כחומר ביד היוצר (like clay in the hands of the potter)

O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? says God . Behold, as the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. (Jeremiah 18:6)

One of my favorite piyuttim is “Like Clay in the Hands of the Potter,” usually recited on Rosh Hashana in Askenazic communities.

Listen and read the Hebrew text at the Invitation to Piyyut website, a great resource for all things piyyut.

Like the clay in the hand of the potter-
he expands it at will and contracts it at will-
so are we in Your hand, O Preserver of kindness,
look at the covenant and ignore the Accuser.

Like the stone in the hand of the cutter-
he grasps it at will and smashes it at will-
so are we in Your hand, O Source of life and death,
look to the covenant and ignore the Accuser.

Like the ax-head in the hand of the blacksmith-
he forges it at will and removes it at will-
so are we in Your hand,
O Supporter of poor and destitute,
look at the covenant and ignore the Accuser.

Like the anchor in the hand of the sailor-
he holds it at will and casts it at will-
so are we in Your hand,
O good and forgiving God,
look to the covenant and ignore the Accuser.

Like the glass in the hand of the blower-
he shapes it at will and dissolves it at will-
so are we in Your hand,
O Forgiver of willful sins and errors,
look to the covenant and ignore the Accuser.

Like the curtain in the hand of the embroiderer-
he makes it even at will and makes it uneven at will-
so are we in Your hand,
O jealous and vengeful God,
look to the covenant and ignore the Accuser.

Like the silver in the hands of the silversmith-
he adulterates it at will and purifies it at will-
so are we in Your hand,
O Creator of cure for disease,
look to the covenant and ignore the Accuser.

This is, to my mind, a very intimate piyyut, expressing how much we are, with our fragile existence and at this very moment, in the hands of the Kadosh Baruch Hu, the Blessed One.  While this could be seen as an invitation to passivity, I find it comforting: I might have ideas and go my way, but in the end, I know I am never alone (well, in my good moments I know that).

Rabbi Artson from the Ziegler Rabbinical School or whatever it is called now has written about this piyyut in Tikkun.

Tsom kal (an easy fast) to those who will begin their fast today.

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