Mar 092013
 

A biting satire, in the voice of the proletariat, aimed at the shiftless rabbinic elite. It’s good he’s dead; if he thought it was bad in Baroque Mantua, he would shit a mattone at the state of modern Charedism.

Yaakov Frances (1615 – 1667)
My Heart Is Melting

Woe, my heart is melting, storm-tossed and irate
Like a child always sobbing at my fate:
Boorish, foolish, coarse; my ignorance so great —
Can’t I be a rabbi, sitting at the gate?

Yea, my workshop I have dubbed a mourners’ feast,
And my tools the tools of a murd’rous beast —
From these reins of toil I yearn to be released,
For the title “teacher,” my heart’s cry hasn’t ceased:

For with such a name, quite wealthy grow the poor,
Thus they’re at the top, and never want for more,
And with grief their hearts will never be made sore;
Drinking well at ev’ry fete, they’re cheered as ne’er before!

What have I with laymen? How they waste away!
How they groan and sigh and tremble every day!
With their host of labors do they not decay?
Burdened always with travails they’ll never stay!

Sages know no pain; I see how they behave,
Eating others’ labors, that for which men slave;
Just for that they lift a limb, only that they crave
‘Til their time draws near and they go forth to the grave.

O my people, heed my wisdom, lend an ear!
Grow wise in the word of God, your faith revere,
Away from all your toil your precious spirits steer!
Take this lesson, don’t refuse it — do you hear?1

יעקב פראנשיס
ליבי מאוד ימס


לִבִּי מְאֹד יִמַּס וְיֹאחֵז סַעַר,
אֶבְכֶּה בְּכִי תָמִיד לְדִמְיוֹן נַעַר:
תַּחַת הֱיוֹתִי בּוּר, כְּסִיל וּבַעַר
מָתַי אֱהִי רַבָּן וְיוֹשֵׁב שַׁעַר?

כִּי בֵּית מְלָאכָה אֶקְרְאָה ‘מַרְזֵחַ’,
אֶקְרָא כְּלִי אוּמָן ‘כְּלִי מַטְבֵּחַ’ —
מִמּוֹסְרוֹת עָמָל לְהִפָּתֵחַ
לִבִּי לְשֵׁם מוֹרֶה בְּמַר צוֹרֵחַ:

בּוֹ הָעֲנִיִּים לַעֲשִׁירִים שָׁבוּ,
בּוֹ יֵשְׁבוּ בָּרֹאשׁ וְאִם לֹא אָבוּ,
וּבְעִצְּבוֹן לֵבָב לְבַל יִכְאָבוּ
יִשְׁתּוּ בְּכָל מִשְׁתֶּה וְלֵב יִיטָבוּ.

מַה לִּי לְהֶדְיוֹטוֹת וְהֵם יֶהְבָּלוּ,
יֵאָנְחוּ כָּל עֵת וְיִתְחַלְחָלוּ,
וּבְרֹב יְגִיעֵיהֶם הֲלֹא יִמָּלוּ —
תָּמִיד בְּטֹרַח הֵם וְלֹא יֶחְדָּלוּ.

אֶרְאֶה חֲכָמִים אֵין בְּלִבָּם שֶׁבֶר
יֹאכְלוּ יְגִיעַ וַעֲמַל כָּל גֶּבֶר;
עַל כֵּן בְּכָל עֵת יַחֲלִיפוּ אֵבֶר,
אַף יִקְרְבוּ פָּנִים עַד בֹּא הַקֶּבֶר.

עַמִּי, קְחוּ עֵצָה וְלִי תִשְׁמָעוּ!
בִּינוּ בְּתוֹרַת אֵל וְדָת תֵּדָעוּ,
מִיגִיעֲכֶם אֶת נַפְשְׁכֶם תִּמְנָעוּ,
שִׁמְעוּ, קְחוּ מוּסָר וְאַל תִּפְרָעוּ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Libí me’ód yimás ve-yoḥéiz sáʕar,
‘Evkéh bekhí tamíd le-dimyón náʕar:
Táḥat heyotí bur, kesíl u-váʕar
Matái ‘ehí rabán ve-yoshéiv sháʕar?

Ki beit melakháh ‘ekre’áh marzéiaḥ,
‘Ekrá kelí ‘umán kelí matbéiaḥ —
Mi-mosrót ʕamál lehipatéiaḥ
Libí le-shéim moréh be-már tzoréiaḥ:

Bo ha-ʕaniyím la-ʕashirím shávu,
Bo yeishvú ba-rósh ve-‘ím lo ‘ávu,
Uv-ʕitzbón leiváv le-vál yikh’ávu
Yishtú be-khól mishtéh ve-léiv yitávu.

Mah li le-hedyotót ve-héim yehbálu,
Yei’anḥú kol ʕeit ve-yitḥalḥálu,
Uv-róv yegiʕeihém ha-ló yimálu —
Tamíd be-tóraḥ heim ve-ló yeḥdálu.

‘Er’éh ḥakhamím ‘ein be-libám shéver
Yokhlú yegíaʕ va-ʕamál kol géver;
ʕal kein be-khól ʕeit yaḥlífu ‘éiver,
‘Af yikrevú paním ʕad bo ha-kéver.

ʕamí, keḥú ʕeitzáh ve-lí tishmáʕu!
Bínu be-torát ‘eil ve-dát teidáʕu,
Migiʕakhém ‘et nafshekhém timnáʕu,
Shimʕú, keḥú musár ve-‘ál tifráʕu.

  1. Proverbs 8:33.

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