☞   //   Prayers, Poems, and Piyyutim   //   ☼ Prayers for the weekday, shabbat, and season

☞   ☼ Prayers for the weekday, shabbat, and season

“Prayer Song,” by Stephen Hanan Kaplan from David Dances, a play (1975)

David Dancing (Richard McBee 1998)

A prayer written for the play David Dances (1997) by playwright Stephen Mo Hanan. . . .

שִׁוִּיתִי | Shiviti: perceiving the world as an expression of divine Oneness

Given that the Torah forbids impressing our imaginations with illustrations of the divine, some other method is necessary to perceive divine Oneness. One method is found in the verse in Psalms 16:8, “I have set YHVH before me at all times.” . . .

הַשְׁכִּיבֵנוּ | Hashkivenu, interpretive translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

The Hashkivenu prayer of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. . . .

אמת ואמונה | Emet v’Emunah, blessing following the Shema in the evening (interpretive rendering by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi)

The first of two blessings following the shema in the evening, rendered by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in his English “praying translation.” . . .

After the weekday Amidah, a prescription for taḥanun from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

A prescriptive instruction from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi on the purpose of the taḥanun after the Amidah. . . .

[Gebet] Am Sabbath, by Fanny Schmiedl Neuda (1855)

A paraliturgical prayer for Shabbat, offered by Fanny Neuda from her collection of teḥinot in vernacular German. . . .

יוֹם שַׁבָּתוֹן | Yom Shabbaton, a Shabbat song by Yehudah haLevi (interpretive translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi)

An interpretive translation of Yehudah haLevi’s shabbat song, “Yom Shabbaton.” . . .

יוֹם זֶה לְיִשְׁרַאֵל | Yom Zeh l’Yisrael, a Shabbat hymn attributed to Rabbi Yitsḥaq Luria (interpretive translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi)

An interpretive translation in English of the shabbes hymn Yom Zeh l’Yisrael. . . .

יָהּ אֶכְסוֹף נוֹעַם שַׁבָּת | Yah Ekhsof No’am Shabbat, a Shabbes hymn by Reb Aharon of Karlin (interpretive translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi)

An interpretive translation of the shabbes hymn, Yah Ekhsof. . . .

שיר הכבוד (אַנְעִים זְמִירוֹת)‏ | the Shir haKavod (An’im Zemirot), part eight of the Shir haYiḥud (interpretive translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi)

A “praying translation” of the piyyut, Anim Zemirot. . . .

צָמְאָה נַפְשִׁי | Tsam’ah Nafshi, a piyyut attributed to Avraham ibn Ezra (interpretive translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi)

An interpretive translation of a piyyut composed as an introduction to the prayer Nishmat Kol Ḥai. . . .

Shabbat Affirmations for Erev Shabbat, by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Shabbat Affirmations for erev shabbat in preparation of welcoming the shabbat. . . .

מודה אני | Modeh Ani by Moshe ibn Makhir (interpretive translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi)

Modeh Ani, in Hebrew with English translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. . . .

נִשְׁמַת כָּל חַי (ספרד)‏ | Nishmat Kol Ḥai, arranged by Aharon Varady

The text of the prayer Nishmat Kol Ḥai in Hebrew with English translation. . . .

נִשְׁמַת כָּל חַי | Nishmat Kol Ḥai, interpretive translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Loading Source (Hebrew) Translation (English) נִשְׁמַת כָּל חַי תְּבָרֵךְ אֶת שִׁמְךָ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ. וְרוּחַ כָּל בָּשָׂר תְּפָאֵר וּתְרוֹמֵם זִכְרְךָ מַלְכֵּנוּ תָּמִיד. All breathing life adores Your Name Yah, our God — All flesh alive is raised to ecstasy each time we become aware of You! מִן הָעוֹלָם וְעַד־הָעוֹלָם אַתָּה אֵל. (תהלים צ:ב) וּמִבַּלְעָדֶיךָ אֵין לָנוּ . . .

תהלים ק״ז | Psalms 107

Psalms 107 in Hebrew with English translation as arranged by Aharon Varady. . . .

מודה אני | Modah/Modeh Ani, by Moshe ibn Makhir (translation by Andrew Shaw)

Thankful am I in your Presence, Spirit who lives and endures, for You’ve returned to me my soul with compassion. Abundant is your faith! . . .

תהלים צ״ג | The Psalm for Friday, Psalms 93 (translation by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l)

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l, included his translation of the Psalm of the Day for Friday (Psalms 93) in his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi (2009). To the best of my ability, I have set his translation side-by-side with a transcription of the vocalized text of the Psalm. . . .

If I Let It: A Kavvanah for Kabbalat Shabbat, by Trisha Arlin

Shabbat happens, If I let it. . . .

תהלים קי״ב | Ashrei Ish (Psalms 112)

Psalms 112 in Hebrew with English translation, arranged by Aharon Varady. . . .

תהלים מ״ח | The Psalm for Monday, Psalms 48 (translation by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l)

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l, included his translation of the Psalm of the Day for Monday (Psalms 48) in his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi (2009). To the best of my ability, I have set his translation side-by-side with a transcription of the vocalized text of the Psalm. –Aharon N. Varady . . .

עננו | Aneinu, Answer us, a seliḥah in advance of the Shemita year by Emmy Cohen

After struggling with the requests in Aneinu, read during Selichot, I composed a list of requests and questions for this upcoming Shmita year. . . .

הָרַחֲמָן עַל שְׁנַת הַשְׁמִיטָה | Haraḥaman for the Shmitah Year, by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

This Haraḥaman (prayer to the merciful or compassionate One) for the Shmitah or sabbatical year can be added to Birkat Hamazon (blessing after meals) during the whole Shmitah year, in order to remember and open our hearts to the sanctity of the land. Say it right before the Harachaman for Shabbat, since Shmitah is the grand shabbat, and right after the paragraph beginning with Bamarom (a/k/a, Mimarom). . . .

Prayer on Kneading and Baking Ḥallot for Shabbat, by Perle Derbaremdiger Peretz (fl. 18th c.)

A prayer upon preparing ḥallot for Shabbat. . . .

Sambatyon, a poem for Shabbat by Rabbi Alter Abelson (1931)

The poem “Sambatyon” (1931) by Rabbi Alter Abelson. . . .

מוֹדה אֲנִי | Returning the body to the soul: an adaptation of Modeh Ani by Moshe ibn Makhir

Modeh Ani first appeared as an addendum in Seder ha-Yom (1599) by Moshe ibn Makhir of Safed. A slightly different formula offers a deep insight into who and what has returned to one’s self upon waking. . . .

על הכל יתגדל ויתקדש | A Ḳaddish During the Removal of the Torah from the Ark in the Nusaḥ ha-ARI z”l (translation by R’ Oren Steinitz)

This Kaddish was first published online at Jewish Renewal Chassidus by Gabbai Seth Fishman. Rabbi Oren Steinitz translated the kaddish on the 3rd yahrzeit after Reb Zalman’s passing. . . .

A Kavvanah for Waking Up, by Andrew Shaw

An original liturgical poem inspired by the Modah|Modeh Ani prayer. . . .

קריאת שמע | The Recitation of the Shema, translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l, included his translation of the Shema in his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi (2009). . . .

צַפְרִירִים | Tsafririm (“Morning Spirits”), a poem by Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik (1900)

The poem “Tsafririm” (1900) by Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik with an English translation by Ben Aronin. . . .

עִם שָׁמֶשׁ | At Sunrise, a poem by Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik (1903)

The poem, “Im Shamesh” (At Sunrise) by Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik in June 1903. . . .

מודים דרבנן בלי מנין או אם לבד (אשכנז)‏ | Modim d’Rabbanan Replacement for when Praying Alone or Without a Minyan (Nusaḥ Ashkenaz), by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

This text uses the passage for the Askenazi nusach of the Modim d’Rabbanan and incorporates it into an extended version of the Modim, slightly editing it so as to fit more appropriately and so as not to repeat the word “modim” (which is forbidden on the grounds of appearing, ḥas v’shalom, to pray to multiple deities—see Berakhot 33b). It was first written for a separate project by the editor (https://opensiddur.org/prayers/lunisolar/musaf/dukhening-in-a-musaf-amidah-after-a-heykhe-qedushah-by-isaac-gantwerk-mayer/) but here it can be found alone. It can be silently recited when praying alone or after a heykhe kedusha, to replace the first paragraph of the Modim prayer. . . .

ברכו בלי מנין או אם לבד (אשכנז)‏ | Barkhu replacement for when Praying Alone or Without a Minyan (Nusaḥ Ashkenaz), by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

This replacement barkhu arranges multiple Biblical verses in a catena. It is introduced and closed with verses from the book of Neḥemiah, verses often considered the source for the custom of calling to prayer. In between are poetic texts from the Song of Deborah and from Psalms that direct the term “Barkhu” — the plural imperative “Bless ye!” — at God. It could be recited alone in the location where the Barkhu would traditionally be recited, or said aloud in a community when no minyan is available. Alternatively, it could be used WITH a minyan as a text to introduce the Barkhu, a new step in of a line of poetic introductions to the service written for multiple generations. . . .

העמידה לימות החל עם טעמי המקרא‎ | Weekday Amidah and Ḳaddish with Ta’amei haMiqra (cantillation), by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (Nusaḥ Ashkenaz)

The full Weekday Amidah (or Eighteen Blessings), according to Nusach Ashkenaz with optional additions for egalitarian rites or for within Israel, fully marked with ta’amei miqra (also known as cantillation marks or trope). Ta’amei miqra originally marked grammar and divisions in any Hebrew sentences, and older Hebrew manuscripts such as those from the Cairo Geniza often show ta’amei miqra on all sorts of texts, not just the Biblical texts we associate them with today. This text has the Eighteen Blessings (which number nineteen) of the weekday Amidah, and is suitable to use as a text for any standard weekday service. Note: this does not include any of the pre- or post-Amidah texts, such as Ashrei, Kriyat Shema, Tachanun, or Aleinu. It also doesn’t include additions for festivals, fast days, or the Days of Repentance. Those may be coming in the future, though! . . .

אשר יצר | Asher Yatsar prayer for recognizing the Divine Image in all our bodies by R’ Emily Aviva Kapor

Asher Yatzar (the “bathroom blessing”, traditionally said every morning and after every time one goes to relieve oneself) has always rung hollow to me, at best, and at worst has been a prayer not celebrating beauty but highlighting pain. The original version praises bodies whose nekavim nekavim ḥalulim ḥalulim (“all manner of ducts and tubes”) are properly opened and closed—yes, in a digestive/excretory sense, but it is quite easy to read a reproductive sense into it as well. What do you do if the “ducts and tubes” in your body are not properly opened and closed, what if one is open that should be closed, or vice versa? . . .

עלינו | Aleinu, attributed to Abba Arikha (early 3rd cent.), translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l, included his translation of an abridged form of the prayer Aleinu in his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi (2009). . . .

A Kavvanah on Praying, Singing, and Listening to Torah Readings, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1942)

A prayer on praying, singing, and Torah learning by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan. . . .

שמע | An illustrated meditation on the unification of imagination and awareness through empathy

When works are printed bearing shemot, any one of the ten divine names sacred to Judaism, they are cared for with love. If a page or bound work bearing shemot falls to the ground it’s a Jewish custom to draw up the page or book and kiss it. Just as loved ones are cared for after they’ve fallen and passed away, when the binding fails and leaves fall from siddurim and other seforim they are collected in boxes and bins and brought for burial, where their holy words can decompose back into the earth from which their constituent elements once grew, and were once harvested to become paper and books, and ink, string, glue. While teaching at the Teva Learning Center last Fall 2010, I collected all our shemot that we had intentionally or unintentionally made on our copy machine, or which we had collected from the itinerant teachers who pass through the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center on so many beautiful weekend shabbatonim. While leafing through the pages, I found one and kept it from the darkness of the genizah. . . .

[Gebet] Am Freitag, by Fanny Schmiedl Neuda (1855)

This is the prayer for Friday, a paraliturgical teḥinah opposite the Shir shel Yom (Psalm of the Day) for Friday, included by Fanny Schmiedl Neuda in her collection of teḥinot in vernacular German. Fanny Neuda likely either composed or translated this teḥinah into German (from Yiddish) while performing in the capacity of firzogerin (precentress) of the weibershul (women’s gallery) in her husband’s synagogue in Loštice, Bohemia. . . .

ברכות על קריאת התורה | Blessing over the Torah Reading, at Mishkan Shalom, Philadelphia

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Reb Arthur Waskow, and others helped to formulate this grammatically feminine Hebrew blessing for an oleh in their blessing over the Torah reading, in the early years of Congregation Mishkan Shalom in Philadelphia (1988-1983). . . .

Mikveh Meditation for Erev Shabbat by Rabbi Haviva Ner-David and Shira Gura

The following is a meditation I wrote (with the help of my friend Shira Gura, who teaches meditation and Yoga) to be used on Friday before Shabbat at the mikveh. It is based on midrashim related to Shabbat (for example, the notion that we receive an additional soul on Shabbat), as well as meanings behind mikveh in general (for example, the connection between the waters of Creation and the mikveh waters), and on some kavanot (sacred intentions) that came out of the Kabbalah and Ḥassidut movements. There is a strong tradition to write kavanot to use before immersing in the mikveh, since, as Maimonides writes in his Mishneh Torah 11:15, “If a person immerses but without buttressing him or herself [with sacred intention], it is as though he or she has not immersed at all.” . . .

Addition to the Rosh Hashanah Seder for the Shmitah Year, by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

Many people eat special foods as part of a mini-seder at the beginning of the Rosh Hashanah meal and invoke blessings for the year as they eat them. This year, you can add figs to your Rosh Hashanah seder (apples and honey, or apples, dates, beets, etc.) and recite with this kavvanah (intention). . . .

אשר יצר | Asher Yatsar, interpretive translation by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l

This English translation of the prayer “Asher Yatsar” by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l, was first published in his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi (2009). Versification by Aharon Varady according to the nusaḥ ha-ARI z”l. . . .

אשת חיל | Eyshet Ḥayil (Proverbs 31:10-31) For an Accomplished Woman, translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi’s interpretive translation of Proverbs 31:10-31, popularly read before the first festive meal for shabbat on Friday night. . . .

תחנון | Taḥanun, translated by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

My God! my soul is Yours my body is Your servant, take pity on what You have created; my soul is Yours and my body is Yours, God help us for Your sake. We come to You because we want to honor Your reputation. Help us in our moral struggle for the sake of Your reputation; because You are kind and compassionate. Forgive us, for there is so much we need to be forgiven for. . . .

Friday Eve, a poem by Rabbi Alter Abelson (1931)

The poem “Friday Eve” by Rabbi Alter Abelson (1931). . . .

נשמה שנתת בי | Neshamah Shenatata Bi (the breath you have given me), interpretive translation by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l

This English translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l of “Neshama Shenatata Bi,” was first published in his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi (2009). Linear associations of this translation according to the nusaḥ ha-ARI z”l by Aharon Varady. . . .

קדיש יתום | Mourner’s Ḳaddish, interpretive translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l

An interpretive translation of the Mourner’s Kaddish, by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l. . . .

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. 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. . . .

תהלים | Schedule for the Reading of Psalms corresponding to the Weekly Torah Portion, by Isaac Gantwerk-Mayer

This is a system that seeks to create a Haftarah-like system for the reading of Psalms, linking their meaning to the meaning of the reading or the Shabbat of that day. Like the Haftarah system, there are special psalms for the Shabbatot leading up to and following the Ninth of Av, as well as specific psalms for Rosh Chodesh and the special Shabbatot. Unlike the Haftarah system, if two portions are read together or a special Shabbat occurs on a day when another reading is done, both psalms are read (since psalms are generally shorter and easier to read than prophetic texts.) . . .


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