בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ | At this meal!, a piyyut for the Passover seder translated by Rabbi Jonah Rank


Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

מַה נֹאכַל בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
שׁוֹר הַבָּר וְלִוְיָתָן
שׁוֹר הַבָּר וְלִוְיָתָן אָכוֹל נֹאכַל
בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
What will we eat at this meal?
The Primeval Ox and the Leviathan!
We will eat the Primeval Ox and the Leviathan—
All at this meal!

מַה נִּשְׁתֶּה בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
יַיִן הַמְשׁוּמָר
יַיִן הַמְשׁוּמָר שָׁתֹה נִשְׁתֶּה
שׁוֹר הַבָּר וְלִוְיָתָן אָכוֹל נֹאכַל
בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
What will we drink at this meal?
The Preserved Wine!
We will drink the Preserved Wine;
We will eat the Primeval Ox and the Leviathan—
All at this meal!

מִי יַגִּיד לָנוּ דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה בִסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ
מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ יַגִּיד לָנוּ דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה
יַיִן הַמְשׁוּמָר שָׁתֹה נִשְׁתֶּה
שׁוֹר הַבָּר וְלִוְיָתָן אָכוֹל נֹאכַל
בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
Who will tell us words of Torah at this meal?
Moses our master!
Moses our master will tell us words of Torah;
We will drink the Preserved Wine;
We will eat the Primeval Ox and the Leviathan—
All at this meal!

מִי יַגִּיד לָנוּ חָכְמָה בִסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
שְׁלֹמֹה הַמֶּלֶךְ
שְׁלֹמֹה הַמֶּלֶךְ יַגִּיד לָנוּ חָכְמָה
מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ יַגִּיד לָנוּ דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה
יַיִן הַמְשׁוּמָר שָׁתֹה נִשְׁתֶּה
שׁוֹר הַבָּר וְלִוְיָתָן אָכוֹל נֹאכַל
בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
Who will tell us words of wisdom at this meal?
King Solomon!
King Solomon will tell us words of wisdom;
Moses our master will tell us words of Torah;
We will drink the Preserved Wine;
We will eat the Primeval Ox and the Leviathan—
All at this meal!

מִי יְנַגֵּן לָנוּ בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ
דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ יְנַגֵּן לָנוּ
שְׁלֹמֹה הַמֶּלֶךְ יַגִּיד לָנוּ חָכְמָה
מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ יַגִּיד לָנוּ דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה
יַיִן הַמְשׁוּמָר שָׁתֹה נִשְׁתֶּה
שׁוֹר הַבָּר וְלִוְיָתָן אָכוֹל נֹאכַל
בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
Who will play music for us at this meal?
King David!
King David will play music for us;
King Solomon will tell us words of wisdom;
Moses our master will tell us words of Torah;
We will drink the Preserved Wine;
We will eat the Primeval Ox and the Leviathan—
All at this meal!

מִי תֵּצֵא בְּמָחוֹל לָנוּ בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה
מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה תֵּצֵא בְּמָחוֹל לָנוּ
דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ יְנַגֵּן לָנוּ
שְׁלֹמֹה הַמֶּלֶךְ יַגִּיד לָנוּ חָכְמָה
מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ יַגִּיד לָנוּ דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה
יַיִן הַמְשׁוּמָר שָׁתֹה נִשְׁתֶּה
שׁוֹר הַבָּר וְלִוְיָתָן אָכוֹל נֹאכַל
בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
Who will emerge dancing for us at this meal?
Miriam the Prophet!
Miriam the Prophet will emerge dancing for us;
King David will play music for us;
King Solomon will tell us words of wisdom;
Moses our master will tell us words of Torah;
We will drink the Preserved Wine;
We will eat the Primeval Ox and the Leviathan—
All at this meal!

מִי תָּשִׁיר לָנוּ בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
דְּבוֹרָה הַנְּבִיאָה
דְּבוֹרָה הַנְּבִיאָה תָּשִׁיר לָנוּ
מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה תֵּצֵא בְּמָחוֹל לָנוּ
דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ יְנַגֵּן לָנוּ
שְׁלֹמֹה הַמֶּלֶךְ יַגִּיד לָנוּ חָכְמָה
מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ יַגִּיד לָנוּ דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה
יַיִן הַמְשׁוּמָר שָׁתֹה נִשְׁתֶּה
שׁוֹר הַבָּר וְלִוְיָתָן אָכוֹל נֹאכַל
בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
Who will sing for us at this meal?
Deborah the Prophet!
Deborah the Prophet will sing for us;
Miriam the Prophet will emerge dancing for us;
King David will play music for us;
King Solomon will tell us words of wisdom;
Moses our master will tell us words of Torah;
We will drink the Preserved Wine;
We will eat the Primeval Ox and the Leviathan—
All at this meal!

מִי יְבַשֵּׂר לָנוּ בְּשׂוֹרָה טוֹבָה בִסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
אֵלִיָּהוּ הַנָּבִיא
אֵלִיָּהוּ הַנָּבִיא יְבַשֵּׂר לָנוּ בְּשׂוֹרָה טוֹבָה
דְּבוֹרָה הַנְּבִיאָה תָּשִׁיר לָנוּ
מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה תֵּצֵא בְּמָחוֹל לָנוּ
דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ יְנַגֵּן לָנוּ
שְׁלֹמֹה הַמֶּלֶךְ יַגִּיד לָנוּ חָכְמָה
מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ יַגִּיד לָנוּ דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה
יַיִן הַמְשׁוּמָר שָׁתֹה נִשְׁתֶּה
שׁוֹר הַבָּר וְלִוְיָתָן אָכוֹל נֹאכַל
בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
Who will bring us good news at this meal?
Elijah the Prophet!
Elijah the Prophet will bring us good news;
Deborah the Prophet will sing for us;
Miriam the Prophet will emerge dancing for us;
King David will play music for us;
King Solomon will tell us words of wisdom;
Moses our master will tell us words of Torah;
We will drink the Preserved Wine;
We will eat the Primeval Ox and the Leviathan—
All at this meal!

מִי יְבָרֵךְ אוֹתָנוּ בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן
אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן יְבָרֵךְ אוֹתָנוּ
אֵלִיָּהוּ הַנָּבִיא יְבַשֵּׂר לָנוּ בְּשׂוֹרָה טוֹבָה
דְּבוֹרָה הַנְּבִיאָה תָּשִׁיר לָנוּ
מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה תֵּצֵא בְּמָחוֹל לָנוּ
דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ יְנַגֵּן לָנוּ
שְׁלֹמֹה הַמֶּלֶךְ יַגִּיד לָנוּ חָכְמָה
מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ יַגִּיד לָנוּ דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה
יַיִן הַמְשׁוּמָר שָׁתֹה נִשְׁתֶּה
שׁוֹר הַבָּר וְלִוְיָתָן אָכוֹל נֹאכַל
בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ
Who will bless us at this meal?
Aharon the Priest!
Aharon the Priest will bless us;
Elijah the Prophet will bring us good news;
Deborah the Prophet will sing for us;
Miriam the Prophet will emerge dancing for us;
King David will play music for us;
King Solomon will tell us words of wisdom;
Moses our master will tell us words of Torah;
We will drink the Preserved Wine;
We will eat the Primeval Ox and the Leviathan—
All at this meal!

“What are we going to eat for dinner?”

Even for those of us who eat meat, it might surprise us to be served a mythical creature. But, that’s exactly what happens at the Passover seder, according to this old poem “Mah Nokhal BaSe’udah HaZo?” (?מַה נֹאכַל בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ “What Will We Eat At This Meal?”).

We do not know who wrote this Hebrew ditty, but it has been sung for several centuries by the Jews of Libya, Djerba and Afghanistan. With a list like that, this might not sound like an Ashkenazic tradition. Yet, a Yiddish version of this song exists![1]From An Invitation To Piyut –accessed 2019-04-23

Just as the seder night is full of questions, this song is a whole slew of questions, but with some unexpected answers.

The main dishes are the Primeval Ox and the Leviathan—the former ruling the land creatures, and the latter the most powerful of all sea creatures. Sometimes called Behemah (בְּהֵמָה, “Beast”) or Behemot (בְּהֵמוֹת, “Beasts”), the Shor HaBor, Ox of the Pit/Abyss or Primeval Ox, appears alongside the Leviathan in the Hebrew Bible. Although the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch did not make it into the Hebrew Bible, this Jewish book tells a tradition that later rabbis will tell: that, in the future, God will make a feast where these two terrors of the Earth will be eaten by the righteous remnant (29:4). Later rabbinic traditions carry forward this idea very clearly, and our song here tells us that this night is different from all other nights: for, tonight, we’re eating the food of the future!

But while we eat the food of days to come, we drink from the wine of history. The “Preserved Wine” on our table tonight dates back to the Six Days of Creation (a tradition taught in the Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 34b). We eat in the future, but we drink the past.

Like our meal tonight, the Torah transcends time. And if we were hoping for somebody to teach a little torah tonight, we will have the man who first brought torah to us bringing it down again. Moses our master comes back to life tonight at our very table!

A religious man was Moses, but was he wise? Bring in the wisest man the Jews have ever known: King Solomon. If it weren’t for him, our tradition wouldn’t know to whom to attribute the Books of Proverbs, Song of Songs, or Ecclesiastes. Modern bible scholars may disagree today, but our tradition points to King Solomon as the author of “the Wisdom literature” of our Bible.

But enough of the brains and the smarts. Tonight is a night of entertainment! King David will play his lute, Miriam the Prophet will dance, and Deborah will sing. And who said vaudeville was dead?

Yet, tonight isn’t just a show. Good as this gathering may be already, there is good news yet to come. And we have a very special guest who comes bearing “good news” for us. Elijah the Prophet, for whom we always open our doors, is finally showing up tonight! Let’s listen carefully because the rumor is the “good news” he has might have something to do with the messiah.

But, news, schmewz… What good is a life without blessings? We should always end an evening with a blessing. We will soon be blessed by the blesser of all blessers: the original High Priest, Aharon himself.

Tonight, we eat the future; we drink the past; Moses and Solomon bring the wits; Deborah, Miriam and King David provide entertainment of Biblical proportions; Elijah the Prophet is the news anchor; and we’re each getting blessed by the first man to see the Holy of Holies, Aharon the High Priest.

Now, how’s that for a meal?

This translation and commentary was first published on 13 April 2014 at Rabbi Jonah Rank’s blog here. For a recording of this piyyut in its Afghani Jewish rendition, visit the NLI.

Source

Download Mah-Nokhal-baSeudah-Hazo-Jonah-Rank-trans.-2014.pdf (PDF, 167KB)

Notes   [ + ]

  1. From An Invitation To Piyut –accessed 2019-04-23

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