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This question bothers me each time the High Holidays come around. In the text for Unetaneh Tokef, we find the sequence:

מִי יָנוּחַ, וּמִי יָנוּעַ; מִי יִשָּׁקֵט, וּמִי יְטֹּרֵף; מִי יִשָּׁלֵו, וּמִי יִתְיַסָּר; מִי יַעֲנִי, וּמִי יַעֲשִׁיר; מִי יֻשְׁפַּל, וּמִי יָרוּם

(I have added punctuation to clarify my question.) In this sequence, we have 5 pairs. If the first 3 pairs, we have a positive quality followed by a negative one, but in the last 2 pairs the text suddenly switches and puts the negative quality first. Any suggestions as to why?

  • 1
    The last one could just be that the author wanted to end on a high* note*. (* Figuratively and literally) – Isaac Moses Oct 16 at 17:47
  • Note that, at least in the penultimate pair, the order varies among prayer books, even prayer books popular today. – msh210 Oct 16 at 17:56
  • I have an other nikud – kouty Oct 16 at 21:09
  • See Mesilas Yeshorim who reckons both poverty and riches as tests "העוני מצד אחד והעושר מצד אחד". He also reckons "השלוה מצד אחד והיסורין מצד אחד". Maybe poverty is in his view and R' Amnon's more positive than riches. – Avrohom Yitzchok Oct 17 at 8:21
  • Because you seriously overthinking it. Most texts of Teffilah are inconsistent and unstructured. BTW practically anything in those passages can be said in any order. – Al Berko Oct 17 at 8:25

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