I had fully intended to write a “regular” blog post this week, discussing the riveting intricacies of Parashat Terumah, but an incredible discovery was... well... discovered this week, and I had to share that with you instead. As you may know, the Purim story took place in the city of Shushan, the capital city in the ancient Persian Empire of... um... Persia. Modern-day Iran. In fact, the Jews spent centuries upon centuries in that region, so it would really be swell if the Iranians would let us come in and excavate (respectfully, of course), to see what kinds of Jewish history could be unearthed underneath the... er... earth.
BUT, this week, the Jewish scholarly world was tickled pink to learn that a never-before seen scroll was smuggled out of modern-day Shushan, and it contains the translations of several Biblical psalms by a Persian, Jewish philosopher. This previously-unknown scholar lived 2,500 years ago (!), and his name, apparently, translated to Rabbi Zephaniah Seussai. I am tickled-even-MORE-pink to share with you the English translations of two of his incredible, upbeat, Farsi-riffic psalms:
Psalm 145 (more well-known as the Ashrei):
may they praise You louder than the praise of a mouse.
Fortunate is the people whose portion is thus;
Adonai is their God; they have no reason to fuss.
A psalm of David,
To You, my God, the King, I sing.
I would swing, flap my wing,
and let Your Name forever ring.
Every day I will bless and not guess, then give an address, no less!
Extol Your Name, not a shame, lots of fame, you got game, each day I say the same.
Adonai is the greatest, unfathomably great;
God’s also magnificousleriffic - of that there’s no debate!
God’s splendiforously splendid, I think you’ll agree.
God’s acts are the mightiest, as strong as can be.
God is boundlessly bountiful, I think that’s a lot.
Is righteously righteous, and fiery red hot!
So praise and extol God, from Aleph to Tav;
Adonai is the greatest… now show God some love!
I will praise God in the Temple,
I will praise God, O so gentle.
I will praise God in the sky,
Praising low and praising high.
Praise with horn and harp and flute
And even with something called a lute.
I’ll play the timbrel (does one play it?)
And the lyre (that’s how you say it?)
A pipe can be played best,
Upside down against your chest.
While the oboe sounds sublime,
At 5am, so be on time!
I’ll play the shofar in the shower,
Beat a drum for one full hour.
God is worth it, that’s for sure,
Whether on the Nevel or Kinor.
If you’re a Levite, try a Minim
Or an Ugav, or a Tof;
But the Machol can be tricky,
And the Tziltzalim are rough.
These ancient instruments are odd,
But the point here is still good.
Every breath of life praise God,
Come on, you know you really should!
It is even rumored that a descendant of Rabbi Zephaniah Seussai, centuries upon centuries later, made it to the United States, where he - of course - became a world-famous doctor. :-))
Happy Purim! 🤪