A multiplicity of voices

A multiplicity of voices

The six archetypes you meet in the prayer book

Tzvee Zahavy of Teaneck has worked as professor of Jewish studies, religious studies, advanced Talmud, halacha, Jewish law codes, and Jewish liturgy, at major U.S. research universities and seminaries. He has published numerous articles and books about Judaism and Jewish life. He received his Ph.D. from Brown University and his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University. Go to www.tzvee.com for details.


His traits: Studies Torah; an organized record keeper; knows the rewards for keeping commandments; a private person.

His God: Writes in a book who shall live and who shall die.

His High Holy Days Prayer: Unetaneh Tokef, the liturgy of the record book of life and death.

His Daily Prayer: the Sh’ma.


His Traits: Formal, political, public.

His God: Is interested in the priests, Temple, Jerusalem, the sacrifices of the high priest.

His High Holy Days Prayer: Yom Kippur Avodah, the poetic depictions of the service of the priest in the holy of holies in the Temple.

His Daily Prayer: the Amidah.


His traits: Showy and artsy; performs from and parades with the Tanach, the Hebrew Bible, in the synagogue.

His God: Is interested in hearing readings from the books that He inspired, and the ancient traditions, their sounds, and movements.

His High Holy Days Prayer: Musaf Rosh Hashanah: chanting the verses from the Tanach in the Malchiyot, Zichronot, Shofarot sections, and the accompanying sounding of the Shofar.

His Daily Prayer: All of the Torah and Tanach passages in the services


Her traits: Tuned in to this world and practical; finds lovingkindness for herself and for all persons.

Her God: Wants her to recite her blessings which trigger mindful meditations; wants her to bestow and seek compassion.

Her High Holy Days Prayers: Those that seek and foster compassion – Kol Nidre, Selichot.

Her Daily Prayers: blessings and the Birkat Hamazon, Grace after Meals.


Her traits: Flighty and dreamy, head in the clouds.

Her God: Surrounded by Angels, lives in the heavens.

Her High Holy Days Prayers: Kedushah, Kaddish, introduction to the Unetaneh Tokef.

Her Daily Prayers: The Kaddish.


His traits: Competitive and self-confident that we Jews are number one.

His God: His God is number one, soon to the champion over all the other Gods.

His High Holy Days Prayers: the Aleinu and the many other Rosh Hashanah declarations that God is King and will reign over the world.

His Daily Prayers: the Aleinu at the end of every service.

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