּקְרָא אֶל מֹשֶׁה”
י May it be the will of the Highest God
צ Righteousness of the universe, One, First:
ח Strengthen us, from the midst of the bush!
ק We read, “And God called to Moshe…”

יְהִי רָצוֹן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן
עֲנֵנוּ כִּי עַמְּךָ אֶבְיוֹן
קָרָאנוּ אֶת „וַיִּקְרָא אֶל מֹשֶׁה”
בְּנֵה נָא אֶת יהוה יִרְאֶה
י May it be the will of the Highest God:
ע Answer us, for Your people is in need!
ק We have read “And God called to Moshe…”
ב Build, please, ‘Adonai has seen.’

Piyyut for Numbers

יְהִי רָצוֹן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן
צוֹפֶה עוֹלָם, אֶחָד, רִאשׁוֹן
חַזֵּקְנו נָא, יָהּ אֲדֹנָי,
קוֹרְאִים אֶת „בְּמִדְבַּר סִינַי”
י May it be the will of the Highest God
צ Guardian of the universe, One, First:
ח Strengthen us, Yah, Lord,
ק We read, “…in the wilderness of Sinai…”

יְהִי רָצוֹן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן
עֲנֵנוּ כִּי עַמְּךָ אֶבְיוֹן
קָרָאנוּ אֶת „בְּמִדְבַּר סִינַי”
בַּטֵּל נָא אֶת כָּל חַטֹּאתַי
י May it be the will of the Highest God:
ע Answer us, for Your people is in need!
ק We have read, “…in the wilderness of Sinai…”
ב Cancel, please, all my sins.

Piyyut for Deuteronomy

יְהִי רָצוֹן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן
צוּר עוֹלָם, אֶחָד, רִאשׁוֹן
חַזֵּקְנוּ נָא, הָאֱלֹהִים,
קוֹרְאִים אֶת „אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים”
י May it be the will of the Highest God
צ Rock of the world, One, First:
ח Strengthen us, Great God,
ק We read, “These are the things…”

יְהִי רָצוֹן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן
עֲנֵנוּ כִּי עַמְּךָ אֶבְיוֹן
קָרָאנוּ אֶת „אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים”
בָּרְכֵנוּ נָא בְּרֹב יָמִים
י May it be the will of the Highest God:
ע Answer us, for Your people is in need!
ק We have read, “These are the things…”
ב Bless us, please, with many days.

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