Sometimes, if we merit it, Biblical verses and Talmudic sayings we have known for years become more significant as our life experiences illuminate them in new ways.

Israelis, breathing free as they left their shelters and safe rooms after last Saturday night’s diabolical attack from the Islamic Republic of Iran in which 99% of the hundreds of projectiles that evil regime launched towards the Jewish State were miraculously intercepted by the IDF and other nations, experienced such a moment.

They found themselves living Tannaic Sage Rabbi Gamliel’s injunction in the Haggadah: “In every generation, a man must feel that he himself was redeemed from Egypt.”

After all, the Prophet Micah (Chap. 7, verse 15) prophesied that “Just as in the days in which you left Egypt, will I show you wonders...” And the Almighty did. The Angel of Death literally passed over the houses of Israel and they were saved.

Especially illuminating was the connection to the inspiring liturgical poem (piyyut) found in the Haggadah, “It happened at midnight,” by the 6th century poet Yanai.

In tribute to the poem’s eternal message, well-known Israeli poet Eliaz Cohen, has added verses to commemorate our current deliverance, penned in the same metre as the original. As in the poem by Yannai, there are many biblical references, sources for some of which are in footnotes. The stanzas appear here in translation, with the last stanza from the original piyyut.

And once again, it happened at midnight

Then, You performed wondrous miracles at night

Before we slept, Amalekites hurled demon’s arrows in the depth of night

Bitter destruction [1] was sent from the north, south and east

Trembling possessed us [2], we felt great fear that night

And it happened at midnight

In our distress [3] we cried and were answered at night

Fiery bolts [4] soared high all through the night

The Guardian of Israel does not rest or sleep [5] by day or night

And it happened at midnight

The skies shone with lightning in the depth of the night

You saved us from death in the darkness of night

From missiles and drones You protected through the night

And it happened at midnight

Draw close the day that is neither day nor night

Highest One, show that the day is Yours as is the night

Send watchmen to guard Your city all the day and night

Light up like daylight the darkness of night

And it happened at midnight.

ЗРК Patriot
ЗРК Patriotצילום: פלאש 90

In gratitude, many Israelis, who recited Psalms in record numbers throughout the night, said the 100th Psalm, known as the Psalm of Thanks, Mizmor leTodah. Some added Psalm 136 “Thank the Lord for He is good, for His mercy is forever”- Hodu LaHashem ki tov, ki leolam chasdo, recited at the Seder and in the Shabbat morning prayers . Others added the festive Hallel Prayer to the next morning's service.

Then, life continued as usual and people picked up Passover cleaning where they had left it. What could be more fitting? We will soon be sitting at our Seder tables, singing "In every generation they rise upon us to destroy us, but the Holy One, Blessed be He, saves us from their hands." And once again, He did.

Eliaz Cohenreceived the Prime Minister’s Prize for poetry in 2006 and lives in Kfar Etzion. Poem translated by Rochel Sylvetsky with the poet's permission.


[1] Deuteronomy 32, 24

[2] Exodus 15,14

[3] Psalms 118

[4] Deuteronomy 32, 24

[5] Psalm 121

For those who can read the Hebrew:

ושוב, בחצי הלילה

אָז רֹב נִסִּים הִפְלֵאתָ בַּלַּיְלָה

בְּטֶרֶם שָׁכַבְנוּ שִׁלַּח אֲגָגִי שֵׁדֵי חִצָּיו בְּאִישׁוֹן לַיְלָה

קֶטֶב מְרִירִי מִצָּפוֹן מִתֵּימָן וּמִזְרָח

חִיל אֲחָזָנוּ וּמְאֹד נִירָא הַלַּיְלָה

וַיְהִי בַּחֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה

מִן הַמֵּצַר קָרָאנוּ וְעָנָנוּ בַּלַּיְלָה

כִּבְנֵי רֶשֶׁף הִגְבִּיהוּ עוּף כָּל הַלַּיְלָה

לֹא נִרְדַּם וְלֹא נָם שׁוֹמֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה

וַיְהִי בַּחֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה

שָׁמַיִם הִבְהִיקוּ כְּבָרָק בְּאַשְׁמֹרֶת לַיְלָה

מִנֶּפֶץ בָּאֹפֶל יַהֲלֹךְ הִצַּלְתָּנוּ בַּלַּיְלָה

מִטִּיל שִׁיּוּט וְכַטְבָּם גּוֹנַנְתָּנוּ כְּחֵץ הַלַּיְלָה

וַיְהִי בַּחֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה

(בית חותם מן הפיוט המקורי )

קָרֵב יוֹם אֲשֶׁר הוּא לֹא יוֹם וְלֹא לַיְלָה

רָם הוֹדַע כִּי לְךָ הַיּוֹם אַף לְךָ הַלַּיְלָה

שׁוֹמְרִים הַפְקֵד לְעִירְךָ כָּל הַיּוֹם וְכָל הַלַּיְלָה

תָּאִיר כְּאוֹר יוֹם חֶשְׁכַת לַיְלָה

וַיְהִי בַּחֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה