Traditional Hebrew and Chinese

Yedid Nefesh and the first two sections of the Qian Zi Wen

A Hebrew prayer with each section beginning with a letter of God's name, and the beginning of Qian Zi Wen (Thousand Character Classic).

After the San Zi Jing and Bai Jia Xing were mastered, those who continued on to reading traditional Chinese writings always studied next the Qian Zi Wen, the "Thousand Character Classic". Each character is different in this short work (about the same length as the San Zi Jing), so after studying it, the learner will know one thousand Chinese characters, many of them very common. It also mentions numerous traditional Chinese cultural concepts, and thorough knowlege of it was used as the basic test for young students entering school to study classical Chinese. Due to its having 1000 unique characters, it is also a main text for learning Chinese caligraphy, and is often printed with various caligraphy styles side by side. Among the one thousand characters are about 450 common ones we have already learned in the San Zi Jing, as well as about 90 characters which are radicals. So those learning the Qian Zi Wen for the first time already know about half of the characters. In our text here, we have put all the radicals in bold, and the proper nouns in red. Those characters which appear also in the San Zi Jing are in green (except for those which were already marked red, most of which also appear in the San Zi Jing).

In the short poem Yedid Nefesh, sung especially on the evening of Shabbat, the divisions of the tree of ten (from lesson five) that are used, are the group of five. This is represented by the letters of God's name: the yud refers to the first two (the top point of the yud signifying the top, hidden point of origin of the tree, and the body of the yud signifying the second point), the two heis signifying the two, upper and lower, feminine powers, and the vav (the sixth letter of the aleph-bet) signifying the six in the middle.

The Qian Zi Wen can be divided up into four sections. The first section below, describes the origins of the universe and the ancient legendary origins and leaders of China. Some of these first leaders and dynasties we have already seen in the history section of the San Zi Jing we learned previously. The second section below outlines how to act properly in the world and gives moral examples, some of which also remind us of the San Zi Jing.


Traditional Hebrew

Audio (mp3) of Yedid Nefesh (sung by Gabi Sid)

Traditional Chinese

PDF for learning the Qian Zi Wen (Word doc here)
PDF with both Simplified and Traditional Characters, and Zhuyin phonetic pronunciation of the Qian Zi Wen
Caligraphy version of the Qian Zi Wen
More detailed notes on the Qian Zi Wen (Word doc here)

Audio (mp3) of the Qian Zi Wen
Another audio (mp3) of the Qian Zi Wen

Although this site deals with Mandarin, here is also a Cantonese version of the Qian Zi Wen:
Audio (mp3) of the Qian Zi Wen in Cantonese

Radicals and proper names in the first two sections of the Qian Zi Wen, and some key words in Yedid Nefesh: