“Hashiveinu” “on one foot”:
“Hashiveinu” is the second to last verse of the Book of Eicha / Lamentations, traditionally chanted on Tisha B’Av. It is also part of the Torah Service (at the end of the prayer “Etz Chayim”) and in the Yom Kippur service (in the prayer “Sh’ma Koleinu”). This source sheet looks at the basics of Tisha B’Av, as well as some of the different places that this verse appears throughout the year.
When is Tisha B’Av?
Context: This is from the Biblical Book of Jeremiah, describing the destruction of the First Temple. Note that in the Bible, the first month is Nisan, when we left Egypt, so the fifth month would be Av.
According to this text, when was the Temple destroyed?
Context: This is from the Biblical Book of Second Kings, describing the destruction of the First Temple.
According to this text, when was the Temple destroyed?
Context: This is from the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Ta’anit, which is about fast days. It is explaining a mishnah which talks about the tragedies that happened on the Ninth of Av. One of the tragedies that the Mishnah talks about is the destruction of the First Temple, and the Gemara is trying to prove that from Biblical verses.
What is the problem that the text is trying to resolve?
How does it resolve the issue?
How do we commemorate Tisha B’Av?
Context: This is also from Tractate Ta’anit in the Babylonian Talmud. It is now commenting on a mishnah which talks about what to do and not do on Tisha B’Av. The Sages had further things to say on this matter, and that’s what we’re talking about here.
What aren’t we allowed to do on Tisha B’Av, and why?
What are we allowed to do and why?
Context: This is the beginning of the Biblical Book of Lamentations, called Eicha in Hebrew (named as such because that is the first Hebrew word in the book). It is a set of mostly alphabetical acrostic chapters chanted on Tisha B’Av, and it is chanted in a mournful trope (with a different mournful chanting for the 3rd chapter to knit the 3 mini-verses into one verse). Tradition ascribes this to Jeremiah; whether or not that is the case, it is not disputed that this book is about the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.
Why would this be the book we chant on Tisha B’Av?
Context: This is a recap of Tisha B’Av from BimBam in 2018. “Hashiveinu” is mentioned in 2:10-2:18. The connection to the High Holidays, as epitomized by “Hashiveinu” (which is in the High Holiday liturgy) comes up in 3:34-3:54.
So what’s the connection to the Torah Service?
Context: This is the second to last verse of the Biblical Book of Lamentations (a.k.a. Eicha). When we get to this verse, the reader pauses and everybody chants it first. The verse is repeated after the last verse of Eicha to make sure that we don’t end on a note of reproach.
1. What does this have to do with our lives today?
2. How does this text connect to the idea of resilience?
3. Why might this have been chosen as the last thing we say when the Ark closes in the Torah service?
4. How does this help us transition from the brokenness of Tisha B’Av to Rosh Hashanah?
6. How might the author of Eicha/Lamentations (traditionally ascribed to Jeremiah) have meant these words?
7. How much do you want your life to be changed (new) vs. kept the same (as of old)?
8. How would a migrant family separated at the border view this text?
9. Why might we say this line in the "Shema Koleinu" ("Hear our voice") prayer on Yom Kippur?
10. In Messengers of God (1976), Elie Wiesel writes, “G-d gave Adam a secret - not how to begin, but how to begin again.” How does this quote connect to this text?
11. The word for “take us back” (hashiveinu) is related to the word for “repentance” (teshuvah). Who is in charge of that process - G-d, or us?
12. According to the Bible, the First Temple was destroyed because the Judeans ignored the prophetic message from Jeremiah to return to the Lord’s ways (Jeremiah 34, 38, 42, 52). How does this angle on the text relate to our lives?
13. Which “days of old” would you like your life to be renewed like?
14. Does this connect to the saying “G-d helps those who help themselves?”
15. The first time the Torah uses “Mikedem”, it refers to being in the Garden of Eden, when everything was perfect (Gen. 2:8). The second time, it refers to outside of the Garden of Eden, when we had to work to make things good (Gen. 3:24). Which “Mikedem” do you want your life to be returned to?
16. Rabbi Arthur Waskow reads these words as "Make our days ‘new’ like they were long ago.” Does this resonate with you, and if so, in what way?
17. Rashi (1040-1105, France) comments that we have to say this verse (5:21) again after the last verse of Eicha (5:22), because otherwise we’d be ending on a word of reproof. How is that relevant to our lives today?
18. Ibn Ezra (1089-1167, Spain and Iraq), comments that if G-d returns us to Jerusalem, we will return to serving G-d. What are your thoughts about making this sort of deal with G-d?
Context: This is a tune for “Hashiveinu” written by Meir Ben-Uri (1908-1983). It is appropriate to sing after the reading of Eicha as a “Contemporary Kinnah”.
Context: “Hashiveinu” is chanted in it’s original context at the end of the Book of Eicha / Lamentations in the appropriate Eicha trope in this video. It is the penultimate verse of the book (5:21), and then repeated after the last verse so as to end on a more uplifting note. You can hear it at 2:54-3:10.
With appreciation to: Rachel Leshaw, Sefaria Education, Lauren Herrmann, Maharat Rachel Kohl Finegold, Rabbi David Segal, Miriam Aronin, Cantor Neil Schwartz, Neil Tow, Amy Bardack, Adam Starr, and Ilan Glazer.
Appendix: Musical Versions of Eitz Chayim
This is one of the most common tunes for Eitz Chayim. While the words are from the Bible (Book of Proverbs and Lamentations), this tune was written by Nissan Blumenthal and Samuel Malavsky. Here it is sung by Cantor Azi Schwartz.
This is the other most common tune for Eitz Chayim. It was composed in 1975 by Tanchum Portnoy. This video is how he originally composed it. To see how it is now done, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrimjLcF1bU (by Six13). And here's Staam's version (the Jewish a cappella group at WashU / Washington University in St. Louis): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sdu3DyxvLJU
This is Safam's (Jewish-American rock group) version from their 1993 "On Track" album. This video is from a 1993 concert.