Sunday, 5 July 2015

Diwan IV:17 - Joseph ben Tanchum ha-Yerushalmi

Did heaven’s gates open into the universe
or did earth touch the celestial lights,

Or did the brilliance of the face of a certain notable
shame the luminaries,

Or is it his glory or the pomegranate juice
or the nectar or pure gold or his precious words,

Or is it the aroma of his praises or the bundle of
myrrh or is it his words or scattered crystals?

The prince has pitched the tents of wisdom
in his heart, and in them his heart is guarded.

He accumulated the scattered knowledge, and his
generous contributions are renewed each morning.

He is slow of tongue when listening to empty words
but a man of words in the battle of the testimony.

He is slow when running to race but quicker
than young stags when time to do gracious deeds.

By the goodness of his teaching he heals hearts,
and his words revive the dead.

His words are as if cut out from trees of life
and carved from the choicest of perfumes.

Compares his mighty greatness to someone else’s
is like comparing young lions to young goats.

He uncovers the sealed secrets of wisdom
and restores their destroyed towers.

He is a diadem on the heads of the Nazirites
and excels other notables in wisdom.

Under the cloak of humility he
tries to hide his pure virtues.

But can sunlight be concealed
unless the people’s eyes are deceived?

And how can man hide the aroma of perfumes?
They soar as if on eagles’ wings.

His name is known to the ends of the world; he is unique
in this generation, the mightiest among noblemen and rulers.

May God glorify also the names of his
darlings who illumine the limits of the world.

They are truly the offspring of the blessed ancestors,
straight and upright stocks in their own right.

May God extend to the prince his favors flowing
like rivers and cause his glorious light to shine.

And may God humble the pride of his foes,
making crooked their paths and twisted their roads.

During the prince’s life, may God recall to his holy nation,
in his abundant kindness, his covenant with their unblemished forefathers,

So that their foes, in amazement, will respond in song:
“Were the gates of heaven opened into the universe?“

Joseph ben Tanchum ha-Yerushalmi (ca. 1261 - before 1330) Israel
Translated by Dr. Hayim Y. Sheynin

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