Page 254 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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246
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
lamity.”
mmp D’ttPK VaX .D’ain D3 D'nVN pna’ ’3 ,
13-12
D3 W„)
.("D’Vrpa
Here too, the Nagid’s consolation can only be under­
stood in light o f the rabbinic teaching (in Berakhot 5a): “Suf­
ferings wash away all the sins of man.”
In the war poem
’na (“Men of Wisdom”) 19 marking his
victory over the forces o f Malaga and Seville near the city of
Ronda on September 8, 1047 he writes that “God condemned
them to death toward evening and did not permit them to be
redeemed.”
.(maaa
T in xV
,mws3
nna my nyVVx am) the English
translation while accurate does not fully convey the poet’s con­
ceit. The terms
niaaa
... mwsa
, 3VT
originate in the
Mishna
Sandhedrin,
4.1. There we read: “Civil suits are tried by day
and concluded at night. But capital charges must be tried by
day and concluded by day.” jrfr’n
ina iil
0V3 r n
ni3BB
nn,,)
.("ova
rnam
ova r n
nwsa
nn
LITURGICAL POEMS
From these examples and numerous others it will be seen
that Ibn Nagrela’s “secular” poems are often not understood
in their plain meaning and require a reference to rabbinic and
geonic sources. Is this true as well of his liturgical works? The
Nagid’s production of works designed for synagogue use is slim
compared to his numerous wisdom poems, dirges, wine and
love poems, war poems, encomiasts and derogatory poems and
epigrams among other genres which he pioneered. Only a doz­
en of Ibn Nagrela’s poems for the synagogue have survived.
These include several short
reshuyot
and some longer
selihot.
Leopold Zunz lists the several themes in the “Normal-Seliha”
of the Middle Ages.”20 First and foremost among these are re­
pentance and regret. The petitioner confesses his sins while the
gates of heaven are opened, and in this “propitious time” prayer
is the only recourse since the Temple sacrifices are no longer
available. Another theme in the
seliha
is the insignificance of
man whose days are as a fleeting shadow full o f vanity. God,
however, is eternal, almighty, merciful and prescient. Nothing
is hidden from his sight.
19. Cf.
Divan Shmuel Hanagid,
pp. 74-79 .
20. Cf. L. Zunz,
Die synagogale Poesie des Mittelalters
(Frankfurt am Main, 1920),
pp. 83ff.