" I am the L-rd your G-d who rescued you from the land of Egypt... gods besides Me you should not know, and there is no Saviour but Me" (Shemot 20: 2 & Hoshea 13: 4) . A Sephardi discussion on Orthodoxy, the world, notes, essays & other pedantic musings
Thursday, 27 February 2014
A D'var Torah -Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh
This is a traditional Jewish song which we the Kav household sing after our Friday night Shabbat meal, whose title is taken from Exodus Chapter 3 vs14. When Moses asked the Almighty who he should say had sent him to liberate the Jewish nation from slavery in Egypt, he replied 'Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh' (Exodus 3,14). This is commonly translated into English as 'I am that I am', but a more literal translation is 'I shall be that I shall be' or 'Who was , Who is'.
Maimonides, in his guide for the perplexed, provides an explanation for this difficult to understand description as follows:
"When God appeared to our Teacher Moses, and commanded him to address the people and to bring them the message, Moses replied that he might first be asked to prove the existence of God in the Universe, and that only after doing so he would be able to announce to them that God had sent him. For all men, with few exceptions, were ignorant of the existence of God; their highest thoughts did not extend beyond the heavenly sphere, its forms or its influences. They could not yet emancipate themselves from sensation, and had not yet attained to any intellectual perfection. Then God taught Moses how to teach them, and how to establish amongst them the belief in the existence of Himself, namely, by saying Ehyeh asher Ehyeh, a name derived from the verb hayah in the sense of "existing," for the verb hayah denotes "to be," and in Hebrew no difference is made between the verbs "to be" and "to exist." The principal point in this phrase is that the same word which denotes "existence," is repeated as an attribute. The word asher, "that," corresponds to the Arabic illadi and illati, and is an incomplete noun that must be completed by another noun; it may be considered as the subject of the predicate which follows. The first noun which is to be described is ehyeh; the second, by which the first is described, is likewise ehyeh, the identical word, as if to show that the object which is to be described and the attribute by which it is described are in this case necessarily identical. This is, therefore, the expression of the idea that God exists, but not in the ordinary sense of the term; or, in other words, He is "the existing Being which is the existing Being," that is to say, the Being whose existence is absolute. The proof which he was to give consisted in demonstrating that there is a Being of absolute existence, that has never been and never will be without existence."
The song's English lyrics can be translated as follows :
'WHO WAS and WHO IS, desire Your people, listen to my prayer from your holy abode
Chorus: Behold I yearn for Your Temple, to see the greatness of Your strength, splendor, and glory (2x) Have mercy, my Only One, Who spares those who oppose you, shorten my exile, for I lean on You
Chorus: Behold I yearn for Your Temple, to see the greatness of Your strength, splendor, and glory (2x)
WHO WAS and WHO IS, desire Your people, listen to my prayer from your holy abode
Chorus: Behold I yearn for Your Temple, to see the greatness of Your strength, splendor, and glory (2x) Have mercy, my Only One, Who spares those who oppose you, shorten my exile, for I lean on You Chorus: Behold I yearn for Your Temple, to see the greatness of Your strength, splendor, and glory (2x)'
This version is lead by the late and great Ofra Haza, a well know Israeli-Yemenite Jewish singer
Younger viewerss will have to excuse the '70's fashion!
This version is helpful because it has English sub-titles :