Monday, April 13, 2009

Rav Shmuel Palagi's objections to the songs after Hallel, pt i

This is actually in the middle of Rav Shmuel Palagi's polemic. Perhaps I will post more of it later, moving a bit earlier. What he established in the prior section was his objection to many piyutim because of improper appellations of Hashem, some of which are offensive, or are additional to the ones already established in tefillah, or are improper outside their contexts, and so on. Here he turns his attention to the songs on the seder night, after Hallel. See my earlier post on this subject.

"And also our brothers the residents of Ashkenaz {Germany} and Poland, they have songs and poems on the night of Pesach, such as ki lo naeh, ki lo yaeh, etc. But according to the gemara and the Rambam and the Tur, it is not naeh nor shaveh {nice or appropriate} to say them. For there are extremely offensive appellations in them, such as bachur kahalacha, hadur kahalacha, kabir kahalacha, nora kahalacha, and I say that this list is not kahalacha, since they are new appellations which do not come either in prayers or the blessings the prophets and the Men of the Great Assembly have established for us; and there are in them two which are incredibly offensive appellations to the Omnipresent. And these are bachur hu, lamud hu {J: Artscroll translates these as "He is distinguished; He is all-wise," but one could see the alternative implication}, Hashem should grant them atonement.

And the last piyut is heavy with rough and bad appellations, and it is in the language of Laaz, which begins Nun Bau, Nun Bau {=Build Now, Build Now, =Kel Bnei, Kel Bnei, in German; thanks to Milhouse}, etc., finer Gatt {fine God}, zisser Gatt {sweet God} (my Master should forgive me if I sin by writing this), and they repeat this piyut a second and third time until midnight, and they sing kacholim {like ill-people??}, will such songs as this be good in the eyes of Hashem?

And had only the general populace {hamon am} sung these piyutim I would have remained silent. However, also baalei Torah and yode'ei sefer have fallen ill with the sickness of this custom, and I have seen bnei aliyah {the small elite} decreasing in the honor of God. And upon them the verse states {Mishlei 19:2}:
ב גַּם בְּלֹא-דַעַת נֶפֶשׁ לֹא-טוֹב; וְאָץ בְּרַגְלַיִם חוֹטֵא. 2 Also, that the soul be without knowledge is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.
{and Tehillim 50:3}:
ג יָבֹא אֱלֹהֵינוּ, וְאַל-יֶחֱרַשׁ:
אֵשׁ-לְפָנָיו תֹּאכֵל; וּסְבִיבָיו, נִשְׂעֲרָה מְאֹד.
3 Our God cometh, and doth not keep silence; {N}
a fire devoureth before Him, and round about Him it stormeth mightily.
And our Sages, za"l, said that one who praises {משבח} to Hashem overmuch is uprooted from the world. And all the wise of heart should place upon his heart the {short} prayer of Moshe Rabbenu, alav hashalom, and the prayer of all the prophets, for there are not in all of them appellations like these, not like the style {signon} of the piyutim of the night of Pesach; and not so are the appellations which are stated in the Torah and the Prophets, for those were said with Divine Inspiration. And we do not have permission to make use of them in our prayers, except for the three known ones. And according to the position of the Rambam, is it a complete prohibition and extremely grevious sin, and he za"l, is fit to rely upon, for in the knowledge of Godliness he has ten times over all the decisors, as is known. And according to the position of those who permit which appellations found in verses, they did not permit flipping their meaning and to ascribe accidental attributes {as opposed to essential attributes, such as Socrates' paleness} to His Blessed Divinity, this no skilled sage in the world permitted."
to be continued...


Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

Where can one find this SHU"T? Is it readily available online? And do you have any further biographical info on Rav Palagi?

I was also wondering if you know of any way to obtain "Sefer Ha-Tsava" of Rabbenu Zerahyah Halevi.

joshwaxman said...

yes, I should have included that.

IIRC there is some biographical info he himself provides at the beginning of the sefer.

i'll see...


Milhouse said...

The Laaz piyut he's talking about is Nun bau ("build now"), in other words the German version of אל בנה.

<(my Master should forgive me if I err in my writing)
I don't think this is a correct translation. It seems to me that he means "may my Master forgive me if I have sinned by writing this", i.e. he's so against the offending lyrics that he expresses rhetorical concern that merely transcribing them was inappropriate.

joshwaxman said...

thanks. I will try to correct.



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