Apr 222014

How are our young lovebirds faring? Find out in today’s installment. You can find chapter one here, chapter two here, chapter three here and chapter four here.

Days come and days go. Students gather to hear Torah from Reb Yechezkel. The yeshiva fills with the study of Hashem. The sound of Torah is continuously poured forth. And when Reb Yechezkel expounds, it seems myrrh flows from his mouth, and for every pshat, drash and remez his lips produce, angels stand at his side and illuminate his words with the light of Torah. But suddenly he shrinks inward in his despair and seems then like a woman mourning over the deceased husband of her youth, and suddenly he appears walking towards her with beautiful countenance, until she remembers he is lost, lost forever and never to return…

Download chapter five here (PDF).

Apr 222014

Diss track! This Yehuda apparently spent his life in Mantua, where he must have witnessed in his youth Yaakov Frances get chased out for aiming too-finely-honed poetic barbs against powerful members of the Jewish community, but that youthful lesson didn’t stop him from writing this hate-sonnet to fellow poet Yehuda Ancona. I don’t have any biographical information on Ancona, but from the tenor of this sonnet, I’m tempted to say he must have converted to Christianity — thus perhaps the references to “idol tenders” and the “dead god” and “serving the created [by God]”, i.e., a man. “Serve” and “worship” are, of course, the same word in Hebrew.

Yehuda Brieli (Leon Brieli) (1643 – 1722)
Idol Tenders

Idol tenders who scorn their faith have shouted
Lofty are their wisest men, so very smart
But those who look well never once have doubted
Truth they’ve plastered o’er, to hide from eyes and heart.

And this Yehuda who among them sprouted
Darkness like they languish in he would impart
So virtue he and his dear wife have flouted
And their children they’ll corrupt in equal part.

You who seek your people’s ill, your path forsake
Serve not those made by God, but their Creator know
So turn and then from Sheol your soul retake.

If you leave the dead god in the earth’s foundation
And knowledge of the living God you show
You’ll save your spirit from annihilation.

יהודה בריאלי
רועי אליל

רוֹעֵי אֱלִיל בּוֹזֵי בְדִין צָוָחוּ
כִּי נִשְׂגְּבָה בִינַת נְבוֹנֵיהֶם
אַךְ יֶחֱזוּ מִתְבּוֹנֲנִים כִּי טַחוּ
קֹשְׁטְ מֵרְאוֹת לִבָּם וְעֵינֵיהֶם.
עֵינֵי יְהוּדָה זֶה אֲשֶׁר נִפְקָחוּ
מַחְשָׁךְ כְּמוֹהֶם בִּקְשׁוּ לָהֶם
הֵן הוּא וְרַעְיָתוֹ בְּרַע שָׂמָחוּ
וַיְשַׁחֲתוּ גַם צֶאֱצָאֵיהֶם.
דֹּרֵשׁ לְעַמּוֹ רַע עֲזֹב דַּרְכֶּךָ
אַל־תַּעֲבֹד נִבְרָא וּבוֹרֵא דַע
וּפְנֵה וְהוֹצֵא מִשְּׁאוֹל נַפְשֶׁךָ.
אִם תַּעֲזֹב אֵל־מֵת בְּתַחְתִּית אָרֶץ
וּלְךָ אֱלֹהִים חַי יְהִי נוֹדָע
אֶת־נַפְשְׁךָ תַּצִּיל בְּבֹא עֵת קָרֶץ.


Roʕéi ‘elíl bozéi ve-dín tzaváḥu
Ki nisgeváh vinát nevoneihém
‘Akh yeḥezú mitbonaním ki táḥu
Qosht meir’ót libám ve-ʕeineihém.

ʕeinéi yehudáh zeh ‘ashér nifqáḥu
Maḥshákh kemohém biqshú lahém
Hein hu ve-raʕyató be-ráʕ samáḥu
Va-yeshaḥatú gam tze’etza’eihém.

Doréish le-ʕamó raʕ ʕazóv darkékha
‘Al taʕavód nivrá u-voréi daʕ
Ufnéih ve-hotzéi mi-she’ól nafshékha.

‘Im taʕazóv ‘eil meit be-taḥtít ‘áretz
U-lekhá ‘elohím ḥai yehí nodáʕ
‘Et nafshekhá tatzíl be-vó ʕeit qáretz.