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זֶה יוֹם רִאשׁוֹן [א׳]‏ | Zeh Yom Rishon [a], a song for Yom T’ruah by Ḥakham Zeraḥ ben Nathan of Troki (early 17th c.)

NOTE: The refrain This day is holy to our God is based on Nehemiah 8:10, a verse spoken by the leaders of the people on the festival of the First of the Seventh Month.

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

שיר ליום תרועה מאת החכם זרח בן נתן ע”ה מקה”ק טרוקי:
A song for Yom Teru‘ah from Ḥakham Zeraḥ ben Nathan, peace be upon him, from Troki.

זֶה יוֹם רִאשׁוֹן אֶל הַתְּשׁוּבָה
לַעֲזֹב רָֽשַׁע גַּם הַמְּשׁוּבָה
הָשֵׁב אֵלִי לָךְ אָשֽׁוּבָה
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
 
הָשֵׁב אֵלִי לָךְ אָשֽׁוּבָה
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
This is the first day towards repentance,
To give up evil and misdeed.
Bring [me] back, O my God, and I will return to You!
This day is holy to our God.
 
Bring [me] back, O my God, and I will return to You!
This day is holy to our God.

רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה נִקְרָא הַיּוֹם
יוֹם הַתְּרוּעָה מִפִּי אָיוֹם
נִתְקַדֵּשׁ בּוֹ לִמְצֹא פִדְיוֹם
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
 
הָשֵׁב אֵלִי לָךְ אָשֽׁוּבָה
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
Today is called Rosh Ha-shanah,
Yom Teru‘ah [it is called] by the mouth of the Formidable [God].
Let us sanctify ourselves on it, to find redemption.
This day is holy to our God.
 
Bring [me] back, O my God, and I will return to You!
This day is holy to our God.

חֹֽדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי אֶחָד בּוֹ
הִפְלִיא בִמְאֹד אֶת סוֹד טַעְמוֹ
הִנְחִיל יֵשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמּוֹ
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
 
הָשֵׁב אֵלִי לָךְ אָשֽׁוּבָה
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
[In] the seventh month, [on] the first day,
[God] greatly enwondered its esoteric meaning.
He bequeathed riches as an inheritance to his people Israel
This day is holy to our God.
 
Bring [me] back, O my God, and I will return to You!
This day is holy to our God.

בִּֽינוּ זֹאת שׁוֹכְחֵי דָת הָאֵל
הַנִּתֶּֽנֶת אֶל יִשְׂרָאֵל
שִׁפְכוּ לִבְּכֶם עַל הַהַרְאֵל
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
 
הָשֵׁב אֵלִי לָךְ אָשֽׁוּבָה
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
Understand this, O you that have forgotten God’s Law,
Which has been given to Israel.
Pour out your hearts [to pray] for the altar [to be rebuilt].
This day is holy to our God.
 
Bring [me] back, O my God, and I will return to You!
This day is holy to our God.

נֽוּחוּ הַיּוֹם מֵעֲשׂוֹת תֶּֽבֶל
כִּי בֶאֱמֶת תֶּֽבֶל הוּא הֶֽבֶל
הָרִֽיעוּ לוֹ עִם קוֹל נֵֽבֶל
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
 
הָשֵׁב אֵלִי לָךְ אָשֽׁוּבָה
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
Rest today from performing perversion,[1] Following JPS translation of the word tevel in Leviticus 18:23. 
For indeed perversion is vanity.
Shout to him along with the sound of the psaltery,[2] Cf. Psalms 81:2-3. The translation “psaltery” for nevel follows JPS there. The translation “shout” for hari‘u follows JPS there, as well; of course, this accords with the Karaite understanding of the word teru‘ah, the noun from the same root. 
This day is holy to our God.
 
Bring [me] back, O my God, and I will return to You!
This day is holy to our God.

תּוֹרַת הָאֵל קִרְאוּ לָכֶם
שִֽׂימוּ עָלָיו מַעְיְנֵיכֶם
עִזְבוּ אֶת רֹֽעַ מַעַלְלֵיכֶם
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
 
הָשֵׁב אֵלִי לָךְ אָשֽׁוּבָה
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
Read God’s Torah for yourselves,
Set your ideas[3] Understanding ma‘yan as being from the verb le-‘ayyen (“to examine”), as in Zeraḥ’s other poem for this occasion, as opposed to the word’s usual meaning, “a spring”. [to be] about him,
Give up the wickedness of your deeds,
This day is holy to our God.
 
Bring [me] back, O my God, and I will return to You!
This day is holy to our God.

נַפְשׁוֹתֵיכֶם הוּא סוֹד שִׁבְעָה
נֶֽגֶד יוֹם זֶה אַשְׁרֵי יוֹדְעָהּ
הַמַּשְׂכֶּֽלֶת אָז תַּרְגִּֽיעָה
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
 
הָשֵׁב אֵלִי לָךְ אָשֽׁוּבָה
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
Your soul is in the secret of [the number] seven,
Corresponding to this day [beginning the seventh month] – happy is the one that knows it![4] Based on Psalms 89:16: Happy is the one that knows teru‘ah. 
Then you will give calm to the rational [soul] 
This day is holy to our God.
 
Bring [me] back, O my God, and I will return to You!
This day is holy to our God.

חֽוּשׁוּ הַיּוֹם גַּם עַל מָחָר
עַד כִּפּוּרִים תִּהְיוּ נִבְחָר
יָפֵר אַפּוֹ עוֹד לֹא יִחַר
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
 
הָשֵׁב אֵלִי לָךְ אָשֽׁוּבָה
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
Hasten today also [to prepare] for tomorrow,
Until [Yom] Kippurim you will be chosen.[5] “You will be” is plural, but “chosen” is singular. This is for the sake of the rhyme, but even that does not entirely explain this unusual construction. Perhaps the poet is addressing each and every member of the Jewish people, and saying that the people as a whole will be chosen. 
[God] will annul His wrath, no longer be angry –
This day is holy to our God.
 
Bring [me] back, O my God, and I will return to You!
This day is holy to our God.

זִכְרוּ הַיּוֹם אֶת הַתְּשׁוּבָה
קִדּוּשׁ הַיּוֹם סוּר מִמְּשׁוּבָה
יָשִׁיב אֵלָיו וְנָשֽׁוּבָה
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
 
הָשֵׁב אֵלִי לָךְ אָשֽׁוּבָה
קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ
Remember repentance today,
The sanctification of the day [teaches us]: turn away from misdeeds.
[God] will bring us back, and we will return,
This day is holy to our God.
 
Bring [me] back, O my God, and I will return to You!
This day is holy to our God.

כַּכָּתוּב: הֲשִׁיבֵ֨נוּ ה֤׳ ׀ אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ וְֽנָשׁ֔וּבָה
חַדֵּ֥שׁ יָמֵ֖ינוּ כְּקֶֽדֶם׃ (איכה ה:כא)
As it is written: Turn us unto you, YHVH, and we shall be turned;
renew our days as of old. (Lamentations 5:21)

This English translation of “Zeh Yom Rishon” was made by Dr. Gabriel Wasserman. The piyyut can be found on p. 123 of סידור התפילות כמנהג הקראים, Volume 4 (1889). Also find, another version of “Zeh Yom Rishon” by Ḥakham Zerah ben Natan of Troki.

 

Notes

1 Following JPS translation of the word tevel in Leviticus 18:23.
2 Cf. Psalms 81:2-3. The translation “psaltery” for nevel follows JPS there. The translation “shout” for hari‘u follows JPS there, as well; of course, this accords with the Karaite understanding of the word teru‘ah, the noun from the same root.
3 Understanding ma‘yan as being from the verb le-‘ayyen (“to examine”), as in Zeraḥ’s other poem for this occasion, as opposed to the word’s usual meaning, “a spring”.
4 Based on Psalms 89:16: Happy is the one that knows teru‘ah.
5 “You will be” is plural, but “chosen” is singular. This is for the sake of the rhyme, but even that does not entirely explain this unusual construction. Perhaps the poet is addressing each and every member of the Jewish people, and saying that the people as a whole will be chosen.

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