Benny Friedman, Mordechai ben David, Yaakov Shwekey, Gad Elbaz, Dovid Pearlman, the Maccabeats, Shaindel Antelis, Chanale Fellig, Rivka Leah Cylich, Bulletproof Stockings…
Jewish singers are numerous, and all stars…and multi-faceted ones at that! Like beacons in the dark night sky, they lead the Jewish People in a profound way. They give us a gift of music and song, with passion and effort, bringing it forth from their very souls. From Acapella to Niggunim to Israeli pioneer songs, songwriters and performers bring us simcha when we’re down, and notes of depth when we’re already high on joy. Of course, they always bestow messages and melodies that are simply unforgettable!
I once learned a jewel of Chassidus from a counselor at JGR in December 2016/Kislev 5777. The Chiddush she shared taught how, through a piece of music, the listener’s soul cleaves to that of the notes’ composer. Perhaps this is one element of the very real influence and pull of Jewish music: It’s something so deeply personal, a fusion of souls. Or, rather, a revelation of the bond that already connects us to one another.
“Hinei ma-tov uma-na’im shevet achim gam-yachad! – Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together!” (Tehillim 133:1) This verse is a beloved and popular refrain, sung by a swaying assembly of fellow Jews, arms linked together, channeling the spirit of David Hamelech (King David) of righteous memory. When we congregate, we seem to spark a yearning to sing. But, which comes first? Is it unity, or song? Is the desire to break out in song stimulated by our unity, or is it the other way around…the unity stimulating song? Regardless, we sing our hearts out in celebrations of joy; and even in times of challenge or, G-d forbid, grief, we still cry out in Hashem’s praise. We can, therefore, acknowledge the deep-reaching effect song has on us, and the sense of comfort it instills within us, on any occasion.
The soul is eternal, and keeps us steady at our cores. Music, which is birthed from the soul, is a consistent and heart-stirring remedy we can turn to, to lift us up from the mires and sandstorms of life, to open our eyes to possibility and positivity, to draw strength and spirit from our fellows, and to remind us of Hashem throughout every day of our lives.
Shavua Tov, and wishing you a week overflowing with all blessing!