Ya ribbon olam is also one of the z’mirot shel shabbat. The poem, written in Aramaic, is by Israel ben Moses Najara, whose first name (Yisra’el) appears in the acrostic. Residing primarily in Safed, although he was a rabbi in the town of Gaza for a time, Najara was profoundly versed in kabbala as a student of the mystic Isaac Luria. Najara’s voluminousoeuvre includes secular as well as sacred writings in several languages—frequently in Aramaic, the language of the Zohar, a major kabbalistic text. Najara is credited with the composition of more than 400 poems.
Although full of religious sentiment, ya ribbon olam contains no actual reference to the Sabbath. It is nonetheless universally associated with the songs sung at the Sabbath table, and it is one of the most popular, appearing in virtually all z’mirot collections. Like all z’mirot shel shabbat, there are countless musical versions that have accumulated over time in various communities and family traditions. The concert arrangement recorded here is based on three distinct melodies, all of which are widely known among American Jewish families from a number of eastern European traditions and backgrounds. The origin, provenance, and authorship of these tunes, however, have not been established, except for the separate melody for the fourth strophe here (p’rok yat anakh), which has been identified as a traditional tune among the Modzitzer Hassidim (originally from Kuzmir, in Poland) and is also known to other Hassidic dynasties. The melody here for the final strophe (l’mikddashekh tuv) is also customarily sung at some Hassidic marriage ceremonies.
Sung in Aramaic
God, You are the Master of the universe—this world and all worlds; You are the King who reigns over all kings. You perform powerful and wondrous acts, and it is a joy for us to sing, to declare Your praise.
Let me arrange the singing of praises to You morning and evening, holy God, You, who created all life—holy angels as well as mankind, beasts of the field and of the sky.
[REFRAIN: God, You are the Master of the universe—this world and all worlds.]
Your works and acts are great and powerful, making humble the mighty, straightening those who are bent. Were people to live for thousands of years, they would yet be unable to comprehend the immensity of Your power.
[God of honor and greatness] protect Your sheep from the lions, and bring Your people out of exile—the nation You chose from among all others.
Return to Your holy Temple and to the “Holy of Holies,” the place where the spirit and soul of Israel will rejoice and sing songs and praises: Jerusalem, the city magnificent.
© Milken Family Foundation
Arranger: Roderick Williams
Translation by Rabbi Morton M. Leifman
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