Nizahker Venikatev

Nizakher Venikatev: A Reflective Guide for Hayom

We recite the piyyut Hayom at the end of the Rosh Hashanah Musaf service. As we arrive at the close of the series of morning services, the words of this poem speak to a sense of confidence in the efficacy of our own prayer, the communal lines asking God directly for what we desire: “Strengthen us, bless us, exalt us today: amen, amen amen.”

After a service full of intense and creative imagery, the text of Hayom feels almost sparse: We ask God together for blessing. This kind of direct communication feels difficult for many, both in our interpersonal communication and in our prayer. What role has direct communication played in your seeking teshuva thus far this year? What new possibilities could it open?

What does it mean to seek a communal blessing of well-being: For your family? For your community? For the world?

The bracha following the text of Hayom in Mahzor Lev Shalem begins, “On a day like this, bring us joyfully to the fullness of redemption.” Where have you been able to access redemptive joy during the soul-searching of the past month?

Where are your communities seeking strength right now? Where are you able to strengthen them?

Last year, BJ adapted the melody of Ehud Banai’s similarly named song “Hayom” for this piyyut. The opening verse of Banai’s song includes the lines: “Today we will do something unforgettable. It’s true, I don’t always show my love, but today I want to be closer to you.” Does this resonate with your experience of Rosh Hashanah? Why or why not?

When have you experienced certainty that someone sought your wellbeing? What in their words and actions made you feel assured?

Have you ever given someone in your life a blessing? Reflect back on the moment. What brought that person to you, and how did you bless them?

The closing lines of Hayom call for the Divine to sustain us through God’s tzedek. Have you  experienced spiritual nourishment connected to a pursuit of justice? What are your other sources of spiritual sustenance?

For Families:

What is particularly special about the prayers we recite on Rosh Hashanah? While some of the words are certainly different, do you feel any new or distinct feelings on this day?

What does it mean to “feel heard”? Describe what happens in your body and your feelings when someone hears what you are saying and understands you.