Shir Shel Shavua : Issue 15

August 18, 2023

Ki Tetzei - Avinu Shebashamayim

This week’s Torah portion is entitled Ki Tezei and deals with the rules of going out to war. The biblical mandates include who is exempted as well as how to behave when entering the Holy Land.

Today, I am sharing with you a beautiful musical and visual rendition of the familiar prayer Avinu Shebashamayim, which we recite each Shabbat.

The prayer was instituted in 1948 by the Sephardic and Ashkenazic Chief Rabbis of the newly formed State of Israel, respectively Rabbis Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel and Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog. The prayer was originally published in the newspaper HaTzofe on September 20, 1948, and in Haaretz on the following day. Over the years it was assumed that Nobel laureate S. Y. Agnon was the one who actually composed the prayer, but researcher Yoel Rappel showed that Agnon was only asked to assist in composing or editing it.

Ashkenazi Jews recite the prayer between the recitation of the haftarah and the returning of the Torah scroll(s) to the Holy Ark. Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews, however, usually recite it at the time when the Torah scroll(s) are taken out of the Ark. This rendition is composed by Hazzan Aaron Bensoussan.

Aaron Bensoussan comes from a prominent Rabbinic dynasty that can trace its lineage back to Maimonides. His grandfather, Rabbi Haim Bensoussan, was the Chief Rabbi of Morocco. He immigrated to the USA in 1968, attending the Telsher Yeshiva in Chicago and the Yeshiva Torah Vadaat in New York.

At the age of 24 he began his cantorial career as Hazzan at the Sephardic Jewish Center in Forest Hills, NY, a position he held for the next five years. He has served pulpits as Cantor of Temple Gates of Prayer in Flushing, NY, Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn Heights, NY., and Beth Emeth Congregation in Toronto, Canada.

This video represents a prayer for Israel but also recognizes, in an inspiring visual, the importance of the strength of Israel’s military that provides security for our spiritual homeland.

We pray for peace for Israel and all its neighbors.

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