Introducing Rosh haShanah la-Behemah

crossposted to the Open Siddur Project:

Rosh Ḥodesh Elul, the new moon festival of Elul, marks the New Year's day for mas'ar behemah — the tithing of domesticated animals — one of the four New Year's Day festivals recorded in the Mishnah. Rosh haShanah la-Behemah parallels Rosh haShanah la-Ilanot (a/k/a Tu BiShvat), the day for tithing fruit bearing trees — the day on which ribbons were tied around the buds of almond trees indicating which would be its first fruits. These two annual census were essential for upholding the institution of the Temple and the caste of families serving as its priests.

In the millennia after the Temple’s destruction, Tu biShvat was re-established by 16th century kabbalists as a special day of tikkun — a day to reflect on and pray for healing our relationship with trees and by extension, the whole of life-nurturing Earth. Similarly, Rosh Ḥodesh Elul begins in earnest a month-long process of teshuvah — an intense tikkun of all of our living relationships, culminating with the New Year's Day for the Maasei Bereshit (the works of Creation).

What a better way to begin a month dedicated to humbling ourselves and repairing our relationships than by reflecting first on our relationship with behemah — the domesticated animals which depend on us for their care and sustenance. The category of behemah includes all animals historically bred by humans as relatively tame and domesticated creatures, both kosher and non-kosher, e.g. cats and cattle, dogs and donkeys, goats, pigs, chicken, and llamas. If we can imagine, empathize, and understand the dependency of behemah in our care, how much better can we realize our relationship with the blessed Holy One, and the infinite chain of inter-dependencies uniting all living relationships in reflection of this Oneness.

Once upon a time when the Temple still stood, the Rosh Hashanah la-Behemah celebrated one means by which we elevated and esteemed the special creatures that helped us to live and to work. Just as rabbinic Judaism found new ways to realize our Temple offerings with tefillot — prayers — so too the Rosh Hashanah la-Behemah challenges us to realize the holiness of the animals in our care in a time without tithes. The New Year's Day for Animals is a challenge to remind and rediscover what our responsibilities are to the animals who depend on us for their welfare. Are we treating them correctly and in accord with the mitsvah of tsa’ar baalei ḥayyim — sensitivity to the suffering of living creatures? Have we studied and understood the depth of ḥesed — lovingkindness — expressed in the breadth of our ancestors teachings concerning the welfare of animals in Torah? Rosh Hashanah la-Behemah is the day to reflect on our immediate or mediated relationships with domesticated animals, recognize our personal responsibilities to them, individually and as part of a distinct and holy people, and repair our relationships to the best of our ability.

Rosh Hashanah la-Behemah is a day to reflect on our responsibilities and relationships with behemah and perhaps, by extension ḥayot — non-domesticated or wild animals, as well. In the story of Noaḥ, the activity of humankind was such that the survival of all creatures on Earth were disrupted and ultimately depended directly on Bnei Adam (the children of Adam) for their survival. Today, our massive disruption to the land resources and food web of ḥayot, certainly places a certain onus of responsibility on us — a responsibility we are reminded to heed with the sounding of the horn of a ram, the shofar, on Rosh Ḥodesh Elul.

There is a longstanding minhag (custom) to check one’s mezuzot during the month of Elul. Being mindful that we rely on the skins of animals to prepare our mezuzot upon which the Shema is written, is perhaps the first step to becoming sensitive to our relationship with other creatures. Even if we don’t perceive an immediate and personal relationship with non-human animals, we still have a precious and holy connection with them. Reappraising our relationship with these creatures that ultimately depend on us for their care and survival is the first step towards understanding the essential relationship which ensures our own survival, as individuals for the coming year, and as a people on this Earth.

Why does Rosh haShanah coincide with Rosh Ḥodesh Elul?

אַרְבָּעָה רָאשֵׁי שָׁנִים הֵם. בְּאֶחָד בְּנִיסָן רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה לַמְּלָכִים וְלָרְגָלִים. בְּאֶחָד בֶּאֱלוּל רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה לְמַעְשַׂר בְּהֵמָה. רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר וְרַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמְרִים, בְּאֶחָד בְּתִשְׁרֵי. בְּאֶחָד בְּתִשְׁרֵי רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה לַשָּׁנִים וְלַשְּׁמִטִּין וְלַיּוֹבְלוֹת, לַנְּטִיעָה וְלַיְרָקוֹת. בְּאֶחָד בִּשְׁבָט, רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה לָאִילָן, כְּדִבְרֵי בֵית שַׁמַּאי. בֵּית הִלֵּל אוֹמְרִים, בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר בּוֹ:

There are four new years: The first of Nisan is the new year for kings and for festivals. The first of Elul is the new year for the tithe of behemah. Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon say: the first of Tishrei. The first of Tishrei is the new year for years, for shmitah and yovel years, for planting and for [tithe of] vegetables. The first of Shvat is the new year for [fruit] trees, according to the words of Beit Shammai. Beit Hillel says: on the fifteenth of that month.

ר' אלעזר ור"ש אומרים באחד בתשרי: א"ר יוחנן ושניהם מקרא אחד דרשו שנאמר (תהלים סה:יד) לבשו כרים הצאן ועמקים יעטפו בר יתרועעו אף ישירו ר"מ סבר אימתי לבשו כרים הצאן בזמן שעמקים יעטפו בר ואימתי עמקים יעטפו בר באדר מתעברות באדר ויולדות באב ר"ה שלהן אלול

§ The mishna teaches that Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon say: The New Year for animal tithes is on the first of Tishrei. Rabbi Yoḥanan said: And both of them, Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Elazar, expounded the same verse in different ways. As it is stated in the verse: “The flocks are clothed in the meadows, and the valleys are wrapped in grain; they shout for joy, they also sing” (Psalms 65:14). Rabbi Meir holds: When are the flocks clothed in the meadows, i.e., when do the rams impregnate the ewes and thereby clothe them? It is at the time when the valleys are wrapped in grain, i.e., when they are covered in grain. And when are the valleys wrapped in grain? It is in Adar. Therefore, the sheep conceive in Adar and give birth five months later in Av, and so it is fitting that their New Year is on the first of Elul, as most of the year’s lambs have been born by then.

On our Flocks vs. Hashem's Flocks

בְּאַרְבָּעָה פְרָקִים הָעוֹלָם נִדּוֹן, בְּפֶסַח עַל הַתְּבוּאָה, בַּעֲצֶרֶת עַל פֵּרוֹת הָאִילָן, בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה כָּל בָּאֵי הָעוֹלָם עוֹבְרִין לְפָנָיו כִּבְנֵי מָרוֹן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים לג:טו) הַיּוֹצֵר יַחַד לִבָּם, הַמֵּבִין אֶל כָּל מַעֲשֵׂיהֶם. וּבֶחָג נִדּוֹנִין עַל הַמָּיִם:

At four set times the world is judged: On Pesaḥ in respect to the produce. On Shavuot in respect to the fruit of the tree. On Rosh haShanah, all those who have come into the world pass before [Hashem] like a division of soldiers, as it says, “The One who fashions the hearts of them all, who discerns all their doings” (Psalms 33:15). And on Sukkot they are judged in respect of rain.

(for the significance of Sukkot to Rosh haShanah la-Behemah, see source № 40 below.)

וּבְשׁוֹפָר גָּדוֹל יִתָּקַע וְקוֹל דְּמָמָה דַקָּה יִשָׁמַע וּמַלְאָכִים יֵחָפֵזוּן וְחִיל וּרְעָדָה יֹאחֵזוּן וְיֹאמְרוּ הִנֵּה יוֹם הַדִּין לִפְקֹד עַל צְבָא מָרוֹם בַּדִּין כִּי לֹא יִזְכּוּ בְּעֵינֶיךָ בַּדִּין וְכָל בָּאֵי עוֹלָם יַעַבְרוּן לְפָנֶיךָ כִּבְנֵי מָרוֹן כְּבַקָּרַת רוֹעֶה עֶדְרוֹ מַעֲבִיר צֹאנוֹ תַּחַת שִׁבְטוֹ כֵּן תַּעֲבִיר וְתִסְפֹּר וְתִמְנֶה וְתִפְקֹד נֶפֶשׁ כָּל חָי וְתַחְתֹּךְ קִצְבָה לְכָל בְּרִיָּה וְתִכְתֹּב אֶת גְּזַר דִּינָם

And with a great shofar it is sounded, and a thin silent voice shall be heard. And the angels shall be alarmed, and dread and fear shall seize them as they proclaim: behold! the Day of Judgment on which the hosts of heaven shall be judged, for they too shall not be judged blameless by you, and all creatures shall parade before you as a herd of sheep. As a shepherd herds his flock, directing his sheep to pass under his staff, so too you shall pass, count, and record the souls of all living, and decree a limit to each persons days, and inscribe their final judgment.

The Ritual of Tithing the Behemot

מתני׳ באי זה צד מעשרין כונסן לדיר ועושה להם פתח קטן כדי שלא יהו שנים יכולין לצאת כאחת ומונין א' ב' ג' ד' ה' ו' ז' ח' ט' והיוצא עשירי סוקר בסיקרא ואומר ה"ז מעשר לא סקרו בסיקרא ולא מנאן בשבט או שמנאן רבוצים או עומדים הרי אלו מתעשרין

MISHNA: In what manner does one tithe the animals? He gathers them in a pen and provides them with a small, i.e., narrow, opening, so that two animals will not be able to emerge together. And he counts the animals as they emerge: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine; and he paints the animal that emerges tenth with red paint and declares: This is tithe. Even if he did not paint it with red paint, or if he did not count the animals with a rod in accordance with the verse: “Whatever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be sacred to YHVH” (Leviticus 27:32), or if he counted the animals when they were prone or standing in place and did not make them pass through a narrow opening, these animals are tithed after the fact.

The tithing has the valence of a birthing ritual

גמ׳ ת"ר באי זה צד מעשר כונסן לדיר ועושה להם פתח קטן כדי שלא יהו שנים יכולין לצאת כאחד אימותיהם מבחוץ והם מבפנים וגועות ויוצאות לקראת אמן
GEMARA: The Sages taught in a baraita: In what manner does one tithe his animals? He gathers them in a pen and provides them with a small, i.e., narrow, opening so that two animals will not be able to emerge together. The mothers of those animals stand outside, and the newborn animals to be tithed are inside the pen. And the mothers bleat and the young ones emerge toward their mothers.

But what about Rabbi Shimon's opinion for Rosh haShanah la-Behemah occuring on Rosh Ḥodesh Tishrei?

בן עזאי אומר בעשרים ותשעה באדר באחד בסיון בעשרים ותשעה באב ר' אלעזר ורבי שמעון אומרים באחד בניסן באחד בסיון בכ"ט באלול ולמה אמרו בעשרים ותשעה באלול ולא אמרו באחד בתשרי מפני שהוא יום טוב ואי אפשר לעשר ביום טוב לפיכך הקדימוהו בעשרים ותשעה באלול

Ben Azzai says the dates are: On the twenty-ninth of Adar, on the first of Sivan, and on the twenty-ninth of Av. Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon say that the dates are: On the first of Nisan, on the first of Sivan, and on the twenty-ninth of Elul. And why did Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon say the twenty-ninth of Elul, and why did they not say the first of Tishrei? It is due to the fact that the first of Tishrei is the festival of Rosh HaShana, and one cannot tithe on a Festival. Consequently, they brought it earlier, to the twenty-ninth of Elul.

חדא ועוד קאמר חדא דבעינן למיעבד הכירא בחדש וישן ועוד מפני שהוא י"ט ואי אפשר לעשר בי"ט משום סקרתא:

The Gemara answers: The mishna states one reason and adds another. One reason is that we require a distinction between the new animals and the old animals. And another reason is because it is the festival of Rosh HaShanah and one cannot tithe on a Festival, due to the sakreta, a lead-based red paint for marking every tenth animal, as explained on 58b. It is prohibited to apply paint on a Festival.

What might blowing the Shofar on Rosh Ḥodesh Elul have to do with Rosh haShanah la-Behemah? Associations with the tiqqun (repair) over the transgression of the egel hazahav (Golden Calf).

ממאי דתשרי הוא דכתיב (תהלים פא, ד) תקעו בחדש שופר בכסה ליום חגנו איזהו חג שהחדש מתכסה בו הוי אומר זה ר"ה וכתיב (תהלים פא, ה) כי חק לישראל הוא משפט לאלקי יעקב

The Gemara raises a question: From where is it known that the day of judgment is in Tishrei? As it is written: “Blow a shofar at the New Moon, at the covered time for our Festival day” (Psalms 81:4). Which is the Festival day on which the moon is covered, i.e., hidden? You must say that this is Rosh HaShanah, which is the only Festival that occurs at the beginning of a month, when the moon cannot be seen. And it is written in the next verse: “For this is a statute for Yisrael, a judgment of the elo'ah of Yaaqov” (Psalms 81:5), implying that this is the day of judgment.

(ב) ר' יהושע בן קרחה אומר ארבעים יום עשה משה בהר קורא בדת מקרא ביום ושונה בדת מקרא בלילה, ולאחר ארבעים יום לקח את הלוחות וירד אל המחנה ובשבעה עשר בתמוז שבר את הלוחות והרג את לייטי ישראל ועשה ארבעים יום במחנה עד ששרף את העגל וכתתו כעפר הארץ והרג את כל אשר נשק לעגל והכרית ע"ז מישראל והתקין כל שבט במקומו, ובראש חדש אלול אמר לו הקב"ה (שמות כד:יב): "עֲלֵה אֵלַי הָהָרָה" והעבירו שופר במחנה, שהרי משה עלה להר שלא יטעו עוד אחר עכומ"ז והקב"ה נתעלה אותו היום באותו שופר, שנאמר (תהלים מז:ו): "עָלָה אֱלֹקִים בִּתְרוּעָה ה׳ בְּקוֹל שׁוֹפָר", ועל כן התקינו חכמים שיהיו תוקעים בשופר בראש חדש אלול בכל שנה ושנה.

Rabbi Yehoshua, son of Qorḥah, said: Forty days was Mosheh on the mountain, reading the Written Torah by day, and studying the Oral Torah by night. After the forty days he took the luḥot/stelae and descended into the camp on the 17th of Tammuz, and he broke in pieces the tables, and slew the sinners in Yisra'el. He then spent forty days in the camp, until he had burnt the [golden] calf, and powdered it like the dust of the earth, and he had destroyed the avodah zara/foreign worship from Yisrael, and he instituted every tribe in its place. And on the New Moon of Elul the blessed Holy One said to him: "Come up to me on the mount" (Ex. 24:12), and let them sound the Shofar throughout the camp, for, behold, Mosheh has ascended the mount, so that they do not go astray again after the worship of stars and constellations. The blessed Holy One was exalted with that Shofar, as it is said, "Elohim is exalted with a shout, YHVH with the sound of a Shofar" (Ps. 47:5). Therefore the sages instituted that the Shofar should be sounded on the New Moon of Elul every year.

(ואמר) רבי יצחק למה תוקעין בר"ה למה תוקעין רחמנא אמר תקעו אלא למה מריעין מריעין רחמנא אמר זכרון תרועה אלא למה תוקעין ומריעין כשהן יושבין ותוקעין ומריעין כשהן עומדין כדי לערבב השטן

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said: Why does one sound [tokin] a blast on Rosh haShanah? The Gemara is astonished by the question: Why do we sound a blast? The Compassionate One states in the verse: “Sound [tiku] a shofar” (Psalms 81:4). Rather, the question is: Why does one sound a staccato series of shofar blasts [teruah] in addition to a long continuous shofar blast [tekiah]? The Gemara is still surprised by the question: Sound a teruah? The Compassionate One states: “In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns [teruah]” (Leviticus 23:24). Rather, Rabbi Yitsḥaq asked about the common practice in Jewish communities, which is not explicitly stated in the Torah: Why does one sound a long, continuous shofar blast [tekiah] and then a staccato series of shofar blasts [teruah] while the congregation is still sitting before the silent prayer, and then sound again a tekiah and a teruah while they are standing in the Amidah prayer? He answers: In order to confuse the Accuser/the Satan, for this double blowing of the shofar demonstrates Israel’s love for the mitsvah, and this will confuse Satan when he brings his accusations against Yisrael before the heavenly court, and the Jewish people will receive a favorable judgment.

In other words, Rosh Hashanah la-Behemah on Rosh Hodesh Elul, constitutes a celebration of a day in which Bnei Yisrael were forgiven for the tragedy of the incident of the egel hazahav/golden calf. The valence of the calf as an archetypal behemah seems significant here, perhaps also conected to additional strategies of confusing the angel Samael (later in chapter 46 of Pirqei d'Rebbe Eliezer) concerning the goat sent to Azazel ⁠— itself an embodiment of cosmic predation (see the Midrash of Shemḥazai and Aza'el in Otsar Midrashim).

כדי לערבב - שלא ישטין כשישמע ישראל מחבבין את המצות מסתתמין דבריו:

When the Accuser perceives how much Yisra'el cherish the mitsvot, he simply has nothing to say.

אִם־יִתָּקַע שׁוֹפָר בְּעִיר וְעָם לֹא יֶחֱרָדוּ אִם־תִּהְיֶה רָעָה בְּעִיר וַה' לֹא עָשָׂה׃

When a ram’s horn/Shofar is sounded in a town, do the people not take alarm? Can misfortune come to a town if YHVH has not caused it?

What exactly are Behemah? Note that in combination with other passages in the Torah, behemah constitute not only the herd animals of flocks but also other "domesticated" working animals such as donkeys. In this biblical taxonomy, "bred" or "tame" animals were created as such by Hashem. In what place does this position wild animals (ḥayot) held in captivity?

וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹקִים תּוֹצֵא הָאָרֶץ נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה לְמִינָהּ בְּהֵמָה וָרֶמֶשׂ וְחַיְתוֹ־אֶרֶץ לְמִינָהּ וַיְהִי־כֵן׃

וַיַּעַשׂ אֱלֹקִים אֶת־חַיַּת הָאָרֶץ לְמִינָהּ וְאֶת־הַבְּהֵמָה לְמִינָהּ וְאֵת כָּל־רֶמֶשׂ הָאֲדָמָה לְמִינֵהוּ וַיַּרְא אֱלֹקִים כִּי־טוֹב׃ וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹקִים נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ וְיִרְדּוּ בִדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּבַבְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל־הָאָרֶץ וּבְכָל־הָרֶמֶשׂ הָרֹמֵשׂ עַל־הָאָרֶץ׃

Elohim said, “Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: behemah, remes/creeping things, and wild creatures of every kind.” And it was so. Elohim made wild creatures (ḥayot) of every kind and behemah of every kind, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. And Elohim saw that this was good. And Elohim said, “Let us make Adam/earthling in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the behemah, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth.”

Behemot are part of our community and our responsibility. Behemot are ostensibly animals serving human interests and thus in nearby association with human slave/servants/serfs and so are being considered as part of a community extended to and over these vulnerable populations, exploited in the land of Mitsrayim just as Bnei Yisrael were.

זָכוֹר אֶת־יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ׃ שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל־מְלַאכְתֶּךָ׃ וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ לֹא־תַעֲשֶׂה כָל־מְלָאכָה אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ־וּבִתֶּךָ עַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתְךָ וּבְהֶמְתֶּךָ וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ׃ כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת־יָמִים עָשָׂה ה' אֶת־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת־הָאָרֶץ אֶת־הַיָּם וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־בָּם וַיָּנַח בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי עַל־כֵּן בֵּרַךְ ה' אֶת־יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת וַיְקַדְּשֵׁהוּ׃

Remember the Shabbat day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the 7th day is a Shabbat of YHVH your elo'ah: you shall not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your behemot, or the sojourner in your settlements. For in six days YHVH made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore YHVH blessed the Shabbat day and hallowed it.

שָׁמוֹר אֶת־יוֹם הַשַׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוְּךָ ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל־מְלַאכְתֶּךָ׃ וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה כָל־מְלָאכָה אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ־וּבִתֶּךָ וְעַבְדְּךָ־וַאֲמָתֶךָ וְשׁוֹרְךָ וַחֲמֹרְךָ וְכָל־בְּהֶמְתֶּךָ וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ לְמַעַן יָנוּחַ עַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתְךָ כָּמוֹךָ׃ וְזָכַרְתָּ כִּי־עֶבֶד הָיִיתָ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם וַיֹּצִאֲךָ ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ מִשָּׁם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרֹעַ נְטוּיָה עַל־כֵּן צִוְּךָ ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת־יוֹם הַשַׁבָּת׃

Observe the Shabbat day and keep it holy, as YHVH your elo'ah has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the 7th day is a Shabbat of YHVH your elo'ah; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or your donkey, or any of your behemot, or the sojourner in your settlements, so that your male and female slave/serf may rest as you do. Remember that you were a serf in the land of Mitsrayim and YHVH your elo'ah freed you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore YHVH your elo'ah has commanded you to observe the Shabbat day.

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה בִּנְעָרֵינוּ וּבִזְקֵנֵינוּ נֵלֵךְ בְּבָנֵינוּ וּבִבְנוֹתֵנוּ בְּצֹאנֵנוּ וּבִבְקָרֵנוּ נֵלֵךְ כִּי חַג־ה' לָנוּ׃

Mosheh replied (to Pharaoh), “We will all go, young and old: we will go with our sons and daughters, our flocks and herds; for we must observe YHVH’s festival.”

קַדֶּשׁ־לִי כָל־בְּכוֹר פֶּטֶר כָּל־רֶחֶם בִּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּאָדָם וּבַבְּהֵמָה לִי הוּא׃

“Consecrate to me every first-born; man and behemah, the first issue of every womb among the Children of Yisrael is mine.”

וְכָל־פֶּטֶר חֲמֹר תִּפְדֶּה בְשֶׂה וְאִם־לֹא תִפְדֶּה וַעֲרַפְתּוֹ וְכֹל בְּכוֹר אָדָם בְּבָנֶיךָ תִּפְדֶּה׃

But every first-born donkey you shall redeem with a sheep; if you do not redeem it, you must break its neck. And you must redeem every first-born male among your children.

Behemah are particularly vulnerable to the consequence of human transgressions. This interdependence is presented in both the plague cast over the behemah of Mitsrayim as well as the danger to the aton/jenny (female donkey) of both her master Bilaam and the Angel set in their way.

וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל־אַהֲרֹן קְחוּ לָכֶם מְלֹא חָפְנֵיכֶם פִּיחַ כִּבְשָׁן וּזְרָקוֹ מֹשֶׁה הַשָּׁמַיְמָה לְעֵינֵי פַרְעֹה׃ וְהָיָה לְאָבָק עַל כָּל־אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם וְהָיָה עַל־הָאָדָם וְעַל־הַבְּהֵמָה לִשְׁחִין פֹּרֵחַ אֲבַעְבֻּעֹת בְּכָל־אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם׃

Then YHVH said to Mosheh and Aharon, “Each of you take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Mosheh throw it toward the sky in the sight of Pharaoh. It shall become a fine dust all over the land of Mitsrayim, and cause an inflammation breaking out in boils on human and behemah throughout the land of Mitsrayim.”

וַתֵּרֶא הָאָתוֹן אֶת־מַלְאַךְ ה' וַתִּרְבַּץ תַּחַת בִּלְעָם וַיִּחַר־אַף בִּלְעָם וַיַּךְ אֶת־הָאָתוֹן בַּמַּקֵּל׃ וַיִּפְתַּח ה' אֶת־פִּי הָאָתוֹן וַתֹּאמֶר לְבִלְעָם מֶה־עָשִׂיתִי לְךָ כִּי הִכִּיתַנִי זֶה שָׁלֹשׁ רְגָלִים׃

Now the atōn/jenny (female donkey) saw YHVH’s messenger, so she crouched down beneath Bil’am. And Bil’am’s anger flared up; he struck the jenny with his staff. Then YHVH opened the mouth of the jenny and she said to Bil’am: “What have I done to you that you have struck me (on) these three occasions?”

The gemarah recognizes in interspecies caregiving relationships a relationship between a parent and their child. This is significant in reassessing our own relationships with our companion animals within the context of a Jewish worldview.

ארבב"ח אר"י ראה חזיר שכרוך אחר רחל פטורה מן הבכורה ואסור באכילה (הושע י, יב) עד יבא ויורה צדק לכם.[...] חזיר איצטריכא ליה דאי אשמעינן טלה הוה אמינא אם תמצא לומר דסבר יולדת מרחמא דמינה דלא מינה לא אשמעינן חזיר דמרחמת ואפילו דלאו מינה נמי דאיכא למימר דלמא מרחמא

The Gemara analyzes a similar case. Rabba bar bar Ḥana says that Rabbi Yoḥanan says: If one saw a young animal resembling a pig that was trailing after a ewe, the ewe is exempt from having its future offspring counted a firstborn. And the pig-like animal is forbidden for consumption “until he comes and instructs righteousness to you” (Hosea 10:12), i.e., until Elijah the prophet arrives and determines the halakhah.[...] The Gemara explains: It was necessary for Rabba bar bar Ḥana to teach the case of a pig, as, had he taught a case involving a lamb, I would say: Even if you say that Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel holds that an animal that has given birth might be merciful toward the offspring of another, this is so only with regard to its own species, but with regard to an animal that is not of its own species, it would not show mercy and would not nurse the offspring. Therefore, Rabba bar bar Ḥana teaches us the case of a pig, to convey that an animal might be merciful, and this is also true even where the offspring is not of its own species, as it could be said that perhaps the animal was merciful in such a case as well.

אהורייריה דבי רבי הוה עתיר משבור מלכא כד הוה רמי כיסתא לחיותא הוה אזיל קלא בתלתא מילי הוה מכוין דרמי בההיא שעתא דעייל רבי לבית הכסא ואפי' הכי מעבר ליה קליה לקלייהו ושמעו ליה נחותי ימא
The Gemara relates: The stableman [ahuriyareih] of the house of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was wealthier than King Shapur of Persia, due to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s abundant livestock. When the stableman would place fodder before the livestock, the sound of their lowing would travel the distance of three mil. He would calculate the right moment so that he would place the fodder before the animals at precisely that time when Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi entered the latrine, so that the lowing of the animals would drown out Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s screams of pain. But even so, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s voice was so loud that it overcame the sound of the livestock, and even sailors heard it out at sea.
ע"י מעשה באו מאי היא דההוא עגלא דהוו קא ממטו ליה לשחיטה אזל תליא לרישיה בכנפיה דרבי וקא בכי אמר ליה זיל לכך נוצרת אמרי הואיל ולא קא מרחם ליתו עליה יסורין
The Gemara stated that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s suffering came upon him due to an incident. What was that incident that led to his suffering? The Gemara answers that there was a certain calf that was being led to slaughter. The calf went and hung its head on the corner of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s garment and was weeping. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to it: Go, as you were created for this purpose. It was said in Heaven: Since he was not compassionate toward the calf, let afflictions come upon him.
וע"י מעשה הלכו יומא חד הוה קא כנשא אמתיה דרבי ביתא הוה שדיא בני כרכושתא וקא כנשא להו אמר לה שבקינהו כתיב (תהלים קמה, ט) ורחמיו על כל מעשיו אמרי הואיל ומרחם נרחם עליה
The Gemara explains the statement: And left him due to another incident. One day, the maidservant of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was sweeping his house. There were young weasels [karkushta] lying about, and she was in the process of sweeping them out. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to her: Let them be, as it is written: “The Lord is good to all; and His mercies are over all His works” (Psalms 145:9). They said in Heaven: Since he was compassionate, we shall be compassionate on him, and he was relieved of his suffering.

ר׳ משה קורדובירו, תומר דבורה פרק ג׳

עוֹד צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת רַחֲמָיו פְּרוּסִים עֶל כָּל הַנִּבְרָאִים, לֹא יְבַזֵּם וְלֹא יְאַבְּדֵם. שֶׁהֲרֵי הַחָכְמָה הָעֶלְיוֹנָה הִיא פְּרוּסָה עַל כָּל הַנִּבְרָאִים, דּוֹמֵם וְצוֹמֵחַ וְחַי וּמְדַבֵּר…..וְעַל דָּבָר זֶה רָאוּי, שֶׁכְּמוֹ שֶׁהַחָכְמָה הָעֶלְיוֹנָה אֵינָהּ מְבַזָּה שׁוּם נִמְצָא וְהַכֹּל נַעֲשָׂה מִשָּׁם, דִכְתִיב (תהלים קד:כד) “כֻּלָּם בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ”, כֵּן יִהְיֶה רַחֲמֵי הָאָדָם עַל כָּל מַעֲשָׂיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ. וּמִטַּעַם זֶה הָיָה עֹנֶשׁ רַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ, עַל יְדֵי שֶׁלֹּא חָס עַל בֶּן הַבָּקָר שֶׁהָיָה מִתְחַבֵּא אֶצְלוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ "זִיל, לְכָךְ נוֹצַרְתָּ" (בבא מציעא פה א), בָּאוּ לוֹ יִסּוּרִין, שֶׁהֵם מִצַּד הַדִּין, שֶׁהֲרֵי הָרַחֲמִים מְגִנִּים עַל הַדִּין, וְכַאֲשֶׁר רִחֵם עַל הַחֻלְדָּה, וְאָמַר (תהלים קמה:ט) "וְרַחֲמָיו עַל כָּל מַעֲשָׂיו" כְּתִיב, נִצַּל מִן הַדִּין, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁפֹּרַשׂ אוֹר הַחָכְמָה עָלָיו, וְנִסְתַּלְקוּ הַיִּסּוּרִים….זֶה הַכְּלָל, הַחֶמְלָה עַל כָּל הַנִּמְצָאִים שֶׁלֹּא לְחַבְּלָם, תְּלוּיָה בְּחָכְמָה.

Tomer Devorah ch. 3 (Rabbi Mosheh Cordovero, ca. 16th c.)

Furthermore, one’s compassion should extend to all creatures and one should neither despise nor destroy them, for the (divine attribute of) Supernal Ḥokhmah/Wisdom spreads over all of creation: inanimate objects, plants, animals and humans. This is a proper concept, for just as the (divine attribute of) Supernal Ḥokhmah/Wisdom does not despise anything that exists, since everything is created from it – as it is written, “You have made them all with Ḥokhmah/Wisdom,” (Psalms 104:24) so, too, a person’s compassion should be upon all the creations of the Blessed One. For this reason, Rabbi Yehudah “the Holy One” was punished, because he did not have pity on a calf that hid by him under his cloak, in order to evade slaughter, and he said to it, “Go! You were created for this purpose.” (Bava Metsia 85a) Suffering – which derives from the aspect of strict judgment – came upon him. For only compassion shields against strict judgment. Thus, when he had mercy on a weasel, and said “His compassion is upon all His creations,” (Psalms 145:9) he was delivered from strict judgment, for the light of Ḥokhmah/Wisdom spread over him, and his suffering was removed (ibid)….This is the general principle: Having pity on all beings not to hurt them, is contingent on Ḥokhmah/Wisdom.

All of our repentance/teshuva commencing in Elul is directed towards deserving forgiveness in advance of receiving favorable blessing on Sukkot before the oncoming Rainy Season, which benefits life upon the entire Earth and the welfare of every people (as represented in the sacrificial offerings for all the nations during Sukkot), as taught by Rabbi David Seidenberg ( Here is a prayer for Sukkot which directly references the nature of human beings as that of behemah -- until human beings express just that sort of lovingkind awareness that has them empathize with behemot and refuse to take from their energy and cause their premature deaths.

”אַחַת שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵֽאֵת־ה' אוֹתָהּ אֲבַקֵּשׁ
שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית־ה' כׇּל יְמֵי חַיַּי
לַחֲזוֹת בְּנֹֽעַם־ה' וּלְבַקֵּר בְּהֵיכׇלֽוֹ
כִּי יִצְפְּנֵנִי ׀ בְּסֻכֹּה בְּיוֹם רָעָה
יַסְתִּירֵנִי בְּסֵתֶר אָהֳלוֹ
בְּצוּר יְרוֹמְמֵֽנִי.“ (תהלים כז:ד)

רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם
רַחֵם עָלַי בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ הָעֲצוּמִים
וּבַחֲסָדֶיךָ הָרַבִּים וְהַגְּדוֹלִים,
וְזַכֵּנִי לְקַיֵּם מִצְוַת סֻכָּה בִּזְמַנָּהּ כָּרָאוּי
בְּכׇל פְּרָטֶיהָ וְדִקְדּוּקֶיהָ וְכַוָּנוֹתֶיהָ
וְתַרְיַ”ג מִצְוֹת הַתְּלוּיִים בָּהּ,
וּבְלֵב טוֹב וּבְשִׂמְחָה גְדוֹלָה.

וְאֶזְכֶּה שֶׁיִּהְיוּ נִמְשָׁכִין אֵלַי הַמֹּחִין הַקְּדוֹשִׁים
וְהַחֲסָדִים הַגְּדוֹלִים וְהַנִּפְלָאִים הַנִּמְשָׁכִין
עַל עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל
בִּימֵי חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת הַקָּדוֹשׁ
עַל יְדֵי מִצְוַת סֻכָּה הַקְּדוֹשָׁה וְהַנּוֹרָאָה מְאֹד,
שֶׁאָז אִמָּא מְסַכֶּכֶת עַל בָּנֶיהָ
וְאַתָּה פּוֹרֵס סֻכַּת רַחֲמִים וְחַיִּים וְשָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ.

מָלֵא רַחֲמִים, מָלֵא רַחֲמִים,
רַחֵם עָלַי לְמַעַן שְׁמֶךָ אַתָּה
יָדַעְתָּ אֶת לְבָבִי כַּמָּה אֲנִי רָחוֹק מְאד מִמִּצְוַת סֻכָּה.

וְכַמָּה תַחֲנוּנִים וּבַקָּשׁוֹת וְהַפְצָרוֹת בְּלִי שִׁעוּר
אֲנִי צָרִיךְ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל וּלְהִתְחַנֵּן לְפָנֶיךָ
שֶׁתְּזַכֵּנִי לְמֹחִין קְדוֹשִׁים כָּאֵלֶּה, לַחֲסָדִים כָּאֵלֶּה,
בְּאֹפֶן שֶׁאֶזְכֶּה לְדַעַת אֲמִתִּי לְדַעַת שֶׁל אָדָם,
בְּאֹפֶן שֶׁאֶזְכֶּה מְהֵרָה לָצֵאת מִבְּהֵמָה לְאָדָם.

שֶׁאָחוּס עַל עַצְמִי מֵעַתָּה
וְלֹא אֶעֱשֶׂה עוֹד מַעֲשֵׂה בְּהֵמָה,
רַק אֶזְכֶּה מְהֵרָה לְדַעַת אֲמִתִּי
שֶׁהוּא גֶּדֶר הָאָדָם.

וְאֶזְכֶּה לִינֹק מֵהַשֶּׁפַע שֶׁל אָדָם,
וְלֹא אִינֹק עוֹד מִשֶּׁפַע שֶׁל בְּהֵמָה
וְאֵצֵא וְאֶעֱלֶה מְהֵרָה מִגֶּדֶר בְּהֵמָה
לְגֶדֶר אָדָם.

רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם
טוֹב וּמֵטִיב לַכֹּל
וְרַחֲמָיו עַל כׇּל מַעֲשָׂיו
חוּס וַחֲמֹל וְרַחֵם עַל הַבְּהֵמוֹת וְהַחַיּוֹת,
וְזַכֵּנִי אוֹתִי וְאֶת כׇּל עַמְּךָ בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל
שֶׁלֹּא נִפְגּם בְּמִצְוַת סֻכָּה כְּלָל,
בְּאֹפֶן שֶׁיִּהְיֶה יְנִיקָתֵנוּ תָמִיד מִשֶּׁפַע שֶׁל אָדָם
שֶׁנִּמְשָׁךְ מִבְּחִינַת סֻכָּה.

וְלֹא נִצְטָרֵךְ לִינֹק חַס וְשָׁלוֹם מֵהַשֶּׁפַע שֶׁל הַבְּהֵמוֹת
וְלֹא נוֹצִיא לְעַצְמֵנוּ הַשֶּׁפַע שֶׁלָּהֶם חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,
לְמַעַן לֹא נִגְרֹם חַס וְשָׁלוֹם מִיתוֹת בְּהֵמוֹת וְחַיּוֹת בְּלֹא זְמַנָּן.

וִיקֻיַּם מִקְרָא שֶׁכָּתוּב.
”אָדָם־וּבְהֵמָה תּוֹשִׁיעַ ה׳“ (תהלים לז:ז)
וְנֶאֱמַר. ”בָּרוּךְ פְּרִי־בִטְנְךָ
וּפְרִי בְהֶמְתֶּךָ
שְׁגַר אֲלָפֶיךָ
וְעַשְׁתְּרוֹת צֹאנֶךָ“. (דברים כח:ד)

Liqutei Tefilot I:145 by Reb Nosson Sternhartz of Nemirov (ca. early 18th century), adapted from the teachings of Rebbe Naḥman in Liqutei Moharan

“One thing have I asked from YHVH, that which I seek:
May I sit in the House of YHVH all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the pleasantness of YHVH and visit in their palace.
They will hide me in their Sukkah on the day of evil.
They will hide me in the concealment of their tent.
They will lift me upon the rock.” (Psalms 36:4)

Master of the world,
in Your vast and great kindness,
have compassion on me.
Help me fulfill the mitsvah of Sukkah in its season,
with all of its details, particulars, intentions
and the 613 commandments that are dependent on it,
with a good heart and with great joy.

May the holy state of mind
and great, wondrous kindnesses
that are drawn onto Your nation, Yisra’el,
during the holy festival of Sukkot
be drawn down to me as a result of my fulfilling the holy and awesome mitsvah of Sukkah,
when the mother hovers over her children
and You stretch the Sukkah of compassion and life over us.

You are filled with compassion.
Have compassion on me for the sake of Your Name.
You know my heart, how far I am from the mitsvah of Sukkah.

How many times without number
must I plead and pray
that You will give me a holy state of mind, energies of kindness,
so that I will attain true, human knowledge,
so that I will quickly go from being a behemah to being a human being.

May I have pity on myself from now on
and no longer commit the acts of a behemah.
Rather, may I quickly attain true knowledge,
which is the definition of a human being.

May I draw from the energy that goes to Adam/humanity
and no longer from the energy that goes to behemot.
May I soon emerge from being defined as a behemah
and instead be defined as human.

Master of the world, Master of the world,
You are good and do good to all.
You are compassionate to all Your creatures.
Have pity, mercy and compassion on the behemot and ḥayot.
Help me and Your entire nation, the House of Yisra’el,
not to spoil the mitsvah of Sukkah at all,
so that we will always draw from the energy of Adam
that comes from the level of Sukkah.

May we not have to draw from the energy of behemot, Heaven forbid.
May we not take their energy to ourselves, Heaven forbid,

so that we will not cause the premature deaths of behemot and ḥayot, Heaven forbid.

May the verse be realized as it is written:
“YHVH, you save human and behemah.” (Psalms 36:7)
and as it says: “Blessed will be the fruit of your womb
and the fruit of your land
and the fruit of your behemot,
the offspring of your livestock
and the flocks of your sheep.” (Deuteronomy 28:4)

The following two Psalms are significant to Rosh Hashanah la-Behemah in that they provide significant verses invoked in the rabbinic discussion of this day. (Psalms 36:7 was recommended by Rabbi Dr. Dalia Marx.)

1 לַמְנַצֵּ֬חַ ׀ לְעֶֽבֶד־ה' לְדָוִֽד׃

2 נְאֻֽם־פֶּ֣שַׁע לָ֭רָשָׁע בְּקֶ֣רֶב לִבִּ֑י
אֵֽין־פַּ֥חַד אֱ֝לֹקִ֗ים לְנֶ֣גֶד עֵינָֽיו׃

3 כִּֽי־הֶחֱלִ֣יק אֵלָ֣יו בְּעֵינָ֑יו
לִמְצֹ֖א עֲוֺנ֣וֹ לִשְׂנֹֽא׃

4 דִּבְרֵי־פִ֭יו אָ֣וֶן וּמִרְמָ֑ה
חָדַ֖ל לְהַשְׂכִּ֣יל לְהֵיטִֽיב׃

5 אָ֤וֶן ׀ יַחְשֹׁ֗ב עַֽל־מִשְׁכָּ֫ב֥וֹ
יִ֭תְיַצֵּב עַל־דֶּ֣רֶךְ לֹא־ט֑וֹב
רָ֝֗ע לֹ֣א יִמְאָֽס׃

6 ה' בְּהַשָּׁמַ֣יִם חַסְדֶּ֑ךָ
אֱ֝מֽוּנָתְךָ֗ עַד־שְׁחָקִֽים׃

7 צִדְקָֽתְךָ֨ ׀ כְּֽהַרְרֵי־אֵ֗ל
מִ֭שְׁפָּטֶךָ תְּה֣וֹם רַבָּ֑ה
אָ֤דָֽם־וּבְהֵמָ֖ה תוֹשִׁ֣יעַ ה'׃

8 מַה־יָּקָ֥ר חַסְדְּךָ֗ אֱלֹ֫הִ֥ים
וּבְנֵ֥י אָדָ֑ם
בְּצֵ֥ל כְּ֝נָפֶ֗יךָ יֶחֱסָיֽוּן׃

9 יִ֭רְוְיֻן מִדֶּ֣שֶׁן בֵּיתֶ֑ךָ
וְנַ֖חַל עֲדָנֶ֣יךָ תַשְׁקֵֽם׃

10 כִּֽי־עִ֭מְּךָ מְק֣וֹר חַיִּ֑ים
בְּ֝אוֹרְךָ֗ נִרְאֶה־אֽוֹר׃

11 מְשֹׁ֣ךְ חַ֭סְדְּךָ לְיֹדְעֶ֑יךָ
וְ֝צִדְקָֽתְךָ֗ לְיִשְׁרֵי־לֵֽב׃

12 אַל־תְּ֭בוֹאֵנִי רֶ֣גֶל גַּאֲוָ֑ה
וְיַד־רְ֝שָׁעִ֗ים אַל־תְּנִדֵֽנִי׃

13 שָׁ֣ם נָ֭פְלוּ פֹּ֣עֲלֵי אָ֑וֶן
דֹּ֝ח֗וּ וְלֹא־יָ֥כְלוּ קֽוּם׃

For the Leader. [A Psalm] of David the servant of YHVH.

Transgression speaks to the wicked, methinks—
There is no fear of God before their eyes.

For it flatters them in their eyes,
Until their iniquity is found, and they be hated.

The words of their mouth are iniquity and deceit;
They have left off to be wise, to do good.

They devise iniquity upon their bed;
They set themselves in a way that is not good;
They abhor not evil.

Your lovingkindness, YHVH, is in the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches unto the skies.

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains;
Your judgments are like the great deep;
Human (adam) and domesticated animal (behemah) you preserve, YHVH.

How precious is your lovingkindness, Elohim!
And the children of Adam
take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They are abundantly satisfied with the fatness of your house;
And you make them drink of the river of your pleasures.

For with you is the fountain of life;
In your light do we see light.

O continue your lovingkindness unto them that know you;
And your righteousness to the upright in heart.

Let not the foot of pride overtake me,
And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.

There are the workers of iniquity fallen;
They are thrust down, and are not able to rise.

לַמְנַצֵּ֥חַ מִזְמ֗וֹר לְדָוִ֥ד שִֽׁיר׃

לְךָ֤ דֻֽמִיָּ֬ה תְהִלָּ֓ה אֱלֹ֘קִ֥ים בְּצִיּ֑וֹן
וּ֝לְךָ֗ יְשֻׁלַּם־נֶֽדֶר׃

שֹׁמֵ֥עַ תְּפִלָּ֑ה עָ֝דֶ֗יךָ כָּל־בָּשָׂ֥ר יָבֹֽאוּ׃

דִּבְרֵ֣י עֲ֭וֺנֹת גָּ֣בְרוּ מֶ֑נִּי
פְּ֝שָׁעֵ֗ינוּ אַתָּ֥ה תְכַפְּרֵֽם׃

אַשְׁרֵ֤י ׀ תִּֽבְחַ֣ר וּתְקָרֵב֮ יִשְׁכֹּ֪ן חֲצֵ֫רֶ֥יךָ
נִ֭שְׂבְּעָה בְּט֣וּב בֵּיתֶ֑ךָ קְ֝דֹ֗שׁ הֵיכָלֶֽךָ׃

נ֤וֹרָא֨וֹת ׀ בְּצֶ֣דֶק תַּ֭עֲנֵנוּ אֱלֹקֵ֣י יִשְׁעֵ֑נוּ
מִבְטָ֥ח כָּל־קַצְוֵי־אֶ֝֗רֶץ וְיָ֣ם רְחֹקִֽים׃

מֵכִ֣ין הָרִ֣ים בְּכֹח֑וֹ נֶ֝אְזָ֗ר בִּגְבוּרָֽה׃

מַשְׁבִּ֤יחַ ׀ שְׁא֣וֹן יַ֭מִּים שְׁא֥וֹן גַּלֵּיהֶ֗ם וַהֲמ֥וֹן לְאֻמִּֽים׃

וַיִּ֤ירְא֨וּ ׀ יֹשְׁבֵ֣י קְ֭צָוֺת מֵאוֹתֹתֶ֑יךָ
מ֤וֹצָֽאֵי־בֹ֖קֶר וָעֶ֣רֶב תַּרְנִֽין׃

פָּקַ֥דְתָּ הָאָ֨רֶץ ׀ וַתְּשֹׁ֪קְקֶ֡הָ רַבַּ֬ת תַּעְשְׁרֶ֗נָּה
פֶּ֣לֶג אֱ֭לֹקִים מָ֣לֵא מָ֑יִם
תָּכִ֥ין דְּ֝גָנָ֗ם כִּי־כֵ֥ן תְּכִינֶֽהָ׃

תְּלָמֶ֣יהָ רַ֭וֵּה נַחֵ֣ת
גְּדוּדֶ֑יהָ בִּרְבִיבִ֥ים
תְּ֝מֹגְגֶ֗נָּה צִמְחָ֥הּ תְּבָרֵֽךְ׃

עִ֭טַּרְתָּ שְׁנַ֣ת טוֹבָתֶ֑ךָ
וּ֝מַעְגָּלֶ֗יךָ יִרְעֲפ֥וּן דָּֽשֶׁן׃

יִ֭רְעֲפוּ נְא֣וֹת מִדְבָּ֑ר
וְ֝גִ֗יל גְּבָע֥וֹת תַּחְגֹּֽרְנָה׃

לָבְשׁ֬וּ כָרִ֨ים ׀
הַצֹּ֗אן וַעֲמָקִ֥ים יַֽעַטְפוּ־בָ֑ר
יִ֝תְרוֹעֲע֗וּ אַף־יָשִֽׁירוּ׃

For the Leader. A Psalm. A Song of David.

Praise waits for you, Elohim, in Tsiyon;
and unto you the vow is performed.

You who hears prayer; unto you does all flesh come.

The tale of iniquities is too heavy for me;
as for our transgressions, you will pardon them.

Blessed is the one whom you choose and bring near, that they may dwell in your courts;
may we be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holy place of your temple!

With wondrous works do you answer us in righteousness, elo’ah of our salvation;
You are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of the far distant seas;

Who by your strength sets fast the mountains, who are girded about with might;

Who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the tumult of the peoples;

So that they that dwell in the uttermost parts stand in awe of your signs;
You make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice.

You have remembered the earth, and watered her,
greatly enriching her, with the river of Elohim that is full of water;
You prepare them corn, for so prepare you her.

Watering her ridges abundantly, settling down the furrows thereof,
You makest her soft with showers;
You bless the growth thereof.

You crown the year with your goodness;
and your paths drop fatness.

The pastures of the wilderness do drop;
and the hills are girded with joy.

The meadows are clothed with flocks;
the valleys also are covered over with corn;
they shout for joy, yea, they sing.

Rosh Hashanah LaBehemah wikipedia page containing approbations from rabbis and a decent summary:

Category link to RHLB resources shared through the Open Siddur Project:

Kavvanah for blowing the shofar on RHLB with a community

Printable PDF of kavvanah handout:

Same PDF but formatted as a two-sided 11x17 sheet:

Suggested fun activity with children and adults:

Yiddish song for Tsar Baalei Ḥayyim

Taxonomy of Behemot circa mid-first millennium: Pereq Shirah!

A burial service prayer for a beloved animal

Reb Nosson's Prayer for Sukkot, not to take from the energy of behemot

The Mythic Arc of Predatory Desire in Jewish Legend: primary sources on the origin and end of predation:

Printable PDF of the Mythic Arc pamphlet:​​​​​​​

Rosh Hashanah laBehemot Facebook page:​​​​​​​

image: Aniqa Karim (nickname: Hakima) from Upper Shimshal, village (5200m) keeping a baby goat in her arms. Gilgit, Pakistan. (photo credit: Stelian Pavalache)