Pro­duc­ing con­tent on the Web since 1995.

some say­ings of ר‘משבצונה“ל

For many years I have worked hard, and strug­gled with mas­ter­ing virtuous. Now, in addi­tion, I’m work­ing on becom­ing more virtual.
This is an expres­sion of that effort.
* * * * * * *

השיבנו ה‘ אליך ונשובה חדש ימינו
כעוד לא היו
* * * * * * *
ומביא גאלה…

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All pho­tographs are by Mark Hurvitz unless they are obvi­ously not (or credit oth­er­wise is given).

The pho­tos in the ban­ner at the top (only a shal­low sliver of a much larger photo) are either from our home or our trav­els and are offered for their beauty alone (though a brain-teaser for me: “Where was that?”).

Let’s all do the al chet (9)

[A slight vari­ant of this page will appear here 10 times. In each the text will remain essen­tially the same. How­ever, I will add a link to a new “sur­vey” each time.]

I have writ­ten else­where, that I came to the rab­binate out of “polity” not “piety”. My involve­ment was as a com­mu­nity organizer.

Nonethe­less, I recall sit­ting one Yom Kip­pur day in the late 1960s with a num­ber of friends who had formed a group called Or Hadash (New Light). There we were on a blan­ket in the heat of the day, some­where beyond the end of Alta Drive or Fair Oaks Ave. in Ange­les National For­est above Altadena, Cal­i­for­nia. We read the Al Chet to each other. (I sent the papers I had that related to this group to the Amer­i­can Jew­ish Archives in 2007.) We actu­ally framed that expe­ri­ence as both polity and piety. We felt that by talk­ing with each other how we had hard­ened our hearts we were both ful­fill­ing the pious “oblig­a­tion” to recite our people’s text and at the same time build­ing a stronger more cohe­sive group.

ten times al chet

The Al Chet, an alpha­bet­i­cal acros­tic, is recited as many as ten times through­out Yom Kip­pur. If we include its recita­tion on Seli­chot (the last Shab­bat before Rosh haShan­nah), that is even more. Per­haps we can approach this list in a dif­fer­ent way. How can we read these lines in a man­ner so that they retain their new­ness and urgency?

all twenty-two

  • א We have erred against You by אמוץ הלב hard­en­ing our hearts.
  • ב We have erred against You by בטוי שׂפתים speak­ing perversely.
  • ג We have erred against You גלוי ובסתר pub­licly and privately.
  • ד We have erred against You by דבור פה cor­rupt speech.
  • ה We have erred against You by הרהור הלב evil thought.
  • ו We have erred against You by ודוי פה insin­cere confession.
  • ז We have erred against You זדון ובשׁגגה inten­tion­ally and unintentionally.
  • ח We have erred against You by חלול השׁם des­e­crat­ing your name.
  • ט We have erred against You by טפשׁות פה fool­ish talk.
  • י We have erred against You יודעים ובלא יודעים know­ingly and unknowingly.
  • כ We have erred against You by כפת שׁחד bribery.
  • ל We have erred against You by לשׁון הרע slander.
  • מ We have erred against You in מאכל ובמשׁתה eat­ing and drinking.
  • נ We have erred against You by נטית גרון false pride.
  • שׂ We have erred against You by שׂקור עין wan­ton glances.
  • ע We have erred against You by עזות מצח effrontery.
  • פ We have erred against You by פלילות per­vert­ing justice.
  • צ We have erred against You by צרות עין envy.
  • ק We have erred against You by קשׁיות ערף being stubborn.
  • ר We have erred against You by רכילות tale bearing.
  • שׂ We have erred against You by שׂנאת חנם cause­less hatred.
  • ת We have erred against You by תמהון לבב con­fu­sion of values.

In the day of R. Ila’i, the entire con­cept of recit­ing such a list was fresh, new and chal­leng­ing. As oth­ers learned about his prac­tice, it is pos­si­ble that what at first may have been a free asso­ci­a­tion became more for­mal. It is not uncom­mon for what begins as “descrip­tion” to develop into “prescrip­tion”. (“I was with R. Ila’i at Yom Kip­pur last year and he did….”) What might hap­pen in our con­gre­ga­tions if we scrapped the litur­gi­cal read­ing of these lines and dis­cussed their con­tent instead?

al chet chart

al chet chart

how many dif­fer­ent ways can we approach the al chet so that it retains its relevance?

I have used the tools of the Web (in par­tic­u­lar Sur­vey­Mon­key) to develop a num­ber of ques­tion­naires that may help us focus our atten­tion on dif­fer­ent aspects of the al chet. I’ll add a link to each one on a dif­fer­ent day. Feel free to take the “sur­vey” and share the link with oth­ers. As of this post­ing there are ten dif­fer­ent sur­veys. If you can think of another one, please add your thoughts in the comments.

who par­tic­i­pates in this kind of behav­ior, and how often?

Click here to enter your responses.

Respond to each state­ment (there are 22 of them, one for each Hebrew let­ter) by select­ing with whom (at which level of com­mu­nal liv­ing) you have expe­ri­enced and/or par­tic­i­pated in this error and at what frequency.

We may be able to rank these (as to seri­ous­ness) later.

This ver­sion, illus­trated above, is avail­able as a down­load­able PDF.


rank the errors from most egre­gious to the least egregious

Click here to enter your responses.


this error was a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem for me when I was…”

If a par­tic­u­lar cat­e­gory does not match your life, feel free to ignore it.
(If at some later time it does, I expect to keep this online… as long as these phe­nom­ena can remain online. If you can think of bet­ter cat­e­gories for the col­umn head­ers, please let me know.)

Click here to enter your responses.


how do I feel when I expe­ri­ence a par­tic­u­lar chet happening?

Do I respond with anger, sor­row, or am I apa­thetic?

Click Here to enter your responses.

rank all 22 errors in terms of which is the hard­est (for me) to avoid

Is it eat­ing and drink­ing or per­haps false pride?

Click here to enter your responses.


how do I respond when I see an error done?

Do I point out the error or ignore it?

Click here to enter your responses.


age spe­cific errors

Is a par­tic­u­lar behav­ior a chet at a spe­cific age, but not when done at another age (for exam­ple: fool­ish talk)?

Click here to enter your responses.


do we per­ceive some of these errors as more com­monly asso­ci­ated with men or women?

You might want to do this with a part­ner of the oppo­site sex; then you can com­pare responses to see where you agree and disagree.

Click here to enter your responses.


it has been x amount of time since I have seen a par­tic­u­lar error done

Either I live in a rar­i­fied world, or I may not be pay­ing attention.

Click here to enter your responses.


rank all 22 errors in order of most com­monly done to least

I and my friends may not do this one or that one, but when I look at the larger world I see these as most com­mon and those as least common.

let’s all do the… what?

Let’s all do the Cherkessia!” was the intro­duc­tory line of an “Israeli” line dance we learned as chil­dren. The only ref­er­ence to the dance on the Web is on a page that con­sists of no more than links to three other pages that either no longer exist or no longer con­tain the infor­ma­tion orig­i­nally promised.

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