Ki Lo Na'eh - כי לו נאה - For to God it is Fitting: A New Translation, Transliteration, Commentary, and Melody for an Old Poem
Below is the complete (but unformatted) text of the commentary/translation/transliteration above.
For to God it is fitting, for to God it shall be fitting—the crown of Sovereignty Mighty in Sovereignty, Choice in the Path—God’s troops will say to God, “To You and for You—to You, for it is for You—to You is this, and this too is for You: Yours, God, is the Sovereignty.” For to God it is fitting, for to God it shall be fitting—the crown of Sovereignty. Preeminent in Sovereignty, Glorious in the Path—God’s seasoned ones will say to God, “To You and for You—to You, for it is for You—to You is this, and this too is for You: Yours, God, is the Sovereignty.” For to God it is fitting, for to God it shall be fitting—the crown of Sovereignty. Meritorious in Sovereignty, Strong in the Path—God’s appointed ones will say to God, “To You and for You—to You, for it is for You—to You is this, and this too is for You: Yours, God, is the Sovereignty.” For to God it is fitting, for to God it shall be fitting—the crown of Sovereignty. Ruling in Sovereignty, Awesome in the Path—God’s environs will say to God, “To You and for You—to You, for it is for You—to You is this, and this too is for You: Yours, God, is the Sovereignty.” For to God it is fitting, for to God it shall be fitting—the crown of Sovereignty. Humble in Sovereignty, Redeeming in the Path—God’s righteous ones will say to God, “To You and for You—to You, for it is for You—to You is this, and this too is for You: Yours, God, is the Sovereignty.” For to God it is fitting, for to God it shall be fitting—the crown of Sovereignty. Distinguished in Sovereignty, Compassionate in the Path—God’s troops will say to God, “To You and for You—to You, for it is for You—to You is this, and this too is for You: Yours, God, is the Sovereignty.” For to God it is fitting, for to God it shall be fitting—the crown of Sovereignty. Resolute in Sovereignty, Supportive in the Path—God’s unblemisched ones will say to God, “To You and for You—to You, for it is for You—to You is this, and this too is for You: Yours, God, is the Sovereignty.” For to God it is fitting, for to God it shall be fitting—the crown of Sovereignty.
כִּי לוֹ נָאֶה, כִּי לוֹ יָאֶה כֶּֽתֶר מְלוּכָה. אַדִּיר בִּמְלוּכָה, בָּחוּר כַּהֲלָכָה, גְּדוּדָיו יֹאמְרוּ לוֹ: לְךָ וּלְךָ, לְךָ כִּי לְךָ, לְךָ אַף לְךָ, לְךָ ה' הַמַּמְלָכָה, כִּי לוֹ נָאֶה, כִּי לוֹ יָאֶה כֶּֽתֶר מְלוּכָה. דָּגוּל בִּמְלוּכָה, הָדוּר כַּהֲלָכָה, וָתִיקָיו יֹאמְרוּ לוֹ: לְךָ וּלְךָ, לְךָ כִּי לְךָ, לְךָ אַף לְךָ, לְךָ ה' הַמַּמְלָכָה, כִּי לוֹ נָאֶה, כִּי לוֹ יָאֶה כֶּֽתֶר מְלוּכָה. זַכַּאי בִּמְלוּכָה, חֲסִין כַּהֲלָכָה, טַפְסְרָיו יֹאמְרוּ לוֹ: לְךָ וּלְךָ, לְךָ כִּי לְךָ, לְךָ אַף לְךָ, לְךָ ה' הַמַּמְלָכָה, כִּי לוֹ נָאֶה, כִּי לוֹ יָאֶה כֶּֽתֶר מְלוּכָה. יָחִיד בִּמְלוּכָה, כַּבִּיר כַּהֲלָכָה, לִמּוּדָיו יֹאמְרוּ לוֹ: לְךָ וּלְךָ, לְךָ כִּי לְךָ, לְךָ אַף לְךָ, לְךָ ה' הַמַּמְלָכָה, כִּי לוֹ נָאֶה, כִּי לוֹ יָאֶה כֶּֽתֶר מְלוּכָה. מוֹשֵל בִּמְלוּכָה, נוֹרָא כַּהֲלָכָה, סְבִיבָיו יֹאמְרוּ לוֹ: לְךָ וּלְךָ, לְךָ כִּי לְךָ, לְךָ אַף לְךָ, לְךָ ה' הַמַּמְלָכָה, כִּי לוֹ נָאֶה, כִּי לוֹ יָאֶה כֶּֽתֶר מְלוּכָה. עָנָיו בִּמְלוּכָה, פּוֹדֶה כַּהֲלָכָה, צַדִּיקָיו יֹאמְרוּ לוֹ: לְךָ וּלְךָ, לְךָ כִּי לְךָ, לְךָ אַף לְךָ, לְךָ ה' הַמַּמְלָכָה, כִּי לוֹ נָאֶה, כִּי לוֹ יָאֶה כֶּֽתֶר מְלוּכָה. קָדוֹשׁ בִּמְלוּכָה, רַחוּם כַּהֲלָכָה, שִׁנְאַנָיו יֹאמְרוּ לוֹ: לְךָ וּלְךָ, לְךָ כִּי לְךָ, לְךָ אַף לְךָ, לְךָ ה' הַמַּמְלָכָה, כִּי לוֹ נָאֶה, כִּי לוֹ יָאֶה כֶּֽתֶר מְלוּכָה. תַּקִּיף בִּמְלוּכָה, תּוֹמֵךְ כַּהֲלָכָה, תְּמִימָיו יֹאמְרוּ לוֹ: לְךָ וּלְךָ, לְךָ כִּי לְךָ, לְךָ אַף לְךָ, לְךָ ה' הַמַּמְלָכָה, כִּי לוֹ נָאֶה, כִּי לוֹ יָאֶה כֶּֽתֶר מְלוּכָה.
KI LO na-EH, KI LO ya-EH KE-ter melu-KHAH. Ad-DIR bimlu-KHAH, ba-HUR kahala-KHAH, gedu-DAV yome-RU LO: Le-KHA ul-KHA, le-KHA KI le-KHA, le-KHA AF le-KHA, le-KHA ado-NAI hammamla-KHAH, KI LO na-EH, KI LO ya-EH KE-ter melu-KHAH. Da-GUL bimlu-KHAH, ha-DUR kahala-KHAH, vati-KAV yome-RU LO: Le-KHA ul-KHA, le-KHA KI le-KHA, le-KHA AF le-KHA, le-KHA ado-NAI hammamla-KHAH, KI LO na-EH, KI LO ya-EH KE-ter melu-KHAH. Zak-KAI bimlu-KHAH, ha-SIN kahala-KHAH, tafse-RAV yome-RU LO: Le-KHA ul-KHA, le-KHA KI le-KHA, le-KHA AF le-KHA, le-KHA ado-NAI hammamla-KHAH, KI LO na-EH, KI LO ya-EH KE-ter melu-KHAH.. Ya-HID bimlu-KHAH, kab-BIR kahala-KHAH, limmu-DAV yome-RU LO: Le-KHA ul-KHA, le-KHA KI le-KHA, le-KHA AF le-KHA, le-KHA ado-NAI hammamla-KHAH, KI LO na-EH, KI LO ya-EH KE-ter melu-KHAH. Mo-SHEL bimlu-KHAH, no-RA kahala-KHAH, Sevi-VAV yome-RU LO: Le-KHA ul-KHA, le-KHA KI le-KHA, le-KHA AF le-KHA, le-KHA ado-NAI hammamla-KHAH, KI LO na-EH, KI LO ya-EH KE-ter melu-KHAH. A-NAV bimlu-KHAH, po-DEH kahala-KHAH, tzaddi-KAV yome-RU LO: Le-KHA ul-KHA, le-KHA KI le-KHA, le-KHA AF le-KHA, le-KHA ado-NAI hammamla-KHAH, KI LO na-EH, KI LO ya-EH KE-ter melu-KHAH. Ka-DOSH bimlu-KHAH, ra-HUM kahala-KHAH, shin’a-NAV yome-RU LO: Le-KHA ul-KHA, le-KHA KI le-KHA, le-KHA AF le-KHA, le-KHA ado-NAI hammamla-KHAH, KI LO na-EH, KI LO ya-EH KE-ter melu-KHAH. Tak-KIF bimlu-KHAH, to-MEKH kahala-KHAH, temi-MAV yome-RU LO: Le-KHA ul-KHA, le-KHA KI le-KHA, le-KHA AF le-KHA, le-KHA ado-NAI hammamla-KHAH, KI LO na-EH, KI LO ya-EH KE-ter melu-KHAH. Thoughts On These Words and Their Place in Memories of Leaving Mitzrayim In recent years, my practice of recalling Yetzi’at Mitzrayim (יְצִיאַת מִצְרָֽיִם, “Emerging from Egypt”) has not been about imagining myself leaving the literal Land of Egypt. It’s been about leaving a more personal Mitzrayim (מִצְרָֽיִם, “Egypt). Even though Mitzrayim is the Hebrew name for Egypt, it contains the letters of the Hebrew root צ-ר-י (tzadei-reysh-yod), from which we get the word “tzarot” (צָרוֹת, or “troubles” or “tragedies”), or—as we say it in Yiddish—“tzures”. This connection between Mitzrayim and the tzarot that the Jewish people have experienced is drawn out in the Biblical commentary of Yitzhak ben Yehudah Abravanel (1437-1508), who comments on Exodus 3 saying, “מִצְרִַֽים הָיְתָה אֶֽרֶץ צָרָה (Mitzrayim was a land of distress).” In a similar vein, when I fulfill the Mitzvah (מִצְוָה, or “commandment”) of seeing myself leaving Mitzrayim, I consider what tzarot are on my mind, and I realize what a miracle it is that I can find that Divine, narrow passageway through which I can successfully escape and leave behind my tzarot—letting each fear drown in a sea of tears and anxieties I hope never to see again. This piyyut (פִּיּוּט, “liturgical poem”), “Ki Lo Na’eh, Ki Lo Ya’eh” (“כִּי לוֹ נָאֶה, כִּי לוֹ יָאֶה,” or “For To God It is Fitting, For To God It Shall Be Fitting”) is of unknown authorship but appeared in the Haggadah (הַגָּדָה) in the Middle Ages. As to how these words relate to Pesah (פֶּֽסַח, or “Passover”), one mystical explanation comes from the Hasidic master Rabbi Kalonymos Kelman Halevi Epstein (1751-1823) of Poland in Ma’or Vashemesh (מָאוֹר וָשֶֽׁמֶשׁ, “Illuminator and Sun,” Epstein’s commentary on Leviticus). He suggests that Kabbalists understood the great power in the numerology of the words of this piece: Na’eh (נָאֶה) and Ya’eh (יָאֶה), in Gematriyyah (גְּמַטְרִיָּה), add up to 72 (נ + א +ה] = 50 + 1 + 5 = 56] + [י + א + ה = 10 + 1 + 5 = 16] = 72), and so does the word Hesed (חֶֽסֶד, “Lovingkindness”); “Hesed” (ח + ס + ד = 8 + 6 + 4 = 72) is not only a term for socially conscious actions, but also one of the ten names of the aspects of God in Kabbalah. Written in the section of Ma’or Vashemesh referred to as Ramzey Pesah Ufeyrush Al Hahaggadah (רַמְזֵי פֶּֽסַח וּפֵירוּשׁ עַל הַהַגָּדָה, “Mystical Allusions of Pesah and Commentary On the Haggadah”), this teaching suggests that we should credit Yetzi’at Mitzrayim to the Divine aspect of Hesed, which we recall through “Ki Lo Na’eh, Ki Lo Ya’eh.” In addition, Epstein’s commentary notes that our saying “Ya’eh” is a way of rearranging the letters of God’s name—for, aside from the name of י-ה-ו-ה, God is introduced allusively to Moses in Exodus 3:14 as “Ehyeh,” as in “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” (אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה, or “I Am That Which I Am”). Through this song, we may aim to reconstruct the Good Name by the virtue of which we merited a miraculous Yetzi’at Mitzrayim. Aside from the refrain, each strophe of the piyyut is written in an alphabetical fashion: the first letter of each word unique to each strophe comes from the letter that is next in the Hebrew alphabet. As there are 22 letters in Hebrew and only 3 unique words per strophe, the final (and eighth) strophe has 3 words each beginning with the final letter, Tav (תּ). Alphabetical acrostics like this are commonly found in early Medieval piyyut literature. The exercise of going through the alphabet allows both the author of the piyyut and all of its readers to imagine the many ways and words through which we may articulate different nuances of Godliness that we have experienced in our personal lives and in the Jewish collective memory. Words are very powerful in the Jewish tradition. Even before Kabbalists wrote about the magical powers of letters, the mere utterance of words was the means by which God created the Universe in the first chapter of Genesis. To the rabbis of the Talmud, every individual word in the Tanakh (תָּנַ"ךְ, or “Hebrew Bible”) had an educational purpose beyond its grammatical place in the sentence; it could allude to a word elsewhere in Tanakh or perhaps a Midrashic story not written anywhere in the Tanakh. In a piyyut, every word too has a special resonance with a chord struck long ago in Jewish history. The appearance of an uncommon word or phrase refers the reader back to those rare moments in Jewish literature when that word came up, and the nuances of these words remind us of each of our own unique relationships with God as have expressed them through the Jewish tradition. Ki Lekha = כִּי לְךָ = For it is for You We begin the Piyyut with a taste of the refrain, each phrase of which echoes a unique thought-provoking teaching beneath its surface. The phrase “Ki Lekha” (כִּי לְךָ) appears (among other places) in Genesis 13:17 as God’s words offering Abraham ownership of, as well as responsibility over, all of the land that Abraham sees during this moment of dialogue with the Divine. The phrase challenges us to take ownership of or responsibility over what we see before us in the moment. Af Lekha = אַף לְךָ = And this too is for You Appearing in the main refrain (though it does not appear in the snippet of the refrain in the beginning here) is the phrase “Af Lekha” (אַף לְךָ), which also appears in Psalms 74:16 and 89:12 to indicate a merism—a phrase where two opposites are mentioned so as to include everything that could come between two ends of the spectrum. In the former, we read: לְךָ֣ י֭וֹם אַף־לְךָ֣ לָ֑יְלָה (“Yours is the day; so too Yours is the night”)—that God is the master of all time. In the latter, we read: לְךָ֣ שָׁ֭מַיִם אַף־לְךָ֥ אָ֑רֶץ (“Yours are the heavens; so too Yours is the earth")—that God is the master of all space. When we declare, “Af lekha,” we are challenged to imagine something in our lives that we can attribute entirely to God. Lekha Adonai Hammamlakhah = לְךָ ה'הַמַּמְלָכָה = Yours, God, is the Sovereignty The phrase “Lekha Adonai Hammamlakhah” (לְךָ֤ ה֨' הַמַּמְלָכָ֔ה) in the main refrain (again, not in the snippet at the beginning) is a quote from I Chronicles 29:11, amidst a list of Divine attributes in a prayer King David recites in 29:10-19. In this passage, David describes the God he envisions before he makes the request he ultimately wants to make of God. In this piyyut, we recall different ways in which we have recognized God. But in reciting this phrase in particular, we keep in mind how we envision God, and we also consider what we ultimately need from God at this hour. Keter Melukhah = כֶּֽתֶר מְלוּכָה = Crown of Sovereignty The words “Keter Melukhah” (כֶּֽתֶר מְלוּכָה, “Crown of Sovereignty”) do not appear in all versions of this song, but the inclusion of them allows the poem to read a bit more clearly. Without the phrase, it is not clear what will become fitting to God—the refrain, without “Keter Melukhah,” would read “as, to God, it is fitting; as, to God, it shall be fitting.” Although we cannot be sure whether it accidentally disappeared as the poem was reintroduced or if the phrase was added in to help clarify the ambiguity of the poem, “Keter Melukhah” is an image that is simultaneously vivid and vague. The phrase “Keter Melukhah” appears in Haggadah Shel Pesah Binyan David (הגדה של פסח בנין דוד), attributed to the 19th Century Hasidic Rabbi David Dov Meisels (מרן דוד דוב מייזליש); the Haggadah of the Munkatch Hasidim published in 1998 (by Ateres Publishing); and the Haggadah Shel Pesah Im Peyrush Nahalat Avot (הגדה של פסח עם פירוש נחלת יעקב) of the Transylvanian sage Rabbi Natan Tz'vi Brisk (נתן צבי בריסק), published in Kleinwardien in 1919. Some traditions have two-word phrases other than “Keter Melukhah” at the end of the refrain, but the final word of the pair is usually related to Melukhah. “Keter Melukhah” is not an early metaphor from Talmudic literature. Keter (כֶּֽתֶר, “Crown”) and Melukhah (מְלוּכָה, sovereignty) have each become synonymous with the most supernal of God’s mystical qualities in later Jewish literature, but the two words may not have appeared together until Siddur Rashi—the Siddur that the commentator Rashi (1040-1125 C.E.) is traditionally thought to have used. On top of that, the phrase itself remains rarely explained in Rabbinic literature; however, the 18th Century Hasidic master Rabbi Ze’ev Wolf of Zhitomir spoke powerfully of “Keter Melukhah:” in Or Hamme’ir (אוֹר הַמֵּאִיר, “The Illuminating Light”) on Deutereonomy/Sukkot, he speaks of “Keter Melukhah” (literally, the “crown of sovereignty”) as something which we proffer to God through enthusiastic prayer—just as any earthly ruler should be corronated with heartfelt excitement. Perhaps most poignantly, this Hasidic master writes that a moment of ecstatically recognizing Divine Sovereignty is intended “לְהַרְאוֹת שֶׁמְּחַדְּשִׁים הַמְּלוּכָה, וְיִשׁמְעוּ רְחוֹקִים וְיָבֹֽאוּ גַּם כֵּן לִיתֵּן כֶּֽתֶר מְלוּכָה” (“to show that we renew the sovereignty, and so that those who are distant will hear and will also come to give the Crown of Sovereignty”). For Rabbi Ze’ev Wolf of Zhitomir, the Divine Keter Melukhah is something that, not only do we renew constantly for God’s sake, but we renew to remind ourselves when he have become distanced from recognizing God in our lives. Addir = אַדִּיר = Great, Mighty, Powerful, Strong, Wonderful The word “Addir” (אַדִּיר) appears 7 times in the Tanakh—each time, interpreted as related to Divine Melukhah: - (1, 2) In Isaiah 33:21, the word appears twice: “כִּ֣י אִם־שָׁ֞ם אַדִּ֤יר ה֨' לָ֔נוּ מְקוֹם־נְהָרִ֥ים יְאֹרִ֖ים רַֽחֲבֵ֣י יָדָ֑יִם בַּל־תֵּ֤לֶךְ בּוֹ֙ אֳנִי־שַׁ֔יִט וְצִ֥י אַדִּ֖יר לֹ֥א יַעַבְרֶֽנּוּ:” (“For, indeed, there, the mighty Lord shall be for us as a place of rivers and Niles of wide hand-breadths wherein no sea-fleet or mighty navy may pass...”). Not only is the might of a human fleet said to hold no clout here against the might of God, Isaiah says these words in contemplation of the inefabble greatness of a, doubtlesly, Divine Melekh (מֶ֥לֶךְ, “Sovereign”), as mentioned in verse 17. - (3) Ezekiel 17:23, God is quoted promising: “בְּהַ֨ר מְר֤וֹם יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֶשְׁתֳּלֶ֔נּוּ וְנָשָׂ֤א עָנָף֙ וְעָ֣שָׂה פֶ֔רִי וְהָיָ֖ה לְאֶ֣רֶז אַדִּ֑יר וְשָֽׁכְנ֣וּ תַחְתָּ֗יו כֹּ֚ל צִפּ֣וֹר כָּל־כָּנָ֔ף בְּצֵ֥ל דָּֽלִיּוֹתָ֖יו תִּשְׁכֹּֽנָּה:” (“At a high mountain of Israel, I will plant it, and it shall raise branches and create fruit, and it shall be a mighty cedar, and beneath it shall dwell every bird and every wing; in the shade of its boughs, shall each dwell”). This Divine gift to Israel is certainly not only an imparting of God’s Addir quality, but the 18th Century rabbi David Altschuler writes—in his commentary Metzudat David (מְצוּדַת דָּוִד, The Fortress of David)—regarding the words “veshakhenu tahtav” (וְשָֽׁכְנ֣וּ תַחְתָּ֗יו, “and beneath it shall dwell”): ר"ל כׇּל־הָאוּמּוֹת יִהְיוּ נִשְׁמָעִים לוֹ וְסָרִים לָעֲבוֹדָתוֹ (“the text intends to say: all nations will listen to It and be servants in Its service”). To Altschuler, this is a verse where God not only gives Israel a great cedar to provide shade for animals, but God plants God’s own presence amidst the highest point of Israel so as both to provide cool shade for all those who seek this rest, and, ultimately, to tower above those resting in the shade of the Divine Sovereign, to whom a universe of benefactors has now become a multitude of patient servants. - (4, 5) In Psalm 8 verses 2 and 10 read as follows: “ה֤' אֲדֹנֵ֗ינוּ מָֽה־אַדִּ֣יר שִׁ֭מְךָ בְּכׇל־הָאָ֑רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־תְּנָ֥ה ה֝וֹדְךָ֗ עַל־הַשָּׁמָֽיִם:” (“Lord, our God, how mighty is Your name throughout all the earth—You, having given Your splendor upon the heavens!”), and “ה֥' אֲדֹנֵ֑ינוּ מָֽה־אַדִּ֥יר שִׁ֝מְ֗ךָ בְּכׇל־הָאָֽרֶץ:” (“Lord, our God, how mighty is your name throughout all the earth!”). These two verses frame the main psalm itself, which praises all the works of God but—given God’s greatness—questions God’s transferrance of Divine sovereignty to humanity in verses 5-7: “מָֽה־אֱ֭נוֹשׁ כִּֽי־תִזְכְּרֶ֑נּוּ וּבֶן־אָ֝דָ֗ם כִּ֣י תִפְקְדֶֽנּוּ: וַתְּחַסְּרֵ֣הוּ מְּ֭עַט מֵאֱלֹהִ֑ים וְכָב֖וֹד וְהָדָ֣ר תְּעַטְּרֵֽהוּ: תַּ֭מְשִׁילֵהוּ בְּמַֽעֲשֵׂ֣י יָדֶ֑יךָ כֹּ֝ל שַׁ֣תָּה תַֽחַת־רַגְלָֽיו:” (“What is a human that You should recall one, or the offspring of humanity that You should be mindful of it? You have made it a bit less than divine, yet with substance and glory do You adorn it!? You made it master over the works of Your hands, and all matters beneath its feet!”) In addition to this allusion to transferring Divine sovereignty, the juxtaposition of the words Addir and Shimkha (שִׁמְךָ, “Your name”) very clearly resonates the language of a corronation ceremony. Both in the Tanakh and many other ancient Near Eastern texts, a sovereign is corronated or declared via ritual language during which the name of the ruler is proclaimed. - (6) In Psalm 76:5, we read: “נָ֭אוֹר אַתָּ֥ה אַדִּ֗יר מֵֽהַרְרֵי־טָֽרֶף:” (“Respendent were You, mighty amidst mountains of prey”). This Psalm, describing God as a warrior-ruler, ends with “יִ֭בְצֹר ר֥וּחַ נְגִידִ֑ים נ֝וֹרָ֗א לְמַלְכֵי־אָֽרֶץ:” (“God restrains the spirit of princes and incites fear among the rulers of the earth”). God is a mighty Sovereign—mightier than any earthly ruler. - (7) In Psalm 93:4, the Psalmist exclaims: “מִקֹּל֨וֹת ׀ מַ֤יִם רַבִּ֗ים אַדִּירִ֣ים מִשְׁבְּרֵי־יָ֑ם אַדִּ֖יר בַּמָּר֣וֹם יְהֹוָֽה:” (“Above the sounds of great waters—mightier than those who break the sea—mighty, on high, is the Lord.”). These words appear, describing the God who transcends the greatest of natural wonders, in a Psalm whose first two words “Adonai Malakh” (ה֣' מָלָךְ֘, “The Lord is Sovereign”) begin a series of descriptions of God’s majesty. The might is part of the sovereignty. Literally, the Addir is in the Melukhah. God is Addir bimlukhah (אַדִּיר בִּמְלוּכָה “'Mighty' in Sovereignty”). Bahur = בָּחוּר = Choice, Chosen, Loved one, Male The word Bahur (בָּחוּר, “choice”) is generally used in the Tanakh to talk about humans—usually men going to war; however, in the Song of Songs 5:15, the word Bahur is used to describe the male lover, who, in Rabbinic interpretations of Song of Songs, is a metaphor for God, lover of Israel. Halakhah = הֲלָכָה = Jewish law, Leading, Path, Walking Kahalakhah = כַּהֲלָכָה = According to (the) Law/Governance/Guidance/Halakhah/Sovereignty, In Accordance with (the) Law/Governance/Guidance/Halakhah/Sovereignty Bimlukhah = בִּמְלוּכָה = In Governance, In Guidance, In Sovereignty Melukhah = מְלוּכָה = Governance, Guidance, Sovereighnty The frequent appearance of the term Halakhah (הֲלָכָה), which normally refers to “Jewish law,” feels a bit out of place in this piyyut. The word Halakhah, which literally means “walking” or “path,” when used in the phrase Kahalakhah (כַּהֲלָכָה, “according to Halakhah”) somehow parallels the word Bimlukhah (בִּמְלוּכָה, “in Sovereignty”). Though Halakhah and Melukhah are not the same word, they still rhyme and contain the same final root letters—Halakhah being derived from heh-lamed-kaf (ה-ל-כ), and and Melukhah coming from mem-lamed-kaf (מ-ל-כ). However, the heh and the mem that separate their roots however might point to the narrow gap that really exists between Jewish Sovereignty and Jewish Law (or Jewish “Walking”, or the Jewish “Path”). After all, a horeh (הוֹרֶה, “parent”) and a moreh (מוֹרֶה, “teacher”) are—along with the word Torah (תּוֹרָה)—all derived from the same root of yod-resh-heh (י-ר-ה), which always refers to “projection” (frequently, projecting values—whether pedagogically or parentally). For grammatical reasons—and probably linguistic reasons (different ways of pronouncing the same words)—the letter heh (ה) is frequently garbled into the letter mem (מ). One may be inclined to wonder if Psalm 104:3’s hamhallekh (הַֽ֝מְהַלֵּ֗ךְ, “the Moving One”) is a non-garbled way of saying hammelekh (הָמֶּֽלֶךְ, “the Ruler”), or if they are truly separate words. One then may consider the case of Jeremiah 2:6’s calling God “hammolikh” (הַמּוֹלִ֨יךְ, “the Guide”). When we keep in mind that our earliest Hebrew texts were not written with vowels and that certain consonantal letters (most notably: alef, heh, vav and yod—א, ה, ו, and י) were frequently omitted for being consonantally silent (or quiet), we are reminded that, from seeing the letters heh-mem-lamed-kaf (המלך) with no vowels, we could pronounced these letters as hammelekh (הַמֶּֽלֶךְ) or hammolikh (הַמֹּלִךְ). Furthermore—if the word hamhallekh (המהלך), which appears only once in the entire Bible, was mispointed (as in, it should not have been vocalized as hamhallekh)—it is possible that a more accurate reading of this word would render המהלך as another spelling, or synonym, of hammolikh. Perhaps the word may have once been pronounced hammahalikh (הַמַּהֲלִךְ), or hammohlikh (הַמֹּהלִךְ). It is worth noting that the Arabic word for King is vocalized as malik—in some ways a little more similar-sounding to Hammahalikh or Hammolikh than Hammelekh. From these suggestions, the possibility opens up that Melukhah and Halakhah are intimately related: that Melukhah is a form of guiding Halakhah (and perhaps Halakhah—the ways in which Jews “walk”—helps shape how Jews imagine God as Hammolikh). Perhaps the heh and the mem that distinguish these terms show that Halakhah and Melukhah not only share the roots of an adjacent lamed and kaf; they also share their roots in the God and the Jewish people. As for the significance of “Kahalakhah” in this piyyut, the term can be read in at least three ways: “Kahalakhah” is the opposite viewpoint of “Bimlukhah.” Whereas the word “Bimlukhah” recalls that God must be imagined from God’s perspective of Melukhah, the mundanity of human Halakhah reminds us that people must not leave themselves out of the picture when we imagine God. Through the words “Bimlukhah” and “Kahalakhah,” we are reminded that—even if the adjectives preceding each word do not resonate solely with God’s perception of God’s self or humans’ perceptions of God—imagining God is a two-way street: God emanates to humans through Melukhah, and we encounter God through Halakhah. The Halakhah discussed here may be, not how humans or Jews walk, but how God goes about doing things. God may be Bahur Kahalakhah because God goes about as a God who is Bahur, and that is the Halakhah; that’s how things go. The term Kahalakhah may be used comedically as if to say that, not only is God Bahur, but God is Bahur, and God is so Bahur that it’s Halakhic: God’s Godliness is kosher and up to Jewish standards! God is a kosher God! Being that each of these is a plausible explanation of Kahalakhah—which is a vague term throughout the piyyut—chances are that the author of this piyyut intended for each of these readings to resonate with us. The word Kahalakhah reminds us that we imagine God as God is, and God is kosher! As Rabbi Ze’ev Wolf of Zhitomir suggested regarding the phrase “Keter Melukhah”, it is this combination of sincerity and joy (even joyful silliness) that truly allows us to recognize God as we imagine God in our universe. Gedudav = גְּדוּדָיו = God’s battalions, God’s regimens, God’s troops The word Gedudav (גְּדוּדָיו) appears in Job 19:12, when Job fears God sending out God’s troops to fight Job. Job fears that God hates him and intends to torment him. Sometimes we, like Job, are challenged to see God as a source of love or perfection. In this piyyut though, Gedudav are God’s troops, apparently devoid of both malicious intent and means for harming humanity. All these troops can do is join us in corronating God through joyous song. Dagul = דָּגוּל = Distinguished, Outstanding, Preeminent, Signified The term Dagul (דָּגוּל) only appears Biblically in Song of Songs 5:10: “דּוֹדִ֥י צַח֙ וְאָד֔וֹם דָּג֖וּל מֵרְבָבָֽה:” (“My beloved is light-skinned yet ruddy—preeminent among ten thousand”). God is simultaneously hard to see yet well-colored: prominent amidst a large crowd. Even when we find ourselves amidst a confusing mass of stress or doubt or chaos, our Jewish identity still challenges us to identify God’s role in the universe. Hadur = הָדוּר = Beautiful, Elegant, Glorious “Hadur” (הָדוּר) appears in the Tanakh only once: in Isaiah 63:1, the prophet asks (and is then answered by God), “מִי־זֶ֣ה ׀ בָּ֣א מֵאֱד֗וֹם חֲמ֤וּץ בְּגָדִים֙ מִבׇּצְרָ֔ה זֶ֚ה הָד֣וּר בִּלְבוּשׁ֔וֹ צֹעֶ֖ה בְּרֹ֣ב כֹּח֑וֹ אֲנִ֛י מְדַבֵּ֥ר בִּצְדָקָ֖ה רַ֥ב לְהוֹשִֽׁיעַ:” (“‘Who is this, coming from Edom, in red clothes from Botzrah—this One glorious in the One’s dress, inclining in the One’s great power?’ ‘I speak righteously, with the greatness of salvation.’”) Hadur arises in a verse that, like the verse in which Dagul appears, imagines a certain beautiful red coloring on a human-like Divine figure. The position of Hadur in the piyyut here is not only important because of the redness-connection to Dagul, but also because Isaiah’s use of the word Hadur imagines God walking along a path—engaging in an act of Halakhah as walking. God here is Hadur according to Halakhah. Vattikav = וָתִיקָיו = God’s great ones, God’s righteous ones, God’s seasoned ones The root of “Vatikav” (וָתִיקָיו) does not appear in the Tanakh; however, the words Vatikin (וָתִיקִין) and Vatikim וָתִיקִים) both appear in the earliest strands of Rabbinic literature. The former appears in both the Babylonian Talmud (Berakhot 9b, 25b and 26a) and the later medieval Yalkut Shim’oni (Psalms, Section 606), wherein the Vatikin are great sages of yore who would always complete their recitation of the Shema “עִם הָנֵץ הַחַמָּה” (“with the budding of the sun [at the precise moment of sunrise]”), beginning their Amidah right after reciting the last blessing recited after the Shema—this blessing being called “Ge’ullah” (גְּאֻלָּה, or “redemption”) by the Rabbis. According to these rabbis, the Vatikin would use that precise moment of sunrise to adjoin Ge’ullah with Tefillah (תְּפִלָּה, or “prayer,” one of the other names of the Amidah). The word Vatikim appears in Sifrey Devarim (Parashat Devarim: Segment 13) and in Midrash Tanna’im for Deuteronomy (1:13)—followed by “ukhsherim” (וּכְשֵׁרִים, literally “and kosher”) to indicate that these elders of long ago were upstanding, suitable (kahalakhah!) and pious men. Both the Vatikin—who stood before the red Sun—and the Vatikim—kosher, like well-prepared red meat—are Vatikav. The ruddy Vatikav stand together with the sanguine God who is undubitably Dagul and Hadur. Zakkai = זַכַּאי - Innocent, Meritorious, Owning Rights, Pure The word Zakkai (זַכַּאי) is never used in the Tanakh, but, in Rabbinic literature, it may have the meanings of “pure,” “innocent,” “meritorious,” or “owning rights.” The term Zakkai though is derived from the root letters of zayin and kaf from which the Biblical verb Zakhakh (זָכַךְ, meaning “to be bright” or “to be pure” or “to be clear”), the Biblical adjective Zakh (“pure,” “clean,” or “righteous”), and the Biblical noun of Zekhokhit (זְכוֹכִית, “glass”) are derived. After imagining God enrobed in red, the piyyut suggests that we remove that thought from our head: now we must imagine God as transluscent, clear, without color, without image. Hasin = חֲסִין = MIghty, Strong “Hasin” (חֲסִין) is yet another Biblical hapax legomenon—another word appearing only once in the Tanakh. In Psalm 89:9, the Psalmist asks, “ה֨' ׀ אֱ-לֹ֘הֵ֤י צְ-בָא֗וֹת מִֽי־כָֽמ֖וֹךָ חֲסִ֥ין ׀ יָ֑-הּ וֶ֝אֱמֽוּנָֽתְךָ֗ סְבִיבוֹתֶֽיךָ:” (“Lord, God of Hosts, who is strong like You—with Your faithfulness as Your surroundings!?”) In the following verse, we see that, as we might expect of the God of Melukhah, this is a God who moshel (מוֹשֵׁל, “rules”) over certain natural forces. (Just two verses after that, we find the Psalmist—as we do in this piyyut—reminding God of what exactly is “Af Lekha.”) Tafserav = טַפְסְרָיו = God’s appointed/demanded Although “Tafserav” (טַפְסְרָיו) never appears in the Tanakh, two different forms of the word do appear: one in Jeremiah 51:27, and one in Nahum 3:17. The word, uttered both times by God, refers to human military marshals whom God demands Israel call into action. Tafserav, those humans for whom God has called, manifest the God who is simultaneously Zakkai—invisible to the untrained eye—yet Hasin: through Godly actions performed by humans, we can begin to see the substantive effect that an intangible God has on the world around us. Yahid = יָחִיד = Alone, Lone, Lonely, Lonesome, One, Only, Single, Singular, Solitary, Special, Unique “Yahid” (יָחִיד) appears in the Tanakh in three places: Jeremiah 6:26, Amos 8:10, and Psalm 25:16. In each of these places, the Yahid-being is described as a solitary, lonesome, impoverished human. However, the word Yahid, meaning “singular,” more easily alludes to the God described in the doctrinal words of Shema (taken from Deutereonoomy 6:4): Shema Yisra’el Adonai Eloheynu Adonai Ehad (שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל ה֥' אֱ-לֹהֵ֖ינוּ ה֥'׀ אֶחָֽד:—“Hear, Israel: Adonai our God is Adonai of One.”)—a phrase whose meaning is unclear. To imagine God as One usually yields our considering God to be singularly unique, special, or the only God (or at least the only God relevant to us among false gods, or gods who bear no direct impact on the people Israel). The root of Yahid may also remind us of the times when God is also corronated under the declaration “Ushmo Ehad” (וּשְׁמ֥וֹ אֶחָֽד:, or “God’s name is One”) in Zechariah 14:9, as most Siddurim include at the end of the prayer Aleynu. Whereas two strophes ago, we imagined the God Ehad (אֶחָד, “One”) as One who rises above the rest and is prominently Dagul, the piyyut now challenges us to imagine God not as Ehad but as Yahid, One who sinks to a subpar life of poverty. God is both the Dagul above humanity and the Yahid beneath human satisfaction. Through this understanding of Yahid, as an opposite extreme of Dagul, we come to understand the God Ehad as the Unifying Force that encapsulates, is present for, and has the power to control the extremes of life, as if both the ups and downs of life were all part of One system of living. Kabbir = כַּבִּיר = Big, Grand, Great, Strong The adjective Kabbir (כַּבִּיר) appears in the Tanakh in 7 places. (1) In Isaiah 16:14, Kabbir is what the despised population of Moab will not be; these people will not be great like the God who is Kabbir. (2) In Job 8:2, Bildad calls Job’s frustrated and powerful words merely a windy air that is Kabbir—strong but without substance. (3) In Job 15:10, Eliphaz rebukes Job for not recognizing the Kabbir collective of elders among humans; the mere ages of these pious sages, Eliphaz implies, should be reason enough for Job to be satisfied with God’s role in the cosmos. (4) In Job 31:25, Job asks sarcastically if he was punished for having rejoiced too proudly in the Kabbir lot he had merited. (5) In Job 34:17, Elihu (also) rebukes Job, asking Job if he would truly dare to speak maliciously of the Just and Kabbir God. (6, 7) Driving his point further in 36:5, Elihu affirms to Job that God is not only Kabbir, but also Kabbir in power. The word Kabbir appears to come only at moments of content, rebuke, strife, and struggle. Although Kabbir is synonymous with other terms expressing God’s grandeur, Kabbir itself is a term that arises in these undesirable contexts. God is Yahid in the low times, but God remains Kabbir all the same. God is Kabbir Kahalakhah, for, in difficult times, God is Kabbir, and that’s the way things go and must be. Limmudav = לִמּוּדָיו = God’s Students, God’s Studies, God’s Studying Bings, God’s Taught Beings, God’s Teachings The term “Limmudav” (לִמּוּדָיו) is never used in the Tanakh or Talmudic literature in reference to something that is God’s alone. (The term’s sole appearance is almost certainly not relevant: Mishnah, Kelim 5:9.) The word Limmudim (לִמּוּדִים, “students” or “teachings”) does appear though in Isaiah 54:13 where God declares that the children of the barren woman Israel will be peaceable Limmudim devoted to God, and it appears again in Isaiah 50:4 in reference to learned Limmudim from which a prophet can gain rousing Divine inspiration. The term Limmudav might refer in Isaiah to God’s students, but the concept of God’s spoken Limmudav as God’s teachings that are (themselves!) capable of speaking provokes one to consider God offering a gift that never ceases to be given. Through the speech of God’s speech, we see that that which emanates from God continues to emanate further. Preceding the wild multitude of Lekhas we will soon recite, the infinite emanation of God’s gifts is particularly poignant here. Yahid finds us examining a lowly God, Kabbir raises us up to a grand God even when we are low, and Limmudav tells us that—not only is God high above—God emanates infinitely, and, with each Lekha, we are reminded of each proceeding step in the Path along which God’s Presence continues to emanate further and further and thereby restore the strength within us. Moshel = מוֹשֵל = Allegorize/Allegorizer, Commander/Commanding, Poet/Poeticizing, Ruler/Ruling The word “Moshel” (מוֹשֵל) is found in the Tanakh 12 times: twice in II Samuel 23:3; and once in I Kings 5:1, Micah 5:1, Psalm 89:10, Proverbs 23:2, Proverbs 29:26, Ecclesiastes 9:17, I Chronicles 29:12, II Chronicles 7:18, II Chronicles 9:26, and II Chronicles 20:6. Of these instances, the two most striking usages of this word in describing God are in I Chronicles 29:12 and II Chronicles 20:6, where God is praised for being Moshel over all entities—even rulers. God is the Moshel above all those who are ruled and those who rule, for all those who rule are also ruled over—by God, the Moshel. In addition to Moshel being about rulership, the word Moshel also means “allegorize.” God as the ruler is also the Divine being who, through the allegorical egends of the Jewish people, weaves together a fabric of meaningful metaphors for understanding our place in God’s cosmos. God is not only politician, but also poet: God is the ultimate Moshel. Nora = נוֹרָא = Awe-inspired/Awe-inspiring, Awesome, Awful, Awfully-frightening, Feared, Frightening There are 16 appearances of the word Nora (נוֹרָא) in the Tanakh. In Genesis 28:17, “Nora” is how Jacob describes that sacred space in the wilderness in which he (perhaps in a dream) climbed a ladder to the heavens and encountered God and divine angels. In Exodus 15:11, Moses and the Children of Israel sing the Song of the Sea, in which God the miracle-worker is understood as Nora (in the sense of “awe-inspired”)—following the words nedar bakkodesh (נֶאְדָּ֣ר בַּקֹּ֑דֶשׁ, “strengthened in sanctity”), the former word relating to Addir (at the beginning of this piyyut) and the latter relating to Kadosh (nearing the end of the piyyut). In Exodus 34:10, Moses describes God as “Nora” upon the creation of the second set of stone tablets that contained the Ten Utterances (usually called “the Ten Commandments”). In Judges 13:6, after Manoah has informed a barren woman that she will give birth to a Nazirite son, she tells her husband that someone who appeared to be an angelic, Nora man of God told her that she will soon give birth. In Isaiah 18:2 and 18:7, the sinful nation Israel is considered eternally Nora (understood to be “awful,” as opposed to “awesome”). In Zephaniah 2:11, God is then understood as terribly Nora (in the “awfully-frightening” or “feared” sense) in God’s retributions against Moab and Ammon. According to God's words of reward and punishment in Malachi 1:14, God’s name is Nora Vaggoyim (נוֹרָ֥א בַגּוֹיִֽם:, “Awfully-frightening to the nations”). In Psalm 66, verses 3 and 5, God’s work is described as Nora above human potential. In Psalms 47:3 and 76:8, God’s self is deemed Nora; in 76:13, God is deemed even more Nora than God’s sacred spaces; in 68:36, God is deemed even more Nora than God’s sacred spaces. In Psalm 96:4, God is praised for being more Nora than any other of the Elohim (אֱ-לֹהִֽים:), able to be translated as either “gods” or “judges”—and the latter possibility is especially poignant considering Elihu’s use of the word Nora in Job 37:22, after Job’s speeches in which he imagines himself in a court room with God. In the end, our reading of Nora—if it does reflect Biblical readings of Nora—is one of the most emotionally diversified terms in this entire piyyut. God as Nora seems to be the extremes of God—the malevolent and the benevolent, the awful and the awesome, the frightening and the inspiring, the creative and the restrictive, the miracle-worker and a force behind tragedies. The God who is Nora is—as poignantly placed in Exodus 15:11—not so far from the God who is frightfully Addir yet calmingly Kadosh. Articulating God as Nora reminds us of the Divine presence that is with us when all things seem right, when all things seem wrong, and when we are in the state between extremes. The process of traveling along the medium path between the many extremes of Nora is a travel Kahalakhah. Sevivav = סְבִיבָיו = God’s/his environs, God’s/his surrounders, God’s/his surroundings The exact term “Sevivav” appears only 6 times in the Tanakh. (1, 2) In Jeremiah 48:17 and 48:39, “Sevivav” refers to Moab’s neighbors who will come to scorn the nation Moab. (3) In Psalm 76:12, Sevivav refers to those loyal humans who surround God, (4) “Sevivav” in Psalm 89:8 refers to the Divine hosts who surround God in God’s counsel, and (5) Sevivav in Psalm 97:2 are the heavenly clouds and fog surrounding God above. (6) In Lamentations 1:17, the word “Sevivav” refers to the environs of the nation Jacob, entirely surrounded by enemies. Although one may be inclined sometimes to see Sevivav merely the enemies and forces of stress that surround a person, the truth is that we may also find ourselves surrounded by Godly people and Godly signs who help us find ways to articulate Godliness in our actions on this earth. We sing, “Sevivav yomeru lo” because we believe that, no matter our surroundings, we will find inspiration and reason to increase the Godliness with which we interact with God’s world. Anav = עָנָיו = Humble, Modest “Anav” (albeit, spelled without a yod—י—in the written tradition) appears only once in the Tanakh—in Numbers 12:3, describing Moses as the most humble of people: וְהָאִ֥ישׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה עָנָ֣ו [עָנָ֣יו] מְאֹ֑ד מִכֹּל֙ הָֽאָדָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָֽאֲדָמָֽה: (“The man Moses was humble very much so, more than any other person who was on the face of the earth.”). In the narrative of Numbers 12, Moses the Anav is both utterly vulnerable to the malicious speech of his siblings yet utterly blessed by the Divine grace that seeks to retaliate against these hurtful words. In Verse 8, God describes the very intimacy of his dialogue with Moses the Anav: “פֶּ֣ה אֶל־פֶּ֞ה אֲדַבֶּר־בּ֗וֹ” (“Mouth-to-mouth do I speak to him”). In acknowledging God as Anav in Melukhah, we imagine God, who was intimately on level with Moses, now substituted by the finest leadership quality of Moses himself. Through the attribute of being Anav, God, the greatest of powers in the universe, is the most humble Force in the universe: the most vulnerable Force we know (and we happen to know this vulnerable Force very personally); however, we also know how to use the force of our own words to hold up that which is Anav within Melukhah. Podeh = פּוֹדֶה = Redeemer/Redeeming The word “Podeh” appears only once in the Tanakh—in Psalm 34:23: “פּוֹדֶ֣ה ה֭' נֶ֣פֶשׁ עֲבָדָ֑יו וְלֹ֥א יֶ֝אְשְׁמ֗וּ כׇּל־הַֽ֘חֹסִ֥ים בּֽוֹ:” (“The Lord redeems the soul of God’s servants, and those who take shelter within God shall not be guilted.”) In this instance, God is a Podeh who guarantees our redemption upon our acceptance of God’s peace: a clear slate whereupon we bear no guilt, for the redemption of God the Podeh—according to Halakhah—gives us a chance to start over. Tzaddikav = צַדִּיקָיו = God’s righteous ones The term “Tzaddikav”, never appearing as such in the Tanakh, refers to the select group of people whose pious and righteous actions reflect the actions of God. Each of these people with a clear slate (as one is when affected by God the Podeh) is able to do as Moses the Anav did: live a life emulating the actions of the Divine. Kadosh = קָדוֹשׁ = Consecrated, Distinct, Holy, Separate, Set Aside The word “Kadosh” appears many, many times in the Tanakh. Although Kadosh means “holy,” it also means “distinct,” “separate,” “set aside,” or “consecrated.” God, via God’s Melukhah, is Kadosh for being both holy and utterly distinct from any other ruling body known to us. Rahum = רַחוּם = Compassionate, Merciful “Rahum” appears 5 times in the Tanakh (Exodus 34:6, Deutereonomy 4:31, and Psalms 78:38, 86:15, and 103:8), each time in remarkably similar verses describing God as a merciful God, in relation to God’s forgiving of sins. Recalling God as Rahum in accordance with God’s own Halakhah helps us realize that mercy is not just some quality God holds; mercy is the law. Shin’anav = שִׁנְאַנָיו = God’s abundances, God’s multitudes, God’s repeaters, God’s repetitions, God’s students, God’s thousands, God’s troops The word Shin’anav is an alusive term never quite appearing in the Tanakh. Psalm 68:17 speaks of “אַלְפֵ֣י שִׁנְאָ֑ן” (Alfey shin’an), which may mean “thousands upon thousands,” but the root of Alfey (alef-lamed-peh—א-ל-פ) can refer to (aside from “a thousand”) an “army commander,” and the word Shin’an is sometimes interpreted as meaning “a troop.” The word shin’an may be related to the root shin-nun-nun (שׁ-נ-נ), which means “to repeat” or “to sharpen” in the way that a multitude is a multiplication (or the repeated addition) of some number, or in the way that a troop must repeat and rehearse its skills in order to sharpen its collective cohesiveness, or in the way that a student must repeat and review material in order to sharpen one’s knowledge. Regardless of whether Shin’anav is literally God’s troops (human or celestial), God’s students, or God’s multitudes, the ambiguity of "Shin’anav” unites the many who defend God’s word through studying God’s Word with those who come to know God’s Word more intimately by compassionately defending a sacred life of righteousness. Takkif = תַּקִּיף = Decisive, Forceful, Resolute, Tough Tomekh = תַּוֹמֵךְ = Supporting/Supportive Temimav = תְּמִימָיו = God’s innocent ones, God’s pure ones, God’s unblemisched ones None of the acrostic-words beginning with Tav (ת) in this poem ever appear in the Tanakh; their meanings must be taken at face-value. Although God is Takkif in God’s Melukhah—declaring laws, rendering decisions, and conversing with those who populate God’s world—God is also Tomekh in accordance with Halakhah, for God is the ultimate Source of all altruism, and it is by God’s words and actions that miracles happen. For all those who come to trust in God by witnessing anything from any end of the spectrum along which God demonstrates such Divine uniqueness, the category of Temimav welcomes those willing to see themselves or to let God see them as without flaws—even if it be only for one sacred moment. Jonah Rank www.jonahrank.com firstname.lastname@example.org Rabbinical Student, Jewish Theological Seminary, 2014/2015 11 Nissan 5771 — April 15 2011 Special thanks to Gabriel Seed for proofreading and additional insights. TWO BONUS COMMENTARIES ON KI LO NA’EH TRANSLATED BY JONAH RANK INTO ENGLISH FROM THE HEBREW: The commentary of Abrabanel (Lisbon 1437 - Venice 1508) as printed in Haggadah Shel Pesah Im Peyrush Nahalat Ya’akov. To God it is fitting; to God it shall be fitting on account of that, during Yetzi’at Mitzrayim, everyone saw the Melukhah of the Blessed God—but not Pharaoh, King of Mitzrayim, or the rest of the rulers—for, behold: God released Israel from Mitzrayim, and Mitzrayim were drowned in the sea,1 and all the settlers of Canaan melted away.2 The piyyut says “Na’eh” and “Ya’eh” parallel to the heavens and the earth. The piyyut says “Ya’eh” (יָאֶה) on account of God being “soft” (rakh) to appease, for “Ya’eh” is the language of rakh—as in “and the eyes of Le’ah were soft [rakkot],”3 the Aramaic translation of which is “ya’ayan” (יָאֲיָן); or, the piyyut says “Ya’eh” on account of the verse “Ki lo ya’ata” (כִּ֥י לְךָ֖ יָאָ֑תָה, “For that is Your due”)4. The piyyut says “Lo Na’eh” in a “hidden” fashion5, and does not say “Lekha Na’eh” (לְךָ נָאֶה, “To You, it is fitting”)6 in the presence of the Spirit7, parallel to the ways in which the universe was created, and parallel to the written Torah and the 358 tractates of Talmud written about them9. Addir bimlukhah: that is to say, it is fitting and it will be fitting to say of God that God is Addir bimlukhah. Bahur kahalakhah: so too, we say about God that God is the choicest among the remnant of divinity10 for God is according to the rule and according to the religion and according to the law. Gedudav: these are the angels. Lekha ulkha: that is to say, “to You it is fitting to praise,”11 for You informed us of Your greatness in Mitzrayim; and, to You it is also fitting to praise for those who are with You, for example, the angels whom You informed of your cherishing of Israel, because you did not cast them to go down to commit avengeance upon Mitzrayim—rather, You did this Yourself in Your substance and in Your hiddenness. The Piyyut mentions “Lekha” 7 times, parallel to the 7 firmaments from which the Holy Blessed One descended in order to redeem Israel—as they are vessels12 and God is Melekh over all of them and over all that is inside of them; or, the Piyyut mentions “Lekha” 7 times, parallel to the 7 planets, or parallel to the 7 days of the week; or, the Piyyut mentions “Lekha” 7 times parallel to the 7 texts in which Lekha is written:13 “Lekha Adonai Haggedullah” (לְךָ֣ ה֠' הַגְּדֻלָּ֨ה, “To You Adonai is greatness”)14, “Lekha Adonai Hammamlakhah” (לְךָ֤ ה֨' הַמַּמְלָכָ֔ה, “To You Adonai is Sovereignty”)15, “Ki Lekha Ya’atah” (כִּ֥י לְךָ֖ יָאָ֑תָה, “As that is the due to You”)16, “Lekha zero’a im gevurah” (לְךָ֣ זְ֭רוֹעַ עִם־גְּבוּרָ֑ה, “To You is an arm of strength”)17, “Lekha yom af [lekha]18 lailah” (לְךָ֣ י֭וֹם אַף[־לְךָ֣]19 לָ֑יְלָה, “To You is the day, and also [to You]20 is the night”)21, and “Lekha shamayim af Lekha aretz” (לְךָ֣ שָׁ֭מַיִם אַף־לְךָ֥ אָ֑רֶץ, “To You are the heavens, and also to You is the earth”)22. But, “Lekha yom” and “Lekha lailah”23 are considered as one24. Vatikav: Israel, and this is a matter of piety as in “Vatikin would complete [their recitation of Shema with the precise budding moment of the sunrise]”25. Hasin: a matter of strength. Tafserav: God’s angels, and this is the subject of a commander and an officer. Kabbir: this is language of power and force. Limmudav: Israel. Sevivav: angels. Tzeva’av: Israel. Shin’anav: God’s angels. In Binyan David, the commentary of Devar Tzevi says: Lekha af Lekha. For if the Holy Blessed One were not to help one, one would not be able to thank the One (Kiddushin 30b); if God helps out one26 in being able to thank Lekha—and also Af Lekha: this too is how Lekha precisely belongs.