Mussaf Prayer of
Rosh Hashanah in English
Zichronot - Remembrances:
We recognize that Hashem is above
Time, and the idea of "forgetting" does not apply to
Him, nor is He limited in "understanding" the inner
thoughts of His creatures. Nevertheless, we ask that He
"remember" only the "good" in our behalf when
He Judges us. For all of humanity, for the whole world is Judged
today, we ask that He "remember" the faith of Noach who
endured taunts and threats for 120 years while he built the Ark,
and tried to explain its purpose to his wayward generation. For
the Jewish People in particular, we ask that He
"remember" the early loyalty of our People, who followed
Him as a bride, as He said "I remember your youthful
devotion, the love of your bridal days, how you followed Me
through the desert, in a barren land" (Yirmiyahu 2:2) and
later as a precious child, "Is it because Ephraim is my
favorite son, my beloved child? As often as I speak of him, I
remember him fondly. My heart yearns for him, I will have pity on
him, says the L-rd." (Yirmiyahu 31:19) Most of all, we ask
that He "remember" the supreme act of devotion performed
by our fathers Avraham and Yitzchak, where Avraham suppressed his
natural feelings of mercy towards his son, and was prepared to
sacrifice him at the command of G-d, and Yitzchak was prepared to
be sacrificed, thereby suppressing his natural feelings of
self-preservation, in fulfillment of G-d's command. So should
Hashem suppress, so to speak, His Midat HaDin , His Attribute of
Strict Justice, which would require that we be punished for our
misdeeds, in favor of His Midat HaRachamim, His Attribute of
Shofarot - Blasts of the Shofar:
We recall the time that Hashem
revealed Himself on Mt. Sinai and gave us the Torah. "The
whole world trembled at Your Presence, Creation shook in awe
before You, when You, our King, did reveal Yourself on Mt. Sinai
to give to Your People the Torah and its Commandments, letting
them hear your majestic voice, your holy words out of flashes of
fire. Amid thunder and lightening did You reveal Yourself to them,
amid the sound of the Shofar did you appear to them."
Malchiyot - Kingliness:
Hashem, the G-d is the
incomparable King of The Universe. The destiny of humanity is to
come to this realization. Whereas human kings rule in accordance
with the principle of:"might makes right," Hashem is the
Holy King, Who is, at the same time, beyond comparison in His
power, "Vas er vil, Tut er" - "Whatever He wills,
He can do," yet He is also the Father of the orphan and the
Judge of the widow, Who is always on the side of the powerless. He
is the Incorruptible and Righteous Judge of the World, Who favors
no one, and cannot be bribed. He is the true G-d and His word, the
Torah, is true and eternal.
Probably the most moving prayer
of the Rosh Hashanah Mussaf is Unetanneh Tokef, composed by
Rabbi Amnon, a scholar, poet, and leader of the Jewish community
of Mainz, in the eleventh century. The text reads as follows:
"The great shofar is
sounded... A still small voice is heard...
Even the angels are frightened... the Day of Judgment is here...
Who shall live? And who shall
Who shall find rest? And who shall be restless?
Who shall be raised up? And who shall be humbled?
Who shall be rich? And who shall be poor?
But - Atonement, Prayer and Good Deeds deflect the harsh
As for Man, he comes from dust
And to dust he shall return..."
Man is like...
Grass that withers... A flower that fades... A shadow that