Making Torah Our Own

| Shavuot By :  Galeet Dardashti Posted On May 18, 2018 / 5778 | Speaking of Text: The Jewish Bookshelf | Holidays

The piyyut below was written by Rabbi Ya’akov Abihatzeira, an important religious figure in 19th-century Morocco. Sung in Moroccan communities primarily in honor of Shavuot, the piyyut portrays the Israelites’ acceptance of the Torah at Sinai. It depicts God as the beloved bridegroom entering into a figurative marriage with Israel, the bride, and playfully riffs on the Ten Commandments. Each stanza ends with the word tov (good), perhaps referencing the counting of the Omer (culminating with Shavuot), during which many take stock of all that is good in their lives each day.

During Shavuot we are also expected to imagine that we ourselves are standing at Sinai receiving the Torah. We can do that by making Torah / Jewish texts our own in the present moment. I’ve done that this week by layering my own vocal accompaniment into this beautiful piyyut recording by Israeli Rabbi Yosef Avuchatzira. (The original recording is from You can listen to my recording above.

Adonai Eloheinu gave us through Moses our master
A lesson of good so offer God thanks for this good

My beloved descended to his garden to sanctify us as a bride
His precepts God commanded us: avoid evil and work at good

On the holy day of Shabbat the sixth day’s eve in that month
The bridegroom married his bride—as kin who share what is good

His banner protects me with love for my beloved is exalted above ten thousand
God comes from Sinai: all may see this good

I am and You shall not have—a word is a thing than can kill or revive
God is and subsumes all time and is the ethical and the good

Blessed is He and blessed His name who commanded his people
You shall not take His name in vain, God said: not good

The day of Shabbat is calm with no distress or sigh
Joy and felicity give voice and here: the light is good

This day’s gift to you, if you will honor it all your days
And your father and mother—a long life and also the good

God’s image and reflection: You shall not murder for you shall die
Including animals and beasts for God is to all only good

Have courage You shall not commit adultery and God will not rage
Not an angel or seraph but God who loves days that reveal good

Keep your distance from those acts—do not steal or cover up
Just the law of Moses—taste it and see how good

Acquire but don’t resell the truth—responding as inflamed with drink
Don’t covet and remember the precepts always—you won’t suppress the good

Vital and holy One exempt us—pure and ethical One answer us
Accept our prayer for more than life itself the kindness of your love is good

Translation: Piyut North America

ה’ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ לֶקַח טוֹב נָתַן לָנוּ
עַל יַד מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ הוֹדוּ לַה’ כִי טוֹב

דֹּודִי יָרַד לְגַנּוֹ וּכְכַלָּה קִדְּשָׁנוּ
בְּמִצווֹתָיו צִוָּנוּ סוּר מֵרָע וַעֲשֵׂה טוֹב

וּבְיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת קֹדֶשׁ הוּא יוֹם שִׁשָּׁה לַחֹדֶשׁ
חָתָן כַּלָתוֹ קִדֵּשׁ כְּשֶׁבֶת אַחִים מַה טוֹב

דִּגְלוֹ עָלַי אַהֲבָה דּוֹדִי דָגוּל מֵמְרְבָבָה
ה’ מִסִּינַי בָּא וַתֵּרֶא אוֹתוֹ כִּי טוֹב

אָנוֹכִי וְלֹא יִהְיֶה דָבָר מֵמִית וּמְחַיֶּה
הָיָה הֹוֶה וְיִהְיֶה הוּא הַיָּשָׁר וְהַטּוֹב

בָּרוּך הוּא וּבָרוּךְ שְׁמוֹ אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה לְעַמּוֹלֹא תִשָּׂא לַשָּׁוְא שְׁמוֹ אָמַר אֱלֹהִים לֹא טוֹב

יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת מְנוּחָה לֹא יָגוֹן וַאֲנָחָה
קוֹל שָׂשׂוֹן וְקוֹל שִׂמְחָה וְהִנֵּה הָאוֹר כִּי טוֹב

חַיִּים וָחֶסֶד לְךָ אִם תְּכַבֵּד כָּל יָמֶיךָ
אָבִיךָ וְאִמֶּךָאִמְּךָ אֹרֶךְ יָמִים וְגַם טוֹב

צֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים וּדְמוּת לֹא תִרְצַח כִּי מוֹת תָּמוּת
גָּם חַיּוֹת גַּם בְּהֵמוֹת כִּי ה’ לַכֹּל טוֹב

יְשַׁר חַיִל לֹא תִנְאָף אֱזַי אֲזַי לֹא יֶחֱרֶה אָף
לֹא מַלְאָךְ וְלֹא שָׂרָף אֹהֵב יָמִים לִרְאוֹת טוֹב

רָחֹק תִּרְחַק לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה לֹא תִגְנֹב לֹא תְכַסֶּה
כִּי אִם בְּתוֹרַת מֹשֶׁה טַעֲמוּ וּרְאוּ טוֹב

אֱמֶת קְנֵה אַל תִּמְכֹּר לֹא תַעֲנֶה כְשִׁכּוֹר
לֹא תַחְמֹוֹד זָכֹר תִּזְכֹּר וּמִצְווֹת אַל תִּמְנַע טוֹב

חֲסִין קָדוֹשׁ חָנֵּנוּ זַךְ וְיָשָׁר עֲנֵנוּ
קַבֵּל תְּפִילָּתֵנוּ חַסְדְּךָ מֵחַיִּים טוֹב