פֶּרֶק שִׁירָה | Pereq Shirah (Chapter of Song), a litany of verses pronounced in the voice of the creatures and works of Creation

Talmudic and midrashic sources contain hymns of the creation usually based on homiletic expansions of metaphorical descriptions and personifications of the created world in the Bible. The explicitly homiletic background of some of the hymns in Perek Shira indicates a possible connection between the other hymns and Tannaitic and Amoraic homiletics, and suggests a hymnal index to well-known, but mostly unpreserved, homiletics. The origin of this work, the period of its composition and its significance may be deduced from literary parallels. A Tannaitic source in the tractate Hagiga of the Jerusalem (Hag. 2:1,77a—b) and Babylonian Talmud (Hag. 14b), in hymns of nature associated with apocalyptic visions and with the teaching of ma’aseh merkaba serves as a key to Perek Shira’s close spiritual relationship with this literature. Parallels to it can be found in apocalyptic literature, in mystic layers in Talmudic literature, in Jewish mystical prayers surviving in fourth-century Greek Christian composition, in Heikhalot literature, and in Merkaba mysticism. The affinity of Perek Shira with Heikhalot literature, which abounds in hymns, can be noted in the explicitly mystic introduction to the seven crowings of the cock — the only non-hymnal text in the collection — and the striking resemblance between the language of the additions and that of Shi’ur Koma and other examples of this literature. In Seder Rabba de-Bereshit, a Heikhalot tract, in conjunction with the description of ma’aseh bereshit, there is a clear parallel to Perek Shira’s praise of creation and to the structure of its hymns. The concept reflected in this source is based on a belief in the existence of angelic archetypes of created beings who mediate between God and His creation, and express their role through singing hymns. As the first interpretations of Perek Shira also bear witness to its mystic character and angelologic significance, it would appear to be a mystical chapter of Heikhalot literature, dating from late Tannaitic — early Amoraic period, or early Middle Ages. . . .

בן סירא מב:כא-מג:לא | ben Sira 42:21-43:31, a hymn of creation translated by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan

Ecclesiasticus (ben Sira) 42:21-43:31 is presented as “God the Lord of Nature” in The Sabbath Prayer Book of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (The Reconstructionist Foundation 1945), p. 376-372 in the Supplements subsection, “God in Nature.” The text of Ben Sira used here differs in places found in other manuscripts. . . .

תהלים ק״ד | Psalms 104, a hymn of creation translated by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1945)

Psalms 104, translated by Mordecai Kaplan and presented as “God as Creator and Renewer of Nature” can be found on p. 360-5 of his The Sabbath Prayer Book (New York: The Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, 1945), the first prayer in a subsection of supplementary prayers called “GOD IN NATURE.” . . .

תהלים קמ״ז | Psalms 147, translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l, included his translation of Psalms 147 in his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi (2009). . . .

תהלים קמ״ח | Psalms 148, translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l, included his translation of Psalms 148 in his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi (2009). . . .

אלהים חיי הטבע | Elohim the Life of Nature, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1945)

“God the Life of Nature” by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan was first published in his Sabbath Prayer Book (Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation 1945), p. 382-391, where it appears side-by-side with its translation into Hebrew by Abraham Regelson. . . .

תפילה להתחדש | A Prayer for Renewal, by Hillel Zeitlin

This prayer by Hillel Zeitlin was published as “That We Be Reborn” with an English translation by Eugene Kohn in the Sabbath Prayer Book (Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation 1945) of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan. I have slightly modified Kohn’s translation by replacing thee and thou with you and your, etc. Zeitlin’s prayer is undated and likely was published earlier and elsewhere. If you have more information on the original publication of this prayer, please contact us or leave a comment. . . .

תהלים ק״ד | Psalms 104, a hymn of creation translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (2009)

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l, included his translation of “Barkhi Nafshi” (Psalms 104) for Rosh Ḥodesh 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 Psalm. –Aharon N. Varady . . .

תהלים ק״ד | Psalms 104, translated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

An English translation of Psalm 104 set side-by-side with the Masoretic text. . . .

God’s Goodness — the Testament of Nature, for Thanksgiving Day by Rabbi Milton Steinberg (1945)

“God’s Goodness — the Testament of Nature” by Rabbi Milton Steinberg appears on pages 553-556 of The Sabbath Prayer Book (Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, 1945) as part of a service for Thanksgiving Day. It is the last of four “testaments,” the other three being the testament of Man, Israel, and America respectively. . . .


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