Yitzchak and Rivka, Yamim Noraim and Prayer

Original watercolor/collage, painted in תשס”ט

“Yitzchak and Rivka”


There are many mothers mentioned in the Rosh Hashana prayers… From Sarah to Chana, who were both remembered on Rosh Hashana for their miraculous deliverance from childlessness, to Rachel, sobbing on High for her children ensuring their ultimate redemption, from Hagar on behalf of a dying Yishmael, to the hundred sobs of the mother of Sisera while he was fighting a precarious battle. There is another mother hidden deep within our prayers that I would like to expose in order to inspire us to realize the power and importance of feminine prayer.

Near Nishmat, the usual ashkenazi nusach (prayer syntax) adopts the Kabbalistic version and rearranges the verbs in this short poem so that the inner letters spell out Rivka:
בְּפִי יְשָׁרִים תִּתְרוֹמָם
וּבְשִֹפְתֵי צַדִּיקִים תִּתְבָּרַךְ
וּבִלְשׁוֹן חֲסִידִים תִּתְקַדָּשׁ
וּבְקֶרֶב קְדוֹשִׁים תִּתְהַלָּל

“In the mouths of the upright You will be exalted,
with the lips of the righteous You will be blessed,
through the tongues of the devout You will be sanctified,
In the midst of the holy You will be praised”

This secret embedding on the feminine power of prayer accompanies the more explicit allusion to masculine prayer on the part of Yitzchak, as the first letters of the names of the Ba’alei Tefilla correspondingly spell out Yitzchak.

What is fascinating is that the combined numerical value (gematria) of the names “Yitzchak and Rivka” (515), feminine plus masculine prayer, equal that of “Tefilla” (515).

The essence of feminine prayer is that is emerges from the depth of the heart, as the letters of the name Rivka can be permuted to spell the Hebrew word קרבה, “kirva” – deep within, and her name itself is found deep within the words that contain her.

Although Rosh Hashana is not the time for lengthy personal requests, may the prayers that emanate from this deep inner and hidden realm within us this Rosh Hashana align us as conduits for Hashem’s greatest plans for creation, and May Hashem inscribe us in the book of Life, complete with everything we need to play His highest and most beautiful melody this year.


Extracted from The Nexus School of Transformational Torah for Women, exploring the role of the Pre-Messianic woman through the Women in Torah, “Rivka”.  Coming beH this coming year 2020, may it come upon us for good.  To View the highlights from the first course on Chava, visit www.thenexus.org/school.