- By Jonathan Berger
El Nora Alila, a twelfth-century acrostic piyut by Moshe ibn Ezra, is recited at the start of the powerfully evocative neila service which closes Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Neila (literally ‘the locking’ in Hebrew) affords the congregant and the congregation a final opportunity to own up to transgressions and seek repentance as the doors of heaven are closing and soon to be locked. In a vain attempt to resist the inevitable closing of the doors, the cantor begins the neila service, incanting:
Open the gates for us, as the gates are being closed.
The day is passing.
The day is setting.
The sun will descend and set.
Let us enter Your gates!
Hungry, thirsty, and weary from...