Girish Mahajan (Editor)

El Nora Alila

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El Nora Alila (Hebrew: אל נורא עלילה‎‎) (also transliterated as Ayl Nora Alilah ) is a piyyut (liturgical poem) that begins the Ne'ilah service at the conclusion of Yom Kippur. The piyyut is recited as part of the Sephardic and Mizrahi liturgy, and has been adopted into Ashkenazic Yom Kippur services as well.

The English translation offered below is a lyric rendering, reproducing a rhyme similar to the Hebrew. A more literal translation makes the title and recurring line, "God of awesome deeds". It consists of seven stanzas, each stanza consisting of four lines of five syllables to the line. Each line (in Hebrew) has three words and the fourth line is always two words, "as Thy gates are closed at night" – the gates being shut are presumably those of Heaven's gates for receiving prayers of repentance, and the hymn is one last impassioned plea for Divine pardon in the very last minutes of the Day of Atonement. The initial letters of the first six stanzas of the piyyut spell out משה חזק, "Moses, may he be strong", in reference to the piyyut's author Moses ibn Ezra (12th century Spain).

The melody for El Nora Alila is generally sprightly, as is much of the Ne'ilah service, deliberately, coming at the end of a 25-hour fast, when the congregants are probably feeling fatigue and weakness.

References

El Nora Alila Wikipedia


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