Mahzor

A prayer book for the High Holidays.

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jewish liturgy quizThe shofar blowing varies in different communities, although a guiding principle is that one should hear 100 calls of the shofar. The primary time for hearing the calls of the shofar comes during the Torah service, before the Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls) have been returned. Additional opportunities for shofar blowing (and fulfilling the quota of 100) are during the Musaf Amidah and during the Kaddish Shalem (the full Kaddish) at the end of the service.

The most significant variation, however, is the inclusion of the three sections of Biblical verses in the Musaf known as Malkhuyot, Zikhronot, and Shofarot. The inclusion of these sets of ten verses results in an increase in the number of blessings in the Musaf Amidah to nine. The particular choice of verses draws on all parts of the Bible (Torah, Prophets, and Writings), and specifically includes passages that are drawn from the Torah and Haftarah (prophetic) readings for the holiday, and from the Psalms.

Yom Kippur

The Yom Kippur service is distinguished by several major additions:

1)      the Kol Nidrei service (annulling unfulfilled vows),

2)      the confession of sins (vidui),

3)      the inclusion of lots of liturgical poetry on themes of the day,

4)      the focus on the biblical ceremony of purifying the Sanctuary (the Avodah liturgy),

5)      the recitation of the legend of Jewish martyrs (Eileh Ezkerah),

6)      the recitation of the book of Jonah as a Haftarah during the afternoon service, and

7)      the addition of a fifth service at the close of Yom Kippur called Neilah ("the closing of the gates").

The themes of sin and ridding ourselves of sin dominate the Yom Kippur liturgy. The worship begins before sundown with the Kol Nidrei pronouncement, which explicitly permits those who have sinned (i.e., everyone) to stay and participate and hopefully repent. Prominently, several long passages called Selihot (requests for forgiveness) and two alphabetical acrostics (Ashamnu and Al Heyt) are repeated multiple times; these detail common sins, from A to Z, comprising a communal confession. The other added passages convey a sense of the magnitude of the day (the Avodah) and the long-term impact of sin (Eileh Ezkerah).

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