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אֲדוֹן עוֹלָם | Adōn Olam, interpretive translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

אֲדוֹן עוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר מָלַךְ
בְּטֶֽרֶם כׇּל־יְצִיר נִבְרָא׃
לְעֵת נַֽעֲשָׂה כְּחֶפְצוֹ כֹּל
אֲזַי מֶֽלֶךְ שְׁמוֹ נִקְרָא׃
You were cosmic Lord Adonai Malakh
Before there even was a world
Then Your will all things did make
Adonai Melekh we call you now.

וְאַֽחֲרֵי כִּכְלּוֹת הַכֹּל
לְבַדּוֹ יִמְלֹךְ נוֹרָא׃
וְהוּא הָיָה וְהוּא הֹוֶה
וְהוּא יִֽהְיֶה בְּתִפְאֲרָה׃
Once when all things will cease to be
Adonai Yimlokh still true will be
You were, You are, eternally
Resplendent to infinity.

וְהוּא אֶחָד וְאֵין שֵׁנִי
לְהַמְשִׁיל לוֹ לְהַחְבִּירָה׃
You alone, there are not two
To join as friends, as lovers do.

בְּלִי רֵאשִׁית בְּלִי תַּכְלִית וְלוֹ הָעֹז וְהַמִּשְׂרָה׃
בְּלִי עֵֽרֶךְ בְּלִי דִמְיוֹן בְּלִי שִׁנּוּי וְהַתְּמוּרָה׃
בְּלִי חִבּוּר בְּלִי פֵרוּד גְּדׇל־כֹּחַ וְהַגְּבוּרָה׃
Beginningless and without end
You keep all one
by plan and strength.

וְהוּא אֵלִי וְחַי גּֽוֹאֲלִי
וְצוּר חֶבְלִי בְּיוֹם צָרָה׃
וְהוּא נִסִּי וּמָנוֹס לִי
מְנָת כּוֹסִי בְּיוֹם אֶקְרָא׃
You are my G-d, Redeemer,
Life Protecting me in war, in strife.
My holy haven and my flag
My cup of health for what I lack.

בְּיָדוֹ אַפְקִיד רוּחִי
בְּעֵת אִישַׁן וְאָעִֽירָה׃
וְעִם רוּחִי גְּוִיָּתִי
אֲדֹנָי לִי וְלֹא אִירָא׃
Into Your hand I trust my breath
You breathe in me by night by day.
My body is Your tool, Your gift.
With You as mine I’m not afraid.

Adon Olam is a piyyut that became popular in the 15th century and is often attributed to Solomon ibn Gabirol (1021–1058) and less often to Sherira Gaon (900-1001), or his son, Hai ben Sherira Gaon (939-1038). The variation of the piyyut appearing here is the 12 line version familiar to Sepharadi congregations. (There are also fifteen and sixteen line variants found in Sepharadi siddurim. The Ashkenazi version has ten lines.)

This “praying translation” of the piyyut Adon Olam appears in Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi’s Sabbath Supplement to his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi ~ As I Can Say It (for Praying in the Vernacular) (2009). From his translation, we can see that Reb Zalman appears to have collapsed the lines together beginning ‘bli.’

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