The Baal Shem Tov, or Besht —  the founder of Chasidism — 
met the soul of the Messiah during an ascent to heaven. 
The Besht asked him, "When will the Master come?" 
The Messiah answered, "When your wellsprings break forth to the outside!" 
(from a letter written by the Besht to his brother-in-law about one of his soul ascents) 

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An environmental Al Chet

It's really time to include sins against the environment and against life on the planet in our Yom Kippur liturgy. This prayer is based on the one written by Danny Nevins when we were both in reb school. (He's now the dean of that school.) It was published in lechem tafayl—a great Jewish zine (actually it was pre-zine, but post-samizdat, call it what you will). I've added some new elements to a 2005 revision Danny did, including ecological tweaks and textual references to Sukkot and to some ecologically important verses (e.g., the line "Renew the face of the earth, please, save the weave and fullness of life" which comes from the fifth hakafah of Hoshana Rabbah), while Danny's is sparser and and I know he likes it better.

You can use this prayer (or part of it) anywhere in the Al Chet confessional sections of the Yom Kippur Machzor. Both versions are found below.

Download the NeoHasid version of Al Chet – For the sin of destroying God's creation (reload page if link doesn't work).

Download the Davkawriter fileImportant: If you change the file, make sure "" and the url for this page appear on it, and send us a digital copy.

Download Rabbi Nevins' 2005 version, now also hosted on

If you make copies of the prayer, please send a donation to support this site.

Here's the English translation for the NeoHasid version:

Eternal God, You created earth and heavens with mercy,
and blew the breath of life into animals and humans.
We were created amidst a world of wholeness, a world called "very good," pure and beautiful,
but now your many works are being erased by us from the book of life.
Not by our righteousness do we plead our prayers before You,
Adonai our God, for we have sinned, despoiled, destroyed.

May it be Your will that You help us overcome and make atonement:
For the wrong of filling land and ocean with filth, toxins and garbage;
And for the wrong of extinguishing forever wondrous species
which You saved from the waters of the flood;
For the wrong of razing forests and trees, rivers and mountains,
For the wrong of turning the atmosphere into a chastening rod,
and for the wrong of making desolate the habitats that give life to every living soul.

Open our eyes to see the majesty of Your creation!
Then we will praise you as it is written:
"How manifold are Your works, Adonai!
You made them all with wisdom; the earth is filled with what you hold."

Please Adonai, protect them all,
in the shade of your wings give them refuge.
Renew the face of the earth, please, save the weave and fullness of life.
Please Adonai, remove the heart of stone from our flesh,
and set within us a heart of flesh, that we may behold the Godly therein.
Grant us wisdom and courage to heal and to watch over this garden of life,
to make it thrive under the heavens.



Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006