אנא בכח | Ana b’Koaḥ, a 42 letter name piyyut (singing translation by Reb Zalman z”l)

Initials (Hebrew) Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

 
 
אב״ג ית״ץ

אָנָּא בְּכֹחַ
גְּדֻלַּת יְמִינְךָ
תַּתִּיר צְרוּרָה
Source of Mercy
With loving strength
untie our tangles.

 
 
קר״ע שט״ן

קַבֵּל רִנַּת
עַמְּךָ שַׂגְּבֵנוּ
טַהֲרֵנוּ נוֹרָא
Your chanting folk
raise high, make pure,
accept our song.

 
 
נג״ד יכ״ש

נָא גִבּוֹר,
דּוֹרְשֵׁי יִחוּדְךָ,
כְּבָבַת שָׁמְרֵם
Like Your own eye
Lord keep us safe,
Who union seek with You.

 
 
בט״ר צת״ג

בָּרְכֵם טַהֲרֵם,
רַחֲמֵי צִדְקָתְךָ,
תָּמִיד גָּמְלֵם
Cleanse and bless us,
Infuse us ever
With loving care.

 
 
חק״ב טנ״ע

חָסִין קָדוֹשׁ,
בְּרֹב טוּבְךָ,
נַהֵל עֲדָתֶךָ
Gracious source
Oh holy power!
Do guide your folk.

 
 
יג״ל פז״ק

יָחִיד גֵּאֶה,
לְעַמְּךָ פְּנֵה,
זוֹכְרֵי קְדֻשָּׁתֶךָ
Sublime and holy One
Do turn to us,
Of holy chant.

 
 
שק״ו צי״ת

שַׁוְעָתֵנוּ קַבֵּל,
וּשְׁמַע צַעֲקָתֵנוּ,
יוֹדֵעַ תַּעֲלוּמוֹת
Receive our prayer,
Do hear our cry,
Who secrets knows.

[בלחש] בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם
כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ
לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד:‏
[whisper] Through time and space
Your glory shines.
Majestic One

To Rebbi Neḥunyah ben haQanah is commonly attributed the composition of אנא בכח, the initials of which form a forty-two-lettered divine name, due to a reference to a piyyut used as a circumlocution for its utterance in Sefer Peliah (also attributed to Rebbi Neḥunyah but likely written by 13th century Qabbalists within the lineage of their tradition). Rebbi Neḥunyah ben haQanah< is considered to have been a chief transmitter of an esoteric Jewish lineage in antiquity, the Yordei Merqavah (Descenders to the Chariot). The author of the Bahir and of the Sefer ha-Peli’ah has also been attributed to him. See Rabbeinu Bachya’s commentary on Leviticus 16:30, in which he shares the significance of the first three letters of this prayer. At neohasid.org, Rabbi David Seidenberg has collected a handful of niggunim for singing this prayer including the tune offered by Reb Zalman. For more on the 42 letter divine name and Ana B’Koaḥ, please enjoy Ben Newman’s article, here. Regarding the attribution to Rebbi Neḥunyah , he writes:

In some siddurim and books this prayer is referred to as ‘The prayer of Nehunah b. Hakanah,’ a tanna of the second generation of the Tannaim. However, this prayer is not mentioned in the writings of the rabbis, not in the Mishnah, not in the two Talmuds, and not in the Midrash Halakha or Aggadah. If the editor of the prayer “Ana be-Koach” was the tanna R’ Nehunia b. Hakanah, it is a wondrous thing, how the prayer became known to the community only in the late Middle Ages. For it does not appear in the Siddur of R’ Amram Gaon, or in the Siddur of R’ Sa’adia Gaon, or in Machzor Vitri, or in the Machzor of Varmisa….or in the Abudraham, or in the Siddur of R’ Hertz Shatz…Also, in many other ancient siddurim and machzorim it is absent…Also though the Sefer HaKanah refers to the 42 letter name it does not refer to “Ana be-Koach.”…It seems that when they attribute this prayer to R’ Nehunia b. Hakanah, they are referring to the order of the letters avgitatz…these are what are attributed to R’ Nehunia b. Hakanah…[1]From Ben Newman: “For this reference in Isaac of Acco, see his supercommentary to Ramban’s Torah commentary, Meirat Einayim pp. 152-155 (ed. Goldreich). Also see Tikkuney Zohar 19, p. 40a”

Notes   [ + ]

  1. From Ben Newman: “For this reference in Isaac of Acco, see his supercommentary to Ramban’s Torah commentary, Meirat Einayim pp. 152-155 (ed. Goldreich). Also see Tikkuney Zohar 19, p. 40a”

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