A Yemenite love poem for Tu’ be’Ab

Tonight begins  Tu be’Ab, the 15th of Ab, the Jewish “holiday of love.”  In celebration, we are reproducing a poem, Love for Hadassah,  by  Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, the most famous poet of Yemenite Jewry, who lived in the 17th century.

According to Wikipedia, Shalom Shabazi is said to have written nearly 15,000 liturgical poems on nearly all topics in Judaism, of which only about 850 have survived the ravages of persecution, time and the lack of printing presses in Yemen. He wrote his Diwan (Anthology of liturgical poetry) in Judeo-Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic.

The love for Hadassah poem has been set to musicand is  performed at weddings.

אהבת הדסה | ר’ שלום שבזי
תימן- מאה 17

אַהֲבַת הֲדַסָּה עַל לְבָבִי נִקְשְׁרָה
וַאְנִי בְּתוֹךְ גּוֹלָה פְּעָמַי צוֹלְלִים

לוּ יֵשׁ רְשׁוּת לִי אֶעֱלֶה אֶתְחַבְּרָה
תּוֹךְ שַׁעֲרֵי צִיּוֹן אֲשֶׁר הֵם נֶהְלְלִים

שַׁחְרִית וְעַרְבִּית בַּת נְדִיבִים אֶזְכְּרָה
לִבִּי וְרַעְיוֹנַי בְּחֵשֶׁק נִבְהֲלִים

בִּנְעִים זְמִירוֹת מִנְּדוּד אֶתְעוֹרְרָה
וַאְנִי וְרַעְיָתִי בְּרִנָּה צוֹהֲלִים

בִינוּ עֲדַת קֹדֶשׁ בְּשִׁירָה חֻבְּרָה
חָתָן וְהַכַּלָּה בְּחֻפָּה נִכְלְלִים

זֶה יוֹם שְׂמָחוֹת לַאֲיֻמָּה יָקְרָה
כִּי הִיא וְדוֹדָהּ חֵן וְחֶסֶד גּוֹמְלִים

יַחְדָּו עֲלֵי שֻׁלְחָן וְכוֹס דּוֹדִי קְרָא
זַמֵּן שְׂרִידֵינוּ וְכָל הַנִּסְגְּלִים

מִכּוֹס יְשׁוּעוֹת אֶשְׂמְחָה וַאְזַמְּרָה
אוֹצִיא לְכָל סוֹדִי וְאָשִׁיב שׁוֹאֲלִים

שֵׁם טוֹב לְמַשְׂכִּילִים בְּדַעַת יָשְׁרָה
כִּי הֵם עֲלֵי יִצְרָם בְּוַדַּאי מוֹשְׁלִים

תַּאְוַת לְבָבָם לַעֲשׂוֹת טוֹב גָּבְרָה
יַעְלוּ לְגַן עֵדֶן וְחַיִּים נוֹחֲלִים

אַהְבַת יְחִידָתִי לְטוּב אֵל נָהֲרָה
בָּרוּךְ שְׁהוּא נוֹתֵן שְׂכַר כָּל פּוֹעֲלִים

שָׁלוֹם כְּנָהָר לַעֲדָתִי יִנְהֲרָה
זָקֵן וְגַם בָּחוּר וְכָל הָעוֹלְלִים

Love for Hadassah

By R Shalom Shabazi

The Love for Hadassah is bound up in my heart

 But I, deep in Exile, my feet are sinking.

Would that I were able. I would go up and become one

With the gates of Zion, the glorious ones.

Morning and evening the Princess I do recall

 My heart, my very being throbs with desire.

She and her beloved reciprocate grace and affection

With the cup of salvation I will rejoice and sing

I will reveal my secret to all.

My soul surges with love unto the goodness of the Lord

Blessed is He who rewards all good deeds.

Poem courtesy of www.piyut.org.il

Translated by Reuben Aharoni

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