Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Eliyah ben Moses Adeni, A 17th century Hebrew poet from Cochin.

Newly renovated Parur synagogue bears a eight lined Hebrew epitaph etched stone tablet, this dedicatory note was installed after the construction/renovation of Parur synagogue in 1620-21 (1616 ?) AD, the construction works was initiated by David Ben Jacob of renowned Castiel family. 

It is hard to interpret those words of the tablet, as the beautification work on it with black paint  had merged some of the alphabets and made it more confusing. This happened quiet recently but way before the recent renovation of the synagogue by the government in (which began in 2010). A similar mistake happened during renovation on the embossed Hebrew words in the entrance of the Synagogue which was pointed out by me and was mended. click here to read more about it

but historians and travellers had documented and preserved those precious words....

The picture of the tablet clicked in 2009 during my first visit, before renovation.

It reads like this:

He who dwelt in Rock and Bush                  אשר שכן בצר בסנה
May He dwell for His sake in my house          למענו ישכון ביתי
May there be light in it for the House of Jacob    יהי אור בו לבית יעקב
Alas, darkened in my exile                               הכי השכו בגלותי
Said David Jacob's Son                                     ענה דוד בנו יעקב
Renowned noble seed of Castile                    דגול יחש לקשטיאל
At the completion of the holy sanctuary    נוה קדש בעת ה'ו'ש'ל'ם
 1May it be His will that the Redeemer come     יהי רצון ובא גואל

(Jacob Saphir, a Jewish traveller who visited Cochin in 1860, published the poem with one variant in the sixth line:                            "דגולות של קשטיאל". )

The beauty is that this is not only a dedicatory note but an acrostic poem which reveals a name "אליה עדני" Eliyah Adeni, the author of this poem. and the year of construction. This brilliant piece of work actually depicts the aptitude and knack of the poet.

Eliyah ben Moses Adeni, born (date unknown) Died (Friday 27 Tishri 5392, i.e. Thu, 23 October 1631)2  Also known as Eliyahu Adeni or Rabbi Eliyah Ha-Adeni, was a native of Aden (Yemen) and was therefore called "Ha-Adeni" that is to say, "the man of Aden." He got settled in Cochin, and he is supposed to have spend his most of life there. 

Rabbi Adeni was a scholar, and a poet. His works was a part of the Cochini Minhag, and he is the only Cochini Jews whose complete works was published.3 He wrote "Azharot," didactic liturgical poems on the 613 commandments, which is read by the Jews of India and chiefly by those of Cochin on Shemini Atzeret (Eighth [day of] Assembly) or the eighth day of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacle).3 

The title page of  יד אליהו אזהרות, 
picture courtesy:

In the title page the work is named as "Seder Azharot", In the second page it bears a title  " העדני יד אליהו " It might be entitled by Adeni himself or by Belilio, But the work is widely known as " יד אליהו אזהרות " (Azharot yad Eliyahu), and it is counted among the finest examples of its kind.

The second page of  יד אליהו אזהרות, 
picture courtesy:

It was the visit of the Dutch emissary to Cochin Jewish community which led this legend's name and fame immortal. It was Levi ben Moses Belilio who edited the Azharot. The Azharot was brought to Amsterdam by Moses Pereyra and was printed by Uri Phoebus ben Aaron Witmund ha Levi in 1688.5 Thus it became one of the first printed book of Cochin Jews. 

There are some source which says Levi ben Moses Belilio was the grandson of Adeni,6. But that claim doesn't have a strong proof. 

1. The Cochin Jewish Community, Aaron Grenbaum
2. Ohel David, David Solomon Sassoon.
3. Who Are the Jews of India?, Nathan Katz
4. The Jewish Encyclopedia :A discriptive record of the history, religion literature and customs of the Jewish People from the earliest tmes to the present day , Volume 2, Apocrypha -Benash,
5. The Dutch Intersection: The Jews and the Netherlands in Modern History, Yosef Kaplan.
6. Hebrew Typography in the Northern Netherlands 1585-1815, Lajb Fuks and R.G Fuks-Mansfeld

No comments:

Post a Comment