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Prayers for the Morning of Sigd: Wäṣoru Tabotomu (They Carried Out Their Ark), in Ge’ez with vocalized Hebrew and English translation

Sigd is an Amharic word meaning “prostration” or “worship” and is the commonly used name for a holiday celebrated by the Ethiopian Jewish Beta Israel community on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Marḥheshvan. This date is exactly 50 days after Yom Kippur, usually falling out in late October or November, and according to Ethiopian Jewish tradition is also the date that God first revealed himself to Moses.[1]Jewish Virtual Library, “Ethiopian Jewry: Sigd Holiday

Sigd is a unique holiday. Originally only celebrated by the Ethiopian Jewish Beta Esrael community, it has gotten more traction recently. One could describe the key concept of Sigd as being the acceptance of the Torah — not the giving, but the receiving of it. Sigd is a holiday of the continuation of the covenant. No matter the persecution that the Beta Esrael suffered (and hoo boy, did they suffer), Sigd announced that they would preserve their Judaism through it all.

In the morning of Sigd, the community goes out to a mountain with the sacred Orit (the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth) and recites prayers and readings. The six prayers included here, largely compiled by Shoshana ben-Dor (former director of the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry) and translated into English by Isaac Mayer, are the key pieces of morning liturgy for the holiday of Sigd. These are followed by readings from the Torah and the writings.

Wäṣoru Tabotomu (They Carried Out Their Ark) is the first prayer in this order of prayers for the morning of Sigd. It is a prayer said upon the removal of the Orit from the synagogue ark.

  1. Wäṣoru Tabotomu (They Carried Out Their Ark)
  2. Wäy’ärgu Debre (And They Climbed the Mount)
  3. Yitbärēk Egzi’äbḥer (Blessed be YHVH)
  4. Hälē Hälē yebärkewo (Praise, Praise, Bless the One)
  5. Ne’u Nesēgēdē (Come, Let Us Bow)
  6. Menabērtē Bēytē Dawid (Thrones of David’s House)

This is part one of a series of Sigd readings in English, Hebrew, and Ge’ez transliteration that the editor will be posting here.

Translation (Hebrew) Translation (English) Source (Ge’ez and Agaw)

הִשִּׂיאוּ אֶת אֲרוֹנָם
מִיכָאֵל הוֹלִיכָם
They carried out their Ark
Michael led them
Wäṣoru tabotomu
Mika’ēl mērhomu

אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה בַּמִּדְבָּר
מִיכָאֵל הִדְרִיכָם
Forty years in the desert
Michael guided them
Arbaʿä ʿämēt begedēm
Mika’ēl mērhomu

בַּיּוֹם בֶּעָנָן
וּבַלַּיְלָה בְּעַמּוּד אֵשׁ
מִיכָאֵל הוֹלִיכָם
In the day, cloud,
And in the night, a fire pillar
Michael led them
Meʿälteni bedēmenē
welēiliteni beʿämde esät
Mika’ēl mērhomu

אַרְבָּעָה מְקוֹמוֹת
הֵכִין שְׁעָרִים לְצִיּוֹן
In four places
Gates established for Zion
Ärbäʿtu meqän
em’äf’ä leṢiyon

שְׂאִי צִיּוֹן
לִבְשִׁי עֹז זְרוּעָתֵךְ
Lift up, Zion!
Don your strong arm.
Tense’i Ṣiyon
lebēši ḥayle mezräʿtki

שְׂאִי צִיּוֹן
תַּאַסְפִי עַמֵּךְ הַחוֹזֵר
Lift up, Zion!
Gather your returning people!
Tense’i Ṣiyon
ästgäb’i zeruʿäl ḥezbeki

Notes   [ + ]

  1. Jewish Virtual Library, “Ethiopian Jewry: Sigd Holiday

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