Friday, 23 August 2013

A New Translation of the Rosh Hashanah Hineni

I’ve been looking at translations and haven’t found one that captures the staggering multi-valence of this text.

There are good, and less good, reasons for that.

It’s never going to be possible to capture all the allusive nature of the original Hebrew giving a nod to staggering numbers of liturgical and Biblical moments

I understand a misgiving about translating the utterly unforgiving declarations of worthlessness of the Chazan.

And I suppose some uneasiness about translating ‘satan’ as ‘Satan’, particularly in more progressive environments is natural (I’ve offered my version of that particular phrase below; I’m attempting a literal fidelity even without using the word Satan).


I’ve used ungendered language to refer to God, but have translated the original text, with no interpolation of matriarchs.


Let me know any thoughts,


Rabbi Jeremy



Here I am, utterly bereft, shuddering and afraid, in fear of the One who sits in judgement of the prayers of Israel.

I have come to stand before You and plead on behalf of Your people, Israel, who have sent me, as unfit and unworthy as I am.

I beseech You, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, Oh God, God of mercy and grace, God of Israel, Mighty One, exalted and awesome - may this path on which I tread - to stand and beseech mercy for myself, and those who send me - come to success.


Don't let them be punished for my failings, don't hold them guilty for my sins, for I am due punishment for my failings. Let them not be embarrassed by my failings. Let them not be ashamed of me and I won't be ashamed of them. Receive my prayer as a prayer of one wise and decent, of kind ways, great experience, of sweet voice and bound up in the ways of creation. Hold back The Distractor, so he shouldn't distract me. Pour out love towards us. Wipe away our sins in love. And overturn all our woe and pain, the woe and pain of all Israel, into joy and delight, life and peace. Love truth and peace.


Place no stumbling block before my prayer. May it be Your will, God, God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob, the great mighty and awesome God, God on high, the One who Is and Will Always Be, may each of the Angels  who receive prayer bring my prayers before the seat of Your glory and spread them before You for the sake of all the just, kind, pure and decent, and for the sake of the glory of Your great and awesome name, for You are the One who hears the prayers of Your people Israel in mercy. Blessed are you the One who hears prayer.





Unknown said...

Wow. Yasher Koach.

Anonymous said...

Very nice translation, Rabbi Jeremy! I was looking for a model on which to base a treatment of my own. As part of a larger project, I wanted to provide the basic translation in the form of a series of haikus. Here's what I've come up with:

Here I am, bereft
Shuddering, afraid of you
Who stand in judgement

I plead on behalf
Of your people, Israel
I am unworthy

Do not punish them
For my sins and my failings
Neither me for theirs

They find me decent,
Sweet of voice, and wise, perhaps
And so I am here

Receive these requests
Protect me from distractions
Remove stumbling blocks

Pour out love to us
For the glory of your name
Wipe away our sins

Turn our woe and pain
Into joy, delight, and peace
To love, truth, and peace

Blessed is the one
Who is and always will be
The one who hears prayer

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