Raḥamana d’anei, an Aramaic prayer thought to have been written in Babylonia, occurs in the penitential liturgy toward the end of the Yom Kippur eve service and also in a similar place near the close of the s’liḥot services prior to the High Holy Days and between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. It is part of the oldest layer of the s’liḥot (penitential supplications)—the pre-paytanic literature. The artistic setting by Zavel Zilberts of raḥamana d’anei is one of the most sophisticated expressions of this deeply emotional plea, and it is also one of its most classically constructed interpretations in the American repertoire.
Zilberts’s raḥamana d’anei bears the stamp of his European choral experience as well as his work with the male-voice medium in New York. He may have composed it originally for concert use by the Hazzanim Farband Chor, but it has become part of the standard synagogue literature and is heard to this day at many traditional Yom Kippur and s’liḥot services.
Sung in Hebrew
Merciful One, who answers the prayers of the poor, answer us! Merciful One, who answers the prayers of the brokenhearted, answer us! Merciful One, who answers the prayers of those of wounded spirit, answer us! Merciful One, answer us! Merciful One, have pity on us! Merciful One, save us! Merciful One, release us! Merciful One, have mercy on us—now, soon, in our own time!
Translation: Rabbi Morton M. Leifman
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