“Hashkiveinu” “on one foot”:
“Hashkiveinu” is a prayer in the evening service asking G-d for protection at night. For more on the prayer, see: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/hashkiveinu-seeking-comfort-and-protection-through-the-night/
The Text of the Prayer
הַַשְׁכִּיבֵנוּ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ לְשָׁלוֹם, וְהַעֲמִידֵנוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ (שׁוֹמְרֵנוּ) לְחַיִּים וּפְרוֹשׂ עָלֵינוּ סֻכַּת שְׁלוֹמֶךָ, וְתַקְּנֵנוּ בְּעֵצָה טוֹבָה מִלְּפָנֶיךָ, וְהוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ לְמַעַן שְׁמֶךָ, וְהָגֵן בַּעַדֵנוּ, וְהָסֵר מֵעָלֵינוּ אוֹיֵב, דֶבֶר, וְחֶרֶב, וְרָעָב וְיָגוֹן, וְהָסֵר שָׂטָן מִלְפָנֵינוּ וּמֵאַחֲרֵנוּ, וּבְצֵל כְּנָפֶיךָ תַּסְתִּירֵנוּ. כִּי אֵל מַלְכֵּנוּ (שׁוֹמְרֵנוּ) וּמַצִּילֵנוּ אָתָּה, כִּי אֵל מֶלֶךְ חַנּוּן וְרַחוּם אָתָּה, וּשְׁמוֹר צֵאתֵנוּ וּבוֹאֵנוּ, לְחַיִּים וּלְשָׁלוֹם, מֵעַתָּה וְעַד עוֹלָם.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, שׁוֹמֵר עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל לָעַד
וּפְרֹשׂ עָלֵינוּ סֻכַּת שְׁלוֹמֶךָ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, הַפּוֹרֵשׂ סֻכַּת שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ וְעַל כָּל עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְעַל יְִרוּשָׂלָיִם.
Cause us to lie down to peace, Adonai our God, and raise us up to life, our Sovereign (protector), and spread over us the shelter of your peace, and direct us with good advice before You, and save us for the sake of your name, and look out for us, and keep enemies, plagues, swords, famines, and troubles from our midst, and remove Satan from in front of us and from behind us, and cradle us in the shadow of your wings, for You are God who guards us and saves us, for You are God. Our gracious and merciful sovereign (protector). Guard our departure and our arrival, to/for life and to/for peace, from now and ever more.
Blessed are You, Adonai, who guards G-d’s People Israel forever.
And spread over us the shelter of your peace. Blessed are You, Adonai, who spreads a shelter of peace over us, over all of G-d’s people Israel, and over Jerusalem.
Context: This prayer is found in the evening service (Ma’ariv) on both weekdays and Shabbat/Festivals. It does not have an equivalent in the morning service because there are parts of nighttime that are extra scary.
What parts of this prayer resonate with you?
Where does Hashkiveinu Belong?
Context: This comes from the Mishnah, from Tractate Brachot, which is about blessings and prayers.
Why would it be helpful to delineate the order of the prayers?
Context: This is from the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Brachot, commenting on the very first mishnah in the Talmud. That mishnah discusses when one can say that evening Shema. In order to make sure that people don’t forget to say the evening Shema, Rabbi Yochanan says that if somebody says the evening Shema during their evening prayers, and then says the “blessing of redemption” (Mi Chamocha), and then says the Amidah, they get a spot in the World-to-Come. In our source, Mar son of Ravina points out that Hashkiveinu seems to be getting the way of this plan.
What would be the connection between Hashkiveinu and redemption?
Context: This is from Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, in this case the section on Prayer, where he summarizes all of the rules in the Talmud without any of the discussion. It should look familiar from what we’ve seen already.
Context: The Beit Yosef was written by Rabbi Joseph Caro in the 1500s (written between 1522 and 1542). It is his attempt to summarize and recategorize all rabbinic writings in the preceding 1300 years (starting with the Mishnah). It was a long and detailed text, and later he wrote the Cliffnotes version which he called the Shulchan Aruch. Orach Chayim is the section (of both of them) about prayers and holidays. In this part, Rabbi Caro is trying to explain why “Hashkiveinu” counts as part of the “Redemption” prayer.
There are different ways to view a prayer, all of which can co-exist simultaneously. Does this angle on the prayer resonate for you?
Let’s Approach from a Different Angle
Context: This is from the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sotah, which is about women accused of sexual misconduct. The Mishnah discusses consequences and how they are appropriate, and then gives Biblical examples of appropriate consequences. After Rabbi Hama, son of Rabbi Hanina explains one of those Biblical examples, we get another Biblical explanation that he provided.
What does this text tell us about the relationship between how G-d behaves and how we should behave?
Context: This is the Hashkiveinu prayer that we saw earlier.
1. This prayer is only said in the evening service. Why do we only say it at night? And for whom must it ring especially true?
2. The Hebrew phrase for "shelter of peace" is "sukkat shalom". Why is a sukkah invoked instead of a house?
3. If you were rewriting the "Shield us from" sentence today, what would you include?
4. How does Sotah 14a inform your reading of this prayer?
5. What are some actions you can work into your current routine based on this text from the siddur?
As you listen to these renditions, please think about what what additional or different meaning these versions hold for you. What do they make you think of? How do they make you feel?
Biblical and Theological Influences
Questions for Discussion
1. Why do you think darkness existed before light?
2. How could light exist when the sun wasn't yet created until the 4th day?
3. What is the relationship between the darkness and light of the 9th Plague and darkness and lights of creation?
4. How might the language of Hashkiveinu (and some of its creative interpretations) speak to the concepts of darkness in these toraitic texts.
מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ, מֶלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּם, שֶׁהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְּחֶמְלָה רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ
I give thanks before You, ever-living Sovereign, for you have restored my soul to me in mercy: How great is your faith [in me]!
The morning blessing reflects the pre-scientific and child-like belief that falling asleep is dangerous. Not only is night time filled with all sorts of dangers––animals, bandits, blindness––but the ancients believed that when someone loses consciousness, a piece of them actually dies. Each morning when they wake up, their nefesh, their soul is restored to them.
Appendix A: Creative Alternatives to Hashkiveinu
LET THERE BE LOVE
Let there be love and understanding among us. Let peace and friendship be our shelter
from life's storms. Adonai, help us to walk with good companions, to live with hope in our hearts and eternity in our thoughts, that we may lie down in peace and rise up waiting to do Your will
(Mishkan T’filah, 161)
GIVE US A PLACE TO REST
Give us a place to rest, Adonai, our God. Bring us into shelter in the soft, long, evening shadows of Your truth. For with You are true protection and safety, and in Your Presence are acceptance and gentle love. Watch over us as we go forth. Prepare for us as we return. Spread over us Your shelter of peace, over all we love ––over Jerusalem and Yours
(Mishkan T'filah , 161)
Sometimes I lay
Under the moon
And thank God I'm breathing
Then I pray
Don't take me soon
'Cause I am here for a reason
Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it'll all turn around because
All my life I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
For the people to say
That we don't wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
(Matisyahu, One Day)
With appreciation to: Josh Franklin (whose sheet “Hashkiveinu” provided the structure for this one), Yair Kosowsky-Sachs, Sylvia Rothschild, and Cantor Liz Berke