Class 13 - Liturgy class 5.13.09

Last week we covered everything we needed to on the lectionary. These texts keep coming back because some people feel an obligation, as they're preparing speeches/sermons, to draw on Torah and haftarot. To the extent that you find yourselves looking for inspiration, there are huge collections of sermon anthologies. Published by all the publishing houses, by Shma, by Ktav, all the rabbinic organizations. You'll often find them useful only to the extent that as you read someone else's R"H drash and think "yuck," "no no no no no" from insights to someone else, I've found it to be a positive discerning process in terms of finding clarity on what I do want to say.

Looking at the core amidah - want go to through the insertions with you. Look at the amidah for maariv on R"H. Leaving aside questions of matriarchs etc. The first textual clue is "zochreinu l'chayim," etc.

Someone tell me the whys and wherefores?

- R"H, yom hazikaron, we're being remembered based on what our past year has just been, what our future is going to be; we're asking that we be remembered for life and not for death. Written on R"H and sealed on Y"K.

What's anomalous?

- there's a theme change; we've been talking about our ancestors and a redeemer, and suddenly we're talking about ourselves

- it's anomalous because we don't say it the rest of the year!

All of the text we're looking at here are anomalous in that sense. All are new. But why is this particular metaphor particularly anomalous in this spot?

- it's a statement that's not framed as a bracha

Explain yourself. Why would you expect it to be a bracha?

- it's an insertion; avot begins with baruch atah adonai, ends with a chatimah, so this is an insertion

- it's in the midst of something praiseful

- it's jarring in this area of patriarchs and matriarchs; doesn't it really belong in the next bracha?

That's a piece of what I had in mind. The theme of this is chayym, and the next bracha begins "...mechaieh meitim...m'chalkel chayyim b'chesed." So if this insertion deals with life and death, why is it in the opening paragraph?

This does not seem to me to be the natural place for an insertion with this theme.

On insertions: There are two kinds of insertions into brachot. The first is piyyutim, which we'll deal with later. The second are meant to be transformations of the text of the brachot which we think of as matbeah tefilah.

Introducing a mamash new bracha is a big deal. The brachot of malkhuyot, zichronot, shofarot have no parallel anywhere else in any other festive amidah. Creating new brachot is a radical thing. There are injunctions within the gemara not to establish new brachot! So the reasons that we see brachot evolving or being transformed a little bit -- there's a bracha for fast days with a slightly different chatimah; but changing the chatimah of a bracha is extraordinarily rare.

Whether liberal movements say mechaieh hameitim or mechaieh hakol, they preserve the form. Changing the chatimah -- Hoffman calls it the eulogy -- is a very big deal. OTOH, there are ways in which the internal text of the bracha may morph; mashiv haruach umorid hagashem and morid hatal, e.g.

What we are looking at here are non-piyyut variations in the core text of the amidah. Which do not, with one exception we'll see in a moment, affect the chatimah.

Leah's point is a good one. Why would this insertion be placed here instead of in the second paragraph?

- when was it put in?

Like so much about the amidah, nobody really knows. Late amoraitic period.

- Klein tells us that the Orach Chayim says a prayer for life is most appropriate on a day of judgement

Klein is not wrong. It's appropriate for R"H. But on the assumption that there was a reflective process about why this was put where it is...

- if you put it in the second bracha, it would sound as if it were a prayer for your judgement in olam haba, eternal life, and we want it to be speaking about our life here on this earth

- connection with our ancestors, who continue to live through our memory of them; and our own selves, who hope to live into the coming year

- preserving/restoring life in the stories of the avot... it's a plea, a petition; since you saved their lives, you can save ours

- it occurs to me because of Ki Hinei ka-Chomer that this evokes the covenant and our ancestors, which is a frame for desiring us to continue in life

- zechut avot

That is important. Even though I said the second paragraph is really consonant with this, this is really only about life. The first paragraph of the amidah, in a certain sense, is one long sentence: Baruch atah H', etc, all of those supporting subclauses but it's one sentence that's rolling on. The conclusion is l'ma'an shemo b'ahavah. That first paragraph flows into those words. The culminating phrase of the insertion point is l'ma'ancha elohim chayyim. This paragraph supports the dialectic between God and the avot. It invokes the ancestors; there's a piece of this which isn't for our sake, but for God's sake. Remember us, and inscribe us -- these 2 petitions -- in some ways unetaneh tokef is an expansion of this same theme.

The first para is looking back at our ancestors, looking at life which is the image of the day and saying it's for God's sake.

The insertion into the second paragraph is...?

- mi chamicha hav harachamim, etc.

Why does that paragraph fit there?

- if we're talking about gevurot, which is middat ha-din, even though the bracha ends with mechaieh hameitim we want to soften din with rachamim. We move from mi chamocha baal hagevurot, who is like you in terms of din, to who is like you in terms of rachamim.

- yetzurav -- it's not only that we're reminding God of rachamim, but also of the yetzer. Al tefen la-yetzer.

- I just realized that in avot God is spoken of as melech, and in gevurot God is spoken of as av. It's an interesting juxtaposition.

So how would you translate av harachamim?

- compassionate father

- the paradigm of compassion

What does the word av mean?

- father

And what else?

- it's also the prototypical part that fits into the matrix in some kind of forge

- couldn't it be the wellspring that everything flows out of?

The word is translated sometimes as source. Paradigm, source, originating point. If you understand Av in that way, then Pirkei Avot is the "chapers of fundamental source-things" rather than "Ethics of the Fathers."

Av Harachamim, if we render it as father, then it's a bit like avinu malkeinu. But if you see it as source, then God is the originating-point of the source of mercy.

What's the third insertion point?

- uv'chen...

Yes, but skip that and we'll come back to it. What's the chatimah of the third bracha?

- hamelech hakadosh

Remember that I said changing the chatimah is a big deal. Why is this one changed?

- theme of R"H -- malkhuyot

But why then is it retained through the ten days? Then it would be unique to R"H, if that were so.

- it's like with a wedding, how sheva brachot go on for a week; the coronation events of the year keep on going

I think that's correct. I would resist malkhuyot being a metaphor for R"H. It's a triad, malkhuyot and zichronot and shofarot, and I don't think any oe of them alone is The Theme. But the theme of melech -- seeing God as melech -- Ha-Melech is where the chazzan begins the shacharit service -- that is a metaphor which is planted on the whole 10 days. Sovereignty is the partzuf, the divine image that is prevalent.

Avinu Malkeinu is probably the most beloved of the piyyutim of the HHD. The theme of God as melech. If you want to say that there's a journey of teshuvah, a process of cheshbon ha-nefesh, the formation of judgement, the process metaphorically begun on R"H and concluded on Y"K, then who is the av, where is the source-point for our din, it lies in God as creator. But the idea of judgement belongs to melech.

This is one more place where if you were raised in monarchy, it's different. The fundamental idea of the American political system is, what are the 3 co-equal, equally powerful divisions of government?

- legislative, executive, judicial

I'm far from being a political theorist, but the point of the American political system is that those 3 branches of gov't are separate. Legislation is subject to the judiciary. If you really understand monarchy, the monarch is both the originating point of legislation *and* the ultimate judicial authority. The essence of America which Americans are raised to venerate from the cradle is the independent functioning of those (though it's not total because who appoints the judiciary, and so on) -- but essentially we think of them as being separate.

I'm not an advocate or apologist for monarchy, but: understand that these different functions are one and the same. In the metaphor where this originates, the melech is the legislator, the originator of legislation, and the supreme court judge.

- diff b/w melech and dayan is that melech can practice random acts of kindness; the melech can decide to pardon someone even if the law says they should be punished

Two more daily insertions and then we'll return to u'v'chen.

- modim

What's the insertion there?

- uchtov l'chayyim tovim kol b'nei britecha

And what is that one doing there?

- recalls the brit, in a place where we're talking about all life

Where else in this paragraph is the idea of brit to be found?

- atah hu adonai eloheinu...l'olam va'ed

It's got the theme of rachamim. It doesn't have apparently the idea of writing in this book... The whole of the community has gathered together.

And then the truly lovely one, in the blessing for shalom: b'sefer chayim bracha v'shalom, etc. What does this final bracha add?

- it's a recapitulation and it's a form of sealing, in and of itself; it's been stated 3x and this is the summary

The commentators will note the one thing that's introduced here: parnassah tovah. What can anyone say about that phrase here?

- we need sustenance, not just life by itself

- it grounds what we've been doing, brings it into the physical

- some texts say a hazzan should be a man of moderate income with a large family so that when he says the prayers, he really means it

Look at the Sefardic birkat hamazon. There's 3 lines there (compared with the Ashekaniz one.) Think of what issue is weighing heavily on people's minds this year: it's parnassah. This is an area where people have spiritual concerns and angst, no more than around illness.

If you did a concordance search in liturgy around parnassah, there's not much there. It's worth knowing that this is here, to the extent that this is something we want to address -- where we can find it in the most ancient sources.

Going back to the u'v'chens:

(Reading the first one.)


- surprised to find u'v'chen -- this alludes to that, when Esther tells Mordechai, okay, I will go into the king

- that the king really has our lives in his hand

- midrash that Esther going in to see Achashverosh is analagous to the High Priest going into the holy of holies

- think of psalm 117, its universality

There is a constant byplay between ma'asim and b'ruim. But at the end it speaks only of ma she'barata, not ma she'asita. From a 4 worlds approach, how do you understand the metaphor of olam ha-assiyah and olam ha-briyah?

- I would think this would fit into yetzirah, because pachad is an emotion

- the text speaks in terms of assiyah and briyah, but since we end with briyah, I take that as the more inclusive of the two terms

We're speaking here of the creations which transcend assiyah. These metaphors for awe and trembling -- this isn't pure fright; I think the emotions of fear and awe introduced here are very different from primal fear -- the true sense of the word awe, Heschel would say the experience of the ineffable.

The phrase v'yaasu chulam agudah achat la'asot r'tzoncha b'levav shalem -- what metaphor do you see coming through that? If you do a search for aleph/gimel/daled, what section of Jewish literature would it take you do?

- aggadah

But what's the shoresh? That's from l'hagid, not from aleph gimel daled.

What constitutes an aggadah is what holds people together. Halakhically this connects to sukkot -- look in the 4th perek of sukkah. What needs to be the thing that brings the 4 species together? So every time I see this phrase, agudah achat, it invites the metaphor of the entire community being collected, like the arbah minim. The community of Israel comes together as God's lulav and etrog.

- and there are 4 actions described, 3 kinds of awe + bowing down

The community are together dancing out being God's lulav and etrog!

And of course that's where the name of the Israel bus company comes from. Egged. And Ohalah: what does that rashei teivot stand for? Agudat harabanim, etc. And when you hear Agudah and rabbi together, as an Israeli, what do you think of?

- with an Ashkenazic inflection, it points to Agudat Yisrael -- a political party of Ashkenazic Hareidim

So this first paragraph is very universal in its bent. It doesn't speak about us at all.

Second paragraph:

reference to yishai

What does it mean to be a moshiach? Who was the first moshiach in Tanakh?

- Sha'ul

And what made him a moshiach?

- anointed; oil on his head

Who was the most famous prominent person now alive who went through such a ritual of anointing?

- Elizabeth

It's on YouTube. 1952, the archbishop of Canterbury poured oil over her head.

There were 2 different versions of the story of the death of Sha'ul. One is that he committed suicide. What is the second?

II Samuel 1:16 -- moshiach means someone who's been anointed as king. As David was about to become a moshiach adonai, he wanted to make clear that you shouldn't go around killing them!

Understand: that for all the ways in which the concept of messiah / moshiach has been understood -- look at the enormous ways in which the concept of what it is to be a moshiach has extraordinarily paradigm-shifted itself 3 or 4 times, from someone who had oil poured over his head by an authorized person, to someone who's become a ruler.

Look at psalm 132:17. שָׁם אַצְמִיחַ קֶרֶן לְדָוִד; עָרַכְתִּי נֵר, לִמְשִׁיחִי.

When you see this phrase, arichat ner l'ben yishai -- remember that the people who wrote this knew the Tanakh by heart. You'll find that Rinat Yisrael and Artscroll are both good about giving you these references.

The third u'vchen:

What's the transition that's happened between the first two paragraphs and the third? Might you translate "u'v'chen" differently than in the first two?

- the third one is about the future; the first two set the conditions we need for right reln with God

- it's kind of an if/then: if this happens and this happens, THEN the righteous will be glad

In whose hands is this? What's the eschatology?

- it's up to God

- I'd say it's cooperative; we ask God to help us in the first one

- but it's up to God to do it

...We're in the third bracha; this is the most God-centered bracha, it's always the God-centered bracha. So it's entirely consistent with the theology of the bracha of kedushat ha-El that this section speaks in terms of "it is Your nature;" it is a consequence of what God is. V'timloch atah adonai levadcha -- there's a literary consistency, it points back to the beginning. What's this bracha really about? Kedushatecha.

The academic commentaries will tell you -- there's some debate about this -- it retains the prhase that's the usual chatmah in "v'hael hakadosh nikash bitzdakah." There's a wonderful drash to be given on what that means. And then it ends with hamelech hakadosh.

- even though it's so God-centered, there's rabbinic commentary about how the kedusha done by human beings is preferred by God is preferred by God over the kedusha done by the angels because they have no free will and we do

This is a long discussion on the generations of rabbinic commentary. You're right that it's not totally simple. But the plain unadorned text, as I read it, is very much at variance with much of the rest of the piyyutim and the HHD liturgy. It's important to remember that this text is part of the third bracha.

What we've just covered is the standard nusach textual arrangement of the amidah for HHD, which goes through various variations. Any questions specifically focused on what we just did?

- what's the kavanah that you're holding as you're leading or davening yourself this amidah? does it change as you're going through? and what's the nusach for R"H evening and does that support your kavanah?

The amidah for erev R"H there is no nusach because it's recited silently.

The internal journey through the text of the amidah is a guided meditation, as I believe the amidah always is. I see the third bracha as the transcendent journey, launching exploration.


[Deb's d'var tefilah on malkhuyot, zichronot, shofarot:]

- HHD service invites us to hear shofar 3x, turning our attention to hearing

- these are all about God: God's sovereignty, God remembering us, God's revelation of love and redemption of us and points to messianic redemption

- invite us into a diff reln with these 3; rather than seeing them passively, as reflections of how God relates to us, what if we engaged this portion of the musaf service as a chance to take personal responsibility...creating opportunity for opening a gateway to redemption for all creation

- malkhut: beingness, be here now, know that God is with us (chant)

- zichronot: about bringing our pasts into this moment, not only own cheshbon but also generations of ancestors; z'ch'r also spells male, as in people with XY chromosomes. Remembering, and owning our past, makes us potent enough to co-create our future. (shviti breath practice)

- shofarot: call to messianic future, when we will all have attained such a level of spiritual development that good will have triumphed. Sh'f'r are also the roots for shafar, to be good or pleasing. We sound the horn to make our world more beautiful. We couldn't do that w/o being awake to the here-and-now presence of God, and feeling the foundation of memory, and without the sound of the horn of the ram waking us to be the best human beings we can be. (achat sha'alti)


[missed a moment]

If you read Hoffman's analysis, or look at KHN, the recon machzor, or some of the publications among our friends in Renewal and liberal communities: not every community chooses to retain a musaf service. In KHN, e.g., on page 611 -- they say it as clearly as anyone else: they put malkhuyot etc after the Torah service, but don't embed it in an amidah. "Some communities begin musaf with malkhuyot, others with a silent amidah or with the amidah chanted aloud on page whatever and then continue here." Like good pluralistic liturgists, they're attempting to make their machzor accessible to a diverse array of practices.

In this way the Reconstructionist movement, following its more trad origins than the Reform movement, puts the shofar service after the Torah service. Continues to give primacy to the tekiat hashofar which takes place following the kriat hatorah and haftarah.

Hoffman and some of the publications of the Reform movment insert shofarot during the shacharit amidah, in which case those soundings precede the reading of the Torah and become the first soundings.

What's the big theological issue about that?

- The musaf blowings of the shofar are not the mitzvah

Where do we say the bracha?

- in the Torah service

So that's where we fulfil the mitzvah. Most authorities say if you simply hear 3 blasts, one tekiah / shevarim / teruah, then you are yotzei.

Musaf service is tied into a theology which says that a service is part of the seder avodah shebalev and that there is a conscious desire to make our avodah shebalev correspond to avodah in the beit hamikdash. The need for a musaf service corresponds to how there was a korban musaf. If you have a general theology seeking to separate from the sacrificial cult, rather than affirm it, it then makes lots of sense that you would not want to have a musaf service.

I applaud the theological purity of saying, what does it mean to most people who have zero interest in the sacrifices? Let's forget about this whole idea of a musaf service. I understand the theological purity and consistency. But it does not, in my mind, either make ritual-liturgical sense -- there is also a shared vestigial consciousness in the Jewish people. You do musaf; musaf has a collective memory-place in the Jewish people which isn't so easily dispensed with. So in some ways I like the solution of KHN, which leaves malkhuyot, zichronot and shofarot in their traditional place, and suggests that Jewish liturgical evolution did indeed have a symbolic presence here between putting the Torah away and singing ein keloheinu; and they leave it to the individual congregation as far as whether you want to have a full-fleshed musaf or just have it be something special for R"H. I don't have a prescription for anybody; just understand that consistency has its problems, creativity has its problems, and it needs to be crafted in accordance with your sense of the community where you daven.

- in the trad machzor here are 2 interesting prayers; the hazzan has one which has adonai sefatai tiftach in it, and there's one which Reb Zalman taught on last year, prayers for the congregation to say for the strength and effectiveness of their leaders.

- the great aleinu is the thing right before that


A clever way of dealing with the structure of the amidah: after Torah service, they introduce a new rubric with ochila l'El, and then they do the magen avot. Then unetaneh tokef, and malkhuyot.

Though the traditional text puts ochila l'El after the great aleinu, there's a way in which I like using it as the introduction.

Following the soundings of the shofar there are 2 texts: hayom harat olam, and areshet sefateinu. Areshet sefateinu makes reference to the 3 pieces: seder malkhuyoteinu, etc. What does this text do in giving a summation of each of these 3 sections?

- areshet sefateinu reminds us that this is avodah on the level of the temple service

- areshet sefateinu is usually sung lively, joyful; it's kind of a mini-version of the avodah service; it's still an entreaty but melodically it feels like our prayers have been accepted

That bouncy melody -- I've heard 2 or 3 different versions -- is very widespread. In Sefardic synagogues there is also a lively melody.

Look at psalm 21:1-2. The context is the king: the king rejoices in God's strength and salvation. That which is the desire of that person's mind/heart, you will give to that person; and areshet sefatav, and the request of his lips you won't withhold. Artscroll points out that's the only phrase of that sort in all of Tanakh. It's an interesting Biblical image to invoke at this point.

There's a confidence in it. We're like the king, rejoicing in God's presence, and whatever we've asked for, you won't withhold.

The problem I have with this little piece is, I was never sure what to do with hayom harat olam. It comes right after the tekiat hashofar, which is a nonverbal moment, and it's not the moment for "You know this is the anniversary of creation." My personal practice is to skip hayom harat olam and directly into areshet sefateinu. To the extent that the sound of the shofar comes out from your lips -- it's not like playing a chalil; it magnifies the non-verbal sound that comes out of your lips -- it's an interesting double entendre, having this phrase immediately after tekiat ha-shofar. "Whatever we have nonverbally asked for in this sounding of the shofar, You, exalted God, understand."

- last year at kehilla they weren't so excited about the bouncy areshet sefateinu; wanted something more entreating, so after some silence from the tekiah, came in with a little hazzanut that allowed people to stay deep with it, and then moved into a Hanna Tiferet tune that the kids now, to bridge the internal awe space into something lively

I'd wanted to do Unetaneh Tokef today; we'll do it next week when we begin at 9:30. Please review the text; use whichever resources are at hand.