‘Awake, Awake, Miriam the Prophetess’

Selections from two tehines (women's prayers)

The following two tehines were both translated from Shas Tehineh Hadosheh Mekor Dlrn’eh This collection of tehines was edited by Ben-Zion Alfes. Alfes (born in Vilna, 1850, died in Jerusalem, 1940) was an Orthodox publicist who was particularly interested in bringing Jewish knowledge to the common people….

In 1900, he wrote Mayseh Alfes as a response to secular Yiddish works. Mayseh Alfes was an epistolary novel written from an Orthodox viewpoint. The letters are from a daughter on a journey to her father at home. Mayseh Alfes was so popular that the Vilna publishers asked Alfes to prepare commentaries by the same name on other works, such as prayer books and Haggadot.

The first edition of tehines with the Mayseh Alfes commentary was published in Vilna in 1911 by the firm of Rozenkrants and Shriftzetser. In addition to the commentary, Alfes added some new tehines and reworked some of the older ones for his edition. Alfes’s edition of tehines went through several printings and is still in print today.

The two tehines that follow were both translated from the 1925 edition. The first tehineh was recited on the Sabbath when the month of Iyar was blessed. The second tehineh was recited on Rosh Hashanah. I incorporated the instructions from Shas Tehineh Rav Peninim (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1916), where the same tehineh for Rosh Hashanah appears in an abridged form. I translated the parts of the tehineh pertaining to women, and included the headings of the other portions.

A Tehineh for the Month of Iyar

One should say this tehineh when one blesses the month of Iyar.

Av ha-rahamim, Merciful Father, who chose the people Israel, now we come to bless and sanctify the month of Iyar. In this month, we began to be Your beloved people, and You gave us the beloved, holy Sabbath. Remember the merits of our holy Sabbath, and because of the privilege that You gave us, women, the commandment of blessing the candles and the like, our fortune should be raised and You should save us from all ailments that could befall us in this month through nature that You created; the seasons change, winter goes away, and summer takes its place, and send us a cure as it says in the Torah–I am God your healer, Amen.

“Lord of the World, we are now going to bless the month of Iyar. In this month, at the time when You took the Jews out of Egypt, You caused the manna to rain from heaven, because of the merits of Moses our Teacher, may he rest in peace, and the well with water, which was created in the six days of creation on Friday before the Sabbath; and accompanied the Jews in the desert from the month of Iyar on, because of the merits of Miriam the Prophetess, may she rest in peace. Now, dear God, remember her merits. She said a song of praise with the women when the Jews came out of the sea as the verse states: And Miriam the Prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the drum in her hand and all the women followed her with drums and musical instruments. And Miriam said to them: Sing to God because He did great miracles, He threw the horses of Egypt and their riders into the deep sea. And so we should merit to say a song of praise with all the righteous men and righteous women when the Messiah will come and redeem us from our troubles, speedily in our days, Amen.

“Awake, awake, Miriam the Prophetess, arise from your slumber, and appear before the King of Kings, God, blessed be He, and ask Him to have compassion on us in this month of Iyarthatwe should have enough food, that we should not, God forbid, become poor–the same way God gave the Jews the manna for the sake of your brother Moses’ merits, and the well with water in honor of your merits. The crucial thing is that we should be cleansed from all of our sins, as the Jews in the desert were in this month, when they were about to receive the Torah. God, help Your people, and bless Your inheritance, and raise their fortune, and have mercy on them as a father does on his children, and bless the month of lyarfor us; to life, and health, and good fortune, and blessing, Amen.”

A Rosh Hashanah Tehineh

A tehinehfor Rosh Hashanah, early in the morning. One says thistehinehwhen one enters the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. When Rosh Hashanah falls on the Sabbath, one does not say this tehineh.

“Remember the covenant of Abraham our father for our sake.

Remember the merits of Sarah our mother for our sake.

“Dear God, remember the virtues of our mother Sarah, who was redeemed on this day of Rosh Hashanah, and inscribe us in the Book of Life, and let us have children who are scholars. Lord of the World, You gave her an only son at the age of 90 years and promised her that her children will be as numerous and as important as the stars in the sky. Now, dear God, let her merits insure that her children, Your people, Israel, will not, God forbid, be wiped out, and inscribe us for a good life–myself, my husband, my children, and children’s children, and all Israel, Amen.

“Remember the binding of Isaac our father for our sake.

Remember the merits of Rebecca our mother for our sake.

“Remember, dear God, the merits of our mother Rebecca for our sake. She was raised by evil parents, Laban and Bethuel, and among bad people, and did not learn from their deeds. So, as she made certain that our father Jacob would receive the blessing from our father Isaac, so she will stand before Your throne today, Judgment Day, interceding on behalf of us, her children, to be inscribed for a good year, where our hearts will remain loyal to You, where we will not learn any foolishness from the wrong companions, and all the blessings of our father Isaac will be fulfilled speedily for us, Amen.

“Remember the merits of Jacob our father for our sake.

Remember the merits of Rachel our mother for our sake.

“Dear God, remember the merits of our mother Rachel, who evaluated the situation of her sister Leah, that she must not be shamed when Jacob our father will speak to her and she will not know how to respond. In order to spare her sister, she withstood a great test and was torn from her happiness, from her beloved match, for which she had waited for seven years, and revealed to her sister the signs that Jacob our father had prearranged with her.

“Therefore, when Nevuzaradan led the Jews into exile past her tomb, and she cried and wailed and prayed to You for her children, You remembered her merits and promised her that You would return us to our land. Dear God, remember her merits for us today, Judgment Day, and give us a good year, and You should fulfill what You promised her without delay, and because we hear the shofar today, as You commanded in Your holy Torah, we should merit hearing the shofar of the Messiah soon and speedily, amen, let it be Your will.

“Remember the merits of Leah our mother for our sake.

“Remember, dear God, the merits of our mother Leah and heed our cry, as you accepted her cry that she should not fall in the lot of Esau, because You are merciful and hear the sound of weeping. Look down from heaven, and see how Your people all weep with bitter tears and tremble with fear of Your judgment, that we should not, God forbid, fall in the lot of Satan and the accusers who come to accuse us.

“It is better, Lord of the World, to turn to the voice of the good angels who stand before Your throne and pray for the good of Your people, Israel. Do not listen to the voice of Satan who says evil things about us. Shout so that he will not open his mouth; he will become confused and will not be able to say harmful things. And the sound of the shofar, together with our prayers, should rise before You in order to inscribe us for a good life in the Book of the Righteous, Amen.

“Remember the merits of the tribes of Jacob for our sake.

Remember the merits of Joseph the Righteous for our sake.

Remember the merits of Moses our Teacher for our sake.

Remember the merits of Aaron the Priest for our sake.

Remember the merits of David our King for our sake.

Remember the merits of righteous men and righteous women for our sake.

“Remember, dear God, the merits of all the righteous men and righteous women who lived from the time of Adam, the first man, until today. Their merits should protect us, and our children should be Your loyal servants with happy hearts, and You should have mercy on us that the true redeemer should come soon. And the resurrection of the dead should occur and we should hear the shofar of the Messiah already, speedily in our days, Amen.

Excerpted with permission from Daughters of the King: Women and the Synagogue, edited by Susan Grossman and Rivka Haut (Jewish Publication Society).

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