For We Are Your People / Ki Anu Amecha

What kind of guidance do you need most right now? This piyyut (liturgical poem), recited on Yom Kippur, provides many different metaphors for the relationship between God and God's people. This prayer points out the ways that the relationship is a two way street. A king needs subjects, a shepherd needs a flock, and similarly, we serve many different purposes for the Divine.

כִּי אָֽנוּ עַמֶּֽךָ וְאַתָּה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ. אָֽנוּ בָנֶֽיךָ וְאַתָּה אָבִֽינוּ: אָֽנוּ עֲבָדֶֽיךָ וְאַתָּה אֲדוֹנֵֽנוּ. אָֽנוּ קְהָלֶֽךָ וְאַתָּה חֶלְקֵֽנוּ: אָֽנוּ נַחֲלָתֶֽךָ וְאַתָּה גוֹרָלֵֽנוּ. אָֽנוּ צֹאנֶֽךָ וְאַתָּה רוֹעֵֽנוּ: אָֽנוּ כַרְמֶּֽךָ וְאַתָּה נוֹטְרֵֽנוּ. אָֽנוּ פְעֻלָּתֶֽךָ וְאַתָּה יוֹצְרֵֽנוּ: אָֽנוּ רַעְיָתֶֽךָ וְאַתָּה דוֹדֵֽנוּ. אָֽנוּ סְגֻלָּתֶֽךָ וְאַתָּה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ. אָֽנוּ עַמֶּֽךָ וְאַתָּה מַלְכֵּֽנוּ: אָֽנוּ מַאֲמִירֶֽיךָ וְאַתָּה מַאֲמִירֵֽנוּ:
For we are Your people; and You are our God. We are Your children; and You are our Father. We are Your servants; and You are our Master. We are Your congregation; and You are our Portion. We are Your inheritance; and You are our Destiny. We are Your flock; and You are our Shepherd. We are Your vineyard; and You are our Keeper. We are Your work; and You are our Creator. We are Your dear ones and You are our Beloved. We are Your treasure; and You are our God. We are Your people; and You are our King. We are Your distinguished ones; and You are our Distinction.

Reflecting:

  • Which metaphor resonates most with you? Why?
  • Think about something in your life for which you feel responsible. How would you describe yourself relative to that responsibility?
  • Many of the terms used to describe God in this poem have a rich history in Jewish sources. One example is the reference to God as our shepherd, which is an echo of Psalm 23, which begins: "The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing." This psalm extends the metaphor, describing what it is like to be guided by Divine as we walk through our lives. Have you ever had a spiritual moment or a sense of guidance as you make choices and choose a path? Or, have you ever had a moment of wishing for this guidance? Describe that moment.
  • In Hebrew, this prayer is an alphabetical acrostic. Each pair of nouns begins with a different letter of the alphabet. Try writing verses in English using different letters of the alphabet. Follow the form: We are Your ________ and You are our ______________.