Maoz Tzur

I remember singing Maoz Tzur as a child during Chanukah. What does this song mean, and how does it go?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The first two words of the song, "Maoz Tzur," mean "Stronghold of Rock," a reference to God. The song goes on to describe the various oppressors who have risen against the Jewish people (Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Haman, Antiochus), and how they have ultimately all been defeated. The song also expresses our wish for the final redemption.

The popular melody is associated with an old German folk-song "So weiss ich eins," dating back to the 15th century. You can hear it sung at:

Here are the words:

Maoz tzur yeshua-si

Lecha na-eh li-sha-beyach

Tikone bais ti-fee-lasi

Vi-sham todah ni-za-beyach.

Li-ase ta-chin mat-beyach

Mee-tzar ham-na-beyach

Az eg-more vi-sheer meez-mor

Chanukas ha-meez-beyach

Az eg-more vi-sheer meez-mor

Chanukas ha-meez-beyach.

(English Synopsis)

O Rock of my salvation, with delight we praise You.

Restore the Temple where we will bring offerings.

When You will eliminate our enemies,

Then I shall sing at the rededication.

Have a happy Chanukah!

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