End of Neilah / The Locking of the Gates

What do you want to focus on during the last few minutes of Yom Kippur? The word "neilah" literally means "locking." The gates of heaven have been opened for this holiday, and now they are about to close. During these final moments of the holiest day of the year, the liturgy provides a few short declarations of faith that are recited by the prayer leader and repeated by the congregation. There is a sense of urgency in the recitation, echoed by the blast of the shofar, following by rejoicing at the thought that all is well and we will be together in Jerusalem in the future.

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ יְהֹוָה אֶחָד:

בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד:

יְהוָֹה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים:

תקיעה גדולה:

לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם:

The Chazzan says the following once, and it is repeated by the congregation:

Hear Yisrael, Adonoy is our God, Adonoy is One.”

The Chazzan says the following three times, and it is repeated by the congregation:
Blessed [is His] Name, Whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever. The Chazzan says the following seven times, and is repeated by the congregation:
Adonoy, He is God.

The Chazzan recites the Kaddish...
One blast of the shofar is sounded.
Next year in Jerusalem!

Reflecting:

  • What are you focusing on during the last few moments of this holiday?
  • "Shema" is a prayer that asks those around us to hear and to listen. What ideas do you most want to make heard in the world in the coming year? What are you listening for?
  • The sound of the shofar has many meanings in Biblical and Rabbinic literature. It is a call to battle, or the sound that is heard in the jubilee year when all slaves are freed, or a wailing cry asking God for help. What do you hear in the shofar's call at this moment?
  • When you envision yourself in a year, where do you see yourself? What changes do you envision? What steps will you take in the coming year to make these changes a reality?