Posts Tagged ‘Ma’ot Tzur’


Ma’oz Tzur for Pittsburgh

Posted on: November 25th, 2018 by Alden

This prayer/poem rendition of Ma’oz Tzur anticipates the contrasting emotions of a joyous festival against the backdrop of the largest antisemitic attack in U.S. history. Ma’oz Tzur – literally “Fortress Rock” – is a Chanukah acrostic written in the 13th century. This song is traditionally sung after lighting Chanukah candles. To write this rendition, I studied five translations from siddurim, incorporating both intent and language from all five translations (see footnote).

מָעוֹז צוּר יְשׁוּעָתִי
Ma’oz Tzur Yeshu’ati
Rock of Ages,
Fortress of Redemption,
Rock of Salvation,
Refuge and Shelter,

לְךָ נָאֶה לְשַׁבֵּחַ
Lekha na’eh leshabe’ach
It is a delight,
Lovely and fine,
To sing Your praises.

תִּכּוֹן בֵּית תְּפִלָּתִי
Tikon beit tefilati
Restore my house of prayer,
This house that has seen violence and hate,
Bloodshed and death.
It is firm and established,
Now and forever.

וְשָׁם תּוֹדָה נְזַבֵּחַ
Vesham toda nezabe’ah
There we will offer thanksgiving,
In the name of our people,
An Or l’Simcha,
A light for joy,
An Eitz Chaim,
A tree of life,

לְעֵת תָּכִין מַטְבֵּחַ
Le’et takhin matbe’ach
When by Your will
All bloodshed ends,
The time when You eliminate
All slaughter.

מִצָּר הַמְנַבֵּחַ
Mi’tzor hamnabe’ach
The furious, they assail us,
Oppressors with hatred,
But Your arm avails us,

אָז אֶגְמוֹר בְּשִׁיר מִזְמוֹר
Az egmor beshir mizmor
So with joyous song,
Yet still in mourning,
With a heavy heart,
Yet singing in music,
In poetry and psalms,

חֲנֻכַּת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ
Chanukat hamizbe’ach
For the dedication of Your house,
The rededication of Your sanctuary,
An altar of Your praises,
Where our strength will not fail us.

[Sing Ma’oz Tzur]

© 2018 Alden Solovy and

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Postscript: Ma’oz Tzur was written by an unknown poet whose name is spelled out as Mordechai by the first letters of the first five verses, while the first three letters of the sixth and final stanza spell out ‘chazak,’ or ‘strength’ (Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer, M. Nulman). The siddurim I consulted in writing this piece are: Mishkan T’fillah (U.S., Reform); Koren Aviv Siddur (Orthodox); Seder HaTeffilah (UK, Reform); Siddur Lev Chadash (UK, Liberal/Progressive); and Siddur Nehalel (Orthodox). Transliteration is modified from Wikipedia.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

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