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אֱלָהָא עָלַם | Elaha Alam (Ageless God) — a piyyut for the Seder Meturgeman of the 7th Day of Pesaḥ by Meir ben Isaac Nehorai of Orléans (ca. 11th c.)

https://opensiddur.org/?p=49980 אֱלָהָא עָלַם | Elaha Alam (Ageless God) — a piyyut for the Seder Meturgeman of the 7th Day of Pesaḥ by Meir ben Isaac Nehorai of Orléans (ca. 11th c.) 2023-04-09 16:18:38 This piyyut, Elaha Alam (Ageless God), the fourth in a series of Aramaic piyyutim from the seventh day of Pesaḥ, is meant to be recited after the first verse of the Song of the Sea proper as an introduction to the targum of the text. Text the Open Siddur Project Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) Meir ben Isaac Nehorai of Orléans https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ 7th Day of Pesaḥ 49th century A.M. שירת הים Shirat haYam Acrostic translation acrostic Aramaic פיוטים piyyutim תרגום targum Alphabetic Acrostic 11th century C.E.
Nowadays, the only Jewish community with a custom to recite the Aramiac targum translation of the Torah portion is the Yemenites. But this was not always the case. For a very long time, Ashkenazim, Italkim, and some other related communities preserved a custom to read the targum on two specific days — the seventh day of Pesaḥ and the first day of Shavuot (Maḥzor Vitry, Hilkhot Pesaḥ 106:7). On those two days, mass communal miracles happened to the Jewish people — the spliting of the sea on the former, the revelation at Sinai on the latter — and the targum, the translation designed for the purpose of making the story accessible, was preserved for the sake of pirsumei nissa.

Since the use of targum became a special rare occasion, Jews did what we do for special rare occasions — we write piyyutim. An extensive series of Aramaic piyyutim were written, to be inserted into the recitation of the targum (or the ‘seder meturgeman’) itself. On Shavuot, a massive series of piyyutim, one for every one of the ten commandments and then some, were written. On Pesaḥ, a similar number of piyyutim were composed for important moments.

Since the mass acceptance of the Shulḥan Arukh, the custom of the recitation of the targum on these special days has been lost from Ashkenazi practice, and as a consequence the vast majority of the seder meturgeman piyyutim themselves have been abandoned. A small number of Shavuot seder meturgeman piyyutim are still in use (specifically, Aḳdamut Milin and Yetsiv Pitgam), but taken out of their original context. (As an example, why do we read Yetsiv Pitgam after the first verse of the haftarah? Because it’s meant to introduce the targum!)

I personally love Aramaic, piyyutim, and liturgy, so I’ve taken it upon myself to translate a selection of seder meturgeman piyyutim. This piyyut, Elaha Alam (Ageless God), the fourth in a series of Aramaic piyyutim from the seventh day of Pesaḥ, is meant to be recited after the first verse of the Song of the Sea proper as an introduction to the targum of the text.


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Source (Armaic)Source (English)
אֱלָהָא עָלַם דְמִלְּקַדְמִין בְּמֵימְרֵיהּ עָלְמָא בְּרָא
בְּתוּשְׁבְּחָתָא אֲנָא מְנַגֵּן שְׁבַח שִׁירָה דְבָרָא
גְּבוּרָן עָלַם לֵיהּ וְנִצְחָנֵי תְדִירָא
דְּלֵיהּ תְפִיסָא מַלְכוּ וְקִילּוּס לֵיהּ סְדִירָא
Ageless God who first spoke and made eternity,
By praises I will make melody with song of purity.
Cosmic might is God’s and permanent victory,
Directing power to regimes, to God is ordered hymnody.
הֲלָא פְּרִישׁ יָאוּת לְגוֹ מְכִילְתָּא סְבִירָא
וְדָמֵי מְתַל לְמַלְכָּא דְּאִיקְּלַע לְגוֹ בִּירָא
זְרִיזִין כׇּלקַמּוֹי מְקַלְּסֵי דִיבֵּירָא
חֲכִּימָא דֵין וְעַתִּיר וְרַחֲמָן וְגִיבָּרָא
Explained and exegeted — isn’t it? — in the Mekhilta beautifully.[1] The following passages is a rephrasing of a parable from the Mekhilta d’Rabbi Yishmael 15:1. A parable: what is this similar to? A king of flesh and blood who enters a province, and everyone would praise him: that he was strong — but he was weak. That he was rich — but he was poor. That he was wise — but he was stupid. That he was merciful — but he was wicked. That he was a judge, that he was trustworthy — but not one of all these attributes was found in him, rather they were all flattering him. But this is not so of the One who spoke and made the world be. Rather, of all the praises said of God, God is greater than the praises. 
For it is like a parable of a king who found palatial authority.
Going before him, all praise him with words of flattery:
How wise and wealthy, merciful and mighty is Your Majesty!”
טִפֵּישָׁא הוּא וּמִסְכֵּן וְחַלָּשׁ וְאַכְזָרָא
יַתִּירָא חֲנִיפוּתָא חֲדָא לָא אִיתְגְּזִירָא
כְּלִילָא דְשִׁבְחָא וְתַגָּא דְהַדְרָא
לְוָת מָרֵי מַלְכִין בְּכׇלסִיטְרָא הָדרָא
In fact, he’s dull and poor and weak and wicked in iniquity.
Just one of those cannot be found in him from this cajolery!
Kingly crown of praise, and diadem of majesty,
Like such returns upon each facet of the Master of all Sovereignty.
מַסְהֲדֵי בֵּיהּ קְרָאֵי דְּדִילֵיהּ הִיא גְּבוּרָא
נְפִישֵׁי לְפָרוֹשֵׁײַ לְמַטְרָח צִיבּוּרָא
סַגִּיאָה הִיא חׇכְמְתָא וּמַנְדְּעֵיהּ יַתִּירָא
עֲדִיפָא הִ עוּתְרֵיהּ בְּפוֹמְבֵּי עַתִּירָא
Maintained by all the witnesses that Yours alone is potency
Numerous, their speech goes on to bother the publicity.
Of couse, great is God’s wisdom, and beyond that God’s proficiency
Plus wealth beyond our comprehension, endless God’s prosperity.
פְּרַקְמַטְיָא דִּידֵיהּ סְפִינְתָּא רַבָּא צְבִירָא
צְרָרֵי כְסַף וּדְהַב תַּוָּנֵי דִדְבִירָא
קְשׁוֹט וּמְהֵימָן הוּא בְּהֵימָנוּ קְיַיסְטְרָא
Quite piled up upon a massive ship these goods pragmatically,
Rolls of gold and silver money in the palace treasury
So true and upright, like an upright quaestor in authority.
רְחִימוֹהִי מְרַחֵם לְאַלְפֵי דָּר לְמִטְּרָא
שְׁבִיל אוֹרְחָתֵיהּ דֵּין וְלָא בָּטֵיל תְּדִירָא
תְּקוֹף הֲדַר שׁוּפְרֵיהּ לָא לְדַמּוֹיֵי סִדְרָא
מְצַע אֵילֵי מְרוֹמָא שַׁחֲקִים וּמְדוֹרָא
The God-lovers are loved for thousand generations tenaciously.
Unnullifiable is this path, their roadway for eternity.
Very glorious is God’s beauty, none measure with equality
Within those in the highest source attributed divinity.
אָתָא הוּא בְּגוֹ רִיבְוָן וְדוּגְמָא וְהֶכֵּירָא
יְקָרָא כְּאֵין דּוּגְמֵיהּ כְּבִשְׁבוּעָה חֲמִירָא
רְשִׁים בִּשְׁבַח שִׁבְחִין דְּלִשְׁלֹמֹה אֲמִירָא
בְּפוּם טְלַיֵי וְיָנְקֵי וּבִמְעוֹי עוֹבָרָא
eXemplar, sign and paradigm among those vast in quantity
Yes, Solomon’s Song of Songs speaks of it in imagery.
Zygotes, infants, newborns, and fetuses in pregnancy
MEte out praises according to the strength of their tenacity.
יְהַבוּ לֵיהּ שִׁבְחָא לְפוּם חֵיל לְסוֹבָרָא
רְגַשׁ חֵיל קַדִּישִׁין בְּשִׁילְהֵי אֲדַר בָּתְרָא
רְבוּ שְׁמָךְ רִיבּוֹנַן תְּקוֹף מַה בְּכׇל אַתְרָא  
בְּגוֹ עָנָם אִיתגְּאִי לִי קְרָא לִי בְּרָא בוּכְרָא
In the final plague, tumultuous the forces in their sanctity!
Renowned is Your Name, Master, strong over all in each each locality.
SOaring through Alexandria, the glorified one called me firstborn progeny.
NOte the festival night on which I made God’s glory great to memory.
יְקָרֵיהּ אַגְאִיתֵיהּ בְּלֵיל חַג לְאִידְּכָרָא
יַתִּירָא עַל יַמָּא כְּמלְאַךְ דַּבָּרָא
צְבֵיתִי לְשַׁבּוֹחֵי בְּמַלְכוּת לְגַבָּרָא
חַבִּיבָא לִישָּׁנָא פְּתַח מֹשֶׁה סָפְרָא
FRom that, and even more, as if an angel guided on the sea
ABout which I wish to sing to exalt Your sovereignty.
BIble’s scribe Moses began to speak in speech of intimacy.
ISrael entire facing sim sang in measured harmony.
קֳבֵיל כׇּל יִשְׂרָאֵל תְּלַקִינּוּן בִּסְפָרָא
בַּאֲזַי דְנֶיחָמֵי פְּתַחוּ לְאִיתְּעָרָא
רְבוּ מַלְכוּ וְגֵיאוּ דְּלֵיכָּא לְשַׁעֲרָא
בְּאִיתְגְּלָיוּתֵיהּ לְגֵיוְתָנֵי תְּבָרָא
As they began to rouse, an “az” rang out in sympathy.
ACclaiming: “Great Your rule, in triumph without boundary!”
SO God’s own revelation shattered those who acted haughtily
NOble” duplicated thus, for beautiful nobility.
יִמָאֲכוּן וְיֵעֲלוּן לְגוֹ מְחִילֵּי עַפְרָא
שְׁבִיל כֵּן אִיכְּפֵל לְגֵאוּתֵיהּ בְּשׁוּפְרָא
מְטוּל עֲתִיד לְמַיְתֵי לְאַמְטוֹיֵי אֶפְרָא
וְתִתְגְלֵי פּוּרְקָנָא כְּאַיַּלְתָּא דְּצַפְרָא
FRom this will come to all the dust-bound ones days of posterity,
And like the morning deer redemption will come to publicity.
By when? By soon, the morning light will rouse in all its lucency,
Because You are the Lord and Israel’s Luminosity.
לְעִידָּן זְעִירָא לְאִיתְעוֹרֵי נְגַהּ בִּשְׁפַרְפָּרָא  
אֲרֵי אַתְּ הוּא מָרֵי דְּיִשְׂרָאֵל נְהוֹרָא
לְרוֹמְמָךְ וְאוֹדִיָיךְ בְּתוּשְׁבְּחָן וְשַׁבְהוֹרָא
ISrael will praise, exult, and thank You with praising hymns of majesty.
AMidst the time You are revealed to Your surviving legacy,
Upon You and upon Your name affirming righteous victory.
לְעִידָּן דִּי תִּתְגְּלֵי לַשְּׁאָרָא  
זָכוּ נִצְחָנִים לָךְ וְלִשְׁמָךְ לְאַשָּׁרָא  
רַוַּיחַ לִשָּׁן דּוּכָרָא שִׁבְחָא לִזְמָרָא
ELongated from masculine the praising song of hymnody[2] From the Mekhilta d’Rabbi Yishmael 15:1. All the songs of the past were said in feminine (shira), but the final redemption afrer which there will be no more will be sung about in masculime (shir ḥadash). 
OF Alexandria will be said a punning ambiguity:
BLoodily stuck within in its place, and acting parasitically.[3] A pun on t’fela, which can mean either “parasite” or “addition.” Referencing a baraita cited in the Yerushalmi Bavli 1:6 — Not that the exodus from Egypt will be uprooted from its place, but that it will be added to that of the kingdoms. The kingdoms will be the main thing and Egypt the addition. 
לְחלּוֹפֵי שִׁיטְּתָא דְּבַעֲנָם אִיתְאָמְרָא
טְפֵילָא הִיא לְגַבַּהּ כְּלָל לָא מִתְעַקְּרָא
וְשִׁיעְבּוּד מַלְכְוָתָא לְמִיקְּרֵו עִיקָּרָא
בְּאַרְעָא וּבִשְׁמַיָּא שִׁבְחָא מִתְגַּבְּרָא
EScaping from the
SEventy nations’ bonds is core thematically.
Done on Earth and
Made in heaven, praising with intensity.
לְכִי סָלְקִין וְקָלְסִין דְּמִיכֵי אַרְעָא וּמַדְבְּרָא  
מִנָּא הָדָא מִילְּתָא רְמִיזָא וּמִתְיַשְּׁרָא  
כְּאָז יָשִׁיר מֹשֶׁה שַׁבַּח הָדָא שִׁירָא׃  
Even from the grave MOrtals will arise to praise concurrently.
Regarding this, what source is found affirming allegorically?
You know, when “az yashir” as Moses sang this work of poetry.

 

Notes

Notes
1The following passages is a rephrasing of a parable from the Mekhilta d’Rabbi Yishmael 15:1. A parable: what is this similar to? A king of flesh and blood who enters a province, and everyone would praise him: that he was strong — but he was weak. That he was rich — but he was poor. That he was wise — but he was stupid. That he was merciful — but he was wicked. That he was a judge, that he was trustworthy — but not one of all these attributes was found in him, rather they were all flattering him. But this is not so of the One who spoke and made the world be. Rather, of all the praises said of God, God is greater than the praises.
2From the Mekhilta d’Rabbi Yishmael 15:1. All the songs of the past were said in feminine (shira), but the final redemption afrer which there will be no more will be sung about in masculime (shir ḥadash).
3A pun on t’fela, which can mean either “parasite” or “addition.” Referencing a baraita cited in the Yerushalmi Bavli 1:6 — Not that the exodus from Egypt will be uprooted from its place, but that it will be added to that of the kingdoms. The kingdoms will be the main thing and Egypt the addition.

 

 

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