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Making the Machzor an Open Book

In-depth study of the High Holiday prayers


Each lecture presents a fascinating anthology of a particular part of the unique liturgy of the Machzor, delving into the history, structure and deeper meanings of the prayerful literary tapestry we call Davening. This series is sure to make your praying experience more profound on Rosh Hashanah!

The Prayer of L’keil Orach Din
Recited alternately in the Shacharit and Musaf services on both days of Rosh Hashanah, its focus is G-d’s way in judgement. Crack the code and discover the secret keys for unlocking favor and mercy on the Day of Judgement!
The Prayer of V’chol Ma’aminim
Recited in the repetition of the Musaf Amidah on both days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it highlights our universal beliefs about G-d's organic relationship with humanity. Discover the fascinating code embedded within this piyut, and a novel understanding of its rich meaning.
The Prayer of Tashlich
Recited on the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah near a body of water, preferably containing live fish; it expresses prayerful hope that G-d cast our sins into the murky depths of the sea and is rich in symbolic and mystical meaning.
The Prayer of Attah Hu Elokeinu
Recited in the repetition of the Shacharit Amidah on both days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, this foundational piyut (poetic prayer) inaugurates the other piyutim by offering special praise to G-d. Although its author remains a mystery, we learn much about its extraordinary structure that is filled with insight, scholarship and profound spirituality.
The Prayer of Uv’Chen, Part 1
A profoundly insightful presentation about the meanings and motifs of the first major addition of High Holiday liturgy injected into the carefully structured Amidah (a.k.a. Shemoneh Esrei), “Uv’Chen.” First we frame the location of this unusual insertion; then we delve into the exceptional verbiage employed in this foundational Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur prayer. The sweeping range of this rumination incorporates colorful layers of straightforward understanding, whimsical inspiration and the deepest mysteries of Kabalah.
The Prayer of Uv’Chen, Part 2
This class continues our profound analysis of the opening High Holiday liturgical insertion into the Amidah structure. We now examine the second Uv’Chen, which further sets the tone of the special prayerful formula that heralds the new year. Our initial point of departure focuses on the anomaly of petitioning for a better future by “praying for fear!” Initial investigation indicates early biblical origins, yet thorough examination suggests otherwise. Through the portal of a mystical teaching, the puzzle comes together in stunning color.
The Prayer of Uv’Chen, Part 3
This third installment of our series continues to delve into deeper meanings of the premier liturgical insertion into the Amidah’s opening. The third “Uv’Chen of the special prayer injected into the blessing of Kedusha (Sanctification), requests a better tomorrow by “praying for honor,” yet multiple Mishniac sources state that honor is toxic and is to be avoided. We seek inclusion in the book of life; yet honor is said to shorten life! Tracing the sacred verbiage to its biblical origins and revealing mystical secrets, the seeming anomalies are fully reconciled.
3 Videos
Understanding the Text of the Psalm 24
Chapter 24 of Psalms is recited following the evening Amidah in the High Holiday prayers.
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