NE'ILAH (Heb. נְעִילָה), a worship service deriving from the ritual of the Second Temple, but subsequently recited only on the Day of Atonement as its concluding rite (see Ta'an. 4:1; Ta'an. 26b and tj, Ta'an. 4:167c; tj, Ber. 4:1, 7b–c; Yoma 87b and tj, Yoma 8:8, 45c). It was originally recited on all public fast days, in addition to the Day of Atonement. It also concluded the daily *Ma'amadot, where laymen from provincial communities prayed with their priestly delegates in Jerusalem. The full name of the service is Ne'ilat She'arim ("Closing of the Gates"), referring to the daily closing of the Temple gates. On the Day of Atonement this literal closing (ne'ilat sha'arei heikhal) was associated with the symbolic closing of the heavenly gates, which remained open to prayer until sunset (ne'ilat sha'arei shamayim). Throughout the year, according to the Talmud, Ne'ilah was recited one hour before sunset, when the Temple Gates were closed; on the Day of Atonement, because of its length, Ne'ilah did not begin until close to sunset. Once Ne'ilah was limited to the Day of Atonement, it began before twilight and ended at nightfall.
By the third century Ne'ilah consisted of an *Amidah of seven benedictions, parallel to the other statutory services of the day. It likewise featured confession of sins. Attah yode'a razei olam ("Thou knowest the secrets of the world"), however, and *Al Ḥet were replaced by two prayers unique to the confession in the Ne'ilah service: Attah noten yad le-foshe'im ("Thou stretchest forth Thy hand [in forgiveness] to sinners") and Attah hivdalta enosh ("Thou has distinguished man [from the beast]"). These recapitulate the biblical-talmudic doctrine that God eagerly forgives the truly penitent. In accordance with the rabbinic idea that the divine judgment, inscribed on *Rosh Ha-Shanah, is not sealed until the Day of Atonement ends, the word to "inscribe" (כתב, ktv) (in the Book of Life) is amended to "seal" (חתם, ḥtm). To set it off from the preceding Minḥah service, Ne'ilah is prefaced by Ashrei (Ps. 145) and U-Va le-Ẓiyyon Go'el, which ordinarily introduce Minḥah.
Ne'ilah was eventually embellished with sacred poetry, especially Seliḥot. Impressive melodies heightened the emotional impact of Ne'ilah. The central motif is exhortation to make a final effort to seek forgiveness before the heavenly gates close at sunset. Yet the overall tone is one of confidence, especially in the final litany. The service proper concludes with *Avinu Malkenu and *Kaddish. The entire ritual culminates in responsive proclamations of *Shema, followed by Barukhshem kevod malkhuto, and "The Lord, He is God" (i Kings 18:39). A single shofar blast announces the end of the "Sabbath of Sabbaths."
M. Arzt, Justice and Mercy (1963), 271–86; L. Ginzberg, Perushim ve-Ḥiddushim ba-Yerushalmi, 3 (1941), 67–108; Morgenstern, in: huca, 6 (1929), 12–37; E. Munk, World of Prayer, 2 (1963), 262–7.
"Ne'ilah." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 20, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/neilah
"Ne'ilah." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved March 20, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/neilah
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.