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Przemysl Slicha

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The Slichot Scroll that is recited in the city of Przemysl on the eve of Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the fast day in memory of the libels against and the martyrdom (Sanctification of the Divine Name) of the aforementioned Rabbi Moshe.

Oh G-d and G-d of our fathers
You are the G-d of gods and the L-rd of lords
Unique, you are first among the early ones and last among the latter ones
Where is your zealousness and might about which our forefathers have told
The great, mighty and awesome G-d who does not play favorites?
With Your word, the Heavens were made, and with the breath of Your mouth all their hosts
You created, You formed, You fashioned them all for your honor, everything accordingly
At the end You created man to tell of your mercies and faithfulness that he sees
With the word of G-d the heavens were created, and with the breath of Your mouth all their hosts.
Great are Your deeds the Creator and Spreader of the Heavens
Many nations You have created, and have chosen for Yourself a place among them
The righteous convert was Abraham, the chief of their believers
Great are the works of G-d, fulfilling all their needs.
His generation cleaved to foreign beliefs and worship of images
He and his entire household cleaved to Your beliefs throughout all the days
He talked about Your godliness to the men of his generation, You the Rock of the Worlds
Your rule is a rule for all eternity.
He was cast into the fiery furnace, and in Your mercy You saved him and took him out
He held fast to your faith and was tested with ten trials
He brought up his son Isaac for an offering, remember today his binding for us
The priest offered before G-d and brought his sin offering and burnt offering.
And Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt and remained true to their faith
The verse “And your children will be a stranger in a land not theirs and serve them and afflict them” was fulfilled in them.
You remembered for them the covenant of the fathers and you took them out with fine spoils
G-d protected them from around just as He had sworn to them
A reason was given that it was for their benefit
Watch over their sittings and their risings, I am their protector.
On Sunday, the 11th of the month of Cheshvan of M H M H H Tz R H[3]
The accursedness arrived, with captivity in prison
Evil people incited against a Jewish man Moshe whom they did not know..
Why did G-d stand afar and ignore the time of trouble?
When Tuesday night arrived the unfortunate one[4] was afflicted with a non-severe affliction
According to their first words, they incited against the man Moshe
Sore evil was determined by the evil ones and masters
And they sought to murder Moshe.
The evil ones did not stumble, and they gathered all their masses in the middle of the Night
Their only thought was only to murder and destroy all the Jews, Heaven forbid.
The Mighty Guardian of Israel would not slumber or sleep
If thieves came to You, robbers at night.
Armed with their weapons and implements of destruction, a great crowd came to the Street of the Jews
They broke doors and windows as robbers and thieves
Whomever came into their hands was captured and led to prison
To everywhere where the words of the king and his faith come, there was great mourning for the Jews.[5]
The holy Hassid and wise man Reb Moshe the son of Reb Yisrael was captured in their murderousness
Several Jews were captured with him
They were placed in special prisons, the place of which was not known to anyone who asked or inquired
And this is the Torah that Moses placed before the children of Israel.
Their secret evil designs grew more severe until morning
The city was closed and sealed for several days, so that any Jew could not go out to intercede or search
The Tester of Hearts fed them a vial of poison[6]
So they would go down and awaken in the morning
Their craftiness concluded on the Friday before the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover)
The set up wood, and burned the unfortunate one rapidly with implements of torture
So that he would not expose the secrets of their incitement and instigation outside
He did not forge them as the dust of the earth and the mud outside.
With one opinion, they agreed to torture the holy one that day
They opened their mouths at the time of the Evening service, and stretched him out over a ladder three times
They decided to to spread him with liquor, embers and sulfur, and they ignited it to destroy him
Show us Your justice before the eyes of the gentiles.
They tortured him with all types of torments, and asked him about eleven things
He shouted out “Shma Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad”[7]
He cried out with the bitterness of his innocent soul, I am enduring this, and with all their tortures, all of Israel are friends
Our inheritance was turned over to strangers, our homes to gentiles
The holy one sanctified the Unique Name before the eyes of the cruel ones
He tore his cloak from his holy body when the boors came to him
Avenge your Name and threaten the accursed wanton ones
A voice is heard from high, lamenting and bitter weeping
They wanted to know after the torture and cruelty
Most of them said that they were unable to suffer the agony, and died in honor
Oh G-d, fight my battle and pay back everyone according to his deeds
G-d desires those who fear him, and those who await his mercies.
The evil ones commanded to call the physicians and ordered them to heal him
They heard the cries of his wife and children and promised to return him to his home
They appointed watchmen over him to ensure that he would be healed
If you torture him, if he cries out to Me, I will hear his cries.
The gentiles were astonished over his fortitude for suffering and his strength of heart
He remained firm in his faith, for the spirit of G-d was within him
The words of G-d are refined, and He is a protector to all that put their faith in Him.
Destruction and scandal were in the land
Who paid attention to this and estimated his sword to be so powerful
Hear our cries, avenge the innocent blood, and repair the breech
Their mouths look Heavenward and their tongues walk on the ground.
When they saw that he had been healed from his wound
On the Sabbath eve of the portion of Shmini[8] they again tortured him
Adding pain and difficult afflictions, the evil ones tortured him all night
Moses the man of G-d blessed the children of Israel before his death.
My mouth will speak the praises of G-d, the righteous man drips wisdom
He was pure in his generation, doing good deeds without shame and embarrassment
The Torah of truth was in his mouth, upholding the commandments without blemish
This statute you shall keep at its correct time for all days.
The continued to torture him with a double portion of the aforementioned afflictions
Furthermore, they tore off his skin and his toenails
They tore off the skin of his heel and covered his lower body in embers
Remember Oh G-d for the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem.
Who can find a scribe to tell of all the difficult tortures
It is impossible to write them in a book were the oceans ink and the Heavens parchment[9]
The storm of G-d is hot, it should go out and storm around the heads of the evil ones
Thus decrees G-d upon all who dwell in evil.
With a razor they shaved off all the hair of his head and beard
Saying there is sorcery in his hair for he does not acknowledge his suffering at all
“Blessed be the true judge” he uttered with his lips
May G-d redeem all of Israel from their tribulations.
Look oh G-d and gaze upon their cruelty
Their heads they turned to turn the hearts of the king and minister with their false testimony
They wanted to expel the Jews from their city of dwelling
Destroy all who mock Your laws for they give forth falsehood.
On the Sabbath day of the 24th of the month, they decided to burn him
His wife and children went out of the house to the house of torment to greet him with weeping and screaming
I knew him that he would command his sons and household
The evil one waits for the righteous one and wishes to kill him.
The evil ones agreed and set up wood for the pyre
The Holy one accepted the judgment upon himself as per the law and tradition
Rock of the Worlds, avenge him and add onto them a thousandfold
Then the anger of the king will be assuaged.
They hurried at the fifteenth hour and took him to the place of the pyre
Their destructive net was waiting for him for every measure
G-d desired in His righteousness to receive his soul in purity on the day that is read in the refined Torah
Their brethren the entire House of Israel shall weep for the burning.
The holy one went into the fire as if going to offer a Musaf or Mincha offering
He accepted upon himself the judgment of Heaven with love, desire, and joy
In the community of Przemysl women and children wept with bitter agony and sighing
And G-d called out on that day for weeping, lamentation and desolation.
Cruel ones led him with joy in their hearts to the place of burning
The holy Hassid remembered to recite the confession prior to his death
His merit shall stand for us and for all of Israel His flock
All the ways of G-d are kind and true to those with whom he forged a covenant.
The Righteous one was raised into the pyre with fire, stubble, sulfur and pitch
They bound his arms and legs to the pyre so that the event would not be ruined
The enemies caused smoke to rise up to his nose, and blood dripped from his nose
As the spirit of G-d hovered.
Before all the gentiles, he prepared his heart to declare the unity of the Unique Name
At the time that the entire crowd of gentiles gathered together as one
He raised his voice and shouted out “Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad”
On that day G-d shall be one and his Name shall be one.
He repeated and completed the entire verse of Shema Yisrael a second time
Death overtook him during as he concluded the word Yisrael of the third recitation
He returned his soul to G-d who had given it with Jewish holiness
Behold, now I know that there is a G-d in Israel.
He was diligent in his study to the best of his ability, as well as in praying with devotion
He was careful in charity, good deeds, and honest business dealings
His merit shall stand for us and for the innumerable community[10]
G-d, are not your eyes toward faith.
The holy Reb Moshe sanctified Your name in public with all his might
The crowd of gentiles were astonished and confounded until his soul and spirit left him
Be zealous for Your name and avenge his vengeance, and he will have double spirit
Peace will come, and he will rest in peace, and walk with Him.
And it was when they ignited the fire and the flame ascended
And the holy Reb Moshe lovingly gave up his soul in sanctification of the Divine Name
Every one of Israel shouted woe woe when they saw the flame, and talked about how the Oppression has come
His voice fled from him, and they did not see good.
To the sublime G-d who dwells in the Heavens
The ashes of the holy one shall always be seen before you as the ashes of Isaac
About which you have promised to always see them and to save Israel from all oppression
His crown will be prepared for ever and ever in the Heavens.
Only ashes and a few of his bones remained of his body
They worked very very hard to collect them and bury them in the grave of his fathers
Who can hear of this matter and not weep and shed tears
In the grave where the man of G-d is buried near his bones.
G-d you are just and your ways are righteous
Order the salvation of Jacob and redeem Your children
May our eyes see the righteousness of the holy one along with all the martyrs
May the utterances of my mouth and thoughts of my heart be acceptable before You.
May you keep Your promise to turn our mourning to joy
Build Your Holy temple speedily and we will offer burnt offerings and meal offerings
May our eyes witness the vengeance upon our enemies, and may sighing and grief depart
For Your sake we were killed throughout the day and considered as sheep for slaughter.
May Your words be established and may You save the afflicted nation
May You send the Messiah the son of David and display Your might
G-d, your deeds will be throughout the years, and will be displayed throughout the years.
G-d is a G-d of vengeance, may the G-d of vengeance appear.

Translator's Footnotes
  1. This Slicha is a fourfold acrostic (i.e. each stanza has four lines that start with the same letter of the alef-beit. I notated each stanza with the appropriate letter. After tav, there are other stanzas starting with various letters, forming an acrostic with the name of the author (see note 11). Back
  2. There is a jump in the text here: the entire stanzas of Zayin, Chet, and half of Tet are missing. Prior to the start of the two Tet verses, there are 2 lines of dots, which may indicate the lacuna. Also, for the next 4 stanzas, the last line of each starts with a different letter, which may indicate a name signature, as is customary in this genre. Most of the later stanzas also have the first letter of the fourth line being different. In most cases, this fourth line is a quote from or paraphrasing of a Biblical verse. Back
  3. These 8 letters seem to be a cryptic, poetic reference to a year. In this genre, years are often coded with a hidden message. The 8 letters can be read as Mehuma Tzara – which stands for “confusion and distress” and may be a reference to “The year of confusion and distress”. The numerology of these 8 letters adds up to 390. This could be the year 5390, which would be 1630 (the millennium is often assumed). Back
  4. The word in Hebrew applies the 'accursed one' – but from the context it obviously refers to the recipient of curses rather than the initiator. I translated it as the unfortunate one. Back
  5. The 'king' here refers to G-d, the King (this is a take off from the book of Esther, where the word 'king' is often taken to mean G-d. Back
  6. The 'Tester of Hearts' is a poetic term for G-d. Back
  7. “Hear Oh Israel, the G-d our L-rd, G-d is one” – the Jewish confession of faith recited several times a day during the prayers, as well as at the approach of death. Back
  8. The Sabbath following Passover. Back
  9. A paraphrase of a line of the Akdamut poem of Shavuot. Back
  10. A reference to the Jewish people. Back
  11. After the alphabetic acrostic concludes, the next verses begin with the following letters: shin beit tav yud samech beit reish yod tzadi chet kuf zayin tzadi lamed chet zayin kuf vav alef mem tzadi alef vav. This type of acrostic is usually the signature of the author. This is similar to the Akdamut poem, which is a twofold acrostic, and then ends with the letters of the author. If I put these letters together, I get the statement (extraneous letters which I could not fit in are in parentheses): Shabtai (samech) the son of Reb Yitzchak zatzal chazak vematz amen veamen. This would mean: Shabtai the son of Reb Yitzchak of holy blessed memory, may he be strong and mighty, Amen and Amen. Back

I expect that the final verses in each fourfold stanza, which usually start with a letter different than the starting letter of the preceding three verses, also form an acrostic, but I did not work that one out. For the last 5 pages, they are as follows:

Beit vav zayin kaf he
Beit tzadi chet chet vav
Kaf vav beit beit he
Beit yud kaf kaf he
Kaf alef

I cannot figure out what this would stand for. Perhaps it is a numerological reference to a year.

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