The Desire of My Heart, Moshe Ibn Ezra
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תאות לבבי
"תאות לבבי ומחמד עיני עופר לצדי וכוס בימיני רבו מריבי ולא אשמעם בוא הצבי, ואני אכניעם וזמן יכלם ומות ירעם בוא, הצבי, קום והבריאני מצוף שפתך והשביעני למה יניאון לבבי, למה אם בעבור חטא ובגלל אשמה אשגה ביפיך אד-ני שמה אל יט לבבך בניב מענני איש מעקשים, ובוא נסני נפתה, וקמנו אלי בית אמו ויט לעול סבלי את שכמו לילה ויומם אני רק עמו אפשט בגדיו ויפשיטני אינק שפתיו וייניקני כאשר לבבי בעיניו נפקד גם עול פשעי בידו נשקד דרש תנואות ואפו פקד צעק באף, רב לך, עזבני אל תהדפני ואל תתעני אל תנף בי, צבי, עד כלה הפלא רצונך, ידידי, הפלא ונשק ידידך וחפצו מלא אם יש בנפשך חיות, חיני או חפצך להרג, הרגני"
"My heart’s desire, my eyes’ delight: the hart beside me and a cup in my right hand! Many denounce me for loving, but I pay no heed. Come to me, fawn, and I will vanquish them. Time will consume them and death will shepherd them away. Oh, come to me, fawn, refresh me with the nectar of your lips until I am satisfied. Why, why would they discourage me? If it be because of sin or guilt, I am ravished by your beauty—and God is there! Let your heart not be swayed by the words of my tormentor, that close-minded man. Oh, come put me to the test! He was enticed and we went to his mother’s house. There he bent his back to my heavy yoke. Night and day I alone was with him. I took off his clothes and he took off mine. I sucked at his lips and he suckled me. But once his eyes stole my heart, his hand fastened the yoke of my sin, and he looked for grievances. He raged against me and shouted in fury, “Enough! Leave me alone! Do not drive me to crime, do not lead me astray!” Oh, do not be unrelenting in your anger, fawn. Show me the wonders of your pleasure, my love. Kiss your friend and fulfill his desire. If you wish to revive me, then give life; but if you would instead kill—then kill me." [Translation by Rabbi Steven Greenberg]
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Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. Moshe ibn Ezra was paytan, a religious poet. What do you find most beautiful, disturbing, poignant or even encouraging in this poem?

2. While he is denounced, he pays no heed. "Time will consume them," he says. What do you think this means?

3. The strongest line in the poem is "God is there." How do you think this religious writer understood his feelings for his beloved? What did he think about the religious culture of his time?

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Time Period: Medieval (Geonim through the 16th Century)