In Nusach Ashkenaz, following Al Cheit in Chazaras HaShatz of Mussaf Yom Kippur, there are two passages that describe our pleas that Hashem fulfill His promise to cleanse us if only we repent. Following these passages, the following line, based on Eruvin 13b, is inserted:

מנויה וגמורה בסוד חכמי תורה אשרי מי שלא נברא

It was voted and decided in the counsel of Torah Sages: fortunate is he who was never created.

Why do we make mention of this point now, of all times?

At first glance, the idea seems to be that it’s Hashem’s fault that we sinned, since it would have been better had we not been created and given the opportunity to sin. How is this different than Adam, who blamed Hashem for the sin of the Eitz HaDa’as, since He gave him Chavah, or to Klal Yisrael in the desert, who could only see bad in the mann? The Gemara takes both of them to task (AZ 5a-b); if this is our intent in saying this line, how are we any better?

  • Off the top of the head, I think it's at the end of Makkos that the Gm says that since the negative Mitzvos outnumber the positive, a person has more chance to sin that get rewarded and therefore it's better not to be born at all (like going to a casino with 248 wins and 365 loses). So we remind G-d it was his decision to create us in this uneven world, like your kids say to you: Dad, it's unfair in the first place! – Al Berko Oct 8 at 19:43
  • @AlBerko Makkos 23b indeed brings down that there are 248 positives and 365 negatives, but it doesn’t bring down your discussion. Maybe a commentator there? – DonielF Oct 8 at 19:55
  • Check this: "תנו רבנן: שתי שנים ומחצה נחלקו בית שמאי ובית הלל. הללו אומרים: נוח לו לאדם שלא נברא יותר משנברא, והללו אומרים: נוח לו לאדם שנברא יותר משלא נברא. נמנו וגמרו: נוח לו לאדם שלא נברא יותר משנברא, עכשיו שנברא - יפשפש במעשיו". (ערובין יג ע"ב) - Maybe there, I remember the Gm says it clear. – Al Berko Oct 8 at 19:59
  • @AlBerko That’s the Gemara I mentioned in the OP. What you say seems to be the simple understanding of Beis Shammai’s opinion - the one they accepted - that the risk of sin is just too great. – DonielF Oct 8 at 20:03
  • Where in Musaf is this? I don't recall seeing this in Art Scroll machzor. Incidentally, this same theme is mentioned in the "extra" Elokai Netzor said only on Yom Kippur. Seems to emanate from a verse in Kohelet. – DanF Oct 10 at 22:40

This is actually the opening of a piyyut, the rest of which has been omitted, which begins: אנוש איך יתכפר וכל מעשיו בשפר נכתבים בספר. It can be found in full in Daniel Goldschmidt's מחזור לימים הנוראים volume 2 (for yom kippur) on pages 589–60. The line in question is used as an introductory line (a כותרת) as well as a refrain.

On that page, he titles this תוכחה (tokh'cha = rebuke), and in the footnotes quotes your gemara. Notably, he adds the end of your gemara, which fits in well with the theme of the day:

עכשיו שנברא יפשפש במעשיו

Now that he's been created, he should examine his actions.

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