Friday, October 14, 2005

More priestly praises

On Yom Kippur I read what is arguably the earliest seder avodah, a prose description known as Shiv'at Yamim. It was published from 5 genizah fragments by Ismar Elbogen. One of the fragments contains a panegyric for the High Priest, after he successfully completed the Temple service of the day. The liturgy used in the Ashkenazic rite for this purpose has the refrain "Truly, how wondrous was the high priest when leaving the holy of holies safely, without being harmed", and every line compares him to some beautiful sight.

Shiv'at Yamim contains a different version of this, with some interesting lines:
כאור בקוע באשנבו
כבחור עומד על פרקו
כדורש משיב לב קהלו
כהדס קשור בלולבו
כיורה ומלקוש בעונתו
כלביא שואג מסובכו
כשר נאה בממשלתו
As light refracting through the window
As a young man in his prime
As a preacher restoring the spirit of his audience
As a myrtle branch tied to a lulav
As rain in its time, first and last of the season
As a lion roaring from its lair (Ben-Yehuda p. 3919)
As a minister, glorious in his authority (it's just after YK, so I will
resist my urge to link to a photo of a specific minister)

9 Comments:

Anonymous Lia said...

That is so cool! I like lines 3 and 4 the best. Thanks for posting that!

2:34 PM  
Anonymous mivami said...

Did you use Elbogen's ed or the new one by Yahalom and Swartz (published 2005)?

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Lia said...

What was published by Yahalom and Swartz?

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Avi Shmidman said...

Of course, the oldest panegyric for the high priest is from Ben Sira, chapter 50. It is true that Ben Sira mostly sticks to imagery containing items that are literally bright (e.g. ככוכב אור מבין עבים = a star of light from betwixt the clouds), as opposed to the figurative items depicted in Elbogen's piece. Yet what is interesting about Ben Sira is that there is clear attempt to apply images of light which originate in the mikdash arena. For instance, וכשמש משרקת אל היכל (= as the sun streaks into the Heichal), which plays on the talmudic description of the mikdash, whose gates where designed such that the sun would streak through straight to the center of the Heichal; or the phrase וכאש לבונה על המנחה, which also integrates literal mikdash happenings with the face of the high priest.
Among other paytanim who continue this thread, bringing mikdash imagery to bear upon the high priest, it is worth noting Ibn Abitur, who, in his seder avodah כאחלמה קבועה, brings a series of comparisons which traverse the names of the stones included within the high priest's own breastplate:
כאחלמה קבועה בעטרת
כאודם קשורה בכותרת
כנופך באפוד מודעת
כיהלום בחשן נודעת
כישפה זוהרת כעיש
כשוהם בעמודי שיש
כסוחרת ממולאה במכתם
כפטדה משובצת בחותם
כברקת זיו הוד זורקת
כראמה עד מאד מוברקת

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Mordechai said...

mivami
do you mean אז באין כל?

2:07 AM  
Anonymous Lia said...

Avi, have you written or published on this anywhere, or is this just stuff you know? Has anyone published a study of panegyrics for the high priest?

2:09 AM  
Anonymous mordecahi said...

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0271023570/qid=1129421824/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/102-1436592-2420950?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

2:22 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Very cool!

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Avi Shmidman said...

To answer Lia's questions -
1] As far as I know, this particular piece of Abiturian poetry has not been published; however, as with much of Abitur's unpublished works, the text is available from the online databases of the Academy of the Hebrew Language. (I did recently publish a few of Abitur's meal hymns; see Ginzei Qedem, volume 1, 2005).
2] I'm not aware of an in-depth study of panegyrics for the high priest, but for a general overview of the topic, see Fleisher, Shirat HaQodesh, p175-177.

11:18 PM  

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