Watch: Ki Hinei Kachomer – Yaakov ‘Yanky’ Lemmer | כי הנה כחומר – יעקב למר


Composed by: Moshe Oisher
לחן משה אוישר

Recorded at the 26th Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków 2018.

The Bells Vocal Ensemble, conducted by Maestro Yossi Schwartz and Menachem Bristowski at the piano. Produced by Yossi Notkowitz – Haleluya Productions.

The piyyut – Ki Hinei Kachomer – Behold [we are] as clay in the hand of the Potter – was composed by an unknown author possibly in the twelfth century. The piyyut is based on a biblical theme which appears first in Isaiah, (64:7-8) “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and we are all the work of Your hand.” This theme reappears in the book of Jeremiah. The prophet has been told by God to go down to the potter’s house and there to hear God’s words. He does so and sees the potter working at his wheel, and how he sculpts the clay. Then God speaks to him: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter? says the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.” (Jer. 18:6).

The author of the piyyut commences with the words, “Ki hinei kachomer beyad hayotser – behold [we are] as clay in the hand of the Potter,” (the word yotser is a general word for craftsman or creator). He then continues the theme with God as a different artisan in each verse, shaping us with whichever medium the craftsman works with. The author emphasizes the helplessness and passivity of man. Each verse ends with the plea, “laberit habet, ve’al tefen layetser – look at the covenant, not at the sin.”

כִּי הִנֵּה כַּחֹמֶר בְּיַד הַיּוֹצֵר
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ מַרְחִיב וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְקַצֵּר
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ חֶסֶד נוֹצֵר
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כִּי הִנֵּה כָּאֶבֶן בְּיַד הַמְסַתֵּת
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ אוֹחֵז וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְכַתֵּת
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ מְחַיֶּה וּמְמוֹתֵת
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כִּי הִנֵּה כַּגַּרְזֶן בְּיַד הֶחָרָשׁ⁠
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ דִּבֵּק לָאוּר וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ פֵּרַשׁ⁠
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ תּוֹמֵךְ עָנִי וָרָשׁ⁠
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר


  1. Moishe Oisher, who composed the song, would make plays that openly mocked frumkeit. I’m not sure why it’s acceptable for a frum singer to sing his compositions.


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