How to end the year and begin the new one

,תִּכְלֶה שָׁנָה וְקִלְלוֹתֶיהָ Tikhleh shanah ve-killeloteha

תָּחֵל שָׁנָה וּבִרְכוֹתֶיהָ  Tahel shanah u-virkhoteha!

Okay, translation and explanation.

One of the women, a friend, as she was leaving the house of shiva, my house, yesterday, said this bracha in Hebrew. She’s Israeli and she knows that I like her to speak Hebrew with me. And she speaks a beautiful fine Hebrew, so I was happy to hear it. I said it over and I wanted to find it again, so I Googled it and there it was.

Oh, I said translation would be provided.

It means,

Let the year end with all its curses!

Let the new year begin with all its blessings!

You can see how I would think that that was meaningful, and how I would want to share it. And thanks to Google, I found its source and a little more. The bloggista on Only Connect gives a head start to understanding the brachah and the source.

From אָחוֹת קְטַנָּה Akhot Ktana (Little Sister). Click the link to listen to the piyyut (Jewish liturgical poem) by Abraham Hazzan of Gerona (called Girondi), Spain, 13th century. Each verse ends with a one-line chorus: (Let the year end with all its curses!) תִּכְלֶה שָׁנָה וְקִלְלוֹתֶיהָ Tikhleh shanah ve-killeloteha! The last line of the piyut concludes: (Let the new year begin with all its blessings!) תָּחֵל שָׁנָה וּבִרְכוֹתֶיהָ Tahel shanah u-virkhoteha!

I’ve actually provided the correct link to the piyyut there. ISHI tells me that Avraham of Girondi was a kabbalist. Does it change the piyyut? Not a bit for me. But he was comforted in it.

Here’s the source for the piyyut, if you were interested. But first, a little explanation of how we can finish the curses of the present year:

Chazal refer to this mitzva as “viddui ma’aser,” literally, “the confession of the tithe,” a title that directly relates to the relevant mitzva of this season, the mitzva of repentance. The most basic prerequisite to the fulfillment of this mitzva is the ability to rise above one’s daily affairs and look from a broader perspective at what has transpired and what can be anticipated for the future. The obligation of teshuva requires one to scrutinize his life’s routine and to improve it. This demands a precise evaluation of oneself – where has my life taken me until now? How will it proceed and where will it bring me if I don’t involve myself actively in charting its course? Chazal were keenly aware of the appearance of this concept in our parasha and its direct relevance to this time of year:

“Rabbi Shimon Ben Elazar said: Ezra instituted that Benei Yisrael should read the curses in Torat Kohanim [i.e. Sefer Vayikra] before Shavuot and those in Mishneh Torah [i.e. Sefer Devarim] before Rosh Ha-shana. For what reason? Abaye said in the name of Resh Lakish: So that year will end together with its curses.” (Megilla 31b)

So may the evaluation process begin and may we all be successful in learning how to help ourselves get into the good new year.

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