Days of Awe
For lyrics click here
למילות הפיוט לחצו כאן
The liturgical poem (Piyut) “Come to Us with Mercy” was composed by the scholar and lyricist, Freha bat Avraham bar Adiva.
Freha was born in Morocco in the 18th century, and migrated with her family to Tunis due to the pogroms in Morocco. The pogroms spread to Tunis in the 1750’s, causing Freha’s father and brothers to flee. Freha’s fate is not known.
She wrote the piyut “Come to Us with Mercy,” with its chorus “Who at morning time hears my voice” as a private supplication to the Almighty, and a request to bring redemption to the Jewish people.
The words of the supplication teach us about the riots against the people of Tunis and of Freha’s hopes to be saved and for the Land of Israel to be freed from Ottoman rule. She describes this hope by praying that Israel would inherit the land from “the hand of Ishmael” (MiYad Yishmaeli). Her request seems a little strange to people of our time, however, in her time – such a request was appropriate. Some have called to slightly alter the words in order to reflect the return of the Jewish people to their land, so that it reads “Immediately – My God will hear” (MiYad – Yishma Eli).
In the sixth verse, we learn about Freha’s personal hardship and suffering, when she uses the nickname
“Bat Yosef – Daughter of Joseph”, hinting at the biblical name of the Jewish people “House of Joseph”. This is a unique, feminine personification of a people that longs to return to its land, and over the years the nickname “Bat Yosef” became her nom de plume.
It is customary to sing the piyut in Sephardic congregations during the High Holidays and in many Masorti congregations in Israel during Rosh Hashanah services. The poem can be found in the Masorti Machzor Pote’ach Sha’ar for the High Holidays.
Cantor Saralee Shrell-Fox, a member of Maayanot, a Masorti congregation in Jerusalem, and a cantor at Moreshet Yisrael, composed this beautiful melody for Freha Bat Avraham's piyut together with her son Maayan.
It may be that many liturgical poems have been written by women and have disappeared over the generations. Freha’s supplication might only be one example amongst a wealth of poems and feminine creation that was produced in Spain and in North Africa. By re-introducing liturgy written by women into our prayers today, we reclaim a feminine voice that has been lost to us.
Face Us in Mercy
Freḥa bat Avraham bar Adiva
English: Rabbi Peretz Rodman
Face us in mercy
Because of unblemished Abraham’s merit.
Be merciful to us from the heavenly heights,
O God my redeemer,
Who at morning time hears my voice.
Reward your treasured people with mercy,
For they are Your people and Your inheritance.
Hurry, gather your community
To the mountains of my homeland.
Especial One, exalted and unseen,
Rescue Your son like the silent lamb,
Rebuild your sanctuary structures,
And give support to my cause.
Have compassion and be kind to us
And bring us up to Zion,
And raise up your Temple for us,
My rock and my rescuer.
Attend, my God, to my plea,
Lord who favors my song,
God who is my shield and my apportioned
Lot and guardian of my fate.
Joseph’s daughter pleads,
She asks of you all that is good,
Quickly may she take possession of her land
From the Ishmaelites
My father, in Your great mercy
Hasten along Your people’s savior
And act for the sake of Your own name,
Every sin of mine forgive.
My Creator, have mercy on my unique soul,
My Rock, strengthen my community.
Bring me up to the land I treasure
and I will offer my burnt incense.
Among many I praise Him.
May he raise His banner among our tents.
Make Your kindness toward us be abundant.
And may this, my voice, be received with favor.
פְּנֵה אֵלֵינוּ בְרַחֲמִים
בִּזְכוּת אַבְרָהָם תָּמִים
רַחֵם עָלֵינוּ מִמְּרוֹמִים
בֹּקֶר וְתִשְׁמַע קוֹלִי.
רַחֵם עַל עַם סְגֻלָּתֶךָ
כִּי הֵם עַמְּךָ וְנַחֲלָתֶךָ
מַהֵר קַבֵּץ קְהִלָּתֶךָ
אֶל הַר גְּלִילִי.
יָחִיד נִשָּׂא וְנֶעֱלָם
פְּדֵה בִנְךָ כְּשֶׂה נֶאֱלָם
וּבְנֵה דְּבִיר וְאוּלָם
חוּס וַחֲמֹל עָלֵינוּ
וְהָקֵם דְּבִירְךָ אֵלֵינוּ
אֵלִי שְׁמַע תְּחִנָּתִי
אָדוֹן בּוֹחֵר רִנָּתִי
הָאֵל מָגִנִּי וּמְנָתִי
בַּת יוֹסֵף מְיַחֶלֶת
הַטּוֹב מִמְּךָ שׁוֹאֶלֶת
מַהֵר, אַרְצָהּ תְּהִי נוֹחֶלֶת
מִיַּד הַיִּשְׁמְעֵאלִי.(/מִיָּד - שְׁמַע אֵלִי)
אָבִי בְּרֹב רַחֲמֶיךָ
הָחֵשׁ מוֹשִׁיעַ עַמֶּךָ
וַעֲשֵׂה לְמַעַן שְׁמֶךָ
כָּל חֵטְא מְחֹל לִי.
בּוֹרְאִי רַחֵם יְחִידָתִי
צוּרִי חַזֵּק קְהִלָּתִי צחק
וְהַעֲלֵנִי לְאֶרֶץ חֶמְדָּתִי
בְּתוֹךְ רַבִּים אֲהַלְלֶנּוּ
דִּגְלוֹ יָרִים בְּאָהֳלֵינוּ
הַפְלֵא חַסְדְּךָ אֵלֵינוּ
וּרְצֵה חֵן זֶה קוֹלִי.
את הפיוט 'פנה אלינו ברחמים' חיברה המלומדת והפייטנית פריחא בת אברהם בר אדיבה (מרוקו ותוניס במאה השמונה־עשרה), ששמה ושם אבותיה מופיעים באקרוסטיכון. בפיוט מְתַנָּה המשוררת את מועקת הגולה ואת התקווה לקיבוץ הגלויות ולגאולה.