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כְּגַוְנָא | A paraliturgical interpretive translation of k’Gavna (Just As) from the Zohar parashat Terumah §163-166, by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

The prayer known as K’Gavnah comes from the Zohar parashat Terumah (§163-166), and describes the mystical joining of transcendence (God-far-above, the Kadosh Barukh Hu) with immanence (God-deep-within, Shechinah) as Shabbat arrives. It speaks in the language of the seven “lower sefirot” (emanations or aspects of qualities of God) which are sometimes mapped to the seven colors of the rainbow. (That rainbow imagery for divinity is especially lovely now during June. Happy Pride Month everyone!)

In some siddurim K’Gavna is a prelude to the Bar’chu, the formal Call to Prayer that comes between Kabbalat Shabbat and the evening service. This variation was written for the 2020 Clear Vision Reb Zalman Legacy Shabbaton that R’ David Markus and I co-led over the weekend over Zoom for Ḥavurah Shir Ḥadash in Ashland, Oregon. It dovetails with that Shabbaton’s themes of sacred space, digital presence, and what it means to come together in community online.

Source (Medieval Jewish Aramaic) Paraliturgical Interpretation (English)

כְּגַוְנָא דְאִנּוּן מִתְיַחֲדִין לְעֵלָּא בְּאֶחָד.
אוֹף הָכִי אִיהִי אִתְיַחֲדַת לְתַתָּא בְּרָזָא דְאֶחָד
לְמֶהֱוֵי עִמְּהוֹן לְעֵלָּא חָד לָקֳבֵל חָד.
קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא אֶחָד.
לְעֵלָּא לֹא יָתִיב עַל כּוּרְסַיָּא דִּיקָרֵיהּ עַד דְאִתְעֲבִידַת אִיהִי בְּרָזָא דְאֶחָד.
כְּגַוְנָא דִילֵיהּ לְמֶהֱוֵי אֶחָד בְּאֶחָד.
וְהָא אוּקִימְנָא רָזָא דַיְהֹוָה אֶחָד וּשְׁמוֹ אֶחָד:
Just as the colors of the rainbow
Unite to make one light
God far above and God deep within,
YHVH and Shekhinah,
Unite in Shabbat.
Transcendence unites with Immanence,
One and One becoming One.

רָזָא דְשַׁבָּת אִיהִי שַׁבָּת
דְּאִתְאַחֲדַת בְּרָזָא דְאֶחָד.
לְמִשְׁרֵי עֲלָהּ רָזָא דְאֶחָד.
צְלוֹתָא דְמַעֲלֵי שַׁבְּתָא
דְּהָא אִתְאַחֲדַת כּוּרְסַיָּא
יַקִּירָא קַדִּישָׁא
בְּרָזָא דְאֶחָד.
We join together in community
Together reflecting God’s splendor.
We are the colors of the rainbow
Uniting to make one light.
The glorious holy throne
Is here where we meet
Ready for Shabbat to rest upon us.

וְאִתְתַּקָּנַת לְמִשְׁרֵי עֲלָהּ מַלְכָּא קַדִּישָׁא עִלָּאָה.
כַּד עַיִּל שַׁבְּתָא אִיהִי אִתְיַחֲדַת
וְאִתְפַּרְשַׁת מִסִּטְרָא אַחֲרָא.
וְכׇל דִּינִין מִתְעַבְּרִין מִנָּהּ וְאִיהִי אִשְׁתְּאָרַת בְּיִחוּדָא דִנְהִירוּ קַדִּישָׁא.
וְאִתְעַטְרַת בְּכַמָה עִטְרִין לְגַבֵּי מַלְכָּא קַדִישָׁא.
וְכׇל שׁוּלְטָנֵי רוּגְזִין וּמָארֵי דְדִינָא כֻּלְּהוּ עַרְקִין וְאִתְעַבְּרוּ מִנָּהּ.
וְלֵית שׁוּלְטָנָא אַחֲרָא בְּכֻלְּהוּ עָלְמִין (בַּר מִנָּהּ).
HaMakom, this sacred Place, uplifts us
Here where electrons dance
And the interplay of Being and Nothingness
Draws our hearts together, binary code
Flickering through space
Making us present to each other
And to the radiance of Shabbat.

וְאַנְפָּהָא נְהִירִין בִּנְהִירוּ עִלָּאָה
וְאִתְעַטְּרַת לְתַתָּא בְּעַמָּא קַדִּישָׁא.
וְכֻלְּהוֹן מִתְעַטְּרִין
בְּנִשְׁמָתִין חַדְתִּין
כְּדֵין שֵׁירוּתָא דִצְלוֹתָא.
לְבָרְכָא לָהּ בְּחֶדְוָה בִּנְהִירוּ דְּאַנְפִּין
(וְלוֹמַר בָּרְכוּ אֶת יְיָ הַמְבֹרָךְ …)
We crown Her from below
And She enfolds us in new supernal souls
So that our service
Be blissful and praiseful,
Joyful and radiant
As with shining faces
We approach the Bar’khu —

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat first published this paraliturgical interpretation of k’Gavna in her article, “K’gavna – Just As…,” published at her Velveteen Rabbi blog on 13 June 2020.


 

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