In Avinu Malkeinu, we read, "חָנֵּנוּ וַעֲנֵנוּ כִּי אֵין בָּנוּ מַעֲשִׂים עֲשֵׂה עִמָּנוּ צְדָקָה וָחֶסֶד וְהוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ" be gracious with us and answer us, though we have no worthy deeds; treat us with charity and kindness and save us. (Translation from the Artscroll).

A similar sentence is used in tachanun on Mondays and Thursdays: אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ חָנֵּנוּ וַעֲנֵנוּ. כִּי אֵין בָּנוּ מַעֲשים. צְדָקָה עֲשה עִמָּנוּ לְמַעַן שְׁמֶךָ

The final 5 words are also repeated later in tachanun.

I don't know a source for the phrase so I don't know if one is "more authentic" than another, but why would the two prayers use the same phrase but change the order of the words? One has asei imanu tzedaka and the other has tzedaka asei imanu. Is there a difference in meaning brought about by the shift in the words?

  • I saw the same thing, recently. Same curiosity! For obe thing, the version in Avinu Malkeinu contains a list of additional items. The verb applies to the rest of them, also. Separating the verb and placing it in the middle, I think, would be grammatically incorrect or confusing.
    – DanF
    Feb 10, 2017 at 3:09
  • what would be wrong with asei imanu tzedaka lema'an shmecha?
    – rosends
    Feb 10, 2017 at 3:22
  • Sorry. I was thinking of what happened if you flipped the other one, so it said "Tzedaka asei imanu vachesed vehoshienu." I don't think that's grammatically correct. Sometimes placing the object first is for emphasis. Perhaps, in the other one, it is emphasizing that tzedaka vs. something else? should be done. Just scratching my head, here.
    – DanF
    Feb 10, 2017 at 15:27
  • 1
    In biblical Hebrew -- which neither of these are -- the use of "es" allows word order to indicate emphasis rather than grammar. In English "John hit Bill" is very different than "Bill hit John", but in biblical Hebrew, if you wanted to emphasize who got hit, you could say "es John Bill hikah", the "es" tells you who was the recipient, and you know up front Bill didn't hit Tom. "Asei imanu tzedaqah vachesed" is the more natural word order; "tzedaqah asei imanu" draws attantion to what it is we are asking for Him to do. One focuses on getting H' to do /something/, the other on the /what/. Feb 14, 2017 at 21:58
  • 1
    @Danno: But that doesn't explain why one would have a different focus than the other, so it's not an answer. Feb 14, 2017 at 21:59

1 Answer 1


A possible thought that I think is a answer to your question.

In Tachanun we are Davening there for the Geula. This can be seen from the continuation where we say

אֲדונֵינוּ אֱלהֵינוּ. שְׁמַע קול תַּחֲנוּנֵינוּ. וּזְכָר לָנוּ אֶת בְּרִית אֲבותֵינוּ וְהושִׁיעֵנוּ לְמַעַן שְׁמֶךָ: וְעַתָּה אֲדנָי אֱלהֵינוּ. אֲשֶׁר הוצֵאתָ אֶת עַמְּךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וַתַּעַשלְךָ שֵׁם כַּיּום הַזֶּה. חָטָאנוּ רָשָׁעְנוּ: אֲדנָי. כְּכָל צִדְקותֶיךָ יָשָׁב נָא אַפְּךָ וַחֲמָתְךָ מֵעִירְךָ יְרוּשָׁלַיִם הַר קָדְשֶׁךָ. כִּי בַחֲטָאֵינוּ וּבַעֲונות אֲבתֵינוּ. יְרוּשָׁלַיִם וְעַמְּךָ לְחֶרְפָּה לְכָל סְבִיבתֵינוּ: וְעַתָּה שְׁמַע אֱלהֵינוּ אֶל תְּפִלַּת עַבְדְּךָ וְאֶל תַּחֲנוּנָיו. וְהָאֵר פָּנֶיךָ עַל מִקְדָּשְׁךָ הַשָּׁמֵם. לְמַעַן אֲדנָי

Now there is a Rashi in Devarim 4:25 that says based on Sanhedrin 38a צדקה עשה עמנו שמהר להביאה שתי שנים לפני זמנה that Hashem did a Tzedaka for us by bringing the destruction two years earlier.

Thus צדקה עשה עמנו indicates a request for an earlier redemption than we deserve, therefore we say it that way in Tachanun.

However by Avinu Malkeinu where we are praying for a personal salvation we say עֲשֵׂה עִמָּנוּ צְדָקָה.

  • This is helpful because it finds some source for the wording of tzedakah a-s-h (though the tenses are different). Could it be said that tachanun was written later and coopted the language of the Rashi or the gemara (which lacks "imanu")?
    – rosends
    Feb 10, 2017 at 16:32

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