In the Selichot (fifth day of Aseret Yimei Teshuvah, HaPizmon shel Yud Gimel Middot HaRahamim) and in Ne'ila of Yom Kippur, there's the stanza that reads:

The concern is the few middle lines:

מדת הרחמים עלינו התגלגלי

ולפני קונך תחנתנו הפילי

ובעד עמך רחמים שאלי

Which sounds like we're addressing G-d's mercy as separate from G-d, asking her to beseech G-d on our behalf. For those uncomfortable with this concept theologically (or unwilling to give the liturgy some artistic license), what's the best rewording here? The stanza ends with the Biblical וכל ראש לחלי so anything would either have to match that (ending in "lee"); paraphrase the verse differently; or break the rhyme.

  • 2
    The rewording would need to cover a few lines. Take a look at the seliha again and you will see.
    – Yahu
    Sep 21 '10 at 1:50
  • 3
    If the text is not meant as artistic license, who amongst our traditional sources would not have a problem with it?
    – Yahu
    Sep 21 '10 at 1:52
  • 3
    See the sources cited in note 40 here: hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=32573&st=&pgnum=332 (the Chabad machzor for Yom Kippur). There are indeed respectable opinions on both sides of the issue; those (including of course the original paytan) who defend this wording explain that we are asking the Thirteen Middos to act as a conduit for Hashem's beneficence, but not that we impute any independent powers to them, chas veshalom.
    – Alex
    Sep 21 '10 at 13:50
  • 1
    Yahu, I like the Google bookclip! Alex, neat idea just taking the jpg! I've added in the Hebrew text here (sans vowels) to make it more searchable; but I think all three ways to do it are good.
    – Shalom
    Sep 21 '10 at 14:17

A Hebrew Publishing Company machzor of 1926 ("reprinted from the latest and best London edition") has the following (image of relevant stanza), which clearly addresses HaShem (and later one's own soul) rather than His attribute of mercy:

רַחֲמֶיךָ עָלֵינוּ גּלְגֵּל נָא גֹאֲלִי׃

לְפָנָיו נַפְשִׁי תְּחִנָּתִךְ הַפִּילִּי׃

וּבְעַד עַמִּי רַחֲמִים שַׁאֲלִי׃

כִּי כָל לֵבָב דַּוָּי וְכָל רָאשׁ לָחֳלִי׃


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .