Yehuda HaLevi: Supplication for Yom Kippur (From Medieval Hebrew)

Supplication for Yom Kippur
By Yehuda HaLevi
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Requested by Michael Leibowitz (Thank You For Your Support)

O Lord, here before You is all my desire,1
    Whether or not it escapes my lips.    
I would seek Your favor, a moment, then die
    If only You would grant my wish.
I’d commit my spirit into Your hands,2
    And sleep. Such a sleep would delight.
Afar from You - in life I am dead,
    But when I cleave close - in death I'm alive.3
In faith I know not how I might draw near You,
    What worship to give, what words to try.
Instruct me, Lord, in Your ways. With guidance
    Deliver me from the dungeon of lies.
While yet I have strength to bear affliction
    Teach me and do not despise my plight,
Before I become to myself but a burden,
    And what little I am weighs me down with time,
Before I must yield against my own will
    And collapse as my cankered bones expire,
And come to the place my forefathers came to
    And there by their place of rest find mine.
For across the face of this earth I am foreign,
    While deep in her womb my true home lies.
My youth till now has done what it wanted.
    When shall I provide for me and mine? 
The world of pleasures He placed in my heart
    Has kept me from keeping my end in mind.
How can I serve my Creator, while captive
    To nature’s lust, and servant to desire?
When I know the rank worm will soon be my sister,4
    How can I aspire to a rank on high? 
And how can my heart rise merry today
    Knowing not if a merry morrow will rise?
Night upon night, and day upon day
    Have pledged to consume this flesh of mine.
They will scatter me half to spiriting wind
    And return me half to dust for all time.
What more can I say? I’ve been hunted from boyhood
    Through withering age by my enemy desire. 
What is Time to me but Your will and favor?
    And if not with You, then what am I?
Here I stand stripped naked of any virtue,
    My only covering Your justice and kindness.
So what use this speaking? Why plead or aspire? 
    O Lord, here before You is all my desire.

Notes:

1- c.f. Psalms 38:10 Lord, all my desire is before Thee; and my sighing is not hid from Thee.
2- c.f. Psalms 31:6 Into Thy hand I commit my spirit; Thou hast redeemed me, O LORD, Thou God of truth.
3- c.f. Berakhoth 18a-b, where the wicked are called dead while living, and the virtuous called living while dead.
4. c.f. Job 17:14 If I have said to corruption: 'Thou art my father', to the worm: 'Thou art my mother, and my sister'

The Original:



אֲדֹנָי! נֶגְדְּךָ כָל‑ תַּאֲוָתִי,   וְאִם לֹא אַעֲלֶנָּה עַל שְׂפָתִי.
רְצוֹנְךָ אֶשְׁאֲלָה רֶגַע ‑ וְאֶגְוָע,   וּמִי יִתֵּן וְתָבוֹא שֱׁאֶלָתִי,
וְאַפְקִיד אֶת‑ שְׁאָר רוּחִי בְּיָדְךָ   וְיָשַׁנְתִּי וְעָרְבָה לי שְׁנָתִי!
בְּרָחְקִי מִמְּךָ – מוֹתִי בְחַיָּי,   וְאִם אֶדְבַּק בְּךָ – חַיַּי בְּמוֹתִי,
אֲבָל לֹא אֵדְעָה בַּמֶה אֲקַדֵּם,   וּמַה תִּהְיֶה עֲבֹדתִי וְדָתִי.
דְּרָכֶיךָ, אֲדֹנָי, לַמְּדֵנִי,   וְשׁוּב מִמַּאֲסַר סִכְלוּת שְׁבוּתִי,
וְהוֹרֵנִי בְעוֹד יֶשׁ‑ בִּי יְכֹלֶת   לְהִתְעַנּוֹת, וְאַל תִּבְזֶה עֱנוּתִי,
בְּטֶרֶם יוֹם אֱהִי עָלַי לְמַשָּׂא,   וְיוֹם יִכְבַּד קְצָתִי עַל קְצָתִי,
וְאִכָּנַע בְּעַל כָּרְחִי, וְיֹאכַל   עֲצָמַי עָשׁ וְנִלְאוֹ מִשְּׂאֵתִי,
וְאֶסַּע אֶל מְקוֹם נָסְעוּ אֲבוֹתָי,   וּבִמְקוֹם תַּחֲנוֹתָם תַּחֲנוֹתִי.
כְּגֵר תּוֹשָׁב אֲנִי עַל גַּב אֲדָמָה,   וְאוּלָם כִּי בְּבִטְנָהּ נַחֲלָתִי.
נְעוּרַי עַד הֲלֹם עָשׂוּ לְנַפְשָׁם,   וּמָתַי גַּם אֲנִי אֶעֱשֶׂה לְבֵיתִי?
וְהָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר נָתַן בְּלִבִּי   מְנָעַנִי לְבַקֵּשׁ אַחֲרִיתִי!
וְאֵיכָה אֶעֱבֹד יוֹצְרִי – בְּעוֹדִי   אֲסִיר יִצְרִי וְעֶבֶד תַּאֲוָתִי?
וְאֵיכָה מַעֲלָה רָמָה אֲבַקֵּשׁ –   וּמָחָר תִּהְיֶה רִמָּה אֲחוֹתִי!
וְאֵיךְ יִיטַב בְּיוֹם טוֹבָה לְבָבִי,   וְלֹא אֵדַע – הֲיִיטַב מָחֳרָתִי?
וְהַיָּמִים וְהַלֵּילוֹת עֲרֵבִים   לְכַלּוֹת אֶת­‑ שְׁאֵרִי עַד כְּלוֹתִי.
וְלָרוּחַ יְזָרוּן מַחֲצִיתִי,   וּלֶעָפָר יְשִׁיבוּן מַחֲצִיתִי.
וּמַה אֹמַר – וְיִצְרִי יִרְדְּפֵנִי   כְּאוֹיֵב מִנְּעוּרַי עַד בְּלוֹתִי?
וּמַה לִּי בַּזְמָן – אִם לֹא רְצוֹנְךָ?   וְאִם אֵינְךָ מְנָתִי ‑ מַה מְנָתִי?
אֲנִי מִמַּעֲשִׂים שׁוֹלָל וְעָרוֹם   וְצִדְקָתְךָ לְבַדָּהּ הִיא כְסוּתִי –
וְעוֹד מָה אַאֲרִיךְ לָשׁוֹן וְאֶשְׁאַל!   אֲדֹנָי, נֶגְדְּךָ כָל‑ תַּאֲוָתִי!

Romanization:


ǎðonai neɣdǎxa kol ta’ǎwaθi
wǐ’im lo aʕǎlenna ʕal sǎfaθi
rǎṣonxa eš’ǎla reɣaʕ wě’eɣwaʕ
umi yitten wǎθabo’ še’ělaθi
wǎ’afqið eθ šǎ’ar ruħi bǐyaðxa
wǐyašanti wǎʕarba li šǎnaθi!
bǎraħqi mimmǎxa moθi bǎħayyay,
  wǐ’im aðbaq bǎxa ħayyay bǎmoθi,
ǎbal lo eðǎʕa bamma ǎqaddem,
uma tihye ʕǎboðaθi wǎðaθi.
Dǎraxéxa, ǎðonay, lamměðeni,
wǎšub mimma’ǎsar sixluθ šǎbuθi,
wǔhoréni bǔʕoð yeš bi yǎxoleθ
lǐhiθʕannoθ wǎ’al tibze ʕěnuθi
bǎṭerem yom ěhi ʕale lǎmassa’
wǐyom yixbað qǎṣaθi ʕal qǎṣaθi,
wě’ekkanaʕ bǎʕal karħi, wǐyoxal
ʕǎṣamay ʕaš wǎnil’u missě’eθi,
wě’essaʕ el mǎqom nasʕu ǎboθay
ǔbimqom taħǎnoθam taħǎnoθi.
kǎɣer tošab ǎni ʕal gab ǎðama
wǔ’ulam ki bǎbiṭna naħǎlaθi
nǔʕuray ʕað hǎlom ʕasu lǎnafšam,
umaθái gam ǎni ěʕse lǎbeθi?
wǎhaʕolam ǎšer naθan bǎlibbi
mǎnaʕani lǎbaqqeš aħǎriθi
wě’exa eʕěboð yoṣri bǔʕoði
ǎsir yiṣri wěʕebeð ta’ǎwaθi?
wě’exa maʕǎla rama ǎbaqqeš
umaħar tihye rimma ǎħoθi?
wě’ex yiyṭab bǐyom ṭoba lǎbabi,
wǎlo eðaʕ - hǎyiyṭab maħǎraθi?
wǎhayyamim wǎhalleloθ ʕǎrebim
lǎxalloθ eθ šě’eri ʕað kǎloθi,
wǎlaruaħ yǎzerun maħǎṣiθi,
wǎleʕafar yǎšibun maħǎṣiθi.
uma omer wǐyiṣri yirdǎfeni
kǔ’oyeb minnǔʕuray ʕað bǎloθi?
uma li bazǎman - im lo rǎṣonxa?
wǐ’im enxa mǎnaθi ma mǎnaθi?
ani mummaʕǎsim šolal wǎʕarom
wǎṣiðqaθxa lǎbadda hi xǎsuθi.
wǔʕoð ma a’ǎrix lašon wě’eš’al?
ăðonay, neɣdǎxa kol ta’ǎwaθi.

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