KI EILECHA NAFSHI TA’AROG
NAFSHI CHAMDA B’TZEL YADECHA
LADA’AT KOL RAZ SODECHA
אַנְעִים זְמִירוֹת וְשִׁירִים אֶאֱרֹג
כִּי אֵלֶיךָ נַפְשִׁי תַּעֲרֹג
נַפְשִׁי חַמְּדָה בְּצֵל יָדֶךָ
לָדַעַת כָּל רָז סוֹדֶךָ
I WILL PLEASANTLY SING MELODIES AND WEAVE SONGS
FOR MY SOUL LONGS FOR YOU.
MY SOUL FINDS COMFORT IN THE SHADE OF YOUR PALM
DISCOVERING YOUR ENDLESS DEPTHS AND MYSTERIES.
-RAV YEHUDAH HACHASSID
I learned these words when I was six or seven years old. I went to synagogue every week with my family, and a seven or eight year old would always lead this melodic poem at the end of the service, singing in call and response with the congregation. The tunes were always upbeat, and it was a fun close to the service. Only much later did I begin to explore what the words were actually saying. These words are a mystical love poem to God attributed to Rav Yehudah HaChassid. The full poem is an acrostic, and the words themselves are beautiful: “I will pleasantly sing melodies and weave songs, for my soul longs for You. My soul finds comfort in the shade of your palm, discovering your endless depths and mysteries.” The poem continues in this manner, with the author describing, in great detail, the intricacies of a picture of God. But the key, I learned from my friend and teacher Eliana Light, is a line near the beginning, “Asapra kevodcha v’lo re’iticha, adamcha achancha v’lo yedaticha,” I’ll tell of Your glory, though I have never seen You. I’ll give people images for You and names for You, but I do not even know You. What an insight, and what an invitation! Though no one can be sure what God looks like, and though the Divine may appear and may be different in the eye of each person, this poem grants us permission to create our own connections and associations with the Holy One.