A Song for Shavuot

Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Shir for Shavuot Shavuot is here!

The holiday is one which celebrates journey and transformation – the Israelites’ entering into the covenant, the culmination of the counting of the Omer, the confirmation of youths in synagogues, and Ruth’s conversion and entering into the Jewish people. It is a holiday of long-pursued achievement, metamorphosis, and renewal. Tonight, the Jewish people will celebrate the Revelation at Sinai with prayer, study, flowers, dairy foods, and song.

Below we present MS ACC 587, a poem composed for Shavuot in the year of 1830, in an Italian Ashkenazi synagogue. The poem is decorated with floral and geometric design signed only by the enigmatic “Ben Adam.” In it, the composer extols the virtues of God, tells of the Israelites’ divinely-enabled escape from Egypt, and their induction into the covenant of the Torah through trochaic tetrameter.

A translation of the first six stanzas has been provided, and you can view the manuscript in higher resolution here: https://mss.huc.edu/manuscripts/ms-acc-587/

Chag haShavuot sameach! Happy Shavuot!

shavuot poem

Be joyous, sing –

There shall be light for us this day,

Proclaim the honor of the awesome God

And, trembling, raise your joy aloft.

Proclaim the honor and strength of His name,

Bless Him in his abode,

He is our rock, we are his people,

And no praise is suitable enough!

The lofty Creatorabove all heights.

He chose His people from all the peoples

He performed wonders from lofty heights

To be for Him as an eternal sign.

From the land of Ham, with a lofty hand,

He took us out with His great strength

The Lord is a warrior,

God is great, awesome, and supreme.

He transformed the sea into dry land,

And delivered man and woman.

The wicked saw, his heart was hardened

Down he went like a stone in the abyss!

Upon Mt. Horeb He made His covenant

Of the Torah with His people,

With faithful Moses

In the name of praise and glory.

Contributed by Jason Schapera, Digitization Specialist

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