Siddur Ba-eir Hei-teiv --- The Transliterated Siddur

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Learn to sing R'tsei Vi-m'nu-cha-tei-nu ("The Sanctification of the Day" for Sabbaths) Print E-mail
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All transliterations, commentary, and audio recordings are copyright © 1997, 1998, 2002, 2009, or 2016 by Jordan Lee Wagner. All rights reserved.

Here are melodies used for R'tsei Vi-m'nu-cha-tei-nu on various occasions:

  • This congregational tune is written in Ahavah Rabbah mode (known as "fraygish" in Yiddish). That makes it appropriate for Saturday mornings.
  • Here is R'stei Vimnuchateinu chanted in Magein Avot mode, which is the correct nusach (chanting tradition) for Friday night. In this recording, R'tsei Vimnuchateinu is preceded by the Seven-Faceted Benediction and Magein Avot itself. This recording is hosted at VirtualCantor.com, a highly recommended resource.
  • Here's a different Friday night chant for R'tsei Vimnuchateinu.

R'tsei Vi-m'nu-cha-tei-nu

... The original Sanctification of the Day [the holiday replacement for the weekday Amidah's thirteen central petitions] for the Sabbath was called R'tsei Vim-nu-cha-tei-nu. It is now the common ending paragraph in the K'dushat HaYom of each of the four Sabbath "Amidahs." With this paragraph, one consecrates oneself to life's noblest purposes. One seeks to be a part of a transcendental plan, and strives to gain a pure heart so that one can understand the heritage of Israel. This endowment is secured by means of one's observance of the holiness and restfulness of the Sabbath day.[i]

In most traditional siddurim,[ii] R'tsei Vimnuchateinu has three versions that differ only in one pronoun. "Vah" (female), "vo" (male), and "vom" (plural) are used to refer to Shabbat in the evening, morning[iii] and afternoon respectively. They occur in the phrase, "may Israel rest thereon," referring to Shabbat. In Jewish metaphor, the Sabbath is often personified as The Sabbath Bride, and Israel is personified as the groom awaiting her arrival and eager to establish the relationship. The Sabbath Bride is a manifestation of the Divine Presence, and a commemoration of Creation. She exists independently of the groom and arrives whether or not the groom shows up. Furthermore, the utopian World-To-Come is often metaphorically described as an endless string of Sabbaths -- like a perpetual wedding night between the material and the transcendental. Therefore when R'tsei Vim-nu-cha-tei-nu uses three different pronouns to say "may Israel rest thereon," it can refer to the female, male, and plural aspects of Shabbat: the Sabbath (as a commemoration of Creation); this Sabbath day (as an expression by the groom of the covenantal relationship established by the Revelation at Sinai); all Sabbaths (the infinite majority of which come after the future redemption). Thus these pronouns further serve to align the three Sabbath services with Creation, Revelation, and Redemption.

The Talmud[iv] considers Vayichulu and R'tsei Vim­nuchateinu to be an essential part of every Shab­bat Ma-ariv (Friday evening) service. We shall see liturgical ramifications of this later.[v]

The first phrases of R'tsei Vimnuchateinu speak of sanctification, satisfaction, and deliverance. This reminds us of the spiritual, physical, and national needs that comprise the central petitions of the weekday Shemoneh Esreh, replaced on Shabbat by R'tsei Vimnuchateinu.

Therefore "Amidah" is a better name than "Shemoneh Esreh," because the "Eighteen Benedic­tions" actually don't have eighteen benedictions on Sab­baths and festivals. There are only seven benedictions on Sabbaths and festivals. Even on weekdays, there are nine­teen benedictions, but the weekday Amidah is still often called Shemoneh Esreh.

This leads to a peculiar oddity of modern times. While it has always been the case that many Jews did not attend synagogue services every single weekday, it is only in modern times that many no longer pray thrice daily when alone. Those who never pray the daily service get a distorted view of Jewish worship, due to praying only the Sabbath and Festival liturgy. On these occasions the central part of the Service of the Heart is replaced; the heart of the service removed. Thus their experience of prayer is devoid of petition and (as we'll see later) confession, and the utopia-building program of our sages is excluded.

[i] This paragraph is parahrased from the liner notes, written by Dr. Sidney B. Hoenig, to an old record of Sabbath litugical music by Cantor Sholem Katz with a choir directed by Seymour Silbermintz. (I could find no number or other mark on the product that could further identify it.)

[ii] except for Birnbaum's

[iii] including Musaf

[iv] c.f., Shabbat 119b.

[v] on page 133.

--- adapted from "The Synagogue Survival Kit" by Jordan Lee Wagner, publ. by Rowman & Littlefield. 1997.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 December 2009 16:24

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