בִּרְכַּת עָם (תֶחֱזַקְנָה)‏ | The People’s Blessing (a/k/a Teḥezaqnah), by Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik (1894)

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

תֶחֱזַֽקְנָה יְדֵי כׇל־אַחֵֽינוּ הַמְחוֹנְנִים
עַפְרוֹת אַרְצֵֽנוּ בַּאֲשֶׁר הֵם שָׁם.
אַל יִפֹּל רוּחֲכֶם. עַלִּיזִים מִתְרוֹנְנִים
בֹּֽאוּ שְׁכֶם אֶחָד לְעֶזְרַת הָעָם.
Strengthen the hands[1]Cf. Zechariah 8:9-13 of all our brothers, who cherish
the dust of our homeland wherever they are.
Let not your spirits fall, happy ones rejoice,
Come as one to support the people.

הֵן סוֹפְרִים אֲנַחְנוּ אֶת־נוֹדְכֶם וְחוֹבְבִים
נִטְפֵי הַדְּמָעוֹת וְזֵעַת הָאָף,
הַיּוֹרְדִים כַּטַּל לְיִשְׂרָאֵל וּמְשׁוֹבְבִים
נַפְשׁוֹ הַנִּלְאָה, הַשּׂוּמָה בַכָּף.
Each trek we enumerate and hold dear
each tear drop and sweat upon brow
that fall like dew for Yisra’el, reviving
its debilitated soul; so weighed upon

וּלְעוֹלְמֵי עַד תִּקְדַּשׁ כָּל־דִּמְעָה שֶׁצָּלֲלָה
בְּיָם דִּמְעָתֵנוּ, נְדָבָה לָעָם,
כָּל־טִפָּה שֶׁל זֵעַת אַפַּיִם, שֶׁסָּלֲלָה
דֶּרֶךְ אֲדֹנָי – כְּחֵלֶב וָדָם.
And forevermore may each tear be sanctified
which fell into our sea of tears; an offering to the people
each drop of brow sweat paving
the path of Adonai like sweat and blood

אִם לֹא אֶת־הַטְפָחוֹת רַק מַסָּד יְסַדְתֶּם.
רַב לָכֶם אַחַי. עֲמַלְכֶם לֹא שָׁוְא.
הַבָּאִים. וּבְנִיתֶם וְטַחְתֶּם וְשַׂדְתֶּם.
עַתָּה רַב לָֽנוּ אִם נָטוּי הַקָּו.
If to build to the roof a lifetime suffice not
And you lay but the base of your national home
Enough have you wrought; your achievement despise not
They that come after will yet lay the line.

גּוֹי קַו־קָו אֲנַחְנוּ! מִקַּו לָקָו קוֹמְמוּ
שִׁמֲמוֹת עוֹלָם וּבְנוּ בִנְיַן־עַד!
יֶשׁ־יוֹם – וּמִיָּם עַד־יָם יֵצְאוּ יִשְׁתּוֹמְמוּ
לִרְאוֹת מַה־פָּעַל קְטֹן גּוֹיִם, עַם נָד.
What a deliberate people are we! Step by step we raise up
the desolate ruins and rebuild them eternally!
From sea to sea go forth and be amazed
to see what the smallest among nations has wrought, the wandering people.

וְלָמָּה, הַמְפַגְּרִים, פַּעֲמֵיכֶם כֹּה בוֹשְׁשׁוּ?
הַעֶבֶד יִשְׂרָאֵל, הַאִם בְּנֵי מֵרוֹז?
הוֹי, כֹּחוֹת נִפְרָדִים, הִתְלַקְּטוּ, הִתְקוֹשְׁשׁוּ!
עִבְדוּ שְׁכֶם אֶחָד בְּחַיִל וָעֹז!
And why do the laggards take their time dragging their feet?
The worker of Yisra’el, are they an enigma?
Hey! Be strengthened dispersed ones, unite and stand tall!
Work your portion as one with valor and might!

אַל־תֹּאמְרוּ: קָטֹנּוּ – הֲטֶרֶם תִּתְבּוֹנְנוּ
פְּנֵי אֲבִיר יַעֲקֹב הַהוֹלְכִים בַּקְּרָב;
מִימֵי זְרֻבָּבֶל יָדֵינוּ לֹא־כוֹנְנוּ
מִפְעַל אַדִּירִים כָּמֹהוּ וָרָב.
Do not say “We are not worthy” — in short time you will observe
the visage of the Mighty One of Yaaqov[2]Cf. Genesis 49:24, Isaiah 49:26, Isaiah 60:16, Psalms 132:2-5. going off to battle!
From the days of Zerubavel[3]Ezra 4:1-4. our hands have not wrought
deeds as mighty as this or as numerous.

מִי בַז לְיוֹם קְטַנּוֹת. הַבּוּז לַמִּתְלוֹצְצִים.
מַלְּטוּ אֶת־עַמְּכֶם וְאִתִּים עֲשׂוּ.
עַד נִשְׁמַע מֵרָאשֵׁי הֶהָרִים מִתְפּוֹצְצִים
קוֹלוֹת אֲדֹנָי הַקּוֹרְאִים עֲלוּ׃
Scorn not small deeds, but, scoffers despising
Rescue your people with hoe and with plough
Till we hear from the head of the mountains the signal for rising
The time for redemption has come; it is now.

Before HaTikvah was chosen, Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik’s “People’s Blessing” (בִּרְכַּת עָם, also known by its incipit תֶחֱזַֽקְנָה Teḥezaqnah) was once considered for the State of Israel’s national anthem. Bialik was 21 years old when he composed the work in 1894. It later was chosen as the anthem of the Labor Zionist movement.

The complete text of the poem provided above was transcribed by the Ben-Yehuda Project. As far as we can tell, this is the first ever complete translation of Bialik’s poem. The translation was made by Aharon Varady and anonymous contributors to the Open Siddur Project (thank you all!) with Eugene Kohn’s partial translation serving as a base. Kohn’s translation can be found in The Sabbath Prayer Book (Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation 1945) on pages 484-485, with its first, fourth, and final stanzas translated by Kohn and titled “Redemption through Labor.” It appears in the section, “The Restoration of Zion” containing Zionist themed prayers.

Strong be your hands, O our brethren, who cherish
The soil of our homeland, wherever you be;
Never be downcast, but, lest your folk perish,
Toil on exultant your people to free.

If to build to the roof a lifetime suffice not,
And you lay but the base of your national home,
Enough have you wrought; your achievement despise not
They that come after will yet rear the dome.

Scorn not small deeds, but, scoffers despising,
Rescue your people with hoe and with plough,
Till God’s voice from the hills gives the signal for rising:
The time for redemption has come; it is now.

Source(s)

Notes   [ + ]

  1. Cf. Zechariah 8:9-13
  2. Cf. Genesis 49:24, Isaiah 49:26, Isaiah 60:16, Psalms 132:2-5.
  3. Ezra 4:1-4.

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