Jan 092013
 

HE WAS ON A HIGHER SPIRITUAL MADREIGAH OKAY?!

Todros Abulafia (1247 – after 1300)
In Loving a Girl

In loving a girl, there’s no shame and no sin
  If lads lust for a lass, there’s no crime!
But by law you must lust for Arab girls only —
  Even if not fair or pure or sublime.
And keep far away from all Spanish girls
  Though bright as the sun they may shine;1
Do not Spanish girls completely lack grace,
  Though covered in silk, woven linens so fine?2
Their garments are full of filth and of mud,
  The impurity in their skirts3 is so vile.
They’ll capture no hearts the way they whore around,
  They’re simple in whoring; they know nothing worthwhile.4
But each Arab girl’s full of beauty and grace,
  She captures the heart, calms the clamorous mood,
As if all her clothes were inlaid with gold
  She charms those who see her – especially nude!
On the day of the deed,5 she won’t fail to please,
  In whoring she’s handy, in lust an artiste,
She’ll wrap her legs tight6 around a man’s neck,
  And moaning out, “Oh!” — she’d raise the deceased!
Against this the man who lusts for a Spaniard
  Might as well be a man who sleeps with a beast!7

טודרוס אבולעפיה / طدروس أبو العافية
באהבת נערה

 
בְּאַהְבַת נַעֲרָה אֵין חֵטְא וְאַשְׁמָה
 וְאֵין רַע בַּחֲשֹׁק עֶלֶם לְעַלְמָה,
אֲבָל דָּת לַחֲשֹׁק כָּל בַּת עֲרָבִים —
 וְאִם לֹא תִהְיֶה יָפָה וְתַמָּה,
וְלִרְחֹק עַד מְאֹד מִכָּל אֲדוֹמִית —
 וְאִלּוּ תִהְיֶה בָרָה כְּחַמָּה.
הֲכִי אֶל בַּת אֱדוֹם אֵין חֵן, וְאִלּוּ
 תְכַס מֶשִׁי וְתִלְבַּשׁ שֵׁשׁ וְרִקְמָה:
בְּגָדֶיהָ מְלֵאִים טִיט וְחֶלְאָה
 וְטֻמְאָתָהּ בְּשׁוּלֶיהָ זְהוּמָה,
וְלֹא תִּקַח זְנוּתָהּ לֵב, הֲכִי הִיא
 פְתַיּוּת בַּזְּנוּת, בַּל יָדְעָה מָּה.
אֲבָל כָּל בַּת עֲרָב חֵן לָהּ וְיֹפִי
 מְלַבֵּב לֵב וּמֵסִיר כָּל מְהוּמָה,
כְּאִלּוּ מִשְׁבְּצוֹת זָהָב לְבוּשָׁה,
 לְרוֹאָהּ תִּיף, וְאִם תִּהְיֶה עֲרֻמָּה!
וְיוֹם הַמַּעֲשֶׂה תִּנְעַם, וּבִזְנוּת
 תְּבוּנָה לָהּ, וּבַזִּמָּה מְזִמָּה,
בְּצַוַּאר הָאֱנוֹשׁ תִּרְקַע בְּרַגְלָהּ
 וְתֹאמַר: ״אָח!״ וְהַמֵּת חַי מְקִימָה.
לְזֹאת חוֹשֵׁק אֲדוֹמִית הוּא כְאָדָם
 אֲשֶׁר יִתֵּן שְׁכָבְתּוֹ בַּבְּהֵמָה!
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Be-‘ahavát naʕaráh ‘ein ḥeit ve-‘ashmáh
Ve-‘éin raʕ ba-ḥashók ʕélem le-ʕalmáh,
‘Avál dat laḥashók kol bat ʕaravím —
Ve-‘ím lo tiheyéh yafáh ve-tamáh,
Ve-lirḥók ʕad me’ód mi-kól ‘adomít —
Ve-‘ílu tiheyéh varáh ke-ḥamáh.
Hakhí ‘el bat ‘edóm ein ḥein, ve-‘ílu
Tekhás méshi ve-tilbásh sheish ve-rikmáh:
Begadéha melei’ím tit ve-ḥel’áh
Ve-tum’atáh be-shuléha zehumáh,
Ve-ló tikáḥ zenutáh leiv, hakhí hi
Fetayút ba-zenút, bal yadʕáh mah.
‘Aval kol bat ʕaráv ḥein lah ve-yófi
Melabéiv leiv u-meisír kol mehumáh,
Ke-‘ílu mishbetzót zaháv levusháh,
Le-ro’áh tif, ve-‘ím tiheyéh ʕarumáh!
Ve-yóm ha-maʕaséh tinʕám, u-viznút
Tevunáh lah, u-va-zimáh mezimáh,
Be-tzavár ha-‘enósh tirkáʕ be-ragláh
Ve-tomár: “Aḥ!” ve-ha-méit ḥai mekimáh.
Le-zót ḥoshéik ‘adomíit hu khe-‘adám
‘Ashér yitéin shekhavtó babheimáh!

  1. Song of Songs 6:10.
  2. Ezekiel 16:10.
  3. Lamentations 1:9.
  4. Proverbs 9:13.
  5. 1 Samuel 20:19.
  6. Ezekiel 6:11, re-interpreting the verb raka`.
  7. Leviticus 20:15.
Jan 082013
 

[frum tsk-ing noise] R’ Abulafia was a tremendous godol, with incredibly deep Torah insight, and if his drashos seem to be talking about gashmiyus, chas ve-sholom, it’s only because he was simply on another madreiga in his avodos Hashem. Maybe we all be zokhe to have such havonoh.

Todros Abulafia (1247 – after 1300)
How, You Fool

Oh how, you fool, could you chastise a man who has
Embraced a young gazelle — and then raise your voice?
How could you? Our own faith has said that when
You see a shapely girl, then you may take her!1

טודרוס אבולעפיה / طدروس أبو العافية
איכה, כסיל

 
אֵיכָה, כְּסִיל, תָּלִין עֲלֵי אָדָם אֲשֶׁר
חִבֵּק צְבִיַּת חֵן וְתָרִים קוֹלְךָ?
אֵיכָה? וְהִנֵּה אָמְרָה הַדָּת: בְּעֵת
תִּרְאֶה יְפַת תֹּאַר וְלָקַחְתָּ לְךָ!
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

‘Eikháh, kesíl, talín ʕaléi ‘adám ‘ashér
ḥibéik tzeviyát ḥein ve-tarím kolkhá?
‘Eikháh? Ve-hinéih ‘amráh ha-dát: be-ʕéit
tir’éh yefát tó’ar ve-lakaḥtá lekhá!

  1. Deuteronomy 21:10-11: “When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you see among the captives a shapely woman and desire her, you may take her (as your wife).” Todros leaves out that last bit.
Jan 072013
 

Look, it’s a delicate allegory of the profound love between God and the people of Israel. It even quotes the Song of Songs, see?

Todros Abulafia (1247 – after 1300)
How Bitter and Harsh

How bitter and harsh was the day that you left, graceful fawn;
Its memory leaves not one spot on my flesh unmaligned.
And yet how exceedingly beautiful were your two feet
When they rose up and tight ’round my neck intertwined.

טודרוס אבולעפיה / طدروس أبو العافية
מה מר ונורא

 
מַה מָּר וְנוֹרָא יוֹם נְדוּדֵךְ יַעֲלַת
הַחֵן, לְזִכְרוֹ אֵין מְתֹם בִּבְשָׂרִי.
אַךְ מַה מְּאֹד יָפוּ פְעָמַיִךְ בְּעֵת
הִשְׂתָּרְגוּ עָלוּ עֲלֵי צַוָּארִי.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Mah mar ve-norá yom nedudéikh yaʕalát
ha-ḥein, le-zikhró ‘ein metóm bi-vesarí.
‘Akh mah me’ód yafú feʕamáyikh be-ʕéit
histargú ʕalú ʕaléi tzavarí.

Jan 062013
 

Todros Abulafia was sort of a medieval Spanish Alex Portnoy. He talks about sex a lot and he’s totally nuts for shiksas. I’m sure his poetry is meant to be interpreted allegorically, however. Certainly not as a commentary on the middos of the holy yidden in medieval Spain.

Todros Abulafia (1247 – after 1300)
In Love I Travail

Concerning an Arab girl whose love was sweet to me, whom I saw in the company of other young women, all kissing one another:

I have not given birth, though in love I travail,
Being caught in the snare of this Arab gazelle.
My own soul so desires to kiss her sweet lips
That I long to be female, to no avail —
For she’s perfectly willing to kiss other girls,
Oh, how I’ve missed out, being born a male!

טודרוס אבולעפיה / طدروس أبو العافية
באהבה חלתי

 
על בת ערב ערבה לי אהבתה, ובתוך עלמות ראיתי אותה, משיקות אשה על אחותה.
 
בָּאַהֲבָה חַלְתִּי וְלֹא יָלַדְתִּי,
וּבְפַח צְבִיָּה בַּת עֲרָב נִלְכַּדְתִּי.
לִנְשֹׁק בְּפִיהָ אִוְּתָה נַפְשִׁי עֲדֵי
לִהְיוֹת נְקֵבָה בַעֲדָהּ חָמַדְתִּי —
כִּי הַנְּקֵבוֹת הִיא מְנַשֶּׁקֶת, וּבִשְׁ־
בִיל שֶׁאֲנִי זָכָר, אֲנִי הִפְסַדְתִּי!
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ba-‘ahaváh ḥálti ve-ló yaládeti,
U-ve-fáḥ tzeviyáh bat ʕaráv nilkádeti.
Linshók be-fíha ‘ivtáh nafshí ʕadéi
Liheyót nekeiváh vaʕadáh ḥamádeti —
Ki ha-nekeivót hi menashéket, u-vish-
víl she-‘aní zakhár, ‘aní hifsádeti!