בסיעתא דשמיא

רות | Megillat Ruth with Yiddish translation by Yehoyesh Blumgarten

For the reading of Megillat Ruth on Shavuot, I have presented here the Masoretic text of Ruth according to the R’ Seth (Avi) Kaddish’s experimental Miqra ‘al pi haMesorah side-by-side with Yehoyesh (Yehoash) Blumgarten’s masterful translation in Yiddish. . . .

מגילת איכה | Megillat Eikhah (Lamentations) for Tisha B’Av by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org, 2015)

[For this translation, I used] two translations of Laments, [and] the book of mourning poems read on Tish’a B’Av. Chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5 were translated by Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg, with attention to the principles of the Buber-Rosenzweig Bible. This translation strives to be “concordant” by translating related Hebrew words with related English words, and by following the order and syntax of the Hebrew as much as possible. In some cases alternate translations are given, indicated by a slash. This translation also focuses on the more physical, earthy meaning of words, drawing the reader from modern thought patterns towards more ancient ways of seeing and feeling. Chapter 3 is partly retranslated from James Moffat’s 1922 translation. Moffat followed the principles of “idiomatic” translation, recasting the Hebrew according to the word order, meaning, and sense of everyday English. Moffat, more than most idiomatic translators, evokes the emotional depth of the Hebrew. For brief essays on the theology of Eikhah and links to songs, see the end of this booklet. . . .

מגילת יהודית | Megillat Yehudit (before 1402 CE)

Below we have made a faithful transcription of the text of the medieval Megillat Yehudith (the Scroll of Judith), not to be confused with the deutero-canonical Book of Judith, authored in Antiquity. We have further set this text side-by-side with the English translation made by Susan Weingarten, originally published as “Food, Sex, and Redemption in Megillat Yehudit: Appendix to Chapter 6,” in Sword of Judith. ed., Kevin R. Brine, Elena Ciletti, Henrike Lähnemann (Open Book Publishers, 2010) p.110-125. Our transcription sources are the same as Dr. Weingarten’s: A.M. Habermann’s transcribed text in “Megillat yehudit le-omrah be-hanukkah,” Mahanayim 52 (1961), pp. 42–47, and the “Midrash No.8” found in A.M. Dubarle’s Judith: formes et sens des diverses traditions II: textes (Rome, 1966), pp. 140–53. Dubarle provided section numbers by which the extant variations of the midrashim for Judith might be compared. As Dr. Weingarten notes, Dubarle only transcribed the second portion of the only extant manuscript. We have provided his section numbers in curly brackets. “Missing” numbers refer to portions of the story appearing outside the Megillah in the other variations transcribed by Dubarle. (Please refer to Dubarle’s work for these.) We are grateful to Dr. Weingarten and to Open Book Publishers for sharing their work under an Open Content license. Please read Dr. Weingarten’s complete chapter in Sword of Judith for additional context. . . .

סדר לקריאת מגילת העצמאות | Reading of the Israeli Declaration of Independence

Jews have read sacred texts to commemorate miracles of redemption for a long time. Purim has Megilat Esther. Many communities read Megilat Antiochus or Megilat Yehudit for Chanukah. But to many modern Jews, the most miraculous redemption in recent history was the founding of the state of Israel, as we commemorate on Yom haAtzmaut. Like Purim, the story of the founding of Israel was entirely secular on a surface level, with no big showy miracles like a sea splitting or a mountain aflame. Like Chanukah, a Jewish state in the land of Israel won its independence against mighty forces allied in opposition. But we don’t have a megillah to read for Yom haAtzmaut. Or do we? Just as Megillat Esther is said to be a letter written by Mordekhai to raise awareness of the events of Shushan, so too does the Israeli Scroll of Independence, Megilat haAtzmaut, raise awareness of the events of the founding of the State of Israel. In this vein, I decided to create a cantillation system for Megilat haAtzmaut. Ta’amei miqra were chosen attempting to follow Masoretic grammatical rules – since modern Hebrew has a different grammatical structure, the form is somewhat loose. Because of the thematic similarities to Purim, I chose Esther cantillation for the majority of the text. Just as some tragic lines in Esther are read in Eikhah cantillation, some lines regarding the Shoah or bearing grim portents for the wars to follow are to be sung in Eikhah cantillation. And the final phrases of chapters II and III are to be sung in the melody for the end of a book of the Chumash, or the Song of the Sea melody. They can be done in a call-and-response form, with the community reading and the reader repeating. . . .

פורים | Seder Megillat Esther for Purim

The Open Siddur Project is pleased to offer the world the first freely licensed Seder Megillat Esther. We would like to thank our contributors: the Jewish Publication Society for sharing an authoritative digital edition of their 1917 English Translation of the TaNaKh (The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text), Christopher Kimball and the Westminster Leningrad Codex digitzation project for an authoritative digital text of the TaNaKh. We would also like to thank Rabbi Rallis Wiesenthal for his contribution of the Siddur Bnei Ashkenaz, Shmueli Gonzales for his transcriptions of siddurim witnessing the Nusach Ha-Ari, and Aharon Varady, the editor of opensiddur.org and founder of the Open Siddur Project. If you have any free licensed resources representing other nuschaot and minhagim, please share them. . . .

פורים | Learn the Kriyat Megillat Esther with Rabbi Hillel Yisraeli-Lavery

The following seven lessons by Rabbi Hillel Ḥayim Yisraeli-Lavery to help the student prepare for their reading of Megillat Esther. The nusaḥ taught is Israeli style Ashkenaz-Lithuanian. . . .

פורים | Ta’amei Hamiqra (cantillation) for Megillat Esther

For aspiring ba’al koreh (readers) of Megillat Esther studying its various styles of cantillation (Hebrew, ta’amei hamiqra or in Yiddish, trope), a fair number of recordings are popping up online, but only one so far is being shared with a free/libre, copyleft license thanks to Gabriel Seed, lead developer of zemirotdatabase.org. The audio file is free to redistribute and remix under the CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported license. We’re honored to share Gabriel’s recording of a zarqa table for Megillat Esther read in the Nusaḥ Ashkenaz style. Megillat Esther – Ta’amei Hamiqra: MP3 | OGG . . .

מגילת איכה | Megillat Eikhah (Lamentations) for Tisha B’Av by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org, 2015)

The idea that tragedy and disaster are punishment for our sins is alien to most most modern Jews. The author(s) of Eikhah believed that what happened to Zion was divine punishment. (This is one reason why it is hard to connect the Holocaust with what we mourn on Tish’a B’av.) Besides the obvious consolation of believing that the tragedy had meaning, the reader might also consider that for the ancients, the two choices were to believe that the destruction was punishment, or that God simply had no interest in them. It is easy to imagine why people would choose the image of a punishing God over the complete absence of God – though the latter possibility is suggested in the very last line of the text, before we go back to repeat the more comforting line “Turn us…” . . .


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