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יָהּ, אָנָה אֶמְצָאֶךָּ | Yah, Where shall I find you?, a piyyut by Yehudah haLevi (ca. early 12th c.)

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

יָהּ, אָנָה אֶמְצָאֶךָּ?
מְקוֹמְךָ נַעֲלָה וְנֶעְלָם!
וְאָנָה לֹא אֶמְצָאֶךָּ?
כְּבוֹדְךָ מָלֵא עוֹלָם!
Yah, where shall I find you?
High and hidden is your place;
And where shall I not find you?
The world is full of your kavod.[1]cf. Proverbs 7:15. A short prayer on this theme is quoted in Ḥovot haLevavot by Baḥya ibn Paquda (1050-1120): ונאמר על קצת מן החכמים שהיה אומר בתפלתו אלהי אנה אמצאך אך אנה לא אמצאך נסתרת ולא תראה והכל ממך מלא. דומה למה שאמר יתברך אֶת־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת־הָאָרֶץ אֲנִי מָלֵא נְאֻם־יְהוָה (ירמיהו כג:כד) (It is said of one of the Sages who would say in his prayer: “My elo’ah, where can I find you, yet where can I not find you. You are hidden and invisible yet everything is filled with you, similar to the verse “‘Do I not fill heaven and earth,’ says YHVH” (Jeremiah 23:24)). Note also, Song of Songs 8:1.

הַנִּמְצָא בַקְּרָבִים
אַפְסֵי אֶרֶץ הֵקִים,
הַמִּשְׂגָּב לַקְּרוֹבִים,
הַמִּבְטָח לָרְחוֹקִים,
Found in the innermost being,
He established the ends of the earth:
Refuge for the near,
Safe Haven for those far off.

אַתָּה יוֹשֵׁב כְּרוּבִים,
אַתָּה שׁוֹכֵן שְׁחָקִים.
תִּתְהַלֵּל בִּצְבָאֲךָ –
וְאַתְּ עַל רֹאשׁ מַהֲלָלָם,
You dwell amid the Keruvim,
You abide in the clouds;
You are praised by your angelic legion
Yet are raised above their praise.

גַּלְגַּל לֹא־יִשָּׂאֲךָ
אַף כִּי חַדְרֵי אוּלָם!
וּבְהִנָּשְׂאֲךָ עֲלֵיהֶם
עַל כֵּס נִשָּׂא וָרָם,
The whirling worlds cannot contain you;
How then the chambers of a temple?
And though you be uplifted over them
Upon a throne high and exalted,

אַתָּה קָרוֹב אֲלֵיהֶם
מִרוּחָם וּמִבְּשָׂרָם,
פִּיהֶם יָעִיד בָּהֶם,
כִּי אֵין בִּלְתְּךָ יוֹצְרָם.
Yet are you near to them,
Of their very spirit and their flesh.
Their own mouth testifies for them
That you alone are their Maker.

מִי זֶה לֹא יִרָאֲךָ –
וְעַל מַלְכוּתְךָ עֻלָּם?
אוֹ מִי לֹא יִקְרָאֲךָ –
וְאַתָּה נוֹתֵן אָכְלָם?
Who shall not revere you,
Since the yoke of your kingdom is their yoke?
Or who shall not call to you,
Since you give them their food?

דָּרַשְׁתִּי קִרְבָתְךָ,
בְּכׇל־לִבִּי קְרָאתִיךָ,
וּבְצֵאתִי לִקְרָאתְךָ –
לִקְרָאתִי מצָאתִיךָ,
I have sought your nearness,
With all my heart have I called you,
And going out to meet you
I found you coming toward me,

וּבְפִלאֵי גְבוּרָתְךָ
בַּקֹּדֶשׁ חֲזִיתִיךָ.
מִי יֹאמַר לֹא רָאֲךָ?
Even as, in the wonder of your might,
In the sanctuary I have beheld you.
Who shall say they have not seen you?—

הֵן שָׁמַיִם וְחֵילָם
יַגִּידוּ מוֹרָאֲךָ
בְּלִי נִשְׁמַע קוֹלָם!
Lo, the Heavens and their constellations
Declare reverence of you,
Though their voice is not heard.[2]Psalms 19:14.

הַאֻמְנָם כִּי יֵשֵׁב
אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאָדָם?
How then, in reality, can
Elohim dwell with humanity!?

וּמַה יַחְשֹׁב כׇּל־חוֹשֵׁב,
אֲשֶׁר בָּעָפָר יְסוֹדָם –
וְאַתָּה קָדוֹשׁ יוֹשֵׁב
תְּהִלּוֹתָם וּכְבוֹדָם!
What can they think—every thinking being,
Whose foundation is in the dust—
How you, Holy One, are dwelling
Amid their praises and their kavod!?

חַיּוֹת יוֹדוּ פִלְאֲךָ
הָעוֹמְדוֹת בְּרוּם עוֹלָם,
עַל רָאשֵׁיהֶם כִּסְאֲךָ –
וְאַתָּה נוֹשֵׂא כֻלָּם!
Angels adore your wonder,
Standing in the everlasting height;
Over their heads is your throne,
Meanwhile, you uphold them all!

This translation of Yehudah haLevi’s piyyut, “Yah, Ana Emtsa’eka” was adapted by Aharon Varady from the translation of Nina Salaman published in 1924 by the Jewish Publication Society. We are grateful to the Ben Yehuda Project for transcribing the Hebrew text of this piyyut.

Source(s)

 

Notes[ + ]

1.  cf. Proverbs 7:15. A short prayer on this theme is quoted in Ḥovot haLevavot by Baḥya ibn Paquda (1050-1120): ונאמר על קצת מן החכמים שהיה אומר בתפלתו אלהי אנה אמצאך אך אנה לא אמצאך נסתרת ולא תראה והכל ממך מלא. דומה למה שאמר יתברך אֶת־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת־הָאָרֶץ אֲנִי מָלֵא נְאֻם־יְהוָה (ירמיהו כג:כד) (It is said of one of the Sages who would say in his prayer: “My elo’ah, where can I find you, yet where can I not find you. You are hidden and invisible yet everything is filled with you, similar to the verse “‘Do I not fill heaven and earth,’ says YHVH” (Jeremiah 23:24)). Note also, Song of Songs 8:1.
2.  Psalms 19:14.

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