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What happened to the end of the Aleph-Beis in Kol Mekadesh?

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One of the songs commonly sung on Friday night, which begins Kol Mekadesh Shevi'i, follows an alphabetic acrostic. After the introductory stanza, each stanza contains four phrases: the first three follow the alphabet, and the fourth is a Biblical excerpt which does not fit the alphabetical pattern. As an example, the second stanza reads:

אוֹהֲבֵי ה' הַמְחַכִּים לְבִנְיַָן אֲרִאֵל
בְּיוֹם הַשַׁבָּת שִׂישׂוּ וְשִׂמְחוּ כִּמְקַבְּלֵי מַתַּן נַחֲלִיאֵל
גַּם שְׂאְוּ יְדֵיכֶם קֹדֶשׁ וְאִמְרוּ לָאֵ-ל
בָּרוּךְ ה' אֲשֶׁר נָתַן מְנוּחָה לְעַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל

The first three lines spell out the first three letters – א, then ב, then ג – while the fourth line is simply a reference to Kings I:8:56 taken out of context to fit the theme of Shabbos, continuing the rhyme scheme but not the acrostic. The next stanza continues with ד.

However, the song concludes:

עֲזוֹר לַשׁוֹבְתִים בַּשְּׁבִיעִי בֶּחָרִישׁ וּבַקָּצִיר עוֹלָמִים
פּוֹסְעִים בּוֹ פּסִיעָה קְטַנָּה, סוֹעֲדִים בּוֹ לְבָרֵךְ שָׁלֹשׁ פָּעָמִים
צִדְקָתָם תַּצְהִיר כְּאוֹר שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים
ה' אֱ-לֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָבָה1 תָמִים
ה' אֱ-לֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל תְּשׁוּעַת עוֹלָמִים

This is the final stanza of the song, yet it abruptly ends at צ, without the remaining four letters of the alphabet. Additionally, there is not one but two concluding Biblical allusions; the first line is a direct quote from Samuel I:14:41, while the second seems to be based on Isaiah 45:17.

All this seems to indicate to me that there used to be an additional stanza, one which contained lines for the final four letters of the alphabet and also a Biblical allusion based on Isaiah 45:17. Perhaps over time the stanza was lost, but the final line remained and was appended to what we have as the final line.

Are there any manuscripts which contain this song with the final stanza? Do any Siddurim or other works quote a final stanza?2

  1. This was copied from the link at the beginning of this post. In many editions this line reads אהבת תמים instead of הבה תמים; however, in doing so, those editions lose the direct Biblical quote.

  2. In the back of my mind I seem to recall that the Chasam Sofer(?) had penned his own final stanza to finish the alphabet acrostic. Whether the Chasam Sofer or someone else, I am seeking not later additions to finish the alphabet, but rather sources which indicate how the original song finished. Additionally, as Chazal teach (Kohelet Rabbah 1:13:1), it's not easy to write a poem which successfully works through the entire alphabet; I would be satisfied with an answer that can somehow prove that the original song was as we have it, without the conclusion of the alphabet.

Why should this post be closed?

2 comments

(The answer below didn't really clarify this explicitly, but the line that misled you ה' אֱ-לֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל תְּשׁוּעַת עוֹלָמִים is itself a later addition.) ‭AA​ ‭ about 1 month ago

@AA yes, true. Thanks. ‭Harel13‭ about 1 month ago

1 answer

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According to the website of the National Library of Israel, indeed there used to be another stanza which appears in Machzor Vitri:

קדשם במצותיך יטהרם כעצם השמים לטוהר. רוחך (תנחומו כבבהמה) [תנחמו כבהמה] תרד בבקעה מן ההר: שבתיהם תשכנם בנחלת הסהר. כנחלים נטיו. וכגנות עלי נהר: אחרת:‏

It is unclear why exactly the final stanza was dropped and replaced. According to Wikipedia, there's a legend that says that the last stanza was dropped because the songwriter died before completing the song and those lines were added by a different person.

Also according to Wikipedia, Rabbi Avraham Abba of Pittsburgh added a different final stanza:

קדושים ישראל מאז ולעולמים, רצים למגדלך ובשמך נשגבים, שבתות קדשך מייחדים ומענגים ובך נדבקים, תיקון השלם ישיגו בחיינו בחסד וברחמים ובקרב הימים

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