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. . . .

הרחמן | Haraḥaman, Prayer to the merciful One for the Shmita Year, R”H seder additions, and other liturgical tweaks 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). . . .

A Kavvanah for Welcoming the Shabbat with the Spring Equinox, by Rabbi Yaakov Reef

In the year 5775 (2015), the vernal equinox coincided with Rosh Ḥodesh Nissan, the Hebrew month known also as Aviv (Spring), as well as the onset of Shabbat, and a total solar eclipse. Here is a short meditation to receive the shabbat in embrace of the new season. . . .

תפילת גשם בזכות האמהות | Prayer for Rain in the Merit of the Matriarchs by Rabbi Jill Hammer

The time of Sukkot is a time of fullness and generosity, but also a time to pray for the coming season. Shemini Atzeret, the festival when we pray for rain, is an expression of our need for water, which in the Jewish tradition symbolizes life, renewal, and deliverance. Tefillat Geshem, a graceful fixture of the Ashkenazic liturgy, invokes the patriarchs as exemplars of holiness and model recipients of God’s love. This prayer uses water as a metaphor for devotion and faith, asking that God grant us life-sustaining rain. While its authorship is unknown, it is sometimes attributed to Elazar Kallir, the great liturgist who lived sometime during the first millenium. Each year, we are reminded of our people’s connection to the patriarchs and to the rhythms of water, spiritual and physical sources of life, through this medieval piyyut. While we know that rain is a natural process, formal thanksgiving for water as a source of life, energy, and beauty reminds us that our Creator is the source of our physical world and its many wonders. . . .

ברכות ותפילות לרגל עדות העטרה של החמה | Blessings and a Prayer for Witnessing a Solar Eclipse by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

Blessings and prayers for the eclipse, at: neohasid.org/eclipse including texts and links to other Internet resources. May we all find blessing in the wonder. . . .

תפילה בין השריפות | Prayer between the Fires (between the 32nd and 42nd days of the Omer, neohasid.org)

This is a prayer to be read between the 17th and the 27th of Iyyar (בין י״ז ו-כ״ז באייר), between the 32nd (ל״ב) and 42nd (מ״ב) days of the Omer. . . .

Kavvanah between Lag BaOmer and Yom Qeshet (the 42nd day of the Omer), by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

This is a prayer to be read between the 18th and the 27th of Iyyar (בין י״ח ו-כ״ז באייר), between the 33rd (ל״ג) and 42nd (מ״ב) days of the Omer. . . .

תפילה לנספים בשטפונות | Prayer for Flood Victims (Masorti Movement in Israel)

Flash floods are dangerous in every season, but are rare in the dry season, after most rain and snow are thought to have fallen. Changes in the global climate due to global warming caused by anthropogenic activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and the conversion of land for raising animals for their meat is a significant contributor to extreme weather experienced around the world. The Masorti Movement of Israel’s prayer for flood victims was first published on their website, here. . . .

תפילה בין השריפות | Abridged Prayer Between the Fires (between the 32nd and 42nd days of the Omer, neohasid.org)

“Between the Fires” by Rabbi David Seidenberg, originally published at neohasid.org, is derived from the prayer of Rabbi Arthur Waskow (the Shalom Center), “Between the Fires: A Prayer for lighting Candles of Commitment” which draws on traditional midrash about the danger of a Flood of Fire, and the passage from Malachi. Another version of this prayer by Rabbi David Seidenberg, “A Prayer between the Fires (between the 32nd and 42nd days of the Omer)” is available, here. . . .

Actions de graces pour la récolte et Prière pour demander un bon hiver | Thanks for the Harvest, and Prayer for a Favorable Winter, a paraliturgical prayer for rain by Jonas Ennery (1848)

This is a paraliturgical prayer for rain during the wet season, read during the festival of Sukkot, from Imrei Lev, a collection of teḥinot and paraliturgical prayers adapted for French Jewry by Jonas Ennery and Rabbi Arnaud Aron. The prayer does not appear in Hester Rothschild’s abridged English translation of Imrei Lev: Prayers and Meditations (1855). The translation provided here is from Isaac Leeser’s “corrected and revised” edition from 1866, albeit without the archaisms. –Aharon Varady. . . .

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

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

פרקי אבות | Pirqei Avot, with Ta’amei Miqra by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

The Pirqei Avot (chapter of fundamental principles) with cantillation and English translation. . . .

סֵדֶר סְפִירַת הָעֹמֶר | the Order of Counting the Omer in the Spring

Each day between the beginning of Passover and Shavuot gets counted, 49 days in all, 7 weeks of seven days. That makes the omer period a miniature version of the Shmitta and Yovel (Jubilee) cycle of 7 cycles of seven years. Just as that cycle is one of resetting society’s clock to align ourselves with freedom and with the needs of the land, this cycle too is a chance to align ourselves with the rhythms of spring and the spiritual freedom represented by the Torah. . . .

ברכת השנים | On December 4th (or 5th) and the Birkat Hashanim

Rain is important in every society, but particularly so in places like Eretz Yisrael, where rain only falls during a defined portion of the year. It is critical, then, that the “rainy season” in fact be rainy, since no rain can be expected for the remainder of the year. Accordingly, prayers, liturgies, and fast days relating to rain (or the lack thereof) played, and continue to play, a prominent role in Jewish tradition. Our tefillot today contain two major references to rain: “hazkarat geshamim” (better known as “mashiv haruaḥ umorid hagashem“) and “she’eilat geshamim“, found in the weekday Amidah in the 9th berakhah, “birkat hashanim“. There, an alternating liturgy was established: during the dry months, we say “v’tein berakhah“, whereas during the rainy season, we say “v’tein tal umatar livrakhah“, an explicit request for the rain to fall. Consensus emerged around the opinion of Rabban Gamliel in Mishnah Ta’anit 1:3 that “she’eilat geshamim” should begin on the 7th of Marḥeshvan (15 days after Shmini Atzeret, the 22nd of Tishrei). This would give pilgrims from as far away as the Euphrates (a 15-day journey) sufficient time to return home in dry weather. This is current practice in Eretz Yisrael to this day. . . .

Scaling the Walls of the Labyrinth: Psalms 67 and Ana b’Khoaḥ

Psalm 67 is a priestly blessing for all the peoples of the earth to be sustained by the earth’s harvest (yevulah), and it is a petition that all humanity recognize the divine nature (Elohim) illuminating the world. Composed of seven verses, the psalm is often visually depicted as a seven branched menorah. There are 49 words in the entire psalm, and in the Nusaḥ ha-ARI z”l there is one word for each day of the Sefirat haOmer. Similarly, the fifth verse has 49 letters and each letter can be used as a focal point for meditating on the meaning of the day in its week in the journey to Shavuot, the festival of weeks (the culmination of the barley harvest), and the festival of oaths (shevuot) in celebration of receiving the Torah. Many of the themes of Psalm 67 are repeated in the prayer Ana b’Koaḥ, which also has 49 words, and which are also used to focus on the meaning of each day on the cyclical and labyrinthine journey towards Shavuot. . . .

בִּרְכַּת הָאִילָנוֹת | The Blessing of Flowering Fruit Trees in the Spring Season

When the spring (Aviv) season arrives, a blessing is traditionally said when one is in view of at least two flowering fruit trees. In the northern hemisphere, it can be said anytime through the end of the month of Nissan (though it can still be said in Iyar). For those who live in the southern hemisphere, the blessing can be said during the month of Tishrei. . . .

תפילת טל | A Prayer for Dew, by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

Geshem and tal: rain and dew. We pray for each in its season, geshem all winter and tal as summer approaches…not everywhere, necessarily, but in the land of Israel where our prayers have their roots. In a desert climate, water is clearly a gift from God. It’s easy for us to forget that, here with all of this rain and snow. But our liturgy reminds us. Through the winter months, during our daily amidah we’ve prayed “mashiv ha-ruach u-morid ha-gashem” — You cause the winds to blow and the rains to fall! We only pray for rain during the rainy season, because it is frustrating both to us and to God when we pray for impossibilities. . . .

ברכת החמה | Kavvanah for the Blessing for the Sun, by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org, 2009)

We come here ready to fulfill the Creator’s commandment to give blessing for the Sun’s creation and in this year we recognize that the abundance of blessing which Earth receives from the Sun depends on the health of the Skies, which is in human hands for the first time in any generation in all the years of blessing the Sun, from the beginning of the world. . . .


בסיעתא דארעא