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There is a long standing debate surrounding the piyut "מכניסי רחמים" which is said during selichot (words found here). The piyut is addressed to angels and the text aims to elicit the attributes of the angels to assist in teshuva before the days of awe.

The piyut starts like this:

מַכְנִיסֵי רַחֲמִים הַכְנִיסוּ רַחֲמֵינוּ לִפְנֵי בַּעַל הָרַחֲמִים

מַשְׁמִיעֵי תְפִלָּה הַשְׁמִיעוּ תְפִלָּתֵנוּ לִפְנֵי שׁוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה

מַשְׁמִיעֵי צְעָקָה הַשְׁמִיעוּ צַעֲקָתֵנוּ לִפְנֵי שׁוֹמֵעַ צְעָקָה

מַכְנִיסֵי דִּמְעָה הַכְנִיסוּ דִמְעוֹתֵינוּ לִפְנֵי מֶלֶךְ מִתְרַצֶּה בִּדְמָעוֹת

In brief, the Rambam's 13 principles says that we should only be praying to God*. The Rambam's basis for this is a Yerushalmi (תלמוד ירושלמי, מסכת ברכות, פרק ט', הלכה א') i.e. that all prayers should be directed to God, not the angels.

The piyut first appeared from Rav Amram Gaon's (9th century) siddur, who (it seems) did not oppose this. It also appeared in the Shibbolei Leket (13th century) and Rav Shreira Gaon (11th century) who considered it permissible. The Maharal and the Chatam Sofer were ostensibly against the recitation of מכניסי רחמים and Iggrot Moshe and the Tzitz Eliezer bring arguments against the recitation, but were seemingly indecisive (see here).

Are there any poskim who were more decisive against reciting this piyut? For those against it: what was their reason and how do they understand Rav Amram Gaon (and others) who allowed the piyut to be said in the first place?

NB: If someone has examples (or personal experience) of current synagogues, Rabbanim or Yeshivot that have a stance on this issue it would be appreciated as a comment (or part of an answer).

*I'm using this Rambam as an example, I know there are those who disagree with the codification of the ikkarim in the way that he did.

  • Particularly in the context of what is said in Sefer Sha’arei Ohrah, Sha’ar 10 at the beginning, this piyut would be speaking to the Moshe Rabbeinu of each generation. Meaning seeking that he pray on our behalf. In context, think about receiving the Torah at Har Sinai. – Yaacov Deane Sep 22 at 0:17
  • @Oliver in the wiki page for מכניסי רחמים (he.wikipedia.org/wiki/…), not the one in the post above (which is about the polemic regarding מכניסי רחמים) it says: "לראשונה, מופיע הפיוט בסידור התפילות שערך ראש ישיבת סורא, רב עמרם גאון, וזה מעיד כי בוודאי לא התנגד לאמירת הפיוט" – bondonk Sep 22 at 9:22
  • I'm not sure why you say "The Maharal and the Chatam Sofer were ostensibly against the recitation of מכניסי רחמים - the Maharal is quite explicitly, and forcefully against (e.g. in Nethiv HaAvoda - even though he otherwise is adamantly in support of the Ashkenazic prayer/piyut tradition). – Loewian Sep 22 at 15:54
  • @Loewian thanks for pointing this out. The source I found said that he avoided saying it, or something to that effect. So I wasn't familiar. If you can provide a source I can state this more clearly. Thanks! – bondonk Sep 22 at 16:51
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Artscroll (introduction to Selichot) quotes the Maharal of Prague as

writing strongly against supplications addressed to angelic advocates. Why may one seek the intercession of human intermediaries [the avot and imaot], yet be prohibited from beseeching the angels to advocate his case? Man is commanded to perform acts of kindness with his fellow man. Thus, by requesting another person to pray for his welfare, one present his fellow with an opportunity to perform an act of kindness.

Angels, on the other hand, are neither commanded not given the free will to perform such acts. They may only do the specific deed or deeds for which they were created, and regarding which they were commanded by God. A request to an angel must therefore be considered not just asking for friendly help, but a prayer; and Heaven forbid that any Jew should utter such a prayer.

I heard the Maharal therefore advocated reciting this piyut as a pekuda (an order) given to angels, rather than a bakasha (a request).

  • I quoted and translated the Maharal that you heard from the source here – b a Sep 22 at 10:01
  • @ba Wonderful. Glad it converges – mbloch Sep 22 at 10:03
  • @mbloch How does this approach deal with the subject and problem of issuing an order to an angel? This is often referred to in English as ‘binding the angel’ and is generally considered prohibited in the present. – Yaacov Deane Sep 22 at 14:17
  • I'm not sure what you mean by a pekuda - IMSMC, the Maharal in Nethiv HaAvoda only allows inclusion of the poem if it is amended to the third person - "... yachnisu ... yashmiu ... " - "...have [Your angels of mercy enter our supplications]... etc., such that one is directly addressing G-d, and not His angels, and poetically praying that He receive our prayers from the deterministic means He has created for receiving them. – Loewian Sep 22 at 16:02
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    @Loewian I understood that requesting assumes the person you request from has power, while ordering him assumes he is an agent – mbloch Sep 22 at 16:58
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Rav Moshe Feinstein writes that he skipped it -- Orach Chaim 5, #43. (Though it sounds like he followed the Chasam Sofer -- skip it yourself, but say it if you're chazan at a shul that does.)

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