Tonight is the first night of the eight-day festival of Hanucah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. This year, unusually, it coincides with the festival of Christmas. Here is a rendition of Maoz Tzur, the traditional piyyut heard at this time. Rabbi David Kadoch sings Maoz Tsur to a Moroccan tune. Here are the lyrics in English translation:
Maoz Tzur : Rock of Ages
O mighty stronghold of my salvation, to praise You is a delight.
Restore my House of Prayer and there we will bring a thanksgiving offering.
When You will have prepared the slaughter for the blaspheming foe,
Then I shall complete with a song of hymn the dedication of the Altar.
My soul had been sated with troubles, my strength has been consumed with grief. They had embittered my life with hardship, with the calf-like kingdom’s bondage.
But with His great power He brought forth the treasured ones,
Pharaoh’s army and all his offspring
Went down like a stone into the deep.
To the holy abode of His Word He brought me. But there, too, I had no rest And an oppressor came and exiled me.
For I had served aliens, And had drunk benumbing wine.
Scarcely had I departed At Babylon’s end Zerubabel came.
At the end of seventy years I was saved.
To sever the towering cypress sought the Aggagite, son of Hammedatha,
But it became [a snare and] a stumbling block to him and his arrogance was stilled.
The head of the Benjaminite You lifted and the enemy, his name You obliterated His numerous progeny – his possessions – on the gallows You hanged.
Greeks gathered against me then in Hasmonean days. They breached the walls of my towers and they defiled all the oils;
And from the one remnant of the flasks a miracle was wrought for the roses.
Men of insight – eight days established for song and jubilation
Bare Your holy arm and hasten the End for salvation –
Avenge the vengeance of Your servants’ blood from the wicked nation.
For the triumph is too long delayed for us, and there is no end to days of evil, Repel the Red One in the nethermost shadow and establish for us the seven shepherds.
Maoz Tzur translation courtesy of www.ou.org.
Wishing all readers Happy Hanucah, Merry Christmas, or simply…Happy Holidays!