Page 255 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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WEINBERGER/THE LITURGICAL POETRY OF SAMUEL IBN NAGRELA
247
A third theme focuses on Israel and its trust in the covenant
made with God. This trust is extended as well to the Torah
and God’s thirteen attributes as well as to the merit of the Fa­
thers and the Binding o f Isaac. Despite its long exile, Israel
remains faithful to the model of trust exemplified by the Pa­
triarchs and reaffirms its belief in the unity of God. Moreover,
Israel is confident that its faithfulness will be rewarded and it
relies upon prayer, fasting and repentance to rebut the charges
of the Adversary. It is hopeful that its repentance will be ac­
cepted and its sins remembered no more. A fourth theme deals
with the plight of Israel’s scattered remnant enduring the trav­
ails o f the Exile. The powerlessness of God’s congregation is
seen in marked contrast to the overbearing might of its enemies.
From the depths of despair Israel gives voice to intense longings
for redemption and prays for the restoration of the Temple,
the ingathering of its exiles and renewal of its days as of old.
One of the characteristics of the Nagid’s
selihot
is that they
exemplify all of the common themes of this genre, although
one or another of the latter is to be found in the “secular” cor­
pus, such as his war poems. The liturgical collection is preserved
in Nagrela’s
Ben Tehillim
21 and although some of the selections
may have been composed for his personal use, others like his
selihot
for the Day of Atonement mini
lV "IWX (“His is the
sea and the dry land”), DyrtW n&3 "IWN (“He who spreads out
the heavens”) and
"
1
DDNDm
mn (“Confess the sins you committed
in secret”),22 each of which is provided with a choral refrain,
were undoubtedly designated for congregational use..
It is generally agreed the Samuel Ibn Nagrela was the first
Hebrew poet to employ the
muwashshah,
(“belt poem”) adapted
from Arabic models. It is noteworthy that none of the Nagid’s
surviving
piyyutim
were composed in this form, unlike the prac­
tice of Solomon Ibn Gabirol, Isaac Ibn Giyyat, Abraham Ibn
Ezra and their contemporaries who frequently utilized the “belt
poem” for their liturgical works. The language that the Nagid
employs in his
piyyutim
is, for the most part based on sources
in Scripture or upon established liturgical prayers, as in the
following from “He who spreads out the heavens” (lines 29,
32):
D,
9,l7
in initt
"p*?aa DXI
(“You set kings on the throne
21. Cf.
Divan Shmuel Hanagid,
pp. 317-328 .
22. Cf.
Divan Shmuel Hanagid,
pp. 319-327 .