With God’s Help

Royzl bas Joseph Levi


With God’s help I set myself the aim,
And with God’s aid I hope to achieve the same.
The holy book of Psalms in Taytsh [Yiddish] to make known,
Hoping that all shall praise and extol God, blessed be He, on His throne,
Men and women both,
As King David of Blessed memory set his troth,
In particular when they will the words herein comprehend,
Deep down into the heart will their meaning descend.
How matters began for King David of blessed memory will each one discover,
And how difficult was his life they will uncover,
And how many enemies against him took aim,
And sought upon his God to bring shame,
So will in the future be the fate of those who evil do,
Who seek to rise up against the pious and true,
And they shall overcome their instinct so base,
And to evil thoughts give no place.
So I have endeavored here,
To let people know and hear,
Why this book of Psalms over any other I prefer so,
It happened that life forced me to wander and go,
And this book of Psalms in the holy community of Hanover I found,
Where at the same time, on the same ground,
The rabbi and teacher Moshe Shtendl into Taytsh did it render,
In rhyme and to the tune of the Shmuel Bukh [Yiddish Book of Samuel] with splendor,
So that men, women and even pious maidens will find the words nice,
As they read everything will be clear and precise,
Thus I transcribed with my own hand the book,
Omitting nothing, no cranny or nook,
And so then to myself I did think,
And brought it to a publisher to set down in ink,
I Royzl, daughter of Reb Fishl, people call me,
Some may not know my father of blessed memory,
Rabbi Yosef Levi was his name, from the tribe of Levi,
Who are all the servants of God, blessed be He,
And his father, rabbi and teacher Yudah Levi of blessed memory, the elder,
For fifty years maintained the yeshiva in the holy community of Ludmir.
Praised be the beloved God who did ascribe,
A special role to the Levite tribe,
And indeed as His servants did choose,
Therefore its memory we shall never lose,
Thus I thank and praise the Lord
That a place for me in this tribe He did award,
And hope He will continue to have mercy on me,
He forgets not the cries of those who live in poverty.
I beg that He will stand by my side,
As by King David of blessed memory, pious Jesse’s son, He did abide.

Translated by


Royzl bat Joseph Levi (Fishl), “With God’s Help” in Do tilim bukh by Moshe Shtendl (Krakow: Royzl Fishl, 1586). Republished in: Early Yiddish Texts: 1100–1750, ed. Jerold C. Frakes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 368–370.

Published in: The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, vol. 5.

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