Rosh Hashanah Amidah

Each hyperlink leads to the professor's comments on that part of the text.

Aug. 31, 2021

Therefore the awe of You, Adonai our God,

be instilled in all You've made,

and the fear of You in all You have created.

so that all that is made revere You

and all creations bow to You

so that they become a single unit

to perform Your wishes wholeheartedly.

For as we know, Adonai our God, sovereignty is

Yours alone

Might is in one hand; power in the other

for Your name is held in awe by all that You created.

Therefore, Adonai bestow dignity on Your People,

Glory to those who revere You

and hope to those who seek You

And a retort to those who maintained their hope in You.

Joy to Your land and gladness to Your city

And may the power of David Your servant flourish.

And the lamp of Jesse's son, Your anointed, one be kindled

speedily in our day.

Therefore the righteous will behold and rejoice

The upright will be gleeful

The pious will break out in song

And the mouth of evil clamped,

for all wickedness will vanish like smoke

Were You to rid the world of the rule of tyranny.


Professor of Classical Rabbinic Literature Reuven Kimelman's Comments


Kimelman pointed out that in the Bible, the typical Hebrew word for therefore is lekhein, but the word used here for therefore, uvkhein, only appears once in the Torah, in the Book of Esther. The reference evokes the moment of Esther's entry into the Persian king's throne room in trepidation. She's told that if the king finds her approach displeasing she could lose her life.

In its choice of language, Kimelman said, the Amidah implies that one should approach God on Rosh Hashanah as if entering the throne room of the divine King, aware that on the days of judgment between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur one's life is on the line.

So that all that is made revere You and all creations bow to You

Instead of asking for good health or good fortune, the prayer seeks God's universal recognition. Kimelman said the assumption here is that compliance with God's will expands divine sovereignty in the world, and noncompliance constricts it.

Single unit

The word used here, Agudah, is used in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) to refer to the unity among members of the tribe of Benjamin. In later rabbinical writings, agudah describes the unity of the Jewish people. Here, it refers to all of humanity. In this way, Kimelman said the prayer transcends the Jewish-specific to encompass all humanity.

Your people

The prayer switches from its previous concern with all humanity to focus on Israel's redemption.

Jesse's son

But here, there's a switch back to the universal.

In the Bible, the son of Yishai (Jesse) is the epithet for King David; in rabbinic literature it becomes also the epithet for the Messiah.

The prayer expects the coming of the Messiah to occasion the recognition of God's sovereignty around the world. This is quite remarkable, Kimelman said. There are some images of the Messiah that are focused primarily upon the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Israel and the restoration of the ancient temple. On Rosh Hashanah, the vision of the redemption is expanded to all humanity.


According to Kimelman, the prayer doesn't seek the removal of the wicked but the removal of wickedness. Instead of expressing a desire to rid the world of the wicked, Judaism seeks the transformation of the wicked and the unification of all of humanity through the worship of the one God. In other words, God's sovereignty entails the world-wide spread of ethical monotheism.

Rid the world of the rule of tyranny

When the Messiah comes, God will eliminate oppressive governments. This ties together the political with the theological, Kimelman said.

Like idolatry, tyranny is seen as a block to the worship of God. The liturgy's insight is that one's spiritual life is not independent of one's political life. To free the world of tyranny is the precondition to the universal worship of God. This becomes our goal on Rosh Hashanah.