Kever Avot – 5781 – Individual Observance
Illustration from Rabbi Me'ira Illinsky's book Mapping the Journey:The Mourner & The Soul
Here are some of the readings that were used during the online Kevar Avot program.
El Malei Rachamim
For a man who has died
אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים שׁוֹכֵן בַּמְּרוֹמִים, הַמְצֵא מְנוּחָה נְכוֹנָה עַל כַּנְפֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה בְּמַעֲלוֹת קְדוֹשִׁים וטְהוֹרִים כְּזוֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ מַזְהִירִים (נִשְׁמַת (פלוני בן פלוני ,שֶׁהָלַךְ לְעוֹלָמוֹ בַּעֲבוּר שֶׁנָדְבוּ צְדָקָה בְּעַד הַזְכָּרַת נִשְׁמָתוֹ .בְּגַן עֵדֶן תְּהֵא מְנוּחָתוֹ לָכֵן בַּעַל הָרַחֲמִים ,יַסְתִּירֵהוּ בְּסֵתֶר כְּנָפָיו לְעוֹלָמִים ,וְיִצְרֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת נִשְׁמָתוֹ ה' הוּא נַחֲלָתוֹ, וְיָנוּחַ ,בְּשָׁלוֹם עַל מִשְׁכָּבוֹ וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן
Al molay rachamim, shochayn bam’romim, ham-tzay m’nucha n’chona al kanfay Hash’china, b’ma-alot k’doshim ut-horim k’zo-har haraki-a mazhirim, et nishmat (Name of the Deceased) she-halach l-olama, ba-avur shenodvu tz’dakah b’ad hazkarat nishmata. B’Gan Ayden t’hay m’nuchata; la-chayn Ba-al Harachamim yas-tire-ha b’sayter k’nafav l’olamim, v’yitz-ror bitz-ror hacha-yim et nishmatah, Ado-nay Hu na-chalatah, v’tanu-ach b’shalom al mishkavah. V’nomar: Amayn.
God, full of mercy, who dwells in the heights, provide a sure rest upon the Divine Presence's wings, within the range of the holy, pure and glorious, whose shining resemble the sky's, to the soul of (Hebrew name of deceased) son of (Hebrew name of his father) for a charity was given to the memory of his soul. Therefore, the Master of Mercy will protect him forever, from behind the hiding of his wings, and will tie his soul with the rope of life. The Everlasting is his heritage, and he shall rest peacefully upon his lying place, and let us say: Amen.
For a woman who has died
אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים שׁוֹכֵן בַּמְּרוֹמִים, הַמְצֵא מְנוּחָה נְכוֹנָה עַל כַּנְפֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה בְּמַעֲלוֹת קְדוֹשִׁים וטְהוֹרִים כְּזוֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ מַזְהִירִים (אֶת נִשְׁמַת (פלוני בת פלוני ,שֶׁהָלַכָה לְעוֹלָמה בַּעֲבוּר שֶׁנָדְבוּ צְדָקָה בְּעַד הַזְכָּרַת נִשְׁמָתה .בְּגַן עֵדֶן תְּהֵא מְנוּחָתה לָכֵן בַּעַל הָרַחֲמִים ,יַסְתִּירֵהוּ בְּסֵתֶר כְּנָפָיו לְעוֹלָמִים ,וְיִצְרֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת נִשְׁמָתה ה' הוּא נַחֲלָתוֹ, וְיָנוּחַ ,בְּשָׁלוֹם עַל מִשְׁכָּבוֹ וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן
Al molay rachamim, shochayn bam’romim, ham-tzay m’nucha n’chona al kanfay Hash’china, b’ma-alot k’doshim ut-horim k’zo-har haraki-a mazhirim, et nishmat (Name of the Deceased) she-halcha l-olama, ba-avur shenodvu tz’dakah b’ad hazkarat nishmatah. B’Gan Ayden t’hay m’nuchatah; la-chayn Ba-al Harachamim yas-tire-ha b’sayter k’nafav l’olamim, v’yitz-ror bitz-ror hacha-yim et nishmatah, Ado-nay Hu na-chalatah, v’tanu-ach b’shalom al mishkavah. V’nomar: Amayn.
God, full of mercy, Who dwells above, give rest on the wings of the Divine Presence , amongst the holy, pure and glorious who shine like the sky, to the soul of (Hebrew name of deceased) daughter of (Hebrew name of her father), for whom prayer was offered in the memory of her soul. Therefore, the Merciful One will protect her soul forever, and will merge her soul with eternal life. The Everlasting is her heritage, and she shall rest peacefully at her lying place, and let us say: Amen
For multiple people or non-gender specific
אֶל מַלֵּא רַחֲמִים שׁוֹכֵן בַּמְּרוֹמִים הַמְצֵא מְנוּחָה נְכוֹנָה תַּחַת כַּנְפֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה בַּמַּעֲלוֹת קְדוֹשִׁים וּטְהוֹרִים כְּזֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ מַזְהִירִים לְנִשְׁמוֹת יַקִּירֵנוּ וּקְדוֹשֵׁינוּ שֶׁהָלְכוּ לְעוֹלָמָם. אָנָּא בַּעַל הָרַחֲמִים הַסְתִּירָם בְּצֵל כְּנָפֶיךָ לְעוֹלָמִים וּצְרֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת נִשְׁמָתָם. יהוה הוּא נַחֲלָתָם וְיָנוּחוּ בְּשָׁלוֹם עַל מִשְׁכָּבָם וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן
El maley rakhamim shokhen ba-m'romim ha-m'tzei m'nukhah n'khonah takhat kanfei ha-sh'khinah b'ma'alot k'doshim u't'horim k'zohar ha-rakiah maz'hirim l'nishmot yakireinu u'k'dosheinu she-hal'khu l'olamam. Ana ba'al ha-rakhamim ha-s'tirem b'tzel k'nafekha l'olamim u-tz'ror bitz'ror ha-khayim et nishmatam. Adonay hu nakhalatam v'yanukhu b'shalom al mish'kabam v'nomar amen
God filled with mercy,
dwelling in the heavens' heights,
bring proper rest
beneath the wings of your Shehinah,
amid the ranks of the holy and the pure,
illuminating like the brilliance of the skies
the souls of our beloved and our blameless
who went to their eternal place of rest.
May you who are the source of mercy
shelter them beneath your wings eternally,
and bind their souls among the living,
that they may rest in peace.
And let us say: Amen
מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִ֑ד יְהֹוָ֥ה רֹ֜עִ֗י לֹ֣א אֶחְסָֽר
בִּנְא֣וֹת דֶּ֖שֶׁא יַרְבִּיצֵ֑נִי עַל־מֵ֖י מְנֻח֣וֹת יְנַֽהֲלֵֽנִי
נַפְשִׁ֥י יְשׁוֹבֵ֑ב יַנְחֵ֥נִי בְמַעְגְּלֵי־צֶ֜֗דֶק לְמַ֣עַן שְׁמֽוֹ
גַּ֚ם כִּֽי־אֵלֵ֨ךְ בְּגֵ֪יא צַלְמָ֡וֶת לֹא־אִ֘ירָ֚א רָ֗ע כִּי־אַתָּ֥ה עִמָּדִ֑י שִׁבְטְךָ֥ וּ֜מִשְׁעַנְתֶּ֗ךָ הֵ֣מָּה יְנַֽחֲמֻֽנִי
תַּֽ֘עֲרֹ֤ךְ לְפָנַ֨י שֻׁלְחָ֗ן נֶ֥גֶד צֹֽרְרָ֑י דִּשַּׁ֖נְתָּ בַשֶּׁ֥מֶן רֹ֜אשִׁ֗י כּוֹסִ֥י רְוָיָֽה
אַ֚ךְ ט֣וֹב וָחֶ֣סֶד יִ֖רְדְּפוּנִי כָּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיָּ֑י וְשַׁבְתִּ֖י בְּבֵית־יְ֜הֹוָ֗ה לְאֹ֣רֶךְ יָמִֽים
A Psalm of David - Adonai is my shepherd, I shall not lack.
God helps me to lie down in green pastures; God leads me to water in places of repose.
God renews my life; God guides me in right paths as befits God’s name.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no harm, for you are with me; Your rod and Your staff - they comfort me.
You spread a table for me in full view of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup is full.
Only goodness and steadfast love shall pursue me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of Adonai for many long years.
(From Rabbi Sydni Rubenstein)
At the rising sun and at its going down; We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter; We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring; We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer; We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of the autumn; We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends; We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as We remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength; We remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart; We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make; We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share; We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs; We remember them.
For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as, We remember them.
- by Sylvan Kamens & Rabbi Jack Riemer
From Unetanneh Tokef
Unetanneh Tokef (Let us speak of the awesomeness ) is said to originate from 12th or 13th century Germany, where there is a rather gruesome story associated with its supposed author. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unetanneh_Tokef . Modern scholarship indicates that it is at least as old as the 8th century. Whatever its origin, it is one of the most beautiful and poignant pieces of Jewish poetry.
“A man's origin is from dust and his destiny is back to dust, at risk of his life he earns his bread; he is likened to a broken shard, withering grass, a fading flower, a passing shade, a dissipating cloud, a blowing wind, flying dust, and a fleeting dream.”
I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.
- Jane Kenyon
The Grim Reaper
The Grim Reaper comes to visit more often these days.
Nothing serious, you understand.
Certainly not here to serve the big Eviction Notice
Just a friendly visit.
You couldn’t call it a chat
Because he doesn’t say anything.
You’d think this would be an unwelcome visitor,
Leaning that scythe over against the wall
And sitting down at my table
For a cup of coffee,
Just being there,
Reminding one of you know,
The big sleep.
That’s all she wrote.
But you’d be surprised.
He makes no demands.
Doesn’t even glance askew.
Actually, an ideal guest.
- David Gerson Robboy 9/9/2001
Vivian Abrams - Jewish Grave Markers
For those who may be interested, here are two PDFs containing a large selection of photographs of mostly modernish Jewish grave markers from the collection of NY artist Vivian Abrams.
©Robert G Evans 09/22/2020
©Robert G Evans 09/22/2020