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Start Your Day with ADON OLAM!

01/10/2023 12:38:34 PM


Adon Olam is everyone's favorite prayer, right? It signals the end of the service and the next activity which is the Oneg or Kiddush! It is usually sung to a bouncy, happy tune or a melody stolen from pop music and hardly reflects the spiritual essence of this poem. Adon Olam has been ascribed to the poet Solomon Ibn Gabirol who lived in the 11th century. It might shock you to learn that in most traditional siddurim, including our  own, it is found not only at the end of the morning prayers, but at the very begining to be recited right after putting on a tallit.  That's right, Adon Olam is one of the introductory prayers meant to be read before we even begin the series of morning blessings.  And, WOW, what a burst of spirituality is expressed by this gem of a poem. Have you ever read it? I mean REALLY read it? 

The first half depicts a majestic, all powerful, eternal and remote G!D: 

"Before creation shaped the world, G!D eternal, reigned alone:

but only with creation done could G!D as Sovereign be known. 

When all is ended, G!D alone will reign in awesome majesty.

G!D was, G!D is, always will be glorious in eternity. 

G!D is unique and without peer, with none at all to be compared.

Without beginning, endlessly, G!D's vast dominion is not shared." 

Yet, the second half of the poem brings G!D to a personal, intimate level. Notice the repeated use of the first person possessive pronoun:   

"But still, my G!D,   my only hope, my one true refuge in distress,

my shelter sure, my cup of life, with goodness real and limitless. 

I place my spirit in G!D's care; my body too can feel G!D near.

When I sleep as when I wake, G!D is with ME; I have no fear. "  

(Translation from Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals) 

Still think that snappy tune from your childhood fits the spiritual message of this poem? 

I like to sing Adon Olam in the morning either as the start of my morning tefillah, or even in place of it during those mornings I am stressed for time. Adon Olam reminds me of the place of G!D in my life both as a creator and master AND as my personal watcher or guide. I recently found this beautiful melody which I think expresses the poetry and the spirituality of this taken for granted prayer. I hope it gives you the same spiritual buzz that it gives me and maybe it can also serve as the spiritual start of your day.  


  "Adon Olam by Eitan Katz" 

Mon, July 15 2024 9 Tammuz 5784