יהי כבוד | Yehi Kh’vod, interpretive translation by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

יְהִ֤י כְב֣וֹד
יְהוָ֣ה לְעוֹלָ֑ם
יִשְׂמַ֖ח יְהוָ֣ה
בְּמַעֲשָֽׂיו׃ (תהלים קד:לא)
יְהִ֤י שֵׁ֣ם יְהוָ֣ה מְבֹרָ֑ךְ
מֵֽ֝עַתָּ֗ה וְעַד־עוֹלָֽם׃
מִמִּזְרַח־שֶׁ֥מֶשׁ
עַד־מְבוֹא֑וֹ
מְ֝הֻלָּ֗ל שֵׁ֣ם
יְהוָֽה׃
 
רָ֖ם עַל־כָּל־גּוֹיִ֥ם ׀
יְהוָ֑ה
עַ֖ל הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם
כְּבוֹדֽוֹ׃ (תהלים קיג:ב-ד)
Yah! Fill our world
To reflect Your nobility,
So You will find joy
In Your creation.[1]Psalms 104:31
In all circumstances,
We adore Your name forever.
Those who come from East,
And those who come
From the West,
Celebrate Your Name
In their ways.
Yah transcends
All national bigotries.
Her glory is in what
Concerns Heaven.[2]Psalms 113:2-4

יְ֭הוָה שִׁמְךָ֣ לְעוֹלָ֑ם
יְ֝הוָ֗ה זִכְרְךָ֥
לְדֹֽר־וָדֹֽר׃ (תהלים קלה:יג)
Yah — this is Your Name forever.
Yah — is the watch word,
Each generation passes to the next.[3]Psalms 135:13

יְֽהוָ֗ה בַּ֭שָּׁמַיִם
הֵכִ֣ין כִּסְא֑וֹ
וּ֝מַלְכוּת֗וֹ
בַּכֹּ֥ל מָשָֽׁלָה׃ (תהלים קג:יט)
Yah, You have established
Your Sh’chinnah in the Heavens.
Your domain encompasses
All there is.[4]Psalms 103:19

יִשְׂמְח֤וּ הַשָּׁמַֽ֨יִם֙
וְתָגֵ֣ל הָאָ֔רֶץ
וְיֹֽאמְר֥וּ בַגּוֹיִ֖ם
יְהוָ֥ה מָלָֽךְ׃ (דברי הימים א׳ טז:לא)
So, Heaven is glad.
Earth is happy.
All nations agree
that You Are in charge.[5]1 Chronicles 16:31

יְהוָ֣ה מֶ֖לֶךְ, (תהלים י:טז)
יְהוָ֣ה מָלָךְ֘, (תהלים צג:א)
יְהוָ֥ה ׀ יִמְלֹ֖ךְ
לְעֹלָ֥ם וָעֶֽד׃ (שמות טו:יח)
Yah! You are now.[6]Psalms 10:16 partial
Yah! You were then.[7]Psalms 93:1 partial
Yah! You will be
Constant forever.[8]Exodus 15:18[9]Cf. Ruth Langer, “Biblical Texts in Jewish Prayer” in Jewish and Christian Liturgy and Worship, ed. Albert Gerhards & Clemens Leonhard, Brill 2007, p.73-74. “This line appears as early as Ele’azar Ha-Qallir, around the time of the Arab conquest of Palestine, who uses it as the verse-like refrain structuring the first rahit of his kedushta for the first day of Rosh Hashanah (Davidson N 1 132-1133). While Qallir does not always use a verse in this position, his predecessors seem to have.”

יְהוָ֣ה מֶ֭לֶךְ עוֹלָ֣ם וָעֶ֑ד
אָֽבְד֥וּ
ג֝וֹיִ֗ם מֵֽאַרְצֽוֹ׃ (תהלים י:טז)
יְֽהוָ֗ה הֵפִ֥יר
עֲצַת־גּוֹיִ֑ם
הֵ֝נִ֗יא מַחְשְׁב֥וֹת עַמִּֽים׃ (תהלים לג:י)
Yah! Your reign is eternal.
Earth is Yours alone.
No nation can claim her.[10]Psalms 10:16
You, Yah, void
The designs of tyrants.
You, Yah, block their schemes.[11]Psalms 33:10

רַבּ֣וֹת מַֽחֲשָׁב֣וֹת
בְּלֶב־אִ֑ישׁ
וַֽעֲצַ֥ת יְ֝הוָ֗ה
הִ֣יא תָקֽוּם׃ (משלי יט:כא)
עֲצַ֣ת יְ֭הוָה
לְעוֹלָ֣ם תַּֽעֲמֹ֑ד
מַחְשְׁב֥וֹת לִ֝בּ֗וֹ
לְדֹ֣ר וָדֹֽר׃ (תהלים לג:יא)
People brood
Over so many desires.
It is Your design, Yah,
That prevails.[12]Proverbs 19:21
What You, Yah, design,
Lasts through all time.
What You propose,
Works for many generations.[13]Psalms 33:11

כִּ֤י ה֣וּא אָמַ֣ר וַיֶּ֑הִי
הֽוּא־צִ֝וָּ֗ה
וַֽיַּעֲמֹֽד: (תהלים לג:ט)
You speak, and it becomes real.
You command,
And it comes to existence.[14]Psalms 33:9

כִּֽי־בָחַ֣ר יְהוָ֣ה בְּצִיּ֑וֹן
אִ֝וָּ֗הּ לְמוֹשָׁ֥ב לֽוֹ׃ (תהלים קלב:יג)
You, Yah, chose Zion.
You wish to make Your seat there.[15]Psalms 132:13

כִּֽי־יַֽעֲקֹ֗ב בָּחַ֣ר ל֣וֹ יָ֑הּ
יִ֝שְׂרָאֵ֗ל לִסְגֻלָּתֽוֹ׃ (תהלים קלה:ד)
You, Yah, have singled out Jacob.
Israel, is Your treasure.[16]Psalms 135:4

כִּ֤י ׀ לֹֽא־יִטֹּ֣שׁ יְהוָ֣ה
עַמּ֑וֹ
וְ֝נַֽחֲלָת֗וֹ
לֹ֣א יַֽעֲזֹֽב׃ (תהלים צד:יד)
You, Yah, will not desert
Your people.
You will not forsake
Your heritage.[17]Psalms 94:14

וְה֤וּא רַח֙וּם ׀
יְכַפֵּ֥ר עָוֹן֘
וְֽלֹא יַֽ֫שְׁחִ֥ית
וְ֖הִרְבָּ֣ה
לְהָשִׁ֣יב אַפּ֑וֹ
וְלֹֽא יָ֝עִ֗יר כָּל־חֲמָתֽוֹ׃ (תהלים עח:לח)
Because You are caring,
You will forgive sin.
You will not destroy.
But time and again,
You will subdue Your wrath
And not let Your fury rise.[18]Psalms 78:38

יְהוָ֥ה הוֹשִׁ֑יעָה
הַ֝מֶּֽ֗לֶךְ
יַֽעֲנֵ֥נוּ
בְיוֹם־קָרְאֵֽנוּ׃ (תהלים כ:י)
Yah! Please help,
Prince!
Answer us the same day,
When we cry out.[19]Psalms 20:10

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l, included his translation of “Yehi Kh’vod” in his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi (2009). To the best of my ability, I have set his translation side-by-side with the verses comprising the piyyut.

“Yehi Kh’vod,” composed of remixed biblical verse, is first referenced in Masekhet Soferim 17:11 and appears in full in the Siddur Rav Amram Gaon. Seligman Baer notes that the piyyut contains the divine name 21 times — the same number as is found in Psalms 145. Given that “Yehi Kh’vod” immediately precedes Ashrei (Psalms 145 with its own introductory verses) in the Psukei D’zimrah/Zemirot section of the Shaḥarit service, this association between the two prayers appears significant.

In her article, “Biblical Texts in Jewish Prayer” (in Jewish and Christian Liturgy and Worship, ed. Albert Gerhards & Clemens Leonhard, Brill 2007, p.70), Ruth Langer uses the term “centos” to describe a novel remix of verses, where “one complete, unaltered biblical verse follows immediately after another, ordered according to the message of the new composition.” Shlomo Tal calls this a “Leket Psukim” (gleaning of verses). In My People’s Prayer Book vol. 3, Marc Brettler calls this prayer a “catena” (latin: chain) — “a chain of verses connected to one another thematically” however this term is more often used to refer to a form of Chrisitian biblical commentary. Besides “Yehi Kh’vod” in the Pesukei D’zimrah, examples of this form include the introductory verses to Psalms 145 (Ashrei), “va’anahnu lo neda” in Taḥanun, and the collection of verses found at the end of the Birkat Hamazon. Ruth Langner writes:

These biblical centos communicate in three different ways….The second method is characteristic of these centos in their most sophisticated forms. As in yehi khavod and va’anahnu lo neda, the verses generally relate one to the next by interlinking identical words or similar concepts from one verse to the next (underlined in the tables). It is the resulting chain of concepts that communicates the meaning of the composition. This technique has apparent precedent in the biblical period. Reuven Kimelman (‘Psalm 145: Theme, Structure, and Impact’, JBL 113, 1994) demonstrates that Psalm 145 also uses such chaining to communicate its message while organizing the verses according to its alphabetical acrostic. However, nothing suggests that Psalm 145 consists of verses culled verbatim from other compositions. In our prayers, this interlinking of concepts makes it impossible to construct an adequate narrative paraphrase of the cento’s message. However, the underlined words [see below PDF: Table B. Yehi Khavod] suggest that yehi khavod begins with a praise of God’s constant exaltation not only by the physical world, especially the heavens themselves, but also by all its inhabitants, over whom God reigns eternally. But because of God’s special redemptive relationship with Israel, this divine sovereignty over the nations results in God’s frustrating their plans, in favor of Israel’s protection.

Download Ruth-Langer-Biblical-Texts-in-Jewish-Prayers-Table-B.-Yehi-Khavod.pdf (PDF, 56KB)

Notes   [ + ]

  1. Psalms 104:31
  2. Psalms 113:2-4
  3. Psalms 135:13
  4. Psalms 103:19
  5. 1 Chronicles 16:31
  6. Psalms 10:16 partial
  7. Psalms 93:1 partial
  8. Exodus 15:18
  9. Cf. Ruth Langer, “Biblical Texts in Jewish Prayer” in Jewish and Christian Liturgy and Worship, ed. Albert Gerhards & Clemens Leonhard, Brill 2007, p.73-74. “This line appears as early as Ele’azar Ha-Qallir, around the time of the Arab conquest of Palestine, who uses it as the verse-like refrain structuring the first rahit of his kedushta for the first day of Rosh Hashanah (Davidson N 1 132-1133). While Qallir does not always use a verse in this position, his predecessors seem to have.”
  10. Psalms 10:16
  11. Psalms 33:10
  12. Proverbs 19:21
  13. Psalms 33:11
  14. Psalms 33:9
  15. Psalms 132:13
  16. Psalms 135:4
  17. Psalms 94:14
  18. Psalms 78:38
  19. Psalms 20:10

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