WUPJ Kabalat Shabat review, part IV

Parts I, II, III, and the original post.

In the last installment of this series, I discussed this service’s treatment of Avot. Today, I’ll skip ahead to its treatment of R’tzeih.

R’tzeih, rendered in its traditional form, is problematic Progressive Jews, so we would expect to see this World Union service make some alteration. The alteration it makes is surprising; I’ve never seen this particular approach before and I’m left wondering where it came from.

The traditional R’tzeih reads like this:

R’tzeih Adonai, Eloheinu, b’amcha Yisrael. Ut’filatam v’hasev et ha’avodah lidvir beitecha, v’ishei Yisrael ut’filatam b’ahavah t’kabel b’ratzon, ut’hi l’ratzon tamid avodat Yisrael amecha.

V’techezeinah eineinu b’shuv’cha l’Tzion b’rachamim. Baruch atah, Adonai, hamachzir sh’chinato l’Tzion.


Favor, Adonai, our God, the prayers of your people, Israel. Restore their worship and their fire-offerings to your House. Accept their prayers in love. May the worship of your people be desirabel to you.

May our eyes see the return of your compassion to Zion. Blessed are You, Adonai, who returns his presence to Zion.

This has been an issue for Progressive Jews due to a non-belief in the desirability of a return to sacrificial worship in the Temple. Our liturgists have dealt with this in a variety of ways, the most common being to simply delete the words ” v’hasev et ha’avodah lidvir beitecha, v’ishei Yisrael” so that there is no mention of any change in how we worship, no mention of a return to the Temple.

Unfortunately, this renders the prayer essentially redundant. In this form, the prayer asks for nothing other than asking for God to like our prayers. This is simply repetetive when you consider that just a few prayers before this, you said Sh’ma Koleinu, which is all about reception of prayer.

I don’t advocate, by any means, retaining the Temple-centric language. I only mean to point out the problem that this causes a big problem for the Progressive liturgist.

The WUPJ Kabalat Shabat service we’re talking about here puts it like this:

R’tzeih Adonai, Eloheinu, b’amcha Yisrael ut’filatam. B’ahavah t’kabel. Ut’hi l’ratzon tamid avodat Yisrael amecha. Ush’chon b’Tzion v’ya’avducha avadecha biY’rushalayim.

V’techezeinah eineinu b’shuv’cha l’Tzion b’rachamim. Baruch atah, Adonai, hamachzir sh’chinato v’amo l’Tzion.

There are two big changes here. One I find to be an adequate change to the troublesome phrasing discussed above, while the other I find to be gratuitous and unnecessary.

To solve the Temple issue here, the editors have removed the troublsome clause entirely, opting to insert a different sentence at the end of the first paragraph. There is one word standing in my ability to accurately translate the sentence, so someone correct me if this is wrong. I believe the new sentence says “Dwell in Zion and the worship of your worshipers will be in Jerusalem.”

The second change is in the final line of the prayer, which has received a single extra word, clearly under the influence of a Progressive Zionist agenda. The line now reads, “Blessed are You, Adonai, who returns his presence and his people to Zion.”

The first change is one of the most viable altered lines I’ve seen proposed for an altered, Progressive take on this prayer. The added “his people” in the final line, however, is unnecessary.

[EDIT: The comments to this post are officially a part of the post. Read them. There is something very enlightening there.]

5 Responses to WUPJ Kabalat Shabat review, part IV

  1. David August 11, 2008 at 1:19 pm #

    Nice thoughts, though your translation error on the original liturgy may have unduly influenced your conclusions.

    The Hebrew reads, “Restore their worship a to your House. Accept their prayers and their fire-offerings in love.”

    Changing the place of the use of “fire-offerings” alters the context entirely. That isn’t to recommend the use of “ishei,” but to at least postulate that it’s not as regressive as you suggest.

  2. davidamwilensky August 11, 2008 at 2:24 pm #

    Thanks, David.

  3. Elf's DH August 11, 2008 at 10:35 pm #

    (I read this post second, see earlier comment on your later post)…
    It’s… another one raided from the geniza:

    רצה ה’ אלהינו ושכון בציון ויעבדוך עבדיך בירושלים
    בא”ה שאותך לבדך ביראה נעבוד

    I’ve seen the formulation
    ותפילתם באהבה תקבל
    somewhere before, but I don’t remember where. (I think it was a Reconstructionist siddur?)

  4. Elf's DH August 11, 2008 at 10:52 pm #

    clarification of above comment: I mean, the formulation “ותפילתם באהבה תקבל” without the rest of the sentence.

  5. David A.M. Wilensky August 11, 2008 at 11:40 pm #

    Very interesting, again, DH. Your comments, as always, are some of my faves.