Festivals, Prayers & Services
SABBATH MORNING SERVICE
The complete set of 5 Shabbat services has now been published in book form on Amazon in full colour. The book is in A4 format, has 200 pages, and includes 20 colour photos and drawings. This includes descriptions and drawings of a ‘virtual synagogue’, to give you something to imagine in your mind’s eye each Shabbat.
A black & white edition is also available:
If you have any comments on the prayers, or you think there is something that could be improved, please email me at email@example.com
Pre-service Music (right click on link to open YouTube video in a new window, then return to this page to continue service):
(Sung by Tomer Hatuka in Yemenite style)
A. WELCOME ADDRESS
Shabbat shalom le-kulkhem – a Sabbath of Peace to all of you. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all once again to our “virtual” congregation.
On this day, we recall how God liberates us from our daily toil – how we rest from the creation of new things; we do not make others to serve us, or give others orders to do for us; we are freed from carrying loads and burdens; we do not labour by kindling or extinguishing fire; we do not fall prey to greed or anxiety through buying or selling; and we are commanded on this day above all days, to do no evil thing.
On this day, we are reminded to do good things – to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy; to gather together in assembly to worship the Holy One; and to study and discuss Torah. And so that even the poorest should know this as a special day, all shall eat and have their fill.
This day is indeed a special day – one to be remembered for all time – as a day when God liberates our human spirit, and lifts our human souls up towards the Kingdom of God.
1. CALL TO WORSHIP
My friends, beloved sons and daughters of God! This hour, I call you to meditate on what it means to be called by YHVH’s Name.
We are children of YHVH, and we should show this by the justice, the compassion and the holiness of our actions; we are called to be a kingdom of priests, and therefore we should minister to God in piety, and to one another in charity; as our God is holy, so should we be holy, by keeping our ways distinct from those of other nations; we are called to be servants of YHVH, so we should follow the instructions of the One who looks after us and provides for us; we are called to respect YHVH, to imitate God in God’s ways, to love God, to serve God, and keep God’s commandments; we are called to be witnesses of YHVH, and we do this by living our lives according to God’s teaching, so that the nations will be inspired to look in awe towards our God; and we are called to be a light to the Nations, so that they might turn to the good in their own cultures, and see their own path towards the Holy One, blessed be He. Amein.
Therefore I offer you this hour of prayer, that we might join together to welcome the Presence of our God.
R/ Then may the storms of our hearts be calmed, and may all words spoken in reverence give nourishment to our souls.
2. CALL ON GOD TO HEAR OUR PRAYERS
O YHVH, Shepherd of Israel, Father and Mother of all the nations, we know that you are not deaf to the prayers of your children, your sons and daughters on earth. You give solace to the lowly, and remember the forgotten with mercy.
Hear then our prayers when we are pulled to the depths of sorrow, when our troubles threaten to crush us. Create this hour as a time free of our burdens, when You will accept our prayers and take our woes upon Yourself. Sweep us up into Yourself and comfort us, and do not let our hearts be lost in a mire of sadness.
There have been moments when all has seemed lost, and we know that You have taken our troubles upon Yourself, and You have carried us; we know that there have been moments when we have become lost, and You alone have come looking for us; and there have been times when we have stumbled upon a rocky way, and You have picked us up and dressed our wounds.
Therefore with confidence we pray this hour:
R/ Hear our prayer O YHVH, and let our thoughts come before you.
3. KEEPING THE SABBATH
Thus spoke YHVH, as it is written in Torah:
Six days you shall labour and do all your work,
But the seventh day is a Sabbath dedicated to YHVH your God.
On it, you shall not do any work –
Neither you, nor your son or daughter,
Nor your manservant or maidservant,
Nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals,
Nor the foreigner resident among you,
So that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.
(amalgam of Ex 20:9-10, and Deut 5:13-14)
4. THE SHEMA (long version)
(listen to opening line of Shema sung in Sephardic style)
shema yisrael, YHVH elohéinu, YHVH echad.
ve-ahávta et YHVH elohékha be-khol levávkha
Hear O Israel, YHVH is our God, YHVH alone.
And you shall love YHVH your God with all your heart and mind, with all your soul and with all your might.
Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you today. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them like a sign on your hand, and let them be like a frontlet between your eyes; inscribe them on the doorposts of your house[s of prayer] and on your [city] gates. When YHVH your God brings you into the land He swore to your ancestors, to give you – a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant – then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget YHVH, who brought you out of Egypt, from a state of slavery. (Deut 6:4-12)
And it shall be, that if you really do obey my precepts which I am commanding you today – to love YHVH your God, and to serve God with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will grant rain for your land in its season – the autumn rain and the spring rain – so that you may gather in your cereal crop, your new wine and your fresh oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them.
(Deut. 11:13 – 16)
Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at, so that you will remember all the commandments of YHVH, that you may obey them and not demean yourselves by going after the desires of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commandments and will be holy to your God. I am YHVH your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am YHVH your God.
5. THE ABBUN D’BISHMAYYA (to hear this prayer, click here)
Let us pray for this day in our Heavenly Father’s care:
keyn af be’ar`a
hab lan yoma deyn umachra
ushbaq lan chobayn
heykhma de’af shebaqnan lechayyabayn
we’al ta`eylan lenisayuna
ela atseylan min bisha
Our Father – who is in Heaven
Sanctified be Your Name!
May your Kingdom be fulfilled!
May Your will be realised –
Just as it is in Heaven,
So also upon the Earth.
Our bread – which is from the earth,
Give us day by day.
And forgive us our sins,
Just as we should forgive our debtors.
And do not bring us to trial,
Rather deliver us from evil. Amein.
6. PRAYERS OF HUMILITY BEFORE GOD
(listen to ‘Ashirah la-Adonai’ – the end of ‘When You Believe’
from ‘The Prince of Egypt’, which contains the words below)
mi khamókha baelim, YHVH?
mi khamókha needar ba-qódesh,
Who is there like You among the pagan gods, O YHVH? Who is there like You,
majestic in holiness, awesome in splendour, doing wonders?
Who built the vast vaults of the sky,
And created storehouses for the snow?
Who made a home for the lightning,
And for the east winds when they scatter?
Who cut a channel for the rains,
And a path for the raging storm?
Who fathers the drops of dew,
From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens –
When the waters become hard as stone,
And the surface of the deep is frozen?
Who binds the cords of the Pleiades,
And loosens the belt of Orion?
Who brings out the constellations at their proper season,
And leads out Sirius with her cubs?
Who makes the lightning bolts take flight,
Sending the thunder on its way?
Who numbers the clouds,
And tips out the water-bottles of the heavens –
When the dust becomes hard,
And the clods of earth stick together?
Who laid the foundations of the earth,
And fixed off its dimensions?
Who set its footings,
And laid its cornerstone firm?
Who set the boundaries of the sea,
And fixed its limits in place?
Who gave the morning its orders,
And showed the dawn where to rise –
When the morning stars sing,
And the hosts of heaven dance for joy?
R/ You alone, O YHVH! You alone!
(loosely adapted from Job 38:4-38)
7. PRAYERS OF PENITENCE AND FORGIVENESS
Have mercy upon us, O God,
As befits Your faithfulness;
In keeping with Your abundant compassion,
Blot out our transgressions.
Wash us thoroughly of our iniquity,
And purify us of our sin;
For we recognise our transgressions
And are ever conscious of our sin.
Against You have we sinned,
And done what is evil in Your sight;
So You are just in Your sentence,
And righteous in Your judgment.
Purge us with hyssop until we are pure;
Wash us until we are whiter than snow.
Let us hear tidings of joy and gladness;
Let the bones You have crushed exalt.
Hide Your sight from our sins,
And blot out all our iniquities.
Fashion pure hearts for us, O God;
Create in us a steadfast spirit.
Do not cast us out of Your Presence,
Or take Your divine spirit away from us.
You do not want us to bring sacrifices;
You do not desire burnt offerings.
True sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit;
God will not despise a penitent and contrite heart.
(based on extracts from Psalm 51)
Let us sit for a moment in silence, and consider the wrongs we have done this past week; and let us humbly ask God to forgive us of them, that we may be healed and be made whole.
(Sit for a few moments in contemplation and self-examination. Then say):
R/ Heavenly Father, merciful God, for these and for all past offences which I cannot recall, I am truly sorry and repent with all my heart. Have compassion on the imperfection of my soul; forgive me in Your merciful love, cleanse me of my iniquities by the fire of Your glory, and remember my sin no more.
Give us all the strength and courage to go forward from this day with firmer resolve to do only what is pleasing in Your sight, and to work all the more eagerly for the fulfilment of Your glorious kingdom.
Blessed be YHVH, who forgives the penitent heart. Amein
8. FIRST PRAYER OF BLESSING AND PRAISE
Now I will recall God’s works;
What I have seen, I will describe.
At God’s word were God’s works brought into being;
They do God’s will as God has ordained for them.
As the rising sun is clear to all,
So the glory of YHVH fills all creation’s works.
Yet even God’s holy ones must fail
In recounting the wonders of YHVH –
Though God has given these, God’s heavenly battalions,
The strength to stand firm before God’s glory.
God plumbs the depths and penetrates the heart;
Their innermost being God understands.
The Most High possesses all knowledge,
And sees from of old the things that are to come:
God makes known the past and the future,
And reveals the deepest secrets.
No understanding does God lack;
No single thing escapes God.
Perennial is God’s mighty wisdom;
YHVH is from all eternity One and the same,
With nothing added, and nothing taken away –
No need of a counsellor for God!
How beautiful are all God’s works!
Even to the spark and fleeting vision!
The universe lives and abides forever;
To meet each need, each creature is preserved.
All of them differ, each one from another,
Yet none of them has God made in vain.
For each in turn, as it comes, is good;
Can one ever see enough of their splendour?
(from the Book of Yeshua` Ben Sira 42:15-25)
(a hymn of praise ‘Hallelu et Adonai’, sung by Batya Segal)
9. SECOND PRAYER OF PRAISE
By God’s counsel is the great deep stilled,
and islands are planted in its waters.
Those who sail the sea tell of its story,
and we are thunderstruck at what we hear.
For in it are strange and marvellous works –
all kinds of living things,
and huge creatures of the sea.
God’s messengers find the way,
and by God’s word all things hold together.
Though we speak much we cannot reach the end,
and the sum of our words must be: “God is the all.”
Where shall we find strength to praise God?
For God is greater than all God’s works.
Awesome is YHVH and very great,
and marvellous is God’s power.
When you praise YHVH, exalt God as much as you can;
for God will surpass even that.
When you exalt God, put forth all your strength,
and do not grow weary,
for you cannot praise God too much!
Who has seen God, and who can describe God?
Or who can extol God as God is?
Many things greater than these lie hidden,
for we have seen but few of God’s works.
For YHVH has made all things;
And to those who revere God in awe,
God has granted wisdom.
(from the Book of Yeshua` Ben Sira 43:24-35)
10. PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
We thank you with all our heart –
We sing a hymn to You before heaven;
We bow toward Your holy Temple,
And praise Your Name for Your steadfast love.
For You have exalted Your Name – Your word – above all.
When we called, You answered us;
You inspired us with courage.
All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to You, O YHVH,
For they have heard the words You spoke.
They shall sing of the ways of YHVH, saying,
‘Great is the majesty of YHVH!’
High though YHVH is, God sees the lowly –
Though lofty, God sees from afar.
Although we might walk among enemies,
God preserved us in the face of our persecutors.
You extended Your hand;
With Your right hand You delivered us.
For the saving deeds of YHVH we give thanks;
We thank the Holy One, the eternal Sovereign of the Universe.
(based on Psalm 138)
11. PRAYER TO YHVH, OUR SAVIOUR AND REDEEMER
Watch over us here
And guide us.
Stay our hands
When we are tempted to do evil,
And strengthen our feet
When they falter on the paths of righteousness.
Keep our eyes fixed on the light of Your Presence –
When they are tired and weary of life;
And carry up our hearts
When they can endure no more.
Fill us with Your love
When our hopes slide and fade;
And when our spirit is crumbling,
And threatens to fail into darkness,
Reach down Your saving hand
And pluck us into your light.
(a modern Talmidi prayer)
(some meditative music, Kumi ori, ‘Arise and Shine’, Isaiah 60:1-2, sung by Batya Segal)
12. REMEMBRANCE OF GODS PROMISES
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall feed together,
With a little boy to herd them.
The cow and the she-bear shall graze,
With their young lying down together,
And the lion, like the ox, shall eat straw.
A baby shall play over a viper’s hole,
And an infant pass his hand over an adder’s den.
On My holy mountain – through all the Land,
Nothing vile or evil shall be done;
For the Land shall be filled with knowledge of YHVH,
As water covers the sea.
13. REWARDS FOR FOLLOWING GODS WAYS
YHVH will make you the head, not the tail.
If you truly do pay attention to the commandments of YHVH your God
that I give you this day,
and carefully follow them,
Then you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.
Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today,
neither to the right or to the left –
neither following other gods nor serving them.
If you fully obey YHVH your God
and carefully follow all God’s commands that I give you today,
YHVH your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.
All these blessings will come upon you,
and accompany you if you obey YHVH your God.
YHVH your God will grant that the enemies who rise against you
will be defeated before you.
Five of you will be able to chase off a hundred,
and a hundred of you will be able to chase off ten thousand.
They will come at you from one direction,
and run away from you in seven.
Then all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by YHVHs Name,
And they will respect you.
(based on various extracts from Deut 28:1-14, and Lev 26:8)
14. PRAYER IN THE HOLY NAME
You are YHVH our God!
YHVH is Your Name throughout every generation –
the Name by which You are to be remembered forever.
You alone, O YHVH our God, shall we follow –
You alone shall we revere;
we will have no other gods before You.
We will not invoke the names of other gods;
we will not let them be heard on our lips.
For You are YHVH, that is Your Name;
Your glory will not be given to any other name.
Blessed be the Holy Name of YHVH forever!
B. EXPOSITION OF THE TORAH
Blessed be YHVH our God, who has given us Torah to liberate us, to teach and guide us in holiness, and to sanctify those who follow YHVH the Redeemer.
This week’s sidra, according to the ancient, three-year, Galileo-Judean reading cycle that we follow, is from the Book of (see weekly email)
Blessed are you, O YHVH our God, for You have sanctified us with Your instruction and teaching.
C. THE READING FROM THE BOOKS OF THE PROPHETS
We bless You and praise You, O YHVH our God, that You continue to give us guidance, to explain Your teachings, and call us back to the holiness of Your ways.
The corresponding haftarah this week is from (see weekly email)
Blessed be YHVH forever! We bless you and give you honour O YHVH, for you light up our hearts with your guidance and teaching.
(see weekly emails)
15. PRAYER IN EXALTATION OF GODS HOLY NAME
Magnified and sanctified be His great Name throughout the Universe, which He created according to His will.
May His Kingdom come to reign in your lifetime, and in your days, and in the lifetime of the whole House of Israel – quickly and soon.
May His great Name be blessed forever and ever! Amein.
Blest, glorified, extolled, exalted, celebrated, honoured, venerated, and praised be the Name of the Holy One, Blessed be He! Amein.
Even though He is far beyond all blessings, songs, exaltations, or honours that we can ever say.
May God send us a great peace from heaven, and upon the whole house of Israel.
(This is from the original Aramaic prayer composed about 100 BCE. With Hebrew additions it only became a Mourners Prayer in the 12th century CE).
16. PETITIONARY PRAYERS
Let us now enrich and sanctify our prayer, by praying for the needs of others.
Look with compassion upon those who suffer, O YHVH, and heal their wounds. May those among the nations who currently endure the pain of war and civil conflict, may peace speedily come to them, so that they may be able to rebuild their lives, free from fear.
May those who have recently endured the cruel whims of Nature, and come through earthquake and fire, storm and flood, may they see Your great power, not in the catastrophes that have befallen them, but rather in the aid, assistance and charity that rushes speedily to rescue them. Help them to rebuild their lives, and to heal them swiftly from the traumas they have suffered.
Watch over and care for those who struggle each day to find food, water, clothing, and shelter. Guide them towards courage and strength, and to the opportunity to improve their lives. Stir also the hearts of those in high position, that they might move the mountains that the poor alone cannot move.
Shelter those minorities around the world who are persecuted and suffer daily because of the religion they belong to, and who cannot express their faith openly, for fear of harassment by the state, or edicts of death from religious authorities. Protect also those who are oppressed by their own religions. O YHVH, God of liberty and free will, grant them freedom from their terrors and save them; and may we who have known persecution ourselves, may we never turn round and cause others to suffer because of their faith.
May those among the Jewish people who do not follow the Way we follow be blessed, and may their names be enrolled in the Book of Life; may they prosper, and may their names and the names of their descendants not be blotted out; may their wise men and women be found a place among the righteous, and may their holy ones be uplifted over the wicked, and be saved by the glory and power of YHVH. May they find peace, may they be protected from our common enemies, and may they not become lost or extinguished.
(a special blessing in response to the curse formulated
against us by the rabbis of Yavneh in 90 CE)
Guide your people, Israel, and protect her with a lasting peace. Fill the House of Israel with the holiness of Your Presence. Renew her faith in the future. Guide those who lead the government of the land of Israel, that in their negotiations with others, all accords made will be just and fair to all sides. Deliver her from fear, and fulfil the promises you made to our ancestors.
Let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may those who love her dwell safe and secure. May there be peace within her walls, and security within her citadels. For the sake of our families and friends, let us say, “Peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of YHVH our God, let us seek your prosperity.
Bless with peace all the nations of the earth, that one day their swords may be beaten into ploughshares, and they may learn war no more. May their leaders learn to care for all their people, and govern wisely and with dignity.
May your Reign come swiftly, and be speedily fulfilled. Make known your ways within our hearts, and help us to live them and to do them.
Bless those who minister to your people, and to the Nations. May they have the courage to examine in their hearts what they teach, and speak only what is true, and according to Your Teaching. Guide them always in the ways of love, care, and compassion.
Watch over us in our community, all Followers of the Way wherever they may be, both known and unknown to us. Help us to live in the holiness of your teaching, and remain true to the ideals that you have set before us.
Compassionate YHVH, God of the poor, enfold your arms of love around the poor, the widowed and the orphaned, the lonely, the old, the sick and the dying. Help them to see that they are never alone, and that you are always with them.
Bless all the little ones, our children. May they never lose their sense of awe and wonder with the world which You have created in Your wisdom. Help us to see You with their eyes.
Let us now pray for a moment in silence for our own personal needs.
(pray for whatever thoughts and concerns you have had over the last week).
These, O YHVH, and many more unspoken, are our prayers.
(listen to Yerushalayim shel zahav, ‘Jerusalem of Gold’, sung by Ofra Haza)
17. PRAYER OF INTIMATE SUPPLICATION TO GOD
Hear my prayer, O YHVH;
let my cry for help come to You.
Do not hide Your face from me
when I am in distress.
Turn Your hearing to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.
R/ But in all things Your will, not ours, be done.
(see weekly emails)
18. FINAL BLESSING AND DISMISSAL
(to hear these closing words with the blessing, click here)
Shalom aleikhem. Peace be with you.
R/ And also with you.
yevarekhekha YHVH ve-yishmerekha
ya’eir YHVH panav eileykha vichunekha
yissa YHVH panav eileykha ve-yaseim lekha shalom
May YHVH bless you and watch over you;
May YHVH deal favourably with you and be gracious to you;
May YHVH turn good fortune towards you and grant you peace
Now let us depart in peace, to work for the fulfilment and glory of the kingdom of our living God.