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Holidays

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[Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai and his son, Rabbi Elazar] went and hid [from the Romans] in a cave. A miracle occurred and a carob-tree and a spring of water were created for them. They would remove their garments and sit up to their necks in sand. They studied all day; when it was time for prayers they got dressed to cover themselves, prayed, and then took off their garments again, so that they should not wear out. Thus they dwelt for twelve years in the cave.

Then Elijah came and stood at the entrance to the cave and exclaimed, “Who will inform the son of Yohai that the emperor is dead and his

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Return us, our Parent, to Your Torah, and bring us close, our Sovereign, to your service, and return us to before You in complete repentance. Blessed are You, God, the One who desires repentance.

(Daily Amidah)

הֲשִׁיבֵנוּ אָבִינוּ לְתוֹרָתֶךָ, וְקָרְבֵנוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ לַעֲבוֹדָתֶךָ, וְהַחֲזִירֵנוּ בִּתְשׁוּבָה שְׁלֵמָה לְפָנֶיךָ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, הָרוֹצֶה בִּתְשׁוּבָה:

For You do not desire the death of the condemned, but that they turn from their path and live.

Until the day of their death You wait for them. Should they turn, You will receive them at once.

(“U-netaneh Tokef”,

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Rabbi Yohanan said in the name of Rabbi Yossi: from where do we know that the Holy Blessed One prays? As Scripture says: “I will bring them to my sacred mountain and let them rejoice in [literally] the house of My prayer . . .” (Isaiah 56:7). It doesn’t say “the house of their prayer”, rather, “the house of My prayer”, to teach us that the Holy Blessed One prays.

What does God pray?

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The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your offspring to love the Lord your God with all of your heart and being, in order that you may live.

(Deuteronomy 30:6)

וּמָל ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת־לְבָבְךָ וְאֶת־לְבַב זַרְע לְאַהֲבָה אֶת־ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁךָ לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ:

 

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Rava would say this after his Amidah: My God, until I was created, I was unworthy; now that I have been created, I am as if I had not been created.

(Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 17a; Yom Kippur liturgy)

רבא בתר צלותיה אמר הכי: אלהי, עד שלא נוצרתי איני כדאי ועכשיו שנוצרתי כאלו לא נוצרתי.

 

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One who says “I will sin and I will repent, I will sin and I will repent”—they have no ability to effect repentance. “I will sin and Yom Kippur will effect atonement”—Yom Kippur will not effect atonement.

Transgressions that are between a person and the Omnipresent—Yom Kippur effects atonement; transgressions that are between a person and their fellow— Yom Kippur does not effect atonement until they have appeased their fellow.

(Mishnah Yoma 8:9)

האומר אחטא ואשוב אחטא ואשוב אין מספיקין בידו לעשות תשובה 
אחטא ויום הכפורים מכפר אין יום הכפורים מכפר 
 
עבירות שבין אדם למקום יום הכפורים מכפר

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Rabbi Kruspadai says in the name of Rabbi Yohanan: Three books are opened on Rosh Hashanah: one of the entirely wicked, and one of the entirely righteous, and one of those somewhere in between. The completely righteous—they are written and sealed for life right away. The completely wicked—they are written and sealed for death right away. Those in between—they hang in the balance from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur. If they are found worthy—they are written for life; if they are found not worthy—they are written for death.

(Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 16b)

אמר רבי כרוספדאי אמר רבי

By Dr. Barbara Mann | Simon H. Fabian Associate Professor of Hebrew Literature, JTS

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Ze’ev Raban, שיר השירים, Berlin, 1923
Image courtesy of The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary (BS1482 .R3 1923)

(This year, the Song of Songs is read on the last day of Passover. This plate refers to Song of Songs 4:1–6.)

The Song of Songs is an essential text for modern Hebrew culture, and was perhaps the most beloved biblical book of modernist authors such as S. Y.

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