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"Let Me Flee to My Helper": A Rosh Hashanah Love Poem

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Laura Lieber

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"Let Me Flee to My Helper": A Rosh Hashanah Love Poem

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מוסף ראש השנה

"Let Me Flee to My Helper": A Rosh Hashanah Love Poem

Yose ben Yose’s 4th century CE piyyut for the shofarot service, and its creative use of the Song of Songs.

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"Let Me Flee to My Helper": A Rosh Hashanah Love Poem

The Drama of the High Holidays Liturgy

The ten days spanning Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have been known since at least the third century CE as עשרת ימי תשובה, “the ten days of repentance. Elaborate prayers and penitential rituals distinguish these most solemn, austere holy days: the drama of Unetaneh Tokef’s litany of “who shall live and who shall die; the plaintive pleading of Avinu Malkeinu twin appeal to God’s power and compassion; the ritualized shameful heartbreak of Ashamnu confession of collective transgression; the haunting enigma of Kol Nidre; and the rousing cacophony of the shofar as it calls God and congregation both to attentiveness. 

The Torah and haftarah readings underscore a story of divine providence: the birth of Isaac on the first day of Rosh Hashanah followed by his near-sacrifice on the second day; the strange ritual of the scapegoat on Yom Kippur morning and the stark tale of God’s wrath and forgiveness in the book of Jonah. Together, the congregational journey from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur—from the penitential month of Elul that precedes the New Year to the conclusion of Ne’ilah as the sun sets on the Day of Atonement—travels a path from fear to forgiveness, from repentance to redemption. 

Romance Is Not Generally a High Holidays Trait

The rites and rituals of this season paint a stark but potent picture for the community using an emotional palette rich with subtle shades of gray. But romance is not one of its moods. These holidays rely on metaphors that amplify power differentials: sheep and shepherd, subject and sovereign, wayward child and forgiving father. The romantic, marital language of bride and lover that color the celebration of Passover and Shavuot finds little place here. And yet, a liturgical poem (piyyut) from the fourth century CE, although no longer in use, did introduce an element of romantic longing into this most solemn of occasions.

Yose ben Yose’s Three Poems for Each of the Special Musaf Prayers

Yose ben Yose, was the first of the great hymnographers (paytanim)—the earliest whose name we know—and his compositions epitomize the unrhymed, strongly rhythmic, and highly allusive pre-Classical style of composition. He wrote only for the High Holidays, and is most known for his Avodah poetry for Yom Kippur called Azkir Gevurot Elohah (אזכיר גבורות אלוה; “Let Me Recount the Wonders of God, but in this piece, we will look at one of the piyyutim he wrote for the Musaf service of Rosh Hashanah.[2] 

The Musaf Amidah contains three special prayers, unique to Rosh Hashanah: Malchiyot (מלכיות, “Kingship), Zichronot (זכרונות, “Memory), and Shofarot (שופרות, Shofars).[3] Yose ben Yose composed poetic versions of these prayers, each of which offers its own themes, motifs, key images, and intertexts.[4] The three poems are all written in the first person voice (more on this later), but each in the voice of a different character.

The Malchiyot poem, “Let me praise my God" (אהללה אלהי), is rooted in Exodus 15 (the Song of the Sea). It blends the poet’s own voice with that of the people, but with a focus on God’s redemptive power and an orientation towards retelling sacred history. Each line of the poem concludes with the theme word “sovereignty"(מלוכה).

The Zichronot poem, "I am afraid on account of my deeds" (אפחד במעשי), draws on the priestly imagery of Exodus and Numbers, as the poet adopts the persona of the High Priest in the sanctuary, thus highlighting the rituals of repentance and atonement. Each line ends with the word "remembrance"(זכרון).

The Shofarot poem, “Let me flee to [my] Helper "(אנוסה לעזרה), is the focus of this essay, and appears in the appendix with an annotated translation. This piyyut uses the language of yearning and romance to color the nature of the covenantal bond between God and Israel, with Israel personified as a woman calling to her divine Beloved. Each of its lines concludes with the single word “voice" (קול), echoing the sound of the shofar.

Each of these poems could be explored in much greater depth than is feasible here, but perhaps this initial taste helps illustrate the evocative dynamics and dramatic experience of prayer in the synagogues of antiquity.

Structural Elements

Each of his Shofar-service poems employs an alphabetical acrostic as a structural device, common in biblical poetry, (notably in Psalms and Lamentations,) but unlike biblical poetry, they display a strong rhythm, with each line composed out of four, two-beat phrases, plus the final word that constitutes a kind of refrain. 

Thus, the opening line of “Let me Flee to my Helper sounds like this (stressed syllables in boldface and theme-word underlined):

א-נו-סה ל-עז-רה / אמ-צא נג-די / אל ק-רוב לי / ב-עת קור-אי< ב/ –קול

a-nu-sah le-ez-ra / em-tza neg-di / el qa-rov li / be-eit qor-ei ba / –qol

This rhythm typifies this early style of poetry, of which the Aleinu—itself originally written for the “Kingship” portion of an ancient shofar service—remains the most, perhaps only, familiar example.[5] While the rhythm is impossible to capture in translation, the English in the appendix strives to faithfully replicate the repetitions of “voice” (קול) throughout, whether the reference is to the human voice, divine proclamation, or the shofar’s trumpeting sound.  The sound of the lines, with their strong beat and resounding final word constitute a kind of mimesis, as they use the human voice to create, physically, a resonant meditation on the auditory.

Rhetorical Elements

The structural elements of these poems are not their only, or even most significant, features; their rhetorical elements display tremendous creativity and sophistication.  Almost every phrase alludes to or plays upon a biblical quotation.  The opening phrase, “Let me flee to my Helper (אנוסה לעזרה)” echoes Isa. 10:3, “To whom will you flee for help (אל מי תנוסו לעזרה)?” A later phrase in this line, “whenever I call out with [my] voice (בעת קראי בקול),” resonates with Deut. 4:7, “For what great nation is there that has gods so near to it as the Eternal our God is to us, whenever we call upon Him (כי מי גוי גדול אשר לו אלהים קרובים אליו כה’ אלהינו בכל קראנו אליו)?” 

In short, Yose does not quote Scripture in a simple or straightforward way; he adapts and responds to its language.  His allusions are, at times, deft and fleeting, but at other moments unmistakably bold. 

Yose ben Yose’s Surprising Choice of the Song of Songs as His Intertext

Rich as it is with the language of the Psalms, Daniel, and the prophets, the single most conspicuous intertext in “Let me flee to my Helper (אנוסה לעזרה),” is the Song of Songs.[6] As the Song of Songs doesn’t mention shofars, none of its verses ever serves as the prooftext at the end of a stanza (the last eight stanzas end with prooftexts from the Torah, the Writings, and the Prophets). But if the Song of Songs lacks a shofar, it possesses a remarkable voice

While the Song of Songs looks back with nostalgia to the lovers’ past romantic encounters, its orientation is primarily to the future and expectations of anticipated reunion and happiness.  Its Edenic imagery and erotic suggestiveness would seem to run counter to the stark austerity of the High Holy Days. 

The woman of the Song, understood figuratively as representing Israel, is the dominant and active figure, not the male beloved, understood to be the deity.  The majority of spoken lines belong to the woman, who in a striking display of independence twice goes out alone into the street in search of her beloved.  She does not speak in the language of repentance, nor does she inspire moral reckoning. 

And yet, to Yose ben Yose’s ear, the Song provides inspiration for a remarkable approach to Rosh Hashanah; he does not interpret the Song in its entirety, but borrows its voice and some of its evocative imagery, in order to echo its confidence in the enduring relationship between God and Israel.  In a fashion that anticipates the “historical allegory” of the Aramaic Targum of the Song of Songs, Yose understands the Song to echo Israel’s sacred, covenantal history with her Beloved. 

Yose ben Yose’s Use of the Song of Songs

Yose’s understanding of the Song of Songs filters the text through traditions of rabbinic interpretations that, in the fourth century, were still developing.[7] We see this in how he makes use of various figures and locations, even playing out paradigmatic actions and scenes from the Song on this new canvas.

Israel Chases after God

For example, the Holy One “turns and flees,” echoing the imagery of Song 2:17 and 5:6,

6 גז וברח דודי
כעפר על הרי בתר
6 He turned and fled from me
like a stag upon hills of Bether

This leaves the speaker of the poem to go in search of Him (lns. 13 and 16, drawing on Song 3:1-2 and 5:6).

13 זה חמק מני
אסבוב אבקשנו
13 This One turned away from me
I turned about and I sought Him;
God as the Beloved

God as the Beloved

Some of Yose’s uses are conventional. The identification of the male lover from the Song (דודי) with God in the above quote, and throughout the piyyut, parallels the traditional allegorical interpretation of the Sages.

The Messianic Turtledove

Similarly, Yose’s interpretation of the turtledove as the messiah (ln. 25) parallels R. Yohanan’s midrash translating tor (turtledove) as tayyar (messenger), found in the long version of Midrash Tanchuma.[8]

25 מדת קצי
לא הודיעני
מתי בארצי
תור ישמיע קול.
25 The duration of my exile
He did not make known to me
“How long until I am again in my land?
The turtledove will make heard (its) voice

The Mountain of Myrrh/Moriah

In another example, Yose takes the beloved’s (i.e., God’s) statement in the Song of Songs that he will go to the “mountains of myrrh(Song 4:6) as meaning that he will inhabit the Temple on Mount Moriah (i.e., Jerusalem). Yose is punning on “myrrh," an emblem of the incense burned at the Temple, and the similar sounding “Moriah," the location of Isaac’s near-sacrifice, but also God’s Abode.

17 טהור דילג
הרים ועבר
וממעון הר מור
אז נתן קול.
17 The Pure One leapt
over mountains and passed by
and from the Abode on the mountain of myrrh
He then gave forth (His) voice.

The connection between Mount Myrrh and Mount Moriah is noted in some midrashim, though the person going to this mountain is often understood to be Abraham, not God. Thus, Yose’s use of the pun is an innovative variant of earlier tradition.

Quarreling Brothers as Rebuking Prophets

At times, Yose makes use of unconventional associations. A good example of this is his translation of “brothers" as “prophets."

11 וחוזיי ומיליציי
הם בני אמי
אז ניחרו בי
למען אשמע בקול.
11 My seers and my scolders:
they are my mother’s sons
and then they rebuked me
so that I would listen to (His) voice.

The young girl’s brothers appear twice in the Song of Songs:

א:ו …בְּנֵי אִמִּי נִחֲרוּ בִי שָׂמֻנִי נֹטֵרָה אֶת הַכְּרָמִים כַּרְמִי שֶׁלִּי לֹא נָטָרְתִּי.
1:6 My mother’s sons quarreled with me, they made me guard the vineyards; My own vineyard I did not guard.
ח:ח אָחוֹת לָנוּ קְטַנָּה וְשָׁדַיִם אֵין לָהּ מַה נַּעֲשֶׂה לַאֲחֹתֵנוּ בַּיּוֹם שֶׁיְּדֻבַּר בָּהּ.ח:ט אִם חוֹמָה הִיא נִבְנֶה עָלֶיהָ טִירַת כָּסֶף וְאִם דֶּלֶת הִיא נָצוּר עָלֶיהָ לוּחַ אָרֶז.
8:8 “We have a little sister, Whose breasts are not yet formed. What shall we do for our sister When she is spoken for? 8:9 If she be a wall, We will build upon it a silver battlement; If she be a door, We will panel it in cedar.

In these texts, the woman’s brothers, called “her mother’s sons," (Song 1:6), are presented as the guardians of her virtue. Yose ben Yose identifies these brothers as the prophets, and translates the term “quarrel (נחר)" as תוכחה, the term for a prophet’s rebuke. This positive interpretation of the woman’s quarreling brothers goes against the grain of what becomes the standard rabbinic interpretations of who these brothers are, which are mostly negative.[9]

The Covenant between the Pieces (betharim) and the Hills of Bether

Some interpretations are denser with implicit midrash than the more straightforward one-to-one translations. For example,

7 דילג מבתר לבתר
השיבהו אלי
ישא פניך
עקב שמעך בקול.
He hastened from piece to piece
and he brought Him back to me
Perhaps he will favor you
because he hearkened to Your voice.

Abraham is the subject of this stanza, which describes him as having brought God back to humanity through his covenants with God. This is alluded to when Yose describes how God “hastened from piece to piece (mi-bether le-bether)." His use of the term bether from the Song of Song’s phrase “the hills of Bether (בתר)" (Song. 2:17) resonates with the term for the Covenant between the Pieces, berit bein ha-betarim [10] (ברית בין הבתרים) and suggests continuity between God’s covenants with Abraham (including the covenant of circumcision) and his descendants.

The Song Provides a Source of Emotional Intimacy

Finally, the Song provides Yose with a means for conjuring a sense of emotional intimacy to this poem to an extent that is striking. In lines 29-30, the first full Scriptural quotation (Exod. 19:16) is introduced by a stanza that, exploiting abundant sound play between the letters ‘ayin and resh, weaves together Song 5:2 and 8:5-6. 

ה:ב אֲנִי יְשֵׁנָה וְלִבִּי עֵר קוֹל דּוֹדִי דוֹפֵק פִּתְחִי לִי אֲחֹתִי רַעְיָתִי יוֹנָתִי תַמָּתִי…
5:2 I was asleep, But my heart was wakeful. Hark, my beloved knocks! “Let me in, my own, My darling, my faultless dove!…
ח:ה  …תַּחַת הַתַּפּוּחַ עוֹרַרְתִּיךָ שָׁמָּה חִבְּלַתְךָ אִמֶּךָ שָׁמָּה חִבְּלָה יְלָדַתְךָ ח:ושִׂימֵנִי כַחוֹתָם עַל לִבֶּךָ כַּחוֹתָם עַל זְרוֹעֶךָ… 
8:5 …Under the apple tree I roused you; It was there your mother conceived you, There she who bore you conceived you. 8:6 Let me be a seal upon your heart, Like the seal upon your hand….

The stanza, in its entirety, states:

סוס יסיס
לבי בקרבי,
בשמעי דודי דופק
על פתחיי בקול.
29 Surely it shall rejoice—
my heart within me
when I hear my Beloved knocking
on my door – (His) voice!
30 סלה ישימנו
כחותם על לב,
כאז תחת התפוח
עוררני בקול.
30 Forever let Him set me
as a seal upon (His) heart
just as when, beneath the apple tree
He aroused me with (His) voice
ככ[תוב] בתו[רה]:
“ויהי ביום השלישי בה[ית הבקר ויהי קלת וברקים וענן כבד על ההר וקל שפר חזק מאד ויחרד כל העם אשר במחנה].
As it is written in Your Torah (Exod. 19:16):
“And it came to pass on the third day, when it [was morning, that there were voices (thunder) and lightning, and a cloud upon the mountain, and the voice of the shofar grew very strong, and all the people who were in the camp trembled].”

The speaker’s heart rejoices at the sound of her Beloved knocking; in turn, she expresses her desire to make their bond permanent in the future as it has been in the past. 

The Use of the Prooftext

The eroticism of the line is unmediated, but the quotation from Exodus 19 makes it clear that the “arousal” under the “apple tree” was—as is common in aggadic interpretations of these passages—a reference to Sinai.  The theophany and revelation become not episodes of overwhelming divine display and power, but unique and transformative (even erotic) intimacy. 

In short, the Song provided Yose ben Yose with a rich and evocative vocabulary for intimacy, which he employed to introduce a distinctive emotional register into the piyyut.

The speaker’s heart rejoices at the sound of her Beloved knocking; in turn, she expresses her desire to make their bond permanent in the future as it has been in the past. 

The Singular Voice of the Speaker

Conventionally, Jewish prayer speaks in the first-person plural: “we have sinned” (ashamnu), “our Father, our King” (avinumalkeinu), “It is incumbent upon us to praise” (aleinu le-shabei’ach), and so forth. Strikingly, Yose ben Yose uses the singular voice instead.[11] 

 A Singular Voice that is not Singular

The first person voice of “I will flee to my Helper (אנוסה לעזרה),” however, is neither an individual nor a conventionally mortal voice. Rather, Yose — by borrowing the voice of the female speaker of the Song of Songs[12] — borrows the entire figural voice of the Song’s dialogues.  The narrator of the poem becomes Israel incarnate.

Yose’s decision to write in the voice of Israel-personified, and specifically Israel personified as a lover, shapes the entire poem, including those parts not in any way directly connected to the Song of Songs itself, and the liturgical experience, as well. If the bulk of the Torah consists of God’s speech to Israel, then the woman’s voice in the Song of Songs, and by extension Yose’s voice in this poem, offer a response. 

The Woman Personifies Israel’s Voice

Indeed, while significant passages from the Prophets (Isaiah 5, Jeremiah 2, Ezekiel 16 and 23, Hosea 2) employ metaphors of marriage, love, and betrayal as ways of exploring the God-Israel covenant, they do so from the divine perspective; the Song of Songs, read figuratively, presents the woman’s view, as well. As such, the poet’s use of this voice particularly suits the needs of prayer, as prayer, too, is a human response to the divine. The poet borrows and extends the woman’s voice from the Song, because her speech—as Israel’s speech, and as God’s speech—is ongoing. 

Just as the Song ends on an unfinished note, with the woman calling out to her love to flee even as it anticipates a reunion, Yose’s piyyut constitutes another conversation in the continuing dialogue. The lovers may be separated, but their communication continues uninterrupted. God speaks through the Torah—including through the verses embedded in this piyyut—and Israel responds through prayer and poetry.

The Community Finds Its Voice through the Refrain

It is not the poet alone who speaks here, however; “I will flee to my Helper”—like the other two poems in this series—embeds a refrain: in this instance, the word “voice” (קול). Every line concludes with this word, and the combination of rhythm and repetition means that the community would undoubtedly have recognized the refrain and been able to participate in it. Through this theme-word, the poet creates a poem that not only presents the congregation’s voice in theory but in practice. As they say the word “voice”—forty-six times in all—they make their voices heard.

Appendix 

אנוסה לעזרה “I will flee to my Helper”: Hebrew and Translation[13]

by Yose b. Yose (ca. 4th century CE, Land of Israel)
Click here for Genizah image

א

1 אנוסה לעזרה
אמצא נגדי
אל קרוב לי
בעת קראי בקול.
1 Let me flee to my Helper
I will find (Him) right in front of me[14]
God is close to me
whenever I call out with (my) voice.
2 אשר בעדת אל
בקרבי נצב
פה במקדש מעט
אצפצף לו בקול.
2 In the congregation of God
so near me He stands
and here, in the small sanctuary
I chirp to Him with (my) voice.

ב

3 בקרני דרשני
שה פזורה אני
נגזזתי ונאלמתי
בלי להרים בקול.
3 Among my flock, seek me!
A lost sheep am I;
I am sheared and I am muted
unable to raise (my) voice
4 באמור גוזזי
נדחה היא
שומרה וצלה
לא ישאג בקול.
4 When my shearers say:
“She is outcast!”[15]
Shall her Guardian and her Protector
not raise (His) voice?

ג

5 גלתי שיח בחקיו
וחכי ערב
והטה אזן ושח
השמיעני קול.
5 I rejoiced to meditate on His statutes
and my palate was sweet[16];
He inclined His ear and said:
“Let Me hear your voice!”[17]
6 גז וברח דודי
כעפר על הרי בתר
בבקשו דת ואות
במשכנותיו ואין קול.
6 He turned and fled from me
like a stag upon hills of Bether
when He sought (the sound of) law and sign
in my dwellings, but heard not a voice.

ד

7 דילג מבתר לבתר
השיבהו אלי
ישא פניך
עקב שמעך בקול.
He[18] hastened from piece to piece[19]
and he brought Him back to me[20]
Perhaps he will favor you
because he hearkened to Your voice.
8 דרוש טוב למורא
שה למוריה
אלם פיהו יהי צדק
ללא שמעה בקול.
8 Seek goodness for him
and behold the lamb of Moriah,[21]
He who was mute of mouth: let there be merit although she did not hearken to (Your) voice.

ה

9 הסר מחלק
ידים שעירות
הגה בתחנונים
כי לך הקול.
9 Remove from the smooth one
the hands of the hairy one;[22]
(my) supplications (I) murmur
because You have the voice.
10 השע מני
לא תשכח דת
ומפי זרעו
לא יסוף קול.
10 Save (me), for un-
forgotten is the testimony;
from the mouths of his[23] descendants /
unending is (their) voice.

ו

11 וחוזיי ומיליציי
הם בני אמי
אז ניחרו בי
למען אשמע בקול.
11 My seers and my scolders:
they are my mother’s sons[24]
and then they rebuked me
so that I would listen to (His) voice.
12 ועל משמרותם
יעמדו ויזעקו
וגל להם סוד
והוא יענם בקול.
12 And during their watches
they stood and cried aloud,[25]
that He might reveal to them the secret;
and He answered them in (His own) voice.[26]

ז

13 זה חמק מני
אסבוב אבקשנו
בכל מקום הוא
ואנה אזעק בקול.
13 This One[27] turned away from me
I turned about and I sought Him;
in every place He is
there I raised (my) voice.
14 זכר דודי למטה
“אדיר במרום”
“מלא כל הארץ כבודו”
למעלה קוראים בקול.
14 My Beloved is praised below:
“He is splendid on high!” (Psa. 93:4);
“His glory fills all the earth” (Isa. 6:3)
is how, up above, they proclaim with a voice.[28]

ח

15 חיל מים
אשר בם תיכן שבילו
תמונה לא שרנו
זולתי קול.
15 Through mighty waters:
He led their steps,
they said; “His image we have not seen
but only (perceived His) voice.
16 חפשתי ישימו
היש ואמר אין
טרם תתו עוז
ביעתני קול.
16 I sought (Him) in the wilderness:
Was anything there? But He said, There is nothing—
until His giving of Strength[29]
overwhelmed me with its voice.

ט

17 טהור דילג
הרים ועבר
וממעון הר מור
אז נתן קול.
17 The Pure One leapt
over mountains and passed by
and from the Abode on the mountain of myrrh[30]
He then gave forth (His) voice.
18 טמאתי ידידות
שכנו ונעלה
ליום כסא יבוא
באזניו קול.
18 I sullied the loveliness
of His dwelling and He departed
but on the day of the full moon He will come:
in my ears will be (His) voice.[31]

י

19 יקרתי בעיניו
ונלוה לי בשבי
“עמו אנכי”
אז הבטיח בקול.
19 I am precious in His eyes
and He stayed with me in my captivity:
“I am with him,”[32]
thus He reassured me with (His) voice.
20 ירד לשנער
ושם כס בעילם
השמיע כארי
וכנחש קול.
20 He descended upon Shinar[33]
and established His throne over Elam
and sounded forth like a lion
and like a serpent will be (their) voice.[34]

כ

21 כלה מני דוב
כי התרפה במלאכת
אשר חק במכתב
ויעבר קול.
21 The bear[35] took over for me
When I was too weak for labor
a law written in a letter
and it was proclaimed by a voice.[36]
22 כבש לי
ארבעת ראשי נמר
וגם אני בהודות
אשמיע קול.
22 He conquered for me
the four-headed leopard[37]
and truly, through everlasting thanksgivings
I let Him hear (my) voice

ל

23 לחית קנה
לקץ מכר ארץ
“מי לי בשמים”
אז הרימה קול.
23 The beast of the reeds[38]
when it possessed the earth,
“Whom have I in heaven?”[39]
it then raised (its) voice
24 לאלהי ישעי
משני ברזל שועתי
ומרגל עבטיט
הצרחתי קול.
24 To God, my Rescuer,
from between teeth of iron[40] I cried out
and from beneath (its) feet of heavy pledges
I roared with (my) voice

מ

25 מדת קצי
לא הודיעני
מתי בארצי
תור ישמיע קול.
25 The duration of my exile[41]
He did not make known to me
“How long until I am again in my land?”
The turtledove[42] will make heard (its) voice.
26 מידעי ספר
חתם חקי
לבל דעת צופיי
עת ישאו קול.
Even from those with deep knowledge of Scripture[43]
He sealed up (knowledge of) my end-time
lest the knowledge of my seers
the time when He will raise (His) voice.

נ

27 נא הבט נא
עניי ומרודי
אין לי מכיר
למי אשא קול.
27 Please, gaze down and see
my affliction and my anguish
I have no acquaintance
to whom I can raise (my) voice.
28 נצח אקוה
כי לא יפל דבר
מקשיבי
דממה וקול.
28 Forever shall I hope
for no word (of Yours) falls unfulfilled
from (the lips of) those of mine who hear[44]
(Your) whispering voice

ס

29סוס יסיס לבי בקרב
בשמעי דודי דופק
על פתחיי בקול.
29 Surely it shall rejoice
my heart within me
when I hear my Beloved knocking
on my door –(His) voice![45]
30 סלה ישימנו
כחותם על לב
כאז תחת התפוח
עוררני בקול.
30 Forever let Him set me
as a seal upon (His) heart
just as when, beneath the apple tree[46]
He aroused me with (His) voice
ככ[תוב] בתו[רה]:“ויהי ביום השלישי בה[ית הבקר ויהי קלת וברקים וענן כבד על ההר וקל שפר חזק מאד ויחרד כל העם אשר במחנה].
As it is written in Your Torah (Exod. 19:16):“And it came to pass on the third day, when it [was morning, that there were voices [thunder] and lightning, and a cloud upon the mountain, and the voice of the shofar grew very strong, and all the people who were in the camp trembled].”[47]

ע

33 עיליתני
על כל בנות
כי רעיתי
בחורב [תתה] קו[ל].
33 You exalted me,
over all (Your) other daughters
because it was for my sake
that on Horeb You gave forth (Your) voice.
34 על כל אלהים
אז ניתעליתה
ונצח תתעלה
בתרועת קול.
34 Over all other gods
You are greatly exalted;
forever You are exalted
by a resounding voice.
ככ[תוב] בד[ברי] ק[דשך]: “עלה אלהים בתרועה ייי בקול שופר.”
As it is written in Your holy words: “God ascends in the midst of shouting, the Eternal upon the voice of the shofar” (Psa. 47:6)

פ

36 פצה ממדבר
צפור מצרים
ויונה השמיעה
מאשור ק[ול].
36 He groaned in the wilderness,
the bird from Egypt;
and a dove made heard
from Assyria her voice.[48]
37 פקוד ציפור בית
דרוש יונת אלם
תקע למו בשופר
שרוק לבו בק[ול]
37 Watch over the house-sparrow,
seek out the mute dove,
sound the shofar for their sake
and free them by (Your) voice.
ככ[תוב] ע[ל] יד[י] נ[ביאך]:"והיה ביום ההוא יתקע [בשופר גדול ובאו האבדים בארץ אשור והנדחים בארץ מצרים והשתחוו ליהוה בהר הקדש בירושלם]."
As it was written by the hand of Your prophet: “And it shall come to pass on that day that a great shofar shall be blown; and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were dispersed in the land of Egypt shall come, and they shall bow down to the Eternal upon the holy mountain at Jerusalem” (Isa. 27:13)

צ

40 צור חוקים בי
לבל יעופו כנשר
ובל יכניפו
משמיעי קול.
40 Bind (Your) statutes tightly (to me), lest from me
they fly off, like an eagle;
and lest they take wing[49]
those who instruct me with their voice
41 צרופה אלמד
ועיניי למוריי
כאז ציר מדבר
ואל משיבו ק[ול].
41 That which is refined[50] I shall study
and my eyes are upon my teachers
as when the messenger[51] would speak
and God would respond to him with (His) voice.
ככ[תוב] בת[ורתך]:“ויהי קול השופר [הולך וחזק מאד משה ידבר והאלהים יעננו בקול].”
As it is written in Your Torah: “And the voice of the shofar grew increasingly stronger; Moses was speaking and God was answering him with (His) voice” (Exod. 19:19).

ק

43 קרב קץ חוק
באה עת משפט
קם מליץ יושר
להתחנן בק[ול].
43 As the (year’s) end draws near
the time of judgment approaches
the one who offers forthright defense arises
to entreat (with his) voice.
44 קודש חדש
והוכן מועד
אתקע בשופר
ובו אשווע בק[ול].
44 The month has been sanctified
and the festival prepared
and I will sound upon the shofar
so that He may answer me with (His) voice.
ככ[תוב] בד[ברי] ק[דשך]:
“תקעו בחדש שופר [בכסה ליום חגנו]. כי חק לישראל [הוא משפט לאלהי יעקב].
As it is written in Your holy word: “Sound the shofar at the new month, at the full moon for our festival, for it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob” (Psa. 81: 4-5)

ר

47 רגש מקבר
צוחה מסלע
בתת יבישי עצם
מעבר קול.
47 A disturbance from a grave,
shouting from a rock,
when He gave the dry bones[52]
in the dust a voice.
48 רום נס בהרים
וקול שופר בארץ
בהשמע רנן
מדמומי ק[ול].
48 See the banner on the mountains
and the voice of the shofar on the earth,
make joyfulness heard
from within the whispers of (His) voice.
ככ[תוב] ע[ל] יד[י] נ[ביאך]: “כל יושבי תבל [ושכני ארץ כנשא נס הרים תראו וכתקע שופר תשמעו].
As it is written by the hand of Your prophet: “All the inhabitants of the world and dwellers of the earth, when a banner is raised on the mountains, you will see it, and when the shofar is sounded, you shall hear it” (Isa. 18:3)

ש

50 שגג לב הותל
עוד בל יטינו
ובל אכביד אוזן
מבלי שמוע [ב]ק[ול].
50 The error of the wayward heart
shall no longer stray
no longer stoppering (their) ears
to keep from hearing (His) voice.
51 שובב לי כקדם
דת מורשה
אשר עילפוני
לפידים וק[ול].
51 Restore to me as of old
law and inheritance
with which I was enveloped
by lightning-flashes and a voice.
ככ[תוב] בת[ורתך]:“וכל העם רואים [את הקולת ואת הלפידם ואת קול השפר ואת ההר עשן וירא העם וינעו ויעמדו מרחק].”
As it is written in Your Torah: “And all the people saw the voices, and the lightning-flashes, and the voice of the shofar, and the mountain a-smoke; and when the people saw it, they were fearful, and stood at a distance” (Exod. 20:13)

ת

תבונה [היפק]
איש נבון דבר
והג נועם זמירות
בנעימת ק[ול].
54 One who obtained understanding
a man wise of word[53]
inscribed sweet hymns
in sweetness of voice.
55 תהילה תנו כל
כאז השמיע לכל
ולאל מושל בכל
המתיקו קול.
55 He would offer Him praise
then by all they were heard
by God who rules over all
let them create sweetness by means of voice.
ככ[תוב] בד[ברי] ק[דשך]: "הללויה הללו אל בקדשו [הללוהו ברקיע עזו. הללוהו בגבורתיו הללוהו כרב גדלו. הללוהו בתקע שופר הללוהו בנבל וכנור דהללוהו בתף ומחול הללוהו במנים ועוגב. הללוהו בצלצלי שמע הללוהו בצלצלי תרועה. כל הנשמה תהלל יה הללו יה]."
As it is written in Your holy writing: “Praise the Eternal! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him for his mighty deeds; praise Him according to His exceeding greatness! Praise Him with the sound of the shofar; praise Him with lute and harp! Praise Him with timbrel and dance; praise Him with strings and pipe! Praise Him with sounding cymbals; praise Him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Eternal! Praise the Eternal!!”  (Psa. 150:1-6)
60 תחת בני ציון
בני יוון שחו
הברקתה חנית וחצים
ותהומם בקול.
60 Beneath the sons of Zion
did the sons of Greece bow down
You made their arrows into lightning
and You confounded them with (Your) voice.[54]
61 תרעים לבוזזי
תתקע בשופר
בשערות תימן
אז ילך ק[ול].
61 May You thunder against those who scorn me;
Sound the shofar
in the whirlwinds of the south
and then will go forth a voice!
ככ[תוב] ע[ל] יד[י] נ[ביאך]:
"וייי עליהם יראה ויצא כברק חיצו [ואדני ייי בשופר יתקע והלך בסערות תימן. ייי צבאות יגן עליהם…]."
As it is written by the hand of Your prophet: “Then the Eternal will appear over them, and his arrow go forth like lightning; the Eternal God will sound the shofar, and go forth in the whirlwinds of the south. The Eternal of hosts will protect them.” (Zech. 9:14-15)

[Liturgical Cue:]

כן  תגן על עמך ישר[אל] בשלומך.
Thus may You protect all Your people Israel with Your peace.

Published

September 29, 2016

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Last Updated

October 8, 2019

Footnotes

View Footnotes

Dr. Rabbi Laura Lieber is associate professor of Religious Studies at Duke University, and co-director of the Duke Center for Jewish Studies, as well as the Director of the Duke-UNC Center for Late Ancient Studies.  She holds a Ph.D. in the History of Judaism from the University of Chicago and rabbinic ordination from HUC-JIR in Cincinnati. Her research focuses on Jewish liturgical poetry.