HaShir for High Holydays

Reb Zalman sends these singable texts in English for liturgy of this time of year. Use them when you davenn during this season. Click here to download a word document with all the texts for yourself.

Kavvanah for KOL NIDRE


We are as clay in potter's hand
   He does contract, He does expand
So we are Yours to shape at will
   We yield to You —
            Our passions still.

Like mason shaping rough-hewn stone
   We are Your stuff in flesh and bone
You deal with us in death, in life
   We yield to You —
            please heal our strife.

The smith can shape a blade of steel
   Shape the edge and bend the heel
So through life's furnace you temper us
   We yield to You —
            surrender us.

A boat is steered by helmsman's might
   He turns to left, he turns to right
As long as You keep straight our keel
   We yield to You —
            please make us feel.

As glass is shaped by blower's pipe
   And vessels made of every type
So You shape us so we may contain
   We yield to You —
            in us remain.

As tapestry is formed thread by thread
   And color is to texture wed
Our life is woven on Your loom
   We yield to You —
            save us from doom.

As jewelry is wrought from gold
   And silver too is poured in mold
So You our souls have crafted, built
   We yield to You —
            erase our guilt.


א Alas, how poor are words to state our pain
    In remembering the millions slain,
    While yet upon our souls the stain
    Of standing by while brothers called in vain.

ו Unshriven here we are depressed
    As long as somewhere someone is oppressed
    As long as the murderers the meek suppressed,
    And grieving mothers wail distressed.

ש Shalt Thou, O G-d, not bear Thy guilt this day
    For standing by while multitudes in blood did lay,
    And silent Thou unmoved didst stay,
    Thy covenant to help us didst betray.

ב While millions' lives to ash were turned,
    To their last breath Thine intervention yearned,
    Still hoping day and night, while all the ovens burned.
    Why were our prayers of desperation spurned?

י If Thine own we are, O Lord, then Thou art King
    If only by Thy leave occurs each thing,
    Then butcher Thou, and we the offering.
    Yet who, but Thou, can heal our suffering?

ט The help Thou sendest must renew
    All of mankind, not just the Jew
    The Arabs and the Russians too
    Must be freed, ere peace is true.

צ Send Thine annointed Savior Lord,
    To turn to plowshare atom's sword.
    May each in Him see One adored
    And prophesied by prophet's word.


The days of Judgment are here
   We tremble with fright and with fear
At the sound of the ram's horn
   The worlds are new born
Glad tidings of new hope we hear.

Please King our Parent sweet.
   Approach us and we'll meet.
Please lift our face
   to You in grace
Be kind from Your mercy seat.

   The days. . .

Remember us to life
   Make cease all war and strife
May good increase
   In a world of Peace
May death surrender to Life.

   The days. . .

O Lord all this New Year
   To Your will we shall adhere
We pledge in deed Your Law to heed.
   Your Torah we shall hold dear.

   The days...

Avinu malkenu
   haneynu va'aneynu
   ki eyn banu ma'assim.


A year has gone by
   I say with a sigh
O Lord I did not progress.
   Your Torah not learned,
Your Mitzvot not earned,
   This I am forced to confess.

I undertake
   This to remake
My life anew to fashion
   So help me please
From sin to cease
   And only to You
Give my passion.

I seek Your light
   I need your aid.
Without Your joy
   I am afraid.
Heal me G-d
   In body and in soul.

Please, good G-d
   Pour out your blessing
That in your sight
   We'd be progressing.
O Lord above
   Let us feel Your love
And perceive You
   Our souls caressing.

May we not be
In waiting for ben David
With Your open hand
   Bless our Holy land
And our leaders
   Whom we have appointed.


From the deepest place in me I call You forth
   Adonay hear what is in my voice
Let Your ear hear the pleading tone
   If You, Yah, were to watch for sins
Oy Adonay — who could stand it?
   Though You are so generous with pardon
We are too scared to seek it.
   Still I hope Adonay
My very soul hopes for it
   Please send me Your loving word.
Among the watchers for the dawn
   Adonay, am I yearning for Your Grace
to end my darkness.
   Israel looks to You Adonay
You are so gracious, Adonay
   So much do you free us all.

Yes, He will definitely free Israel
   from all its sins.


We worship You Our G-d,
   Our parents' G-d, Abraham's G-d,
Isaac's G-d, Jacob's G-d,
   Sarah's G-d, Rebecca's G-d,
Leah's G-d, Rachel's G-d
   Great, Mighty, Awesome, G-d
Most High G-d.
   You nurture us gently.
You possess everything.
   You remember how our fathers loved You.
Yes we trust that You will bring redemption
   to their children's children
Who chant Your name and love You.

Remember us so we may live
   King who wants us to live
Write us into the record of those who live
   For Your own sake, You who live!
King, Helper, Savior, Shield.

Barukh Attah Adonay
      Protector of Abraham.       Amen.

You are powerful with worlds Adonay
   What is dead you can make live
You are really capable of helping
   You give dew to parched earth and souls.

You feed all life with gentleness
   You invigorate bodies with mercy's flow
You support us in falling
   You heal us in sickness
You free us from bonds
   You keep faith with those now dead.
In Your might no one can compare with You.
   You deal out life and death
Yet in all this You make salvation grow.

Who like You is mercy's father
   Remembering all sentient life
And in mercy invigorating it.

You are Holy, Your name is Holy
   And those who aspire to be holy
Sing your Halleluyah all day.

Each generation surrendered to Your rule.
   You alone are Holy and High.

So we pray;
   Let Your reputation as Holy One
   Israel Your people
Jerusalem Your city
   Zion Your dwelling place
David's royal house
   And Your dwelling in our hearts.

Make us sense Your awe
   In all that happens.
Your splendor
   In all Your creation,
So we all will feel this awe
   And with other beings together
Worship You, banding together
   As one whole earth
To do your will
   With our whole heart in it.

We know You can help us in this.
   The power is in Your hand.
The might in Your right arm.
   Your Name gives life to all that exists.

Please give dignity to Your people.
   To those afraid of You, a song,
To those who seek You, hope
   To those who entreat You, the right words
To Your land give joy
   To Your city give gladness
To Your Messiah an opportunity to save
   And we need these right now.

Tzaddikim will then be overawed and rejoice
   The forthright will exult
Hassidim will sing with glee
   Evil will be silent
Wickedness will evaporate
   For You will remove the reign
Of violence from this planet.

And You alone, You Adonay
   Will rule soon over the creation
On Zion's hill in Your Glory's House
   In Jerusalem the city of Your holiness
As it is written:
   "Adonay will rule this earth
Your Gd will be in charge in Zion
   And bridge all generations, Halleluyah!"

How Holy and Awesome You are
   Beside You G-d, nothing else exists.
So You rise high in Judgment
   But You become exalted in gentleness
Barukh Attah Adonay, Holy King.


We are here by Your choice and ours
   By Your love and ours
To serve You and to renew ourselves
   And to celebrate this Holy day
This remembrance day / Yom Kippur Day
   This Shofar day / Atonemont Day
And to remember to go out of slavery.

It was our fault that got us exiled.
   We did not love enough.
We did not share enough.

So we cannot celebrate
   As You would have us celebrate
In Your holy plan.

But we can give You our love
   Though even this we need from You.
Rebuild in us Your sanctuary
   So we can again offer ourselves to You
In the form of sacrifice,
   Song and celebration.

Therefore we hope
   Soon to see
Your glory revealed
   Your rule established
All flesh serving You
   All evil turned to good
Every tongue singing Your song
   Every spine bending in worship
Every will surrendered to You.
   So You be the ruler of life
Now and always.

He saw no ill in Jacob
   No trouble in Israel
The L-rd Adonay with His folk
   The shofar call of dominion sounding clearly.

When all the people gathered
   Together were the head of Israel
The King ruled Yeshurun
   Adonay is in charge
He rules the nations
   Adonay reigned.

Dressed in splendor
   In strength and power
He established earth
   So it could not be ruined
Open the gates of your mind
   Open the cosmic gates
Let the King of Glory enter
   Adonay well loved and strong
Adonay prevailing in the struggle.

And your prophets
   had this to say
"So says Adonay
   Israel's King and Redeemer,
'I am the first
   I am the last
There are no other gods.'"

   "When the helpers
Rise to the high point
   of Zion
And judge the hills of Edom
   Then all dominion
Belongs to

   "Adonay will be global ruler.
That day
   Adonay will be one
and His name ONE."
   So it is written in Your Torah,
"Hear Yisrael
   Adonay our G-d
That Adonay is

   Rule over us
Over the whole Earth
   With Your splendor revealed
With Your precious glory apparent
   With Your might all manifest
So all sentient beings
   Can sense You
All conscious beings
   Be conscious of You
All souls intuit You
   As You rule
As you pervade
   As You energize

Make us holy
   Make Your will ours.
Make us wise
   Fill our mind with Your Torah

Make us good
   Fill us with Your goodness
Make us glad
   When we experience You as helper
Make us pure
   Reside in our heart
You true G-d
   Who utters the truth
Whose being is

Barukh Attah Adonay
Melekh al kol haaretz
meqaddesh Yisrael
V'yom hazikaron.


Blast, Break, Shatter, Blast
Blast, Break, Blast
Blast, Shatter, Blast

The world is conceived
   Afresh this day
All beings can place themselves
   And relate to G-d
As children, as slaves
   If we can become children
Your pity, Father, will womb us
   If we can surrender
And offer our will
   Like slaves
We are dependent on you
   And wait for grace
For light in the judgment
   For holiness in awe.

Our lips bouquet
   Of prayers gleaned
May please You G-d uplifted
   You scan and hear
You mind and care
   The shofar's sound has reached You
We hope you like
   Our prayer, our rite,
Our celebration of Your Kingdom.

Our celebration of Your Remembering.

Our celebration of Your Shofar.


You remember
   How You made the worlds
How you conceived
   the beings before
they were shaped
   Everything hidden
is manifest to You
   Even the masses of mysteries
which were secrets
   when You began.
Where You sit
   there is no forgetting
Where You look
   No thing can hide
You even remember all that
   went into making action
and that which was formed
   is not with-held from you.
The all is open
   The all is known to You
as you scan and check
   to the ends of time.

So You bring memories back
   engraved in awareness
conceiving each spirit
   each breath, each soul.
So the endless actions
   are shown in the mind
the countless creatures
   arise in thought.

Right from the start
   You made it known
from within You revealed this.

   is the very first day
of your
Just as it was
   You can recall
the first day.

This is the ground rule
   for Israel
for him who struggles with G-d
   Jacob and his G-d
judge one another.

Of governments it is said
This one
   will have violence
this one peace
   this one will have famine
this one will have surplus

all beings are conceived
   either as alive
or dead.

Is there anyone
   who is not remembered

Every shape appears before you
   each person's karma
and its results —
   the plots of each man's drama
and the steps he takes
   to play his role.
Man's thoughts and his schemes
   and the drives
which move him.

Happy is the person
   who does not forget You
and a human being that is strong
   in You.
Those who seek You
      do not stumble
Never are those who trust You

Each memory floats before You
      as You follow each man's destiny.

Even Noah
      You remember with love
So that when You brought
      the flood waters
he would be protected,
      pitied and saved
even though,
      due to their misdeeds
the others were destroyed.

Remember him please
      and us who are his children
You did promise him
      to increase his seed
like the dust of the earth,
      like the sands of the sea.
So the Torah states
      "G-d kept remembering Noah
and all the beasts,
      all the cattle
that were with him
      in the ark."
"G-d calmed the storm
      and the water was stilled'

And in Egypt You remembered,
      And G-d heard their whimpering
And G-d remembered his pact
      with Abraham
with Isaac
      with Jacob."

And even after a holocaust
      You promised
"I will remember my pact
      with Jacob,
my pact with Isaac
      and my pact with Abraham
I will remember
      and the land I will remember too"
You promise to remember
      You repeated again and again,
And You sent us word through
      Your prophets,
"Go out!
   Call out!
so that Jerusalem's ear
   will hear it.
Say to them
   G-d said
I remember
   How you loved me
when we both were young.
   Our love was a honeymoon.
You followed me into the desert,
   a wasteland,
a land where the nothing grows.'
   my lovechild,
my precious son,
   I talk to you
as I always do when I think of you
   and my guts hum,
I womb you
   in compassion,
My word
   as I am G-d!"

Our G-d, our parents' G-d
   remember us
among your good memories
   and conceive for us
a compassionate redemption
   sent down from the eastern sky.
Remember for us
   the pact
the oath
   the promise
You made to Abraham
   on Moriah's heights.
Look again
   at the binding,
when Abraham bound his son
   on the altar,
how he conquered his pity
   to do what you wanted him to do
and he did this wholeheartedly.

So too You
   get hold of Your pity
and let it conquer Your anger
   so that with the great goodness
in You
   Your anger will be turned off
from Your people
   Your heritage
Your dwelling place.

Keep for us the promise
   You sent us through Moses
In Your glorious name,
   "And I will remember
the pact with those who came first
   whom I took out of Egypt
in sight of all the nations
   so that I can G-d them
I am Adonay."

You do remember
   what others forget
always You do.
   Where You sit there is
no forgetting.
   So do be mindful today
of the binding of Isaac
   to benefit his children
this very day
   Barukh Attah Adonay
Zokher habrith.


   were uncovered
by the cloud of Your splendor
   hovering on your people
just to talk with them.

From the very heaven
   You made them hear Your voice
and in the midst
   of the misty clarity
there You were manifest.

The whole cosmos
   became hollow
to contain You,
   As the creatures of the beginning
Shivered into life at Your breath.
   That moment You
made Your majesty appear
   on the height of Sinai.

You taught Your people
   Torah and Mitzvot
All the while You made them hear
   The beauty of Your call
which they contain.
   Your holiness spoke clearly
in their consuming fervor.
   Thunder and lightening
made You manifest
   and the sound of the Shofar
heralded Your coming

So the Torah
   "It was the third day
Just as dawn broke
   Thunder and lightening
and the cloud heavy on the mount
   The Shofar's sound keeps blasting away
The people in the encampment
   all felt the throbbing."
And further
   "As the Shofar blasted away
Moses would speak
   and the G-d in the voice
would answer."
   And further,
"All the people see
   what is heard,
the auras in flame,
   the Shofar's blasting,
the mountain's smoking.
   The people respected this
they were moved.
   They stood from afar
The psalmist sang of this,
   was raised high
in the shattering sound
   Adonay Himself
in the Shofar's sound.
   So we respond,
"With trumpets
   and the Shofars let us shout
to be closer to the King
And further,
   Blow the Shofar
on the new moon
   when the feasting is still hidden.
This is the way is must be
   For Israel
The G-d of Jacob judges
   in Libra."
   And yet more.
   Praise Him in his holiness
   Praise Him in His firm strength
   Praise Him in His might
   Praise Him according to His many graces
   Praise Him with the blast of the Shofar
   Praise Him with strings and harps
   Praise Him with drum and dance
   Praise Him with every instrument with every organ
   Praise Him with the ringing sound
   Praise Him with the blasting sound
   Praise Him with every breath
   Kol Han'shamah t'hallel Yah

The message of Your prophets
   reached us saying,
"All beings in space
   and those who live on Earth, listen.
When the mystery is raised to awareness
   when what is high becomes visible
You will hear it clearly
   like the Shofar's blasts.
And then,
   It will really happen
on that special day.
   The great shofar will vibrate the Sound
and they will all come
   those lost in Ashur
those outcast in Egypt
   and they will bow in worship
To Adonay
   on the holy mountain
in Jerusalem."
   And then,
"Adonay will be visible
   coming out like an arrow of lightning.
Adonay Elokim
   will blast the Shofar.
in the storms of Yemen.
   Adonay Tz'va'ot will protect them."

Please protect Your people G-d
   with Your peace.

Our G-d
   Parents' G-d
free us as You sound the great Shofar.
   Raise us to amazement
so we become recollected
   from our estrangement.
Gather together our scattered ones
   from amidst the nations,
our strayed ones
   from the ends of the earth.
Bring us to Zion
   Your city
in song,
   to Jerusalem Your sanctuary
with a joy that lasts,
   a joy in which all can join.
There we will
   offer ourselves
as we come closer to You
   and give You our love.

Moses in Your name
   commanded us
"On days you are happy
   when you meet one another
blast on trumpets
   get high
offer the peace
   and it will all make you remember
the face of Your G-d.
   I am
   Your G-d.

You sure hear
   the Shofar's sound
You give ear
   to hear where we are broken.
There is no one
   like You at all.
Barukh Attah Adonay
   Shome'a kol tru'at Amo Yisrael

(Conclude here with your own private prayer.)


Said the Baal Shem Tov
   Tekiah —
a simple scream
   Abba, Abba have pity!
Abba, Abba, save!
   And this simple scream
needs no words,
no further modulation,
only to scream
   so as to unite
with the sound of Creation
   and the thunder of Revelation
and the calling of Redemption
   The great AMEN.

Tekiah is the name
   and the grace of Abraham.
He is kind and warm and gentle.

Shevarim is the name Elohim,
   and the terror of Isaac,
his sighs
   at the binding on the altar.
He is afraid yet wants to take our place
   in the rigors of the judgment.

And Teruah is Jacob,
   all broken into tribes,
his weeping for Rachel, for Joseph,
   for Dinah, for Shimon;
His blessing for which he had to
   risk so much
yet also the Compassion of Yhwh.
Grace-Rigors — Mercy-Grace
   Grace-Rigors Grace
Grace-Mercy — Boundless Grace

All begins and ends in grace
   Thus in the deepest, least verbal way
the ear can hear
   the heart can be at one
the innards are stirred
   and together they scream.
Abba, Abba take pity!
   Abba, Abba save!

So we scream as loud as we can
   and echo the shofar
in a way no one but G-d can hear
   Abba, Abba pity, save!


Ribono shel olam,
   I hereby forgive
Whoever has hurt me,
   And whoever has done me any wrong:
Whether he did it deliberately
   Or by accident,
Whether he did it by word or by deed
   In this incarnation or in previous ones:
May no one be punished on my account.

May it be Your will,
   O Lord my G-d
G-d of my parents,
   That I sin no more,
That I do not revert to my old ways.
That I do not anger You any more with my actions,
   And that I do not do that which is evil in Your sight.

Wipe away the sins that I have committed
   With Your great compassion
But not through sickness or suffering.
   May these words of my mouth
And the prayers that are in my heart
   Be acceptable before You. O Lord.
My Rock and my Redeemer.

Kavvanah for KOL NIDRE

Before we begin
   to atone for last year,
we make clear
   that we know
how we vow.
   Our word to keep
we mean indeed
   which we give
when we want
   to bribe G-d
with good deeds.

So we state
   that next year
we will with less fear
   live our weakness and strength
as it flows.
   No more vows,
no more bribes.
   No more oaths
will we pledge.
   And if in weakness we vow
we do void them right now
   so that freely
we see G-d and Man.

By consent
   of this group
gathered here
   in this space
and consent
   of the powers
on high;
   we will share
in this prayer
   and admit
we were wrong
   all together
and apart
   you and I.

A light which transcends
   all limits and bounds
is sown in our hearts
   at this time.
Thus the Tzaddik in us
   can rejoice and be glad
and burst forth
   from our eyes
now and shine!


To those who rebel,
   You hold out a conciliatory hand.
Your Grace helps those who wish to turn.
In this way You taught us
   Adonay Our G-d,
to admit and confess to You
   our failings,
our sins,
   our shortcomings.
You want us to refrain
   from taking what is not ours,
what others have worked for.
   You wait for us
and will accept us
   when we offer our egos,
like fervent offerings,
   like pleasing sacrifices.
In this way
   Your word is upheld,
Your hope is fulfilled.
   In this way we can again turn
to you afresh
   and with a united heart
do Your will
   and live Your law.

And You in Your great mercy
   take pity on us
You don't want this world destroyed
   as it is written:
"Seek Adonay
In the place where He can be found,
   call Him
because He is so near."
   And further,
"Wicked one
   leave your ways
Man give up your sinful schemes
   Turn to Adonay
He will have pity
   to Elohim for He will pardon
again and again."

Were we to have to offer
   real sacrifices
they would be beyond number,
   so heavy is our guilt,
so great is our debt.

You know well,
   and we do too,
that our end is disappointment
   worm and gall,
our failures so vast
   and our achievements so small.
So you grant us pardon
   time and again,
let us start anew
   and give us chance after chance.
Even then our kindness is puny
   our righteousness a pose,
our strength a gesture
   our heroics an act.

Yet you chose man
   and in separating him
from other creatures
   because of his consciousness
You gave him to see
   what it means to stand upright
before You.

Who can tell You what to do?
   What do we give You when we are right?
Still You gave us this
   Yom Kippur
This forgiving day,
   this time of holy evocation.
You call an end to our sins,
   when you forgive them,
when you pardon us
   and in this way
free us from our Karma.

So now we come
   G-d of Pardon
Kind One
   Merciful One
Patient One
   Gracious One
Honest One
   Beneficient One
   You want the wicked
to turn
   and not to die
You said:
   "Tell them,
As I live,"
   said Adonay Elohim,

"I don't want the wicked to die
   I want him to come to Me
and leave his former way
   I so want him to live a full life.
House of Israel
   Turn, Turn, Turn!
Leave your bad ways
   Please don't seek death."

Yes indeed You are
   Israel's pardoner
You do this for every generation
   No other will do this for us.
   before I was created
I was not much
   And now that I am created
I am not much more
   If I am a clod while in this life
how much more so am I dust
   when I will be dead.
I stand before You
   like a vessel filled
with shame and remorse.
   Please help me G-d
I don't want to sin ever again
   and that which I incurred
with my past sins
   blot out
with Your mercy
   and not with the bad consequences
I deserved.
   I don't want to be sick,
I don't want more suffering,
   I want your kindness.

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