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נִשְׁמַת כָּל חַי (ספרד)‏ | Nishmat Kol Ḥai, arranged by Aharon Varady

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

נִשְׁמַת כָּל חַי
תְּבָרֵךְ אֶת שִׁמְךָ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ.
וְרוּחַ כָּל בָּשָׂר
תְּפָאֵר וּתְרוֹמֵם זִכְרְךָ
מַלְכֵּנוּ תָּמִיד.
The soul of every living being
shall bless your Name, YHVH our elo’ah.
And the spirit of all flesh
shall glorify and exalt your remembrance,
our King, always.

מִן הָעוֹלָם וְעַד־הָעוֹלָם אַתָּה אֵל. (תהלים צ:ב)
וּמִבַּלְעָדֶיךָ אֵין לָנוּ מֶלֶךְ (להשוואה ישעיה מד:ו)
גּוֹאֵל וּמוֹשִׁיעַ פּוֹדֶה וּמַצִּיל
וּמְפַרְנֵס וְעוֹנֶה וּמְרַחֵם
בְּכָל עֵת צָרָה וְצוּקָה
אֵין לָנוּ מֶלֶךְ אֶלָּא אָתָּה:
From this Cosmos to the [next] Cosmos, you are El.[1]Psalms 90:2.
Aside from you, we have no King[2]Cf. Isaiah 44:6.
who delivers, saves, redeems, rescues,
sustains, answers, and is merciful
in every time of distress and difficulty;
we have no King aside from you.

אֱלֹהֵי הָרִאשׁוֹנִים וְהָאַחֲרוֹנִים
אֱלֹהַּ כָּל בְּרִיוֹת
אֲדוֹן כָּל תּוֹלָדוֹת
הַמְּהֻלָל בְּרֹב הַתִּשְׁבָּחוֹת.
הַמְנַהֵג עוֹלָמוֹ בְּחֶסֶד
וּבְרִיּוֹתָיו בְּרַחֲמִים.
[You are the] elo’ah of the first and of the last,
Elo’ah of all creatures,
Master of all generations,
who is extolled with manifold praises.
[The one] who directs their world with lovingkindness
and their creatures with compassion.

וַיְהֹוָה הִנֵה לֹא־יָנוּם וְלֹא־יִישָׁן.
הַמְּעוֹרֵר יְשֵׁנִים וְהַמֵּקִיץ נִרְדָּמִים (תהלים קכא:ד)[3](נ״א: מְחַיֵי מֵתִים, וְרוֹפֵא חוֹלִים, פּוֹקֵֽחַ עִוְרִים) 
וְהַמֵּשִׂיחַ אִלְּמִים
וְהַמַּתִּיר אֲסוּרִים (להשוואה תהלים קמו:ז-ח)
וְהַסּוֹמֵךְ נוֹפְלִים
וְהַזּוֹקֵף כְּפוּפִים. (להשוואה תהלים קמה:יד)
(נ״א: וְהַמְפַעֲנֵֽחַ נֶעְלָמִים.)
Indeed, YHVH neither slumbers nor sleeps.[4]Psalms 121:4. 
They rouse the sleepers and waken the slumberers.
They give speech to the voiceless,
release the bound,[5]Cf. Psalms 146:7-8.
support the fallen,
straighten the bent[6]Cf. Psalms 145:14.
(and uncover the hidden).

לְךָ לְבַדְּךָ אֲנַחְנוּ מוֹדִים.
אִלּוּ פִינוּ מָלֵא שִׁירָה כַּיָּם
וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה כַּהֲמוֹן גַּלָּיו
וְשִׂפְתוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁבַח כְּמֶרְחֲבֵי רָקִיעַ
וְעֵינֵינוּ מְאִירוֹת כַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ וְכַיָּרֵחַ
וְיָדֵינוּ פְרוּשׂוֹת כְּנִשְׂרֵי שָׁמַיִם
וְרַגְלֵינוּ קַלּוֹת כָּאַיָּלוֹת:
אֵין אָנוּ מַסְפִּיקִים לְהוֹדוֹת לְךָ
יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ
וּלְבָרֵךְ אֶת־שְׁמֶךָ עַל־אַחַת
מֵאֶלֶף אַלְפֵי אֲלָפִים
וְרִבֵּי רְבָבוֹת פְּעָמִים
הַטּוֹבוֹת נִסִּים וְנִפְלָאוֹת
שֶׁעָשִׂיתָ עִמָּנוּ
וְעִם־אֲבוֹתֵינוּ מִלְּפָנִים:
To you alone we give thanks.
If our mouths were filled with song like the sea,
and our tongues with melody like the multitude of its waves,
and our lips with praise like the breadth of the sky,
and our eyes shone like the sun and the moon,
and our hands were spread like [the wings of] the eagles of the sky,
and our feet were as swift as deer –
we could still not praise you sufficiently,
YHVH our elo’ah and elo’ah of our ancestors,
and bless your Name for even one
of the of the thousands of millions
and many myriad occasions
of goodness, miracles, and wonders
which you have done for us
and our ancestors before us.

מִמִּצְרַיִם גְּאַלְתָּנוּ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ.
מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים פְּדִיתָנוּ.
בְּרָעָב זַנְתָּנוּ
וּבְשָׂבָע כִּלְכַּלְתָּנוּ
מֵחֶרֶב הִצַּלְתָּנוּ
וּמִדֶּבֶר מִלַּטְתָּנוּ
וּמֵחָלָיִם רָעִים וְנֶאֱמָנִים דִּלִּיתָנוּ:
עַד־הֵנָּה עֲזָרוּנוּ רַחֲמֶיךָ
וְלֹא־עֲזָבוּנוּ חֲסָדֶיךָ.
וְאַל תִּטְּשֵׁנוּ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ לָנֶצַח:
[You] delivered us from Mitsrayim, YHVH our elo’ah.
[You] redeemed us from the house of slavery.
[You] fed us in famine,
and nourished us in plenty;
saved us from the sword,
and spared us from plague,
and kept us from severe and lingering illnesses.
Until now your mercies have helped us
and your kindness has not forsaken us.
Never abandon us, YHVH our elo’ah, ever.

עַל כֵּן אֵבָרִים שֶׁפִּלַּגְתָּ בָּנוּ
וְרוּחַ וּנְשָׁמָה שֶׁנָּפַחְתָּ בְּאַפֵּינוּ
וְלָשׁוֹן אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתָּ בְּפִינוּ:
הֵן הֵם יוֹדוּ וִיבָרְכוּ
וִישַׁבְּחוּ וִיפָאֲרוּ וִירוֹמְמוּ וְיַעֲרִיצוּ וְיַקְדִּישׁוּ
וְיַמְלִיכוּ אֶת שִׁמְךָ מַלְכֵּנוּ:
Therefore the limbs which you set within us,
and the spirit and soul which you breathed into our nostrils,
and the tongue which you placed in our mouth –
they shall all thank, bless,
praise, glorify, exalt, adore, sanctify,
and crown your Name our King.

כִּי כָל־פֶּה לְךָ יוֹדֶה
וְכָל לָשׁוֹן לְךָ תִשָּׁבַע.
וְכָל עַיִן לְךָ תְצַפֶּה
וְכָל־בֶּרֶךְ לְךָ תִכְרַע (להשוואה ישעיה מה:כג)
וְכָל־קוֹמָה לְפָנֶיךָ תִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה.
וְכָל הַלְבָבוֹת יִירָאוּךָ
וְכָל־קֶרֶב וּכְלָיוֹת יְזַמְּרוּ לִשְׁמֶךָ.
כַּדָּבָר שֶׁכָּתוּב כָּל־עַצְמוֹתַי תֹּאמַרְנָה
יְהֹוָה מִי כָמוֹךָ.
מַצִּיל עָנִי מֵחָזָק מִמֶּנוּ
וְעָנִי וְאֶבְיוֹן מִגֹּזְלוֹ: (תהלים לה:י)
For every mouth will thank you,
and every tongue will avow by you.
Every eye will look to you,
every knee will bend to you,[7]Cf. Isaiah 45:23.
and all who stand will bow before you.
Every heart will revere you,
and every innard and kidney will sing to your Name.
As it is written: “All my bones will say:
‘YHVH, who is like you?
You save the poor from those who are stronger,
and the poor and destitute from those who would rob them.’”[8]Psalms 35:10.

מִי יִדְמֶה־לָּךְ
וּמִי יִשְׁוֶה־לָּךְ
וּמִי יַעֲרָךְ־לָךְ. (להשוואה תהלים פט:יז, ישעיה מ:כה)
הָאֵל הַגָּדוֹל הַגִּבּוֹר וְהַנּוֹרָא
אֵל עֶלְיוֹן קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ:
Who resembles you,
who is equal to you,
and who can compare to you?[9]Cf. Psalms 89:17, Isaiah 40:25. 
El, great, mighty, and awesome,
El Elyon, master of Heaven and Earth.

נְהַלֶּלְךָ וּנְשַׁבֵּחֲךָ וּנְפָאֶרְךָ וּנְבָרֵךְ אֶת־שֵׁם קָדְשֶׁךָ.
כָּאָמוּר לְדָוִד
בָּרְכִי נַפְשִׁי אֶת יְהֹוָה
וְכָל קְרָבַי אֶת־שֵׁם קָדְשׁוֹ: (תהלים קג:א)
We will praise, extol, glorify, and bless your holy Name.
As it says: “[A psalm] by David;
bless YHVH my soul,
and all my being their holy Name.”[10]Psalms 103:1.

This text and translation of Nishmat Kol Ḥai was derived by Aharon Varady from the nishmat published in the Plotke Family Haggadah, with citations and some nusaḥ variations found in other sources. Circumlocutions (Hashem, God) have been replaced with direct transliterations. Additionally, this modified translation uses the gender-neutral singular ‘they.’ And there are several other changes in wording scattered throughout.

Macy Nulman writes in his entry on “Nishmat Kol Hai” in Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer (1993, pp. 255-256):

The prayer is partially cited in the Talmud as a prayer of thanksgiving for rainfall following a drought.[11]Berakhot 59b; Ta’anit 6b. Reciting Nishmat also has its origin in the talmudic discussion that calls for its recitation after Hallel over the fourth cup of wine at the Seder.[12]Pesachim 117b-118a. According to the Zohar it was first recited on Shabbat during the Tannaitic period (10-220 C.E.),[13]Parashat Terumah 138a; Parashat Vayakhayl 205b. and according to Rabbaynu Yonah it was instituted as a congregational prayer in the Geonic period (c. 10th century).[14]Ber. 24a, s.v. Hokoraya Behoda’oh.

The Talmud refers to Nishmat as Birkat Hashir (“Benediction of the Song”),[15]Pesachim 118a though it does not have the standard blessing formula. It was given this appellation because it is an extended blessing resembling a poem (shir).[16]Seligman Baer, Siddur Avodat Yisrael, p.206. It is recited on the Sabbath to allude to the Neshamah Yetayrah[17]Bez. 16a. that a Jew has on the Sabbath, and its recital was instituted in its honor. In addition, on Shabbat, when we abstain from work, rest allows sufficient time for us to express additional gratitude to God for His mercies in sustaining us.[18]Matt Mosh, par. 445; Moses ibn Makhir, Sefer Seder Hayyom, Seder Zemirot Shel Shabbat (Venice: Mefitzay Or, 1599); Tur, OH, chap. 281. The prayer also mentions the Exodus from Egypt, a fundamental concept embodied in the Sabbath and thus further qualifying the reason for its inclusion in the Sabbath service.[19]Rabbi J.M. Epslein, Arukh Hashulhan, vol. 2 (E. Grossman’s Publishing House, 1884-1906), 285:5. Tosafot comments that it is called Birkat Hashir because it is said on Shabbat after Pesukay Dezimrah, after all the psalms and other biblical poetry of the early morning service.[20]Pesachim 118a, s.v . R. Yohanan. Thus, Nishmat pertains to all the verses that were uttered previously in the service. Significantly, when the last phrase of the previous passage, AZ YASHIR, ends with “in that day shall the Lord be one, and His Name one,” it follows ideally with Nishmat Kol Hai, “The breath of every living thing shall bless Thy Name.”[21]Arugat Habosen in Otz Hat, Shaharit LeShabbat. Nishmat follows Az Yashir because its contents also include the Exodus of Egypt.[22]Tur, ibid. Since it is so relevant to the festival that celebrates our freedom from Egypt, it is recited at the Passover Seder.

On Hoshana Rabbah the Ashkenazic rite as well as some Sephardic rites omit Nishmat in Shaharit, although other Sabbath psalms are said. The rationale for this practice is that the soul does not become as vigorous with joy on this day as on another complete holiday,[23]Levush quoted in Ket Shem Tob, vol. 7, p. 151. The Egyptian as well as other Sephardic rites recite Nishmat up to umayolom ve’ad olam attah Ayl after ALAYNU, while the ark is open. A special prayer is uttered: “Behold, we accept upon us completely, without a vow, for in the year that comes upon us for good life and peace, in this time and season on Hoshana Rabbah, that after Shaharit we will again be able to give praise by singing Nishmat Kol Hai,” etc.[24]Ket Shem Tob, vol. 7, pp. 151-153 .

In Sephardic congregations Nishmat is recited with tunefulness[25]BIH, Shanoh Sheniah, Parshat Toldot, 3. and elaborate singing and chanting takes place, especially when saying shavat anyim (”the cry of the afflicted Thou hearest”).[26]Cf. Abudraham, Kol Bo. See also CJMP, p. 124, and TSLC, p. 233. There are differences in textual phraseology between the Ashkenazic and Sephardic rites.[27]Cf. Ket Shem Tob, vol. I, 218:216.

Source(s)

Notes   [ + ]

  1. Psalms 90:2.
  2. Cf. Isaiah 44:6.
  3. (נ״א: מְחַיֵי מֵתִים, וְרוֹפֵא חוֹלִים, פּוֹקֵֽחַ עִוְרִים)
  4. Psalms 121:4.
  5. Cf. Psalms 146:7-8.
  6. Cf. Psalms 145:14.
  7. Cf. Isaiah 45:23.
  8. Psalms 35:10.
  9. Cf. Psalms 89:17, Isaiah 40:25.
  10. Psalms 103:1.
  11. Berakhot 59b; Ta’anit 6b.
  12. Pesachim 117b-118a.
  13. Parashat Terumah 138a; Parashat Vayakhayl 205b.
  14. Ber. 24a, s.v. Hokoraya Behoda’oh.
  15. Pesachim 118a
  16. Seligman Baer, Siddur Avodat Yisrael, p.206.
  17. Bez. 16a.
  18. Matt Mosh, par. 445; Moses ibn Makhir, Sefer Seder Hayyom, Seder Zemirot Shel Shabbat (Venice: Mefitzay Or, 1599); Tur, OH, chap. 281.
  19. Rabbi J.M. Epslein, Arukh Hashulhan, vol. 2 (E. Grossman’s Publishing House, 1884-1906), 285:5.
  20. Pesachim 118a, s.v . R. Yohanan.
  21. Arugat Habosen in Otz Hat, Shaharit LeShabbat.
  22. Tur, ibid.
  23. Levush quoted in Ket Shem Tob, vol. 7, p. 151.
  24. Ket Shem Tob, vol. 7, pp. 151-153 .
  25. BIH, Shanoh Sheniah, Parshat Toldot, 3.
  26. Cf. Abudraham, Kol Bo. See also CJMP, p. 124, and TSLC, p. 233.
  27. Cf. Ket Shem Tob, vol. I, 218:216.

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