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יִגְדַּל (אשכנז)‏ | Yigdal, by Daniel ben Yehudah (translation by Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan-Kaplan)

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

יִגְדַּל אֱלֹהִים חַי וְיִשְׁתַּבַּח.
נִמְצָא וְאֵין עֵת אֶל מְצִיאוּתוֹ׃
Meet the living presence, the sacred One;
past present future, here and never gone.

אֶחָד וְאֵין יָחִיד כְּיִחוּדוֹ.
נֶעְלָם וְגַם אֵין סוֹף לְאַחְדּוּתוֹ׃
One and there’s no other One like this One;
subtle, infinite, complete, unbroken.

אֵין לוֹ דְמוּת הַגּוּף וְאֵינוֹ גּוּף.
לֹא נַעֲרֹךְ אֵלָיו קְדֻשָּׁתוֹ׃
It has no body, no comparison;
unique in uniqueness in unison.

קַדְמוֹן לְכָל־דָּבָר אֲשֶׁר נִבְרָא.
רִאשׁוֹן וְאֵין רֵאשִׁית לְרֵאשִׁיתוֹ׃
Primordial, primary, unbegotten;
before the creation, the origin.

הִנּוֹ אֲדוֹן עוֹלָם לְכָל־נוֹצָר
יוֹרֶה גְּדֻלָּתוֹ וּמַלְכוּתוֹ׃
Matrix of being and each created one
senses its wonder in deep attraction.

שֶֽׁפַע נְבוּאָתוֹ נְתָנוֹ.
אֶל אַנְשֵׁי סְגֻלָּתוֹ וְתִפְאַרְתּוֹ׃
Its energy flows to its precious ones;
we’re creatures of glory, beauty and love.

לֹא קָם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמֹשֶׁה עוֹד.
נָבִיא. וּמַבִּיט אֶת־תְּמוּנָתוֹ׃‏
Let us learn from Moses in his wisdom;
open to awareness, sound and vision.

תּוֹרַת אֱמֶת נָתַן לְעַמּוֹ אֵל
עַל־יַד נְבִיאוֹ נֶאֱמַן בֵּיתוֹ׃
Truth is all around, open and listen
to prayer and to dreams, in devotion.

לֹא יַחֲלִיף הָאֵל וְלֹא יָמִיר דָּתוֹ.
לְעוֹלָמִים לְזוּלָתוֹ׃
The One will never change, faith unshaken;
no creature will ever be forsaken.

צוֹפֶה וְיוֹדֵעַ סְתָרֵֽינוּ.
מַבִּיט לְסוֹף דָּבָר בְּקַדְמָתוֹ׃
It surveys the world’s hidden dimension;
sees all that we do before it is done.

גּוֹמֵל לְאִישׁ חֶֽסֶד כְּמִפְעָלוֹ.
נוֹתֵן לְרָשָׁע רָע כְּרִשְׁעָתוֹ׃
Pushes everyone to transformation;
good over evil, in evolution.

יִשְׁלַח לְקֵץ יָמִים מְשִׁיחֵֽנוּ.
לִפְדּוֹת מְחַכֵּי קֵץ יְשׁוּעָתוֹ׃
Our healing will result in perfection:
justice, nonviolence and connection.

מֵתִים יְחַיֶּה אֵל בְּרֹב חַסְדּוֹ.
בָּרוּךְ עֲדֵי־עַד שֵׁם תְּהִלָּתוֹ׃
One day the dead will rise for reincarnation;
time’s an illusion, live into the One!

This is the philosophical-creed-as-piyyut, Yigdal, by Daniel ben Judah Dayyan. Yigdal means “Magnify [O Living God]” and is based on the 13 Articles of Faith formulated by Maimonides (1135-1204). Daniel ben Judah spent eight years improving his piyyut, completing Yigdal in 1404. This was not the only metrical presentment of the 13 Articles of Faith; but it has outlived all others, whether in Hebrew or in the vernacular.

The English translation presented here was made by Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan-Kaplan and first published on her blog on 17 July 2017. There it appears with the following introductory verses:

Thirteen’s a lucky number
in Judaism, they say.
The measure of God’s compassion
is expressed in thirteen ways;
the principles of our belief
in thirteen propositions as we pray.
Add them together, get twenty-six:
Gematriya of Yahweh.

And so the mysterious author
Of Yigdal Elohim Chai
sings Praise to the Living God
in thirteen rhyming couplets.

Each pair one statement of the creed
written by the philosopher Maimonides;
the twenty-six line poem a testimony
to the Holy One’s Infinity.

Infinite in being, comprehension, dedication;
infinite in acts beyond imagination.

Three couplets name God’s nature;
three teach us to know the Divine;
three explain the evolutionary ethical plan;
one takes our minds beyond time’s span.

Some call it a creed expressed in song,
but a closer look shows they are wrong.
It’s philosophy all the way: Listen!
You’ll hear it before long!

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