On Mondays and Thursday, we add a section after nefillat apayim, but before shomer yisrael -- it is a quasi villanelle with the repeated line "Hashem elokei yisrael, shuv mecharon apecha v'hinachem al hara'ahl'amecha.". What should the physical position of your body be?

The Artscroll directions say before vayomer david "the text on this page should be recited with the head resting on the arm" and that page (102 in the Ohel Sarah sitting next to me) ends in the middle of the Hashem Elokei Yisrael section. I think it is safe to assume that this applies even to the lines on 104 and that one is to keep his head down until he begins the Shomer Yisrael section.

However the instructions in the middle of page 102 (before the added section begins) says "The conclusion of Tachanun is said while seated with head held erect" implying that the remainder is "conclusion" so the Hashem Elokei Yisrael section would be said while sitting up.

My siddur Tefillah Hashelem has no instructions other than that we say Hashem elokei yisrael when we say v'hu rachum.

  • I never paid that close attention to "Uncle Artie's" (Art Scroll) instructions. I have to see that, again. My assumption & minhag has been to sit during that par. and I assumed that since we don't say that par. every day. Thus I assumes that the "leaning" part was for the 1st paragraph only.
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 13:28
  • 2
    Not an answer, but you may find beureihatefila.com/files/2007-11-16_Tefila_Newsletter.pdf interesting, as it discusses the history behind this prayer. Originally, it was recited responsively by chazzan than cong.
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 14:03
  • @DanF thanks for that -- I was thinking of making that a next question as the verse form is unusual and interesting to me.
    – rosends
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 14:14
  • Incentive - Excerpt an idea from the article, build a question and answer it yourself. I've done that with a few items from that site ... Reminds me, I have an unanswered Q somewhere else that I need to answer.
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 14:19
  • @DanF the basis of my question is invalidated by the info. I was wondering if it was a later piece written after being influenced by the villanele verse form, but if it is such an early composition, and written as a responsive piyut the form stands on its own
    – rosends
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 14:20

2 Answers 2


The ArtScroll RCA siddur (Kol Yaakov) is more clear about it (page 132), specifically saying to keep your head down until יבשו רגע (the end of that paragraph).

The ArtScroll Chinuch siddur (Chaim Shlomo) also has the "text on this page" instruction, but there, only the ויאמר דוד paragraph is there.

[Yes, i know it's actually a sentence and a paragraph. I simplified here.]

  • However, i wonder if there is a custom for standing.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 12:45
  • Most sh'lichei tzibbur stand, although R' Hamburger says that everyone should be sitting until the end of ה׳ אלקי ישראל. (He also mentions that ע”פ Minhag Ashkenaz, we only say שומר ישראל on ta'anyot tzibbur (and the Selichot period from Elul to erev Y"K). Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 13:11

You may need to get a better sense of the evolvement of what we currently call "Tachanun" and what Nefilat Apai'im refers to, as they are not the same thing.

I'm excerpting various ideas from several articles that were compiled into a single Beurei Hatefilah newsletter. Since this is in PDF. I may have trouble copying and pasting some sections, so I'll refer you to the page(s). The page numbers are the PHYSICAL pg. numbers in the PDF, not the page number written in the page header.

pg. 29 - Three rites follow Shemnoeh Esreh - Viduy, Tachanun & Nefilat Apa'im

He seems to emphasize that it must be in this order.

Then he focuses on the 1st part of Tachanun:

The opening verse Vayomer David was not always said & does not appear in early Siddurim. Aruch Hashulchan claims that it was not their minhag to say that line.

The 2nd line - Rachum Vechanun was composed by Chaza"l & that is viduy

The 3rd part containing Tehillim 6 is Tachanun.

As there are various orders between Nusach Ashkenaz & Sefard, I will discuss Nusach Ashkenaz, here. (See somewhere in the newsletter some mention of other customs that mention different paragraphs said other than Rachum V'chanun (Tehillim 6).)

p. 31 (translation of Siddur MH"R Shabtai Sofer):

The practice to recite the line: Rachum V’Chanun Chatasi before reciting the chapter of Tehilim is based on what is written in the Zohar, Parshas Pikeudei, page 472 in the large print edition and on page 262 side one in the small print edition, that one should confess his sins after finishing Shemona Esrei and before falling on one’s face. That is what the To’Eles Yaakov wrote on page 33 side 1. A similar point is raised by the book: Seder Ha’Yom page 20 side 1. The key element of confession is the words: but we have sinned as it is written at the end of the last chapter of Maseches Yoma page 87 side 1. It is further written there that confession must be recited while standing. The same point is made in the Zohar, ibid. So too the Schulchan Aruch held in Orach Chaim Siman 607 paragraph 3. It therefore appears to me that one should say the words: Rachum V’Chanun Chatasi, which represents the essence of the confession, while in a standing position. Then one should sit down, lean one’s head to the left and then recite the chapter of Tehillim.

So, it seems that the REAL part of Nefillat Apa'im is only Tehillim 6 and that's the only part when you should lean your head! An important point to learn from this excerpt - Don't lean for either Vayomer David or Rachum V'Chanun. (And to think that I've been doing it wrong all these years!)

Begining on p. 58, you will find a discussion of Hashem Elokei Yisra'el. One notable points in that section:

Machzor Vitri says that this Piyut was originally said responsively by the chazzan and cong. That's no longer done. But, from the fact of its original planning, it seems that this was NOT part of Nefilat Apa'im, otherwise the Chazan wouldn't be standing. (While not explicitly stated, there, I feel safe to assume that any responsive reading by the chazzan would not be done with him leaning.)

There are other points in the newsletter that I encourage you to read, as they will offer different angles to the structure of what we now call Tachanun.

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