‘Shevah Ashir’ – All The World Is A Stage Project

‘Shevah Ashir’ is a Jewish Yemenite poem

This video is part of the ‘All the World is a Stage’ project, initiated by Wysinfo in order to encourage international cooperation through culture.

To watch other performances that are part of this project, follow this link
Wysinfo – ‘All the World is a Stage Project’ Front Page.

Shevah Ashir – Attributed to Rabbi Shalom Shabazi
Original Musical Arrangement and Performance by Amitai Aricha

Excerpt from the poem (Hebrew and English Translation)

Translation to English from 17th Century Hebrew poetry is difficult. We did our best, but if anyone has a different suggestion, please add it to the comments.

Shevah Ashir

I will sing praises (to almighty) and give thanks,
and glorify and justify for the cherished and the despised ...

I will sing praises (to Almighty) and give thanks, and glorify
And justify the cherished and the despised

And with a sweet song I will greet and welcome the Almighty
That His Voice will inspire new generations and rejoicing
And will deliver good tidings to this tribe that was exiled from its place

Almighty, if my sins and crimes create suffering in and around me
Whom shall I ask and who will heal my pains, only Your loving kindness,
And in You my fire will be extinguished

Other than You there is no one who forgives the mistakes
My thoughts are pleasing as the finest sacrifice and more than the best incense

And I will hear a sound from heaven that sends Your delivery to Zion
And shows the sinners the righteous way

Is it not from my fear of You that I shiver
And at Your day of Judgment my blood relation was gone

Send your remedy and heal my pain,
And build my home and with the medicine heal the sick.

And Hallelujah

שְׁבָח אָשִׁיר וְאוֹדֶה וַאֲהַלֵּל וְאֶתְוַדֶּה עֲלֵי יָקָר וְזוֹלֵל

וּבִנְעִים שִׁיר אֲחַלֶּה אֶת פְּנֵי אֵל אֲשֶׁר קוֹלוֹ לְאַיָּלוֹת יְחוֹלֵל

וִיַבְּשִר דַ'לִךּ אלרַּבְּעַ אלְמֻחִילוּ
[ויבשר לשבט זה הגולה ממקומו]

מְעוֹנִי, אִם עֲוֹנִי יַעֲנֶה בִי וְאִם פִּשְׁעִי יְרִיבֵנִי סְבִיבִי

לְמִי אֶשְׁאַל וּמִי יִרְפָּא כְאֵבִי לְבַד חַסְדָּךְ וּבָךְ יִכְבֶּה שְׁבִיבִי

פִגַ'יְרַךּ לַיְס לִלְעַת'רַאת מֻקִילוּ
[ וזולתך אין מוחל על המשוגות]

עֲרוֹב שִׂיחִי כְּמוֹ חֶלְבֵי שְׁלָמִים וְיִיטַב מַהֲלָלִי מִבְּשָׂמִים

וְאֶשְׁמַע קוֹל מְבַשֵּׂר מִמְּרוֹמִים לְצִיּוֹן יִשְׁעֲךָ חֶסֶד נְעוּרִים
וִיַהְדִי כֻּלּ מֻגְ'תַאלֻן סַבִּילוּ
{{[ ויורה לכל חוטא את דרך הישר]}}

הֲלֹא מִפַּחְדְּךָ סָמַר בְּשָׂרִי וּמִיּוֹם דִּינְךָ כָלָה שְׁאֵרִי

שְׁלַח צוּר יִשְׁעֲךָ וּרְפָא מְזוֹרִי וְשַׁכְלֵל הֵיכְלִי וּבְנֵה דְבִירִי
פִקַד נִפְעַ אלדֻּוַּא אַשְפַא אלְעַלִילוּ
{{[ מתועלתה של התרופה הבריא החולה]}}


About the poem ‘Shevah Ashir’

‘Shevah Ashir’ is a Jewish Yemenite poem. It is generally attributed to Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, of Yemen, who wrote in the 17th century. Poetry of this period typically has esoteric subtext, and in the case of this poem there is a strong reference to the name of Shabazi’s daughter (Shamaa) suggesting that it was written by Rabbi Shabazi. However some have suggested that it may have been written by someone else close to him during the same period.

The poem reflects a sense of pain and suffering, saying to the Almighty “if my sins and crimes create suffering in and around me, whom shall I ask and who will heal my pains”

While it is not certain that this poem is, in fact, about his personal tragedy regarding his daughter, there is much in the poem that could indicate this. The story goes that the ruler (king) at the time wanted to marry the Rabbi’s daughter. Rabbi Shabazi tried to explain that their worlds were so different that the marriage was not appropriate, but the ruler insisted.

According to the legend, while the bride was being escorted to the house of the ruler, Rabbi Shabazi sang songs of mourning, lamenting the forced conversion of his line that would run through his daughter. As they approached the king’s mansion, the daughter collapsed and died before the marriage could take place.

About the author

Rabbi Shalom Shabazi (1619 – approx. 1720) was a poet and scholar from the vicinity of Te’ez, Yemen. He is considered one of the greatest Jewish poets of all time and was revered, in his lifetime, by both Jews and Muslims.

Rabbi Shabazi is said to have written nearly 15,000 poems on all topics in Judaism, of which only about 850 have survived. He wrote in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Judeo-Arabic. In addition to his poetry, Shabazi also wrote a treatise on astrology and a kabbalistic commentary on the Torah.

He witnessed the tragic expulsion of the Jews of Yemen to Mawza (Exile of Mawza, 1679) which resulted in death and the destruction of a significant percentage of the Jewish communities of Yemen. Following this, Rabbi Shabazi wrote a lamentation that likened the event to the destruction of the temple, but also wrote several poems that tried to give the remaining members of the community faith and hope. He died in Te’ez and his grave has become a pilgrimage site as a result of his reputation. For more information about the Mawza expulsion, see our page on ‘The Jews of Yemen – History – Relations with their local Neighbors’

About the performer

Amitai Aricha is a singer, musician who is dedicated to researching folklore and music of the Jews of Yemen. He writes and performs his own original arrangements of the music.

About the location

Roman arches built on natural spring water in Ayalon Park
Roman arches built on natural spring water in Ayalon Park

Park Ayalon – Canada, where the above video was recorded, is located half way between Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv. The area is rich with pine, olive, almond, fig trees and more. This area is an archaeological site that includes Jewish, early Roman, Byzantine, Arabic and Crusader remains.

The history of the region is long and impressive. Throughout history it was witness to wars resulting from its strategic location on the way to and from Jerusalem. One of the famous battles was of Joshua against the five Amorite kings more than three thousand years ago. The Bible phrase “Sun, stand still upon Gibeon, and Moon in the valley of Ayalon.” (Joshua chapter 10 verse 12) relates to this area that was occupied by Dan, one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

During the 2nd temple, over two thousand years ago and until the end of the Byzantine period, Emmaus became the central city in the area. The place is mentioned in many Jewish and Christian sources. Here Judah the Maccabee won against the Seleucid (Helenistic) army in the famous Emmaus Battle. One of the Roman legions settled here a few hundred years later. Although the area offered comfort and a good quality of life, it was not known for as a center of spiritual influence. This was the privilege of the scholars in Jerusalem and the neighboring city of Yavne.

External links

The Shrine of Shalom Shabazi


One thought on “‘Shevah Ashir’ – All The World Is A Stage Project

  1. Translation to English from 17th Century Hebrew poetry is difficult. We did our best, but if anyone has a different suggestion, please add it to the comments.

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