Yekum Purkan

February 26, 2013

Immediately following the blessings recited after the Haftorah, the Shliach Tzibbur (Cantor) ascends the Bimah (Platform) and leads the congregation in Yekum Purkan, “May there be success and salvation…”

Yekum Purkan is a two-paragraph Aramaic tefillah (it is in Aramaic because this was the spoken language of the masses at that time) that prays first for the welfare and well-being of all the Torah leaders of the generation and then for the members of the congregation at large and those actually praying in the synagogue at that time. That is why the first paragraph is written in the third person for all of the world’s Torah leaders, and the second paragraph is written in the second person regarding the actual congregants of the local congregation. Since it was authored after the sealing of the Talmud 1,500 years ago, the leaders mentioned are the heads of Israel and the Jewish community.

There is a third paragraph titled Mi Shebeyrach written in Hebrew (after Aramaic was no longer the spoken language) that acknowledges the love, loyalty and dedication of the communal benefactors who donate time, money and effort towards the functioning of their synagogue. This beautiful tefillah is chanted publicly and harmoniously in order to express gratitude to the supporters and inspire the rest of the congregation to provide whatever support they can to their spiritual home – The Shul.

Since the latter two paragraphs refer specifically to the local congregation and speak directly to them, if for whatever reason a Jew is unable to pray in the synagogue on Shabbat morning he/she should omit the second Yekum Purkan and the Mi Shebeyrach.

Why did the architects of our siddur include The Yekum Purkan trilogy at this point in the service?

One answer is because, practically speaking, it is the time when the largest numbers of congregants are present in the sanctuary Shabbat morning.

Another answer is that since we recite Mi Shebeyrach prayers throughout the Torah service, it makes sense to recite the all inclusive petitions before moving on to Mussaf.

Finally, it seems to me that after the chanting of the Torah and the chanting of the Haftorah, one could come to feel, G-d forbid, disconnected and alone. We no longer have our teacher Moses to teach us at Mount Sinai, we no longer have Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah to share their prophecies as they did in yesteryear. So how are we to live fulfilling and relevant Torah lives that fulfill the will of G-d? Only through the vision and teachings of the national and local leadership of Klal Yisrael together with the support of the Parnassim (Benefactors) who provide programs, institutions and services for Klal Yisrael to function until the days of Messiah. Therefore it is here that we recite: Yekum Purkan.

Take Home Tip: We, the people of Israel should feel and demonstrate appreciation to our leaders and teachers who provide the vision, instruction and energy to support Klal Yisrael from day to day, year to year and generation to generation.