I have a confession to make.
Tachanun. particularly in its longer, twice-weekly form, has never been one of my most cherished prayers. I have looked forward to Mondays and Thursday shacharit services during Nisan or the days following Succot or Shavuot (when Tachanun is omitted) as mornings to be relished. My heart leaps when a chatan, a sandek or a mohel enters shul and we can move directly from Shemone Esre to leyening without Tachanun. I would wager that I am not alone!
Following the horrific events of Black Shabbat/Yom Tov in Israel, all this has changed.
I have been connecting with Tachanun with fervour. Its passionate, supplicatory phrases speak to me as never before. Because never before in my lifetime have I felt so acutely that we Jews are still hated, despised, victimised, singled out for persecution, torture, butchery, opprobrium just because we are Jews. Not just “settlers”. Not even just Israelis, But Jews.
And these are the sentiments that Tachanun expresses so sublimely.
I wish to devote this piece merely to highlighting in an accessible English translation (that of the Koren/Sacks Siddur) some key passages in the longer form of Tachanun that especially resonate with me at this time in the hope that my readers may find it meaningful and cathartic to express these phrases aloud or meditate upon them in quiet moments and thus achieve true supplicatory connection with G-D at this watershed time in our history.
G-D, please don’t withhold your compassion from us. May Your lovingkindness and truth ever protect us.
May G-D answer us when we are in distress.
Hear the sound of our pleas.
Let all the nations recognise and know that You are G-D.
Let not Your heritage become an object of scorn.
Why should they say among the peoples: “Where is their G-D?”
Rescue the flock You tend.
Look and answer in time of trouble.
Do not abandon us, G-D, do not be distant from us; for we are worn out by the sword and captivity, by pestilence and plague and by every trouble and sorrow.
Rescue us for in You lies our hope. Put us not to shame.
Hear our prayer, our King, and save us from our enemies’ hands.
Do not forget us.
Remove from us the scourge of death, for You are compassionate.
Let us search our ways and examine them and return to You.
Do not be silent while we suffer.
Arouse Your strength and Your zeal against Your enemies. Let them be shamed and deprived of power.
Let our hardships not seem small to you.
Be gracious to the nation who, in constant love, proclaim twice daily the unity of Your Name, saying SHEMA YISRAEL, A-DO –NAI E -LO-HEI—NU A-DO—NAI EKHAD. “Listen, Israel, G-D is our G-d, G-D is One!”
May the day come soon when we never need to recite Tachanun again, and every day will be one long Hallel!