In Shema Kolenu, based on the Posuk in Psalms 38:22 we say the phrase:

Al Taazvenu Hashem Elokenu Al tirchak mimenu | Don't leave us Hashem Our God Don't distance yourself from us.

The interesting thing is that, although it seems many people have a custom whilst reciting this phrase to join the words Hashem and Our God together and put a comma after the word God (and, indeed, there are Siddurim that have a comma at this point in the text), this appears to be incorrect. When one checks the Posuk that the phrase is based upon in the Tehillim, there is a break after the word Hashem, and the phrase Our God is part of the next clause.

The way most people seem to have a custom to say it:

Don't leave us Hashem Our God; don't distance yourself from us.

The (seemingly) correct way, following the verse:

Don't leave us Hashem; Our God don't distance yourself from us.

I always thought people were just ignorant of the fact that that it is not joined in the Posuk. But when I heard a Choshuve Rov daven for the Amud and he said that together, I had to ask him what is the Pshat. He told me that he knows that it is not the correct way according to the Posuk, but he has a minhag to say it like that, and that it might possibly come from Muncatch. He could offer no further details.

Can you tell me when this Minhag started and who started it?
Can you tell me why this Minhag started?
Or have you got another reason to judge favourably the thousands of Yidden who otherwise seem to be reading it wrong?

  • 4
    In the Nusach Ari Selichos (published by Kehos) the posuk is printed with the comma after אלקינו. Also note that the posuk it is not an exact quote from Tehilim.
    – Michoel
    Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 12:28
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    The Selichos was printed in 2005. Interestingly, in the old editions there is no comma.
    – Michoel
    Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 22:09
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    Rosenfeld 1956 edition has a full-stop between "HaShem" and "Our G-d" (end of sentences get a colon, so I assume it is meant as a comma).
    – Seth J
    Commented Sep 16, 2012 at 3:51
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    Why does the answer need to be any more than that it rhymes that way and/or "hashem elokeinu" is a common enough phrase that the mistake is very easy to make, especially considering how rare expertise in precise grammatical reading of scripture is nowadays?
    – Loewian
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 2:30
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    Probably in Munkach they didn't know the grammar and wrote some tune which butchered the meaning (a known longstanding issue in Jewish liturgical musical composition). He may be correct that he has a Minhag but he doesn't realize it's a Minhag Shtus which isn't binding and should be abandoned.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 4:13

1 Answer 1


This seems to be a question of whether both names are being invoked for both pleas, or whether each plea gets its own name.

Is seems difficult to bring a proof from the Passuk itself, as i'm assuming that the OP is referring to the Taamim, and the Taamim are tricky in Tehillim. Also, it would seem that even though there is indeed a hisnachta under HaShem, there is an azla-geireish under Elokai, which indicates a phrase for itself, so I am not so sure if the Hisnachta is such a good proof in this case, since the word Elokai also has a phrase-ender so to speak (correct me if i'm wrong).

This brings it down to the Meforshim, to see if they split up the names or not.

The Radak and the Alshich do explain that Al Taazveini is a plea to the name Hashem, and Al tirchak mimeni is a plea to the name Elokai.

On the other hand the Malbim bunches both pleas together without pointing out any separation. Moreover, and perhaps the best source for this minhag to put the two names together, the Rokeach (Rabbi Elazar of Worms, circa 1160-1260) in his commentary on the siddur, clearly puts the two names together:

פירושי סידור התפילה לרוקח [סט] אנא מלך חנון ורחום עמוד שפט אל תעזבינו ה' אלהינו אל תרחק ממנו הואיל ואתה חוזק שלנו ואלהינו, אין לך לעזבינו בצרותינו ולא לירחק ממנו.

"Since you are our strength and our God (Elokeinu), you must not forsake us in our angst, nor must you not distance yourself from us."

This would clearly require a reading of the passuk the way the minhag is according to the OP.

  • 2
    You are wrong. The taamim are very, very unambiguous, even if you are correct that many people don't know how to read taamim in tehillim. Also fyi the note on Elokai isn't an Azla Geresh but rather a Revii Mugrash which functions sort of like a Tipcha in ordinary verses.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 4:03
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    I don't understand why you think the Rokeach clearly puts the names together. He does no such thing as far as I can see. He lists two reasons and two consequences. Seems more like there's an implied "respectively" going on here.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 4:08
  • As to the reading of the Radak, i do not see it your way, rather i see it as a clear attemt to group the names and the pleas together, as i stated. I respect your opinion, but let us let the readers decide.
    – Hershy S.
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 4:22
  • Note that i didn't say the taamim have not meaning, rather i suggested they are tricky. I am surely a rookie on the issue, i make no authoritative statements about them. Am i also wrong about the Phrase ender idea?
    – Hershy S.
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 4:30

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