Rosh Hashana Tefillah
A ROSH HASHANA MESSAGE INSPIRED BY R. MENUSSI
Yitzchak + Rivka = Tefilla
by Rebbetzin Tamar Taback
There are many mothers mentioned in the Rosh Hashana prayers… From Sarah to Chana, who were both remembered on Rosh Hashana for their miraculous deliverance from childlessness, to Rachel, sobbing on High for her children ensuring their ultimate redemption, from Hagar on behalf of a dying Yishmael, to the hundred sobs of the mother of Sisera while he was fighting a precarious battle. There is another mother hidden deep within our prayers that I would like to expose in order to inspire us to realize the power and importance of feminine prayer.
Near Nishmat, the usual ashkenazi nusach (prayer syntax) adopts the Kabbalistic version and rearranges the verbs in this short poem so that the inner letters spell out Rivka:
בְּפִי יְשָׁרִים תִּתְ*ר*וֹמָם
וּבְשִֹפְתֵי צַדִּיקִים תִּתְ*ב*ָּרַךְ
וּבִלְשׁוֹן חֲסִידִים תִּתְ*קַ*דָּשׁ
וּבְקֶרֶב קְדוֹשִׁים תִּתְ*הַ*לָּל
“In the mouths of the upright You will be exalted,
with the lips of the righteous You will be blessed,
through the tongues of the devout You will be sanctified,
In the midst of the holy You will be praised”
This secret embedding on the feminine power of prayer accompanies the more explicit allusion to masculine prayer on the part of Yitzchak, as the first letters of the names of the Ba’alei Tefilla correspondingly spell out Yitzchak. What is fascinating is that the combined numerical value (gematria) of the names “Yitzchak and Rivka”, feminine plus masculine prayer, equal that of “Tefilla”.
The essence of feminine prayer is that is emerges from the depth of the heart, as the letters of the name Rivka can be permuted to spell the Hebrew word “kirva” – deep within, and her name itself is found deep within the words. Although Rosh Hashana is not the time for lengthy personal requests, may the prayers that emanate from this deep inner and hidden realm within us this Rosh Hashana align us as conduits for Hashem’s greatest plans for creation,