El Eliyahu

Iraq

About the Piyut

“El Eliyahu” is a poem for Saturday night (Motzae Shabbat), which is sung to various tunes by most Sephardi ccommunities. The prophet Elijah, as the harbinger of redemption, is a prominent figure in the Saturday night liturgy in which the Jews bid farewell to the Shabbat. Some commentators explain that according to tradition Elijah will not appear on the eve of the Shabbat or holidays, so as not to bother the people who are busy preparing for these special days, and it is therefore appropriate to ask for his arrival once we emerge from the celebratory mood. Others say that since the Talmud states that the observance of two Sabbaths would lead to redemption, we claim at the end of the Shabbat that we did our share and now await the coming of Elijah and with him, the Messiah. It is also very probable that the shift from the Shabbat, a day of rest and spiritual growth, to the weekly mundane routine, engenders a desire to be redeemed and delivered from the daily struggle for food and survival.

The author of the poem, whose name is alluded to in the acrostic, is most probably R. Abraham Ibn Ezra. It is interesting to note that the usually hidden poet reveals himself, be it ever so briefly, in the poem when saying “Please God, the God of Abraham, let me find…”. This is a paraphrase on the words of Abraham’s servant, in Genesis 24:12, asking God to help him find a bride for Isaac. The transition from the prayer for the other to a personal prayer is sort of an invitation and an incentive to those who follow in the footsteps of the great Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra to dare and create their own personal, immediate and direct communication channels with God.

El Eliyahu can be found on the recordings of Piyutim North America. The author is Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra, Sfarad, 12th Century.

Lyrics

Transliteration:

El Eliyahu El Eliyahu / [Bizchut] Eliyahu HaNavi haveh na
Bo yirtom richbo / Na bashevi ki bo
Lo shachav libo / Gam lo ra’ah shenah

Rav machli bir’ot / Kach’shi u’msanot
yafot u’vriot / Bassar vatirena

Hashkeh tzur mei rosh / Tzar einav yiltosh
yom einai likdosh / Yisrael tish’ena

Matai tar’eh ot / Yesha el kor’ot
Lacha u’lecha nos’ot / Kolan vativkena [vatarona]

Hamalach hago’el / Lifnei dal sho’el
Ana haEl El / Avraham hakreh na

Translation:

He will lead his chariot / restless in captivity
His heart did not rest / nor envision sleep

My illness grows as I see / my leanness while my enemies
Are beautiful fat-fleshed / and graze

Our Rock, give them poisonous water / while the enemy shall glare
My eyes to the Holy One / of Israel will be raised

When will You give a sign / of redemption to those who call out
To You, O to You they raise / their voices and weep

Angel of Deliverance / come before this poor seeker
O Lord, God of / Abraham call him forth

Singers

Musicians

Production

  • Musical Direction and Arrangements: Yair Harel and Omer Avital
  • Production: Ari Priven, Yair Harel and Omer Avital
  • Mixing and editing: Daniel Freedman
  • Mastered by: Randy Merrill at Masterdisk
  • Recorded at B’nai Jeshurun, New York City, July 2010