בסיעתא דשמיא

תפילת נחם לשלם בירושלם | Tefilat Naḥem for the Peace of Jerusalem on Tisha b’Av, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

On Tisha be’Av, Jewish communities all over the world add a paragraph called Tefilat Naḥem (the prayer of comfort) to the standard daily Amidah (either for the afternoon service or for all services) praying for a return to Jerusalem. The traditional text discusses Jerusalem being defiled, in the hands of the idol worshipers, putting our people to the sword. But post-1967, Jerusalem has been under Israeli control, and this text has, to many people, felt no longer appropriate in the face of a Jerusalem being rebuilt. Many have written their own versions of a new Tefilat Naḥem for a Jerusalem under Israeli control, but I have felt dissatisfied with a lot of these. Some treat Jerusalem as already fully redeemed, which any glance at the news tells you isn’t the case. Others treat the major step in redeeming Jerusalem as building the Temple, but this seems to me to be only one eschatological part of a larger hope for Jerusalem. Jews have often considered the peace of Jerusalem to be a microcosm of the peace of all the earth. Thus for the Shabbat and Yom Tov Hashkivenu we pray for God to “spread the shelter of peace over us, all Israel, and Jerusalem.” The name Jerusalem, ירושלים, has been analyzed as “they will see peace” יראו שלום, since the peace of Jerusalem means all will see peace. But it’s clear that the peace of Jerusalem is not final or eternal, and it remains a city on the edge of a knife. So my version of Tefilat Naḥem prays not for a return, nor for a Temple, but for the peace of Jerusalem. It can be used at the same time as the standard Tefilat Naḥem (as an extension of the Birkat Yerushalayim in the Shmoneh Esreh for Tisha b’Av) or on its own. Thus I used four asterisks (a tetrapuncta) instead of God’s name, for those who would prefer to avoid a b’rakhah levatalah. Those who would prefer to use this blessing in the Amidah itself could replace the tetrapuncta with the name itself. . . .

Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. Senate: Rabbi Seth H. Frisch on 27 February 2018

The Opening Prayer given in the U.S. Senate on 27 February 2018. . . .

the past didn’t go anywhere: making resistance to antisemitism part of all of our movements, by April Rosenblum (2007)

It’s always a real struggle for the Left to successfully tackle oppression within its own ranks. But when we do it, our movements gain, every time, from the deeper understandings that emerge. To start the process this time, we need some basic information about what anti-Jewish oppression is and how to counter it. But it has to come from a perspective of justice for all people, not from opportunistic attempts to slander or censor social justice efforts that are gaining strength. . . .

A Modern Esther Tribute for Purim and Women’s History Month, by Rabbi David Evan Markus

Purim affirms Esther’s stand against official silencing, abuse of power, misogyny and anti-Semitism. At first an outsider, Queen Esther used her insider power to reveal and thwart official hatred that threatened Jewish life and safety. We celebrate one woman’s courageous cunning to right grievous wrongs within corrupt systems. The archetype of heroic woman standing against hatred continues to call out every society still wrestling with official misogyny, power abuses and silencing. For every official silencing and every threat to equality and freedom, may we all live the lesson of Esther and all who stand in her shoes: “Nevertheless, she persisted.” . . .

The Megillah of Esther: An Original English Rendition Set to Trōp, by Ḥazzan Jack Kessler

The Megillah of Esther: An Original English Rendition (set to trop) by Ḥazzan Jack Kessler was first published in 1990. This second “version 2.0” edition was published in 2016. . . .

תְּחִנָה לְשַׁבָּת מְבָרְכִים רֹאשׁ חוֹדֶשׁ אַדָר | Tkhine for Shabbat Mevorkhim Rosh Ḥodesh Adar [II] (1877)

To the best of my ability, this is a faithful transcription of the תְּחִנָה לְשַׁבָּת מְבָרְכִים רֹאשׁ חוֺדֶשׁ אַדָר (“Tkhine for Shabbat Mevorkhim Rosh Ḥodesh Adar [II]”) which appeared in תחנות מקרא קודש (Teḥinot Miqra Qodesh, Widow and Brothers Romm, Vilna 1877). English translation adapted slightly from Techinas: A Voice from the Heart “As Only A Woman Can Pray” by Rivka Zakutinsky (Aura Press, 1992). –A.N. Varady . . .

תְּחִנָה לְשַׁבָּת מְבָרְכִים רֹאשׁ חוֹדֶשׁ טֵבֵת | Tkhine for Shabbat Mevorkhim Rosh Ḥodesh Tevet (1877)

To the best of my ability, this is a faithful transcription of the תְּחִנָה לְשַׁבָּת מְבָרְכִים רֹאשׁ חוֺדֶשׁ טֵבֵת (“Tkhine for Shabbat Mevorkhim Rosh Ḥodesh Tevet”) which appeared in תחנות מקרא קודש (Teḥinot Miqra Qodesh, Widow and Brothers Romm, Vilna 1877). English translation adapted slightly from Techinas: A Voice from the Heart “As Only A Woman Can Pray” by Rivka Zakutinsky (Aura Press, 1992). –A.N. Varady . . .

מעוז צור | Maoz Tsur, attributed to Mordecai ben Yitsḥak haLevi (adapted by R’ Joseph H. Hertz, trans. by Solomon Solis-Cohen)

Maoz Tsur as translated by Dr. Solomon Solis-Cohen, with Hebrew adapted in the first stanza by Joseph Herman Hertz, chief rabbi of the British Empire. . . .

תפילה לחודש כסלו עד סוף חנוכה | Prayer for the month of Kislev through the end of Ḥanukkah, by Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman (from Isaiah 60)

Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman introduced the tradition of reading these verses from Isaiah during the month of Kislev through the end of Ḥanukkah in his Siddur Ha’Avodah Shebalev of Kehillat Kol HaNeshamah (R’ Levi Weiman-Kelman, R’ Ma’ayan Turner, and Shaul Vardi, 2007). The translation provided here was adapted from the one made by Shaul Vardi in Siddur Ha’Avodah Shebalev. –Aharon Varady. . . .

בְּכִסְלֵו – מאבן בֹחן | On Kislev, from the poem “Touchstone,” by Rabbi Kalonymus ben Kalonymus ben Meir (ca. 14th c.)

Before potatoes entered the diet of Ashkenazi Jews, latkes were cheese pancakes, or cassola, as described in “Even Boḥan” (Touchstone), a satyrical poem by Rabbi Kalonymus ben Kalonymus ben Meir (b.1286-died after 1328). . . .

זאָג ניט קײן מאָל | Partisaner Lid (the Partisan Song), by Hirsh Glik (Vilna Ghetto, 1943)

The Yiddish resistance song, “Partisaner Lid” (The Partisan Song) was composed by Hirsh Glick in the Vilna Ghetto in 1943. . . .

תחנה אן צום גדליהו | Prayer for the Fast of Gedalyahu (1841)

A teḥinah written in Judeo-German for the Fast of Gedalyah on the day after Rosh Hashanah. . . .

A Prayer for the Love of God by Rosa Emma Salaman (1851)

This prayer and “A Prayer for Knowledge of the Messiah” were published as “Two Short Prayers” with a lengthy introduction probably penned by Isaac Leeser in the Occident 9:5, Ab 5611/August 1851, p.253-255. . . .

A Prayer for Knowledge of the Messiah by Rosa Emma Salaman (1851)

Oh! Lord God! I come to ask counsel of Thee. Give me, I beseech Thee, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

Oh! God of wisdom, let thy power and thy might be seen in me, for the knowledge that I shall have of thy holy word.

Great God! Almighty Creator! enlighten my spirit, that I may . . .

תהלים ל׳ בלשון אנגלית | Psalms 30 by David (interpretive translation by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l)

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English) מִזְמ֡וֹר שִׁיר־חֲנֻכַּ֖ת הַבַּ֣יִת לְדָוִֽד׃ A Psalm for A Housewarming, Composed by David ב אֲרוֹמִמְךָ֣ יְ֭הוָה כִּ֣י דִלִּיתָ֑נִי וְלֹא־שִׂמַּ֖חְתָּ אֹיְבַ֣י לִֽי׃ ג יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהָ֑י שִׁוַּ֥עְתִּי אֵ֝לֶ֗יךָ וַתִּרְפָּאֵֽנִי׃ ד יְֽהוָ֗ה הֶֽעֱלִ֣יתָ מִן־שְׁא֣וֹל נַפְשִׁ֑י חִ֝יִּיתַ֗נִי מיורדי־[מִיָּֽרְדִי־] בֽוֹר׃ 2 I acclaim You, my God. You set me free So that my foes Could not gloat at my troubles. . . .

תפילה יהודית לחודש הרמדאן | صلاة يهودية لشهر رمضان | A Jewish Prayer for the Month of Ramadan, by Rav Ḥanan Schlesinger

Ramadan Mubarak رمضان مبارك. “A Jewish Prayer for the Month of Ramadan” with its English translation was first published by Rav Hanan Schlesinger​ on his website, “Breaking Bread and Barriers: Solidarity through Prayer” on 15 June 2017, and composed by him for a Muslim-Jewish Iftar​ (break-fast) on 14 June 2017. . . .

אל שמר המלכה | God Save the Queen (Hebrew translation, ca. 1892)

“God Save the Queen” is an adaptation of “God Save the King,” a work by an unknown author, first circulated by periodicals in mid-18th century England. The author of the Hebrew translation is also unknown and was published in a pamphlet circulated by New Road (Whitechapel) Synagogue in 1892. We are grateful to the Jewish East End of Londonwebsite for providing the source image for the transcription of this work in the Public Domain. . . .

מגילת אנטיוכס | Megillat Antiokhus in Ladino by Rabbi Isaac Magriso (Me’am Lo’ez: Bamdibar BeHa’alothekha, Constantinople 1764)

This is a largely uncorrected transcription of Rabbi Isaac Magriso’s telling of Megillat Antiokhus in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) from the Me’am Loez: Bamidbar Parshat BeHe’alotekha (Constantinople, 1764). The paragraph breaks are a rough estimation based on my comparison with the English translation of Dr. Tzvi Faier (1934-2009) appearing in The Torah Anthology: Me’am Loez, Book Thirteen – In the Desert (Moznaim 1982). I welcome all Ladino speakers and readers to help correct this transcription and to provide a complete English translation for non-Ladino readers. . . .

בורא עד אנה | Borei Ad Anah, “Creator! How long” (after 1492 C.E.)

Bore ‘Ad Anah” is a kinah recited in a number of Sephardic communities on Tisha B’av (or in some cases on Shabbat Hazon, the Shabbat preceding Tisha B’av), particularly in the Spanish-Portuguese and North African traditions. The author is unknown, but his name is likely Binyamin based on the acrostic made up of the first letters of the verses. In the kinah, the Children of Israel are compared to a wandering dove caught in a trap by predators, crying out its father, God. The kinah was likely written as a poignant response to the Spanish Inquisition, appropriate to Tisha B’av since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain occurred on the 9th of Av in the year 1492. The version presented here was likely censored, as many manuscripts have the fifth verse presented in the following manner directly calling out their Catholic oppressors,” יועצים עליה עצות היא אנושה זרים העובדים אלילים שלושה אם ובן ורוח כי אין להם בושה גדול ממכאובי.” “They counsel against her and she languishes, the strangers who worship three idols, father, son and spirit, for they have no shame and great is my suffering.” . . .

מגילת איכה | Megillat Eikhah (Lamentations) for Tisha b’Av (translation by Rabbi David Seidenberg, neohasid.org)

This translation of Laments, the book of mourning poems read on Tish’a B’Av, uses principles of the Buber-Rosenzweig Bible. It strives to be “concordant”, translating related Hebrew words with related English words and following the order and syntax of the Hebrew where possible. It also focuses on the more physical, earthy meaning of words, in order to draw the reader from modern towards more ancient ways of seeing and feeling. Sometimes alternate translations are given, indicated by a slash. (When reading aloud, simply pick one of the translations. For YHVH, you can read Adonai or Hashem or “the Eternal”.) James Moffat’s 1922 translation was consulted. As a somewhat literal translation, Laments uses “He” and “His” as pronouns for God, even though Torah and common sense command us not to make an exclusively male or female image of God. If you are using Laments liturgically, please feel encouraged to change the pronouns. For brief essays on the theology of Eikhah and more, see the bottom of this page. This work is dedicated to all refugees fleeing war and upheaval, and to our remembering their needs. . . .

מגילת יהודית לאמרה בחנוכּה | Megillat Yehudit, the Medieval Scroll of Judith to be said on Ḥanukkah

Below we have made a faithful transcription of the text of the medieval Megillat Yehudith (the Scroll of Judith), not to be confused with the deutero-canonical Book of Judith, authored in Antiquity. We have further set this text side-by-side with the English translation made by Susan Weingarten, originally published as “Food, Sex, and Redemption in Megillat Yehudit: Appendix to Chapter 6,” in Sword of Judith. ed., Kevin R. Brine, Elena Ciletti, Henrike Lähnemann (Open Book Publishers, 2010) p.110-125. Our transcription sources are the same as Dr. Weingarten’s: A.M. Habermann’s transcribed text in “Megillat yehudit le-omrah be-hanukkah,” Mahanayim 52 (1961), pp. 42–47, and the “Midrash No.8” found in A.M. Dubarle’s Judith: formes et sens des diverses traditions II: textes (Rome, 1966), pp. 140–53. Dubarle provided section numbers by which the extant variations of the midrashim for Judith might be compared. As Dr. Weingarten notes, Dubarle only transcribed the second portion of the only extant manuscript. We have provided his section numbers in curly brackets. “Missing” numbers refer to portions of the story appearing outside the Megillah in the other variations transcribed by Dubarle. (Please refer to Dubarle’s work for these.) We are grateful to Dr. Weingarten and to Open Book Publishers for sharing their work under an Open Content license. Please read Dr. Weingarten’s complete chapter in Sword of Judith for additional context. . . .

אודך כי אנפת בי | Odekha Ki Anafta Bi, a Yotser (Hymn) for Ḥanukkah by Yosef bar Shlomo of Carcassone (ca. 11th cent.)

Odecha ki anafta bi (I give thanks to you although you were angry with me) was composed by Joseph ben Solomon of Carcassonne, who is dated to the first half of the eleventh century. This elegant and abstruse poem tells an epic tale of the Jews’ resistance to the decrees of Antiochus IV and includes accounts of both the Hasmonean bride and Judith. It bears a considerable resemblance to texts 4 and 12 of the Hanukkah midrashim[ref]See Grintz, Sefer Yehudit, pp. 205, 207–08[/ref] and this is evidence for the circulation of the joint Hasmonean daughter-Judith tales in the eleventh century, even if the surviving manuscripts of these stories are from a later date.” (Deborah Levine Gera, “The Jewish Textual Traditions” in The Sword of Judith: Judith Studies Across the Disciplines (2010).) . . .

מגילת יום ניקנור | A Reading for Yom Nikanor, the Day of the Elephantarch: II Maccabees Chapter 13-15

It is challenging to think of how to mark Nicanor Day, as it remains at a disadvantage, not only on years when it conflicts with Ta’anit Esther but on all years since it has no mitzvot. This is probably the main reason that, unlike Chanukah and Purim, it was lost to Jewish practice for more than a thousand years. Nevertheless, we do have its megillah, which has been translated into Hebrew and English. Perhaps, if we start reading chapters 13-15 of 2 Maccabees, even just to ourselves, on the 13 of Adar, we can begin to resurrect a holiday that was celebrated and instituted by Judah Maccabee and his followers over two millennia ago, and which they envisioned would continue throughout Jewish History. With the return of Jews to Israel and Jewish sovereignty to Jerusalem, I believe it is about time. . . .

ז׳ אדר | Ḥonenu Yah Ḥonenu (Forgive Us Yah in the Merit of Moshe Rabbenu)

The 7th of Adar is the traditional date for the yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu and it is also remembered as the day of his birth 120 years earlier. This variation of of the piyyut, Hanenu Yah Hanenu (Forgive Us Yah, Forgive Us), sung on 7 Adar, is attributed to Rabbi Yosef Ḥayyim of Baghdad (the Ben Ish Ḥai, 1832-1909). The earliest published version we could find appears in בקשות: ונוסף עוד פתיחות ופיוטים הנוהגים לומר בזמה הזה (1912) containing piyyutim by Israel ben Moses Najara (1555-1625), a Jewish liturgical poet, preacher, Biblical commentator, kabbalist, and rabbi of Gaza. The contemporary audio recording of the Iraqi nusaḥ presented here was made by משה חבושה (Moshe Ḥavusha). . . .

ז׳ אדר | Tsa’akah Yokheved, a piyyut attributed to Shmuel Shlomo (before 1050 CE)

The 7th of Adar is the traditional date for the yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu and it is also remembered as the day of his birth 120 years earlier. This variation of of the piyyut, Tsa’akah Yokheved, popularly sung on 7 Adar, is first attested in a 1712 Sepharadi mahzor published in Amsterdam, as transcribed above with some minor changes with the contemporary audio recording of the Iraqi nusaḥ made by משה חבושה (Moshe Ḥavusha). (The piyyut appear without niqqud.) An older version (perhaps the original version), attributed in the Maagarim database to Shmuel Shlomo and dated before 1050 CE, is attested in two manuscripts: “London, British Library 699” and “Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Ham. 288”. Ibn Ezra (1089-1167) quotes a stanza from the version we have presented here (“וכבד אמי אחרי התנחמי”) indicating that this version may be at least as old. . . .

שִׁיר לְשִׂמְחָה | Shir l’Simḥa, Friedrich Schiller’s An die Freude (ode to Joy) in Hebrew, 1795

In 1785 Friedrich Schiller wrote his ‘An die Freude an ode ‘To Joy’, describing his ideal of an equal society united in joy and friendship. Numerous copies and adaptations attest to its popularity at the time. The slightly altered 1803 edition was set to music not only by Ludwig van Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony but also by other composers such as Franz Schubert and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Hs. Ros. PL B-57 contains a Hebrew translation of the first edition of the ode (apparently rendered before the 1803 alteration), revealing that the spirit of the age even managed to reach the Jewish community in the Netherlands. Whereas the imagery of Schiller’s original is drawn from Greek mythology, the author of the שִׁיר לְשִׂמְחָה relies on the Bible as a source. In fact, he not only utilises Biblical imagery, but successfully avoids any allusion to Hellenistic ideas whatsoever. . . .

בּרידער | “Brothers” – Y.L. Peretz’s Yiddish Lampoon of Friedrich Schiller’s Ode to Joy

Y.L. Peretz rejected cultural universalism, seeing the world as composed of different nations, each with its own character. Liptzin comments that “Every people is seen by him as a chosen people…”; he saw his role as a Jewish writer to express “Jewish ideals…grounded in Jewish tradition and Jewish history.” This is Peretz lampoon of the popularity of Friedrich Schiller’s idealistic paean made famous as the lyrics to the climax of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. . . .

חנוכה שמח – מנדלה | Ḥanukkah Sameaḥ Mandala by Ḥatul Yehudi (Cat Jew)

A mandala for Ḥanukkah by Brazilian Yemenite Jewish artist, GatoJudeau . . .

אַ ייִדיש ליד, צער בעלי־חיים | Tsaar Baalei Ḥayyim [It is forbidden to cause] suffering to a living creature, a song in Yiddish

“Tsaar Balei Ḥayyim” ([It is forbidden to cause] suffering to a living creature), source unknown. Many thanks to Tiferet Zimmern-Kahan for recording the niggun for the song and to Naftali Ejdelman and The Jewish Daily Forward for providing the lyrics. . . .

מדרש מעשה חנוכּה | Midrash Ma’aseh Ḥanukkah, a Midrash of the Story of Ḥanukkah

This digital edition of Midrash Ma’aseh Ḥanukkah was transcribed from the print edition published in Otzar Hamidrashim (I. D. Eisenstein, New York: Eisenstein Press, 5675/1915, p.189-190). With much gratitude to Anat Hochberg, this is the first translation of this midrash into English. . . .

מעוז צור | Maoz Tsur (Rock of Ages), singing translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l

A singing translation of the popular piyyut (devotional poem), “Maoz Tzur,” by Reb Zalman for Ḥanukkah. . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | A Memory’s fire burns within me still, adapted from “Esh Tukad b’kirbi” by Andrew Meit

“A Memory’s fire burns within me still” was adapted by Andrew Meit from Gabriel Seed’s translation of the kinah, Aish Tukad b’kirbi (“A Fire Shall Burn Within Me”). . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Alelai Li: Woe is me! by Elazar ben Killir, circa 7th century CE (translated by Rachel Salston)

Alelai Li” is a kinah recited on the morning of Tisha bAv. It was written by HaKalir around the 7th century. According to the Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, it is number 17 of 50. The title is the refrain of the poem and is an onomatopoeic whimper (try saying it aloud, focusing on the alliteration). It is difficult to translate the opening word “im” which means “if” or “should”. This is an allusion to Job 10:15, “If I have done evil, then woe unto me.” I have decided to translate the kinah not in the conditional tense (which would render “If these horrible things happened, then woe is me!”) but as a lament upon memory; however, the former would be a more accurate (if not more awkward in English) translation. Adding to the awkwardness of the poem’s language is the feminine conditional verb that each line has after the word “im”. I have maintained this strange verb tense and placement in my translation by using the English progressive tense. The kinah ends with a collection in lines in a different meter suggesting that the Holy One (and the paytan himself) is angered that the Jewish people announce their sufferings but not their transgressions. . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Oy Meh Haya Lanu: Oy What Has Happened to Us, by Baruch ben Samuel d.1221 (translated by Rachel Salston)

Oy Meh Haya Lanu” is a kinah traditionally recited on the night of Tisha b’Av directly after the reading of Eikha. According to the Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, it is number 1 of 50. The title is the refrain of the poem, a reflective lament. This kinah is based on the fifth and final chapter of Eikha, taking the opening phrase of each line of the megillah as the first line of each couplet and poetically expanding the description for the second. This translation is an attempt to convey the vulgarity and horror of the paytan’s depiction of the destroyed Jerusalem in vernacular English. The kinah ends just as the megillah ends, with the four verses of pleas for redemption. . . .

אז בהלוך ירמיהו | Az Bahalokh Yirmiyahu: Then As Jeremiah Went, by Elazar ben Killir circa 7th century CE (translated by Gabriel Seed)

Az Bahalokh Yirmiyahu is a kinah, “based on Eikhah Rabati Petikhta 24, in which Jeremiah says to God: “I am like a father who prepared to take his only son to be married, and the son tragically died under the wedding canopy. Do you not feel any pain for me or for my son?” God responds: “Go and rouse Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses from their graves, for they know how to cry…” (Daniel Goldschmidt, Seder Kinot le-Tisha b’Av, Jerusalem, 1972, 98). . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | v’Ahimah Miyamim Yamimah: I Will Wail for All Time (translated by Hillary and Daniel Chorny)

V’ahimah Miyamim Yamimah” is a kinah that recounts the tragic tale of the children of Rabbi Yishmael as told in the Babylonian Talmud (Gittin 58a). The handsome brother and fair sister were separated and sold into slavery during the conquest of Jerusalem. Their respective masters, not knowing the two were siblings, paired them with the intent of creating beautiful offspring. In their shared cell, the two wept all night until morning, when they recognized one another. They cried on each other’s necks until their souls departed from their bodies. The narrator of our story laments their terrible fate, ending each verse with a haunting refrain: “And so I will wail for all time.” . . .


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