Adon: Lord of Forgiveness Israeli Style

Tags: Yom Kippur, Music, Jewish Identity, Am Yisrael

By Roi Zakai רועי זכאי

One of the most significant memories of my childhood is the singing of "Lord of the Selichot" in the synagogue on Yom Kippur.

As a graduate of the Department of Musicology at the Hebrew University, I am able today to analyze the tune features as well as understanding its uplifting qualities in the more intellectual aspect.

However, over the years my feeling was ambivalent about this tune. On the one hand, something warm and wrap reminiscent of the dozens of people who sing it together with great intention, and on the other hand recoiling from the grave and severe characteristic, to my ear, of the melody.

Recently, along with guitarist Ofer Ronen, I decided to approach this liturgical poem by taking it out of context and past memories and bringing it to my contemporary personal world.

Responses to this version in our performances are fantastic and heartwarming.

The Flamenco-style opening brings the listener from the outside and extroverted world to the first appearance of the tune with Contemplative soft harmonization. Thereafter, a new harmonic progress serves as a platform for the protagonist personal prayer.

This guitar prayer gradually increases and ends with pathos as big as this of the crowd in synagogue at the height of the liturgical poem, singing with great emotional intensity:

"We have sinned before you- have mercy on us"

Shana Tova

Master of Forgivings, examiner of hearts, 
the revealer of depths, speaker of justice

We have sinned before You, have mercy upon us (x2)

Glorious in wonders, great in consolations, 
remembering the covenant of his nation, investigating innihilation

We have sinned before You, have mercy upon us (x2)

Full of gaining, His entreaty is awesome
drops evils to the ground, answers sorrows

We have sinned before You, have mercy upon us (x2)

The Adon HaSelichot piyyut is sung on Yom Kippur evening. It is an alphabetic acrostic - the first line beginning with alef and the final line with tav. This lovely melody is a traditional Eastern, or Mizrachi, melody from Jerusalem

Adon haselichot, bochen levavot, goleh amukot, dover tzedakot
Chatanu lefaneicha, rachem aleinu (x2)
Hadur benifla'ot, vatik benechamot, zocher b'rit amo, choker kelayot
Chatanu lefaneicha, rachem aleinu.(x2)
Male zakiyut, nora tehino, tzone'ach avonot, oneh be'etzavot
Chatanu lefaneicha, rachem aleinu.(x2)

Against the backdrop of Hashem's creations add an additional Israel inspiration as, together, we remember the convenant of our nation - with Hashem, with our brethren, with our land.

May our prayers be answered, for Israel and all of the Jewish People.

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Tags: Yom Kippur, Music, Jewish Identity, Am Yisrael