מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה | Ma Nishtana, a Spanish-Portuguese Qina for Ngereb Tishnga beAḅ

This qina is recited in the Spanish-Portuguese rite (as practiced in the Snoge in Amsterdam, the Bevis Marks Synagogue in London, and Shearith Israel in New York City among many other communities) at the conclusion of the recitation of qinot on the evening of the Ninth of Aḅ. Its refrain, taken from the Four Questions of the Passover liturgy, is reframed as a reflection of the suffering of such a day, contrasting the celebration of salvation on Passover with the fear and desolation of the fast day.

Along with a new modern translation, the editor has included a transliteration based on the traditional Spanish-Portuguese pronunciation system, in which:

  • ע is pronounced /ŋ/ like the ‘ng’ in “singing”
  • בּ and בֿ are both pronounced /b/
  • צ is pronounced /s/, not /ts/
  • in some communities, especially Dutch ones, גֿ is pronounced /χ/ and transcribed “gh”

This qina was sourced by Isaac Treuherz. (Thank you!)


Source (Hebrew) Transliteration (S&P) Translation (English)

אֲלֵיכֶם עֵדָה קְדוֹשָׁה אֶשְׁאַל מִכֶּם שְׁאֵלוֹת
מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל־הַלֵּילוֹת׃
Aleikhem, ngeda qedosha, esh’al mi-kem sheelot:
Ma nishtana ha-láyla ha-ze mi-kol ha-leylot?
To you, holy congregation, I ask you these questions:
What makes this night different from all other nights?

מַדּֽוּעַ בְּלֵיל פֶּֽסַח אוֹכְלִים מַצּוֹת וּמְרֹרִים
עַתָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה שָׂבַֽעְנוּ בוּז וּמְרֹרִים
עַל הֶֽרֶג הַכְּשֵׁרִים וְעַל זֶֽרַע יְשָׁרִים
עַל כֵּן בִּבְכִי תַמְרוּרִים אֶשָׂא קוֹלִי כְּחוֹלוֹת׃
מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל־הַלֵּילוֹת׃
Madúang be-leyl Pésaḥ okhelim maṣot u-merorim
Ngata ha-láyla ha-ze sabángnu buz u-merorim
Ngal héregh ha-kesherim ve-ngal zérang yesharim
Ngal ken bi-bekhi tamerurim esa qoli ke-ḥolot.
Ma nishtana ha-láyla ha-ze mi-kol ha-leylot?
Why, on Passover night, do we eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs,
but now—on this night—we are full of shame and bitterness?
For the death of the proper ones, for the seed of the upright,
Therefore, with bitter weeping I raise my voice like the sick.
What makes this night different from all other nights?

מַדּֽוּעַ בְּלֵיל פֶּֽסַח שֻׁלְחָן עָרוּ בְּשִׂמְחָה
עַתָּה בַעֲו‌ֹנוֹתֵֽינוּ בְּלֵיל זֶה קוֹל אֲנָחָה
אֲהָהּ כִּי לֹא מָצִֽינוּ לְכַף רַגְלֵֽנוּ מְנוּחָה
אוֹי כִּי בָֽאָה צָרָה עַל כֵּן אֶשְׁכַּח מְחוֹלוֹת׃
מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל־הַלֵּילוֹת׃
Madúang be-leyl Pésaḥ shulḥan ngaru be-simḥa
Ngata ba-ngavonoténu be-leyl ze qol anaḥa
Ahah, ki lo maṣínu le-khaf raghlénu menuḥa
Oy, ki ba’a ṣara, ngal ken eshkaḥ meḥolot.
Ma nishtana ha-láyla ha-ze mi-kol ha-leylot?
Why, on Passover night, do we set the table with joy,
but now, in our iniquities—on this night—a groaning voice?
Alas, that we have not found rest for the sole of our foot.
Woe, that trouble has come, therefore I forget dancing.
What makes this night different from all other nights?

מַדּֽוּעַ בְּלֵיל פֶּֽסַח שׁוֹתִים כּוֹסוֹת בִּבְרָכָה
עַתָּה אֲנַֽחְנוּ בְּלֵיל זֶה נִקְרָא מְגִלַּת אֵיכָה
אֵיכָה בְּגָלוּת יָשַֽׁבְתִי וּבָֽאתִי אֶֽרֶץ מְבוּכָה
לָכֵן אֲנִי עַל כָּֽכָה אֲעוֹרֵר קוֹל יְלָלוֹת׃
מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל־הַלֵּילוֹת׃
Madúang be-leyl Pésaḥ shotim kosot bi-brakha
Ngata anáḥnu be-leyl ze niqra meghilat Eikha
Eikha be-ghalut yashábti u-báti éreṣ mebukha
Lakhen ani ngal kákha angorer qol yelalot
Ma nishtana ha-láyla ha-ze mi-kol ha-leylot?
Why, on Passover night, do we drink cups in blessing,
but now, we—on this night—read the scroll of Lamentations?
I lament how in exile I dwell, and I come to a land of weeping.
Thus, about this I raise my voice and wail.
What makes this night different from all other nights?

מַדּֽוּעַ בְּלֵיל פֶּֽסַח קוֹרִין תָּמִיד הַגָּדָה
עַתָּה נֹאמַר בְּלֵיל זֶה בְּכִי תַּמְרוּר וּקְפָדָה
אֽוֹיָה כִּי גַֽרְתִּי מֶֽשֶׁךְ וּבָא עֵת פְּקוּדָה
אוֹי עַל קִרְיָה חֲמוּדָה וְעַל בָּתֵּי תְפִלּוֹת׃
מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל־הַלֵּילוֹת׃
Madúang be-leyl Pésaḥ qorin tamid Hagada
Ngata nomar be-leyl ze bekhi tamerur u-qefada
Óya ki ghárti Méshekh u-ba nget pequda
Oy ngal qirya ḥamuda ve-ngal batey tefilot.
Ma nishtana ha-láyla ha-ze mi-kol ha-leylot?
Why, on Passover night, do we always read the Haggadah
but now, we say—on this night—bitter weeping and shuddering?
Woe, ah, that I live in a land drawn out, and the time of account has come!
Woe, for the cherished city, and for the houses of prayer!
What makes this night different from all other nights?

מַדּֽוּעַ בְּלֵיל פֶּֽסַח נִגְמוֹר תָּמִיד הַהַלֵּל
עַתָּה אֲנַֽחְנוּ בְּלֵיל זֶה נְהִי מִסְפֵּד וִילֵל
כִּי בַעֲו‌ֹנוֹתֵֽינוּ עַתָּה לֹא נוּכַל לְהִתְפַּלֵּל
כִּי בֵּית מִקְדָּשׁ מִתְחַלֵּל וְגַם חָֽרְבוּ הֵֽיכָלוֹת׃
מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל־הַלֵּילוֹת׃
Madúang be-leyl Pésaḥ nighmor tamid ha-Halel
Ngata anáḥnu be-leyl ze nehi misped vi-ylel
Ki ba-ngavonoténu ngata lo nuchal lehitpalel
Ki beyt miqdash mitḥalel ve-gham ḥárbu heykhalot
Ma nishtana ha-láyla ha-ze mi-kol ha-leylot?
Why, on Passover night, do we always finish the Hallel,
but now, we—on this night—lament, cry, and wail?
For, in our iniquities, now we cannot pray,
for the Holy House has been ruined, and the Palaces put to the sword!
What makes this night different from all other nights?

מַדּֽוּעַ בְּלֵיל פֶּֽסַח אוֹמְרִים ”שְׁפוֹךְ“ בְּזִמְרָה
עַתָּה בְּלֵיל זֶה שָׁתִֽינוּ לַעַן רוֹשׁ וּמָרָה
אוֹי כִּי שִׂמְחָה נֶעְדָּֽרָה דַּרְכֵי צִיּוֹן אֲבֵלוֹת
מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל־הַלֵּילוֹת׃
Madúang be-leyl Pésaḥ omerim “Shefokh” be-zimra
Ngata be-leyl ze shatínu langan rosh u-mara
Oy, ki simḥa nengdára darkhei Ṣiyon abelot
Ma nishtana ha-láyla ha-ze mi-kol ha-leylot?
Why, on Passover night, do we say “Pour out” in song,
but now—on this night—we drink bitter wormwood and gall?
Woe, that joy has become absent, the paths of Zion, mourners!
What makes this night different from all other nights?

הִתְנַחֲמוּ בְּגָלוּת בָּנִים יוֹשְׁבִים בְּצִיּוֹן
אֲרוֹמִמְכֶם מִשִּׁפְלוּת אָכִין עֲבֹדַת צִיּוֹן
אֶבְנֶה נְוֵה אַפִּרְיוֹן אָז תִּשְׂמְחוּ בְּגִילוֹת׃
אֶבְנֶה נְוֵה אַפִּרְיוֹן אָז תִּשְׂמְחוּ בְּגִילוֹת׃
Hitnaḥamu be-ghalut banim yoshebim be-Ṣiyon
Aromimekhem mi-shifelut akhin ngabodat Ṣiyon
Ebne neve apiryon az tismeḥu be-ghilot.
Ebne neve apiryon az tismeḥu be-ghilot.
Be comforted in exile, children dwelling in Zion!
I will raise you from your lowness, I will reëstablish the rite of Zion!
I will rebuild the canopy-abode, thus you will rejoice in glee!
I will rebuild the canopy-abode, thus you will rejoice in glee!

עֽוּרָה־נָּא יְמִינְךָ רָמָה
וְלִזְעוּמָה קְרָא רֻחָֽמָה
וְיֵאָמֵר לְדַלָּה עֲגוּמָה
עֲנִיָּ֥ה סֹעֲרָ֖ה — נֻחָ֑מָה
עֽוּרָה־נָּא חֲשׂוֹף זְרוֹעֶֽךָ
וְגַלֵּה־נָא קֵץ יִשְׁעֶֽךָ
וְיֵאָמֵר לְשֶׂה נֶאֱלָֽמָה
עֲנִיָּ֥ה סֹעֲרָ֖ה — נֻחָ֑מָה
עֽוּרָה־נָּא יְמִינְךָ עֶלְיוֹן
וּבְנֵה בְּרַחֲמִים עִיר צִיּוֹן
וְיֵאָמֵר לְעַם דַּל וְאֶבְיוֹן
כִּֽי־נִחַ֨ם יְהֹוָ֜ה צִיּ֗וֹן
עֽוּרָה־נָּא יְמִינְךָ הָאֵל
וּפְדֵה בְּרַחֲמִים יִשְׂרָאֵל
וְיֵאָמֵר לְדַל הַשֹּׁאֵל
וּבָ֤א לְצִיּוֹן֙ גּוֹאֵ֔ל
Ngúra na yeminekha rama
v-lizenguma qra ruḥáma
Ve-ye’amer ledala ngaghuma
nganiya songara – nuḥáma
Ngúra na ḥasof zerongakha
ve-ghale na qeṣ yishengékha
Ve-ye’amer le-se ne’eláma
nganiya songara – nuḥáma
Ngúra na yeminekha Ngelyon
u-bene beraḥamim ngir Ṣiyon
Ve-ye’amer ledal ve-ebyon
ki niḥam Adonai Ṣiyon
Ngúra na yeminekha ha-El
u-fde beraḥamim Yisrael
Ve-ye’amer ledal ha-sho’el
UBA LeṢIYON GOEL
Awaken, please, Your right hand, Highest,
and on the cursed pronounce mercy!
And may it be said to her, the lowly and distraught,
“Afflicted, storm-tossed one, be comforted!”
Awaken, please, uncover Your arm,
and reveal the time of Your rescue!
And may it be said to her, the silent lamb,
“Afflicted, storm-tossed, be comforted!”
Awaken, please, Your right hand, Utmost,
and build Zion’s city in compassion!
And may it be said to the lowly and poor,
“For the Lord has comforted Zion!”
Awaken, please, Your right hand, God,
and redeem Israel in compassion!
And may it be said to the lowly who ask,
“For a redeemer comes to Zion!”

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