Leonard Cohen
19 Sep 2017

Who by Fire?


Leonard Cohen“Personalize your prayer,” is easier said than done. Particularly the rarefied peaks of prayer on the lofty day of Yom Kippur.

How to proceed?

The Yom Kippur digest for the Happy New You teleconference series includes exercises and Suggested Steps on how to access the prayers U’netaneh Tokef (Who by Fire) and Ki Hinei Ke’Chomer (Behold, as Clay.) I wanted to give the participants in the group numerous gates or windows into the prayer. One of those was the gateway of song.

Here is Leonard Cohen’s remarkable rendition of Who by Fire, and Chava Alberstein’s soulful performance of Behold, as Clay.

But first, the words from the original U’netaneh Tokef. (You can read the stirring story of Rabbi Amnon, the author of this prayer, here.)

“On Rosh Hashana they are inscribed, and on the fast day of Yom Kippur they are sealed.
How many will pass away and how many will be born?
Who will live and who will die?
Who will live out his allotted time and who will depart before his time?
Who by water and who by fire?
Who by the sword and who by wild beast?
Who by hunger and who by thirst?
Who by earthquake and who by pestilence?
Who by strangulation and who by lapidating?
Who will be at rest and who will wander?
Who will be tranquil and who will be harassed?
Who will enjoy well-being and who will suffer tribulation?
Who will be poor and who will be rich?
Who will be humbled and who will be exalted.”

Here’s Leonard Cohen’s version of U’netaneh Tokef:

Here is Chava Alberstein’s version of Ki Hinei Ke’Chomer, “Behold as Clay”


The Happy New You series includes videos, downloadable audio lesson and meditations, 4 12-18 page handouts with articles, laws and customs and Suggested Steps, 2 live teleconferences and access to a group forum.