May 082014
 

And here we go with more tantalizing glimpses of backstory.

***

Tilly entered, carrying a pot of soup. She saw me and said, you’re here. Sit down, dear, sit down. Bikkur khoylim is a great mitzvah. Your face looks better and better, rebbetzin. Hashem’s salvation is quick as the blink of an eye. Hashem, may he be blessed, sends his healing more and more with every passing hour. I’ve brought you a bowl of soup you can get down. Lift up your head, my dear, and I’ll hold up the pillow. Just like that, my dear. It’s a pity, my son, that you don’t live in the city and you can’t see how much the rebbetzin, may she live, is getting better every day. Continue reading »

May 082014
 

This one I think we can definitely all relate to. I wonder if this is the ur-“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”

Immanuel of Rome (1261 – 1328)
Every Man Who Hires a Jewish Servant

O, every man who hires a Jewish servant
  He hires himself a lord within his dwelling
To mine I offered but my little finger
  And soon enough my arm he was requesting
“Come in, and here’s a place to sit,” I told him
  He asked me for a cushion for reclining
I told him, “Eat from all I have to offer,”
  With his sweet words he asked me what’s for drinking
I told him, “Sleep,” he asked me for a courtyard
  With brass and iron fences for surrounding
I gave him bread, he drank my fine wine freely
  But quail and manna, that was more his craving
In finest vests and cloaks I duly dressed him
  He asked for bells to grace his garments’ fringing1
And so I raise my voice as if a shofar
  As if a king and his viziers commanding
That when you buy the servant buy a rod too,
  A strap as well for all his evildoing.

עמנואל הרומי
כל הקונה עבד עברי

 
כָּל־הַקּוֹנֶה עֶבֶד עִבְרִי / קוֹנֶה אָדוֹן לוֹ בִּגְבוּלָיו
נָתַתִּי אֶל־עַבְדִּי זֶרֶת / בִּקֵּשׁ אַמָּה לוֹ בִּמְשָׁלָיו
אָמַרְתִּי ״סוּרָה וּשְׁבָה־פֹּה״ / בִּקֵּשׁ כַּר לָשֶׁבֶת עָלָיו
אָמַרְתִּי ״אָכְלָה מִצֵּידִי״ / בִּקֵּשׁ לְשְׁתּוֹת עִם טוֹב מִלָּיו
אָמַרְתִּי ״לִין״ בִּקֵּשׁ חָצֵר / בַּרְזֶל וּנְחשֶׁת מִנְעָלָיו
אוֹכִילֵהוּ פַת אַשְׁקֶנּוּ / יֵין רִקְחִי בִּקֵּשׁ מָן וּשְׂלָו
הִלְבַּשְׁתִּיהוּ אֵפוֹד וּמְעִיל / בִּקֵּשׁ רִמּוֹנִים עַל־שׁוּלָיו
לָכֵן אָרִים קוֹל כַּשּׁוֹפָר / מִטַּעַם מֶלֶךְ וּגְדֹלָיו
לִקְנוֹת עִם־הָעֶבֶד מַקֵּל / וּרְצוּעָה לִפְרִי מַעְלָלָיו.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Kol ha-qonéh ʕéved ʕivrí / qonéh ‘adón lo bigvuláv
Natáti ‘el ʕavdí zéret / biqéish ‘amáh lo bimshaláv
‘Amárti súrah u-shváh poh / biqéish kar lashévet ʕaláv
‘Amárti ‘ókhlah mi-tzeidí / biqéish lishtot ʕim tov miláv
‘Amárti lin biqéish ḥatzéir / barzél unḥóshet minʕaláv
‘Okhiléihu fat ‘ashqénu / yein riqḥí biqéish man u-sláv
Hilbashtíhu ‘eifód umʕíl / biqéish rimoním ʕal shuláv
Lakhéin ‘arím qol ka-shofár / mi-táʕam mélekh ugdoláv
Liqnot ʕim ha-ʕéved maqéil / urtzuʕáh lifrí maʕlaláv.

  1. Immanuel is playing around here with the priestly uniform described in the Torah – the word I’ve translated as “bells” is “pomegranates,” evidently some sort of round decoration that were supposed to be stitched to the fringes of the priestly garments.