Shir HaKovod - Anim Zemiros. This is amazingly anthropomorphic and all that without even once the word כביכול (= as if such a thing could be true). Admittedly the references come from texts such as Shir HaShirim but to make a poem from it, how come it’s allowed?

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    Well, some customs don't sing it.
    – Double AA
    Oct 14, 2012 at 13:39
  • I have heard that the question of whether or not to say this prayer has been around for quite a while. Have a look a what the Maharal has to say on the subject here ספר נתיבות עולם א - נתיב העבודה - פרק י"ב‏. Oct 16, 2012 at 4:21
  • @DavidPerlman I found the perek at hebrewbooks.org/… Could you be more speciifc about the part I should read please? Oct 18, 2012 at 14:18
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    AY check the left column on the page after the one you linked to. The language there is pretty harsh but I actually remember some harsher language only I can't recall the source (although I do remember it was the Maharal) Oct 19, 2012 at 8:17
  • @DavidPerlman Thank you; most interesting. Maharal is talking about the Shir Hayichud (not the Shir HaKovod) - although the same applies. His point (IMHO) is about excessive praise at the wrong time not about anthropomorphism. Oct 22, 2012 at 20:42

2 Answers 2


The poet makes it very clear, before launching into these descriptions, that they are not literal:

אֲסַפְּרָה כְבודְךָ וְלא רְאִיתִיךָ. אֲדַמְּךָ אֲכַנְּךָ וְלא יְדַעְתִּיךָ:‏

בְּיַד נְבִיאֶיךָ בְּסוד עֲבָדֶיךָ. דִּמִּיתָ הֲדַר כְּבוד הודֶךָ:‏

גְּדֻלָּתְךָ וּגְבוּרָתֶךָ. כִּנּוּ לְתוקֶף פְּעֻלָּתֶךָ:‏

דִּמּוּ אותְךָ וְלא כְּפִי יֶשְׁךָ. וַיַּשְׁווּךָ לְפִי מַעֲשיךָ:‏

הִמְשִׁילוּךָ בְּרוב חֶזְיונות. הִנְּךָ אֶחָד בְּכָל דִּמְיונות:‏

I shall relate Your glory, though I see You not; I shall allegorize You, I shall describe You, though I know You not.

Through the hand of Your prophets, through the counsel of Your servants; You allegorized the splendrous glory of Your power.

Your greatness and Your strength, they described the might of Your works.

They allegorized You, but not according to Your reality, and they portrayed You according to your deeds.

They symbolized You in many varied visions; yet You are a Unity containing all the allegories.

(Hebrew text of lines 5 - 9 copy/pasted from Sefaria. English Translation from the Artscroll Siddur.)

That sounds to me like five lines of "כביכול ."

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    The Koren/Sacks translation rhymes in English. 100x cooler IMO.
    – Double AA
    Oct 14, 2012 at 14:07
  • @DoubleAA, If you want to edit in the K/S translation, assuming it doesn't water down the point I'm getting at here, feel free to.
    – Isaac Moses
    Oct 14, 2012 at 15:31

I think there's no problem using anthropomorphic images if:-

  1. You are using only whatever already is said in ktuvim by neviim.
  2. You do not take it seriously as literal description. (like you say the "Shemesh shak'a" though you know it has not, it just hidden from your eyes currently)
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    Boris. Agree (1). My point is about (2). Is there not a big danger in saying these things out loud so everyone can hear them and maybe (ch"v) be mistaken? Oct 14, 2012 at 13:28
  • קהל: דִּמּוּ אוֹתְךָ וְלֹא כְּפִי יֶשְׁךָ, וַיְשַׁוּוּךָ לְפִי מַעֲשֶׂיךָ חזן: הִמְשִׁילוּךָ בְּרֹב חֶזְיוֹנוֹת, הִנְּךָ אֶחָד בְּכָל דִּמְיוֹנוֹת Sorry for English description but it goes more or like that:- "They described you but not as you are, and imagined you only only by your deeds". "Compared you in all their visions but you are the one in'em all." Cat it be more clear that author does not mean to take the comparison literally. if there's danger of misunderstanding that should be not said. But that is true for anything including the even some parts of humash.
    – Boris
    Nov 8, 2014 at 18:34

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