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AZ SHESH MEOT ():

A poem of three stanzas by R. Elias Priscus, introduced in the northern liturgy at the conclusion of the piyyuṭim in the Additional Service on the Feast of Weeks. A paraphrase is given below of the two melodies associated with the poem: both are equally quotations from the music of the Days of Penitence, and afford (the more usually followed intonation especially) an excellent illustration of the hermeneutical feeling by which so much of the traditional melody of the ḥazan has been guided in its shaping. The noble version here transcribed as sung in the "musaf" of the Feast of Weeks is quoted bodily from the same service of the Days of Memorial and of Atonement, where it is associated with that second part of the piyyuṭ "U-netanneh Toḳef," legendarily associated with R. Amnon of Mayence, in which the Talmudical theory (R. H. 16b) of the writing and sealing of man's fate at the commencement and end of the Days of Penitence is rhapsodically developed. Reflecting that the destiny of man is in the end dependent upon his own obedience or disobedience to the Law, some old-time ḥazan considered that he might melodiously emphasize this Jewish doctrine of personal responsibility when singing of the giving of that Law. With this object he chanted "Az Shesh Meot" to the melody of "U-netanneh Toḳef "; and the persistence of the practise shows that his intention was widely understood and appreciated.

The melody transferred already contained within itself a quotation, in the phrase between the points marked here "A" and "B," which had been excerpted from the melody of Kol Nidre. It had been introduced because at that point in the original text mention was made of the Day of Atonement, on which alone "Kol Nidre" is sung. For this employment of a snatch of tune associated with a particular service as a representative theme of some idea suggested by that service or enshrined in the object of the occasion, see the general article Music, Synagogal.

A. F. L. C.AZ SHESH ME'OT
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