Sep 292012
 

Im Tahpetzah

The rabbi-king of the Yemeni-Jewish poet-kabbalists, Shabazi writes in an elliptical, allusive and highly condensed style that can make translation an interesting puzzle. I’ll admit to not fully understanding the line “galgal ve-‘adrikhal melavim lo” – the words can be translated easily enough, but I have the feeling I’m missing some key allusion or context. If anyone out there knows, please share.

This particular piyut happens to have been recorded by the occasionally compelling Israeli pan-Jewish world music collective the Idan Raichel Project. Click the thingy below to hear it – this partial version of “Im Taḥpetzah” starts at the nineteenth line (“luḥót shnáyim heim be-yósher nikhtevú“) and runs through the twenty-sixth (“kabéitz pezuréinu ‘ashér nitpazrú“). I must admit that the Zionist in me always appreciated how Raichel’s version ends with the poem’s plaintive supplication for the ingathering of the exiles, which also serves Raichel’s cross-Diasporic mélange well. As befits Yemenite piyut, the Yemeni-Israeli singers of Raichel’s “Im Taḥpetzah” deliver it in the particularly badass Yemenite liturgical accent, which is a treat (although who told them they could have a shva carry stress?). Have fun.

Idan Raichel - Im Taḥpetzah

Shalom Shabazi (1619 – 1720?)
If You Should Desire

If you should desire, son of man, to know the most select secrets
Obtain for yourself a fellow, and dear friends
So that your heart might live, and your soul rejoice
That discernment and spirit might be one
Clothe yourself in humility from youthful days onward
Despise the counsel of those prideful in their ignorance
Your good name shall go forth and you shall gain your desire
Seek truth in the volumes the sages composed
The doctrine of the wise, received from their ancestors
On the day they encircled and thronged about Sinai, in their wisdom
The father of all prophets ascended to the heights
Towards the fog his footsteps hurried
Graciously accompanied by the heavenly sphere and the Architect
He ascended on high and opened every closed gate
Facing toward Sinai, my tribes were assembled
And the angels on high advanced with banners
Whirling flames came down from the Presence
Thunder, lightning and cloud were joined
Two tablets are they, written forthrightly
On which are ten commandments, examined and witnessed
They heard my voice, but you will not
The commandments flow from the mouth of the Mighty; and so was kept the Torah
Blessed is he who has merited to behold his congregation
Purity lies within the Torah, and from it souls prosper
Recall, Lord of All, the grace of your Torah
Gather your dispersed, who were scattered
Straighten our way for the sake of your kindness
For loving-kindness overwhelms those who fear you

שלום שבזי / سالم الشبزي
אם תחפצה

 
אִם תַּחְפְּצָה בֶן אִישׁ לְסוֹדוֹת נִבְחֲרוּ
תִּקְנֶה לְךָ חָבֵר וְרֵעִים יָקְרוּ
בַּעְבוּר יְחִי לִבָּךְ וְתִשְׂמַח נַפְשְׁךָ
שֵׂכֶל וְהַנֶּפֶשׁ בְּטוֹב יִתְחַבְּרוּ
וּלְבַשׁ עֲנָוָה מִיְּמֵי בַּחְרוּתְךָ
וּמְאַס עֲצַת רֵיקִים אֲשֶׁר יִתְיָהֲרוּ
שֵׁם טוֹב לְךָ יֵצֵא וְתַשִּׁיג חֶפְצְךָ
חַפֵּשׂ בְּמַסֶּכְתּוֹת גְּאוֹנִים חִבְּרוּ
מִשְׁנַת חֲכָמִים מֵאֲבוֹתָם קִבְּלוּ
יוֹם סָבְבוּ סִינַי בְּשִׁכְלָם נָהֲרוּ
עָלָה אֲבִי כָל הַנְּבִיאִים עַד מְרוֹם
אֶל הָעֲרָפֶל פְּעָמָיו מִהֲרוּ
וְגַלְגַּל וְאַדְרִיכַל מְלַוִּים לוֹ בְּחֵן
עָלָה וּפָתַח כָּל שְׁעָרִים נִסְגְּרוּ
נוֹכַח פְּנֵי סִינַי שְׁבָטַי נִקְהֲלוּ
גַּם מַלְאֲכֵי מַעְלָה דְּגָלִים עָבְרוּ
אֵשׁ יָרְדָה מֵהַשְּׁכִינָה סָחֲרָה
קוֹלוֹת וּבְרָקִים וְעָנָן נֶחְבְּרוּ
לוּחוֹת שְׁנַיִם הֵם בְּיוֹשֶׁר נִכְתְּבוּ
בָּם דִּבְּרוֹת עֶשֶׁר בְּעֵדוּת נֶחְקְרוּ
שָׁמְעוּ לְאָנֹכִי וְלֹא יִהְיֶה לְךָ
מִפִּי גְבוּרָה הֵם וְתוֹרָה שָׁמְרוּ
בָּרוּךְ אֲשֶׁר זִכָּה עֲדָתוֹ לַחֲזוֹת
תּוֹרָה תְמִימָה בָה נְפָשׁוֹת כָּשְׁרוּ
זָכְרָה אֲדוֹן הַכֹּל לְחֵן תּוֹרָתְךָ
קַבֵּץ פְּזוּרֵינוּ אֲשֶׁר נִתְפַּזְּרוּ
יַשֵּׁר דְּרָכֵינוּ לְמַעַן חַסְדְּךָ
כִּי עַל יְרֵאֶיךָ חֲסָדִים גָּבְרוּ
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

‘Im taḥpetzáh, ben ‘ish, le-sodót nivḥarú
Tiknéh lekhá ḥavéir u-reiʕím yakrú
Baʕvúr yeḥí libákh ve-tismáḥ nafshekhá
Séikhel ve-ha-néfesh be-tóv yitḥabrú
U-levásh ʕanaváh mi-yeméi baḥrutekhá
U-me’ás ʕatzát reikím ‘ashér yityaharú
Sheim tov lekhá yeitzéi ve-tasíg ḥeftzekhá
Ḥapéis be-masekhtót ge’oním ḥibrú
Mishnát ḥakhamím mei-‘avotám kiblú
Yom savevú sinái be-sikhlám naharú
ʕaláh ‘aví khol ha-nevi’ím ʕad maróm
‘El ha-ʕarafél peʕamáv miharú
Ve-galgál ve-‘adrikhál melavím lo be-ḥéin
ʕaláh u-fatáḥ kol sheʕarím nisgerú
Nokháḥ penéi sinái shevatái niqhalú
Gam mal’akhéi máʕlah degalím ʕavrú
‘Eish yardáh mei-ha-shekhináh saḥaráh
Kolót u-verakím ve-ʕanán neḥberú
Luḥót shnáyim heim be-yósher nikhtevú
Bam dibrót ʕéser be-ʕeidút neḥkerú
Shamʕú le-‘anokhí ve-ló yihiyéh lekhá
Mi-pí ha-gevuráh heim ve-toráh shamrú
Barúkh ‘ashér zikáh ʕadató laḥazót
Toráh temimáh bah nefashót kashrú
Zakhráh ‘adon ha-kól le-ḥein toratekhá
Kabéitz pezuréinu ‘ashér nitpazrú
Yashéir derakhéinu lemáʕan ḥasdekhá
Ki ʕal yerei’ékha ḥasadím gavrú

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