Page 80 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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72
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
self. There is a need also to strengthen the resolve of the beloved
to follow the path o f righteousness. One o f the poems in this
genre puts it as follows:
Choose your beloved, strengthen your heart
in righteousness,
a white shawl weave fo r yourself.
The choice that is presented is accompanied by the need to prac­
tice. The white shawl is a necessary covering in o rder to en ter the
world to come and its acquisition is dependen t on worthiness.
The beloved needs to wear this clothing or she will be forced to
don the clothing o f Gehenna. The above-quoted lines echo what
is written in Zoharic literature.8
The genre of “Who kissed me?” is itself an evolutionary devel­
opment from another genre which, although not unique to Yem­
enite poetry, is more evident in this poetry than elsewhere. This is
the genre of “Poetry o f the soul.”9 Such writers as Saadia Gaon,
Yehuda Halevi, Ibn Pakuda, Moshe Dar’i and al-Harizi all wrote
of the dialogue between the body and the soul, and all composed
poetry which was infused with the neo-Platonic ideas that
penetrated Hebrew literature. Yemenite poetry o f this genre
deals as well with these philosophical ideas that provide didactic
guidance to the soul.
The genre o f “Who kissed me?” transformed the Hebrew
poetry of the Yemen from the category of philosophical poetry to
that o f kabbalistic poetry. If the realm of the “Poetry of the soul”
is that o f the esoteric and the philosophical, then the realm of
“Who kissed me?” poems is that of the mystical, based on exten­
sive use o f elements o f the Kabbalah.
GENRE OF THE MARANOT
Examples of works o f this genre are found in the prayerbooks
Seder Amram Goan
and
Seder Saadya Gaon .10
Both o f these
prayerbooks include no more than eleven such piyyutim, the ma­
jority of which are also to be found in the prayerbooks o f o ther
8 Zohar 111, 175b.
9 Mishael Maswari Caspi,
Nehar Dinur,
Tel Aviv, 1978.
10 Mishael Maswari Caspi,
Piyyutim of the Maranot in the Yemenite Tiklal,
Tel-Aviv,
1982.