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Whence is the melody and whither does it go?

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Music can be incredibly powerful. evoking visceral reactions and connecting us to past experiences. And sometimes a single song can call to mind a a variety of emotions…

Camp Komaroff c. 1980
After Shabbos dinner, we’d all gather under the stars for Rikudei Am. It was led by a girl from our shul and I thought she was sooooo cool. I learned a lot of dances that summer but the song that has always stood out is Shir LaShalom.

The dance is simple and the melody catchy. But there are many simple dances and many catchy tunes. Perhaps it was the words and their desparate hope for peace.

Tnu lashemesh la’alot
laboker le’ha’ir
Hazaka shebatfilot
otanu lo tachzir
Mi asher kava nero
u’ve’Afar nitman
Bechi mar lo ya’iro
lo yachziro le’chan
Ish otanu lo yashiv
mibor tachtit a’fel –
kan lo yo’ilu –
lo simchat hanitzachon
Velo shirei hallel
Lachen rak shiru shir lashalom
al tilhashu tfila
lachen rak shiru shir lashalom
bitze’aka gdola
Tnu lashemesh lachador
miba’ad laprachim
al tabitu le’achor
hanichu la’holchim
S’u eina’yim betikva
lo derech kavanot
shiru shir la’ahava
velo lamilchamot
Al tagidu yom yavo
havi’u et hayom –
ki lo chalom hu –
uve’chol hakikarot
hari’u rak shalom

Saturday, Movember 4, 1995

My dad met me at the door to deliver the horrific news. Yitzchak Rabin had been assassinated at a peace rally in Tel Aviv. Moments before his murder, he stood on the dias and with pop star, Miri Aloni, sang these words:

Let the sun rise
light up the morning
The purest of prayers
will not bring us back
He whose candle was snuffed out
and was buried in the dust
bitter crying won’t wake him up
and won’t bring him back
Nobody will bring us back
from a dead and darkened pit
neither the victory cheer
nor songs of praise will help
So just sing a song for peace
don’t whisper a prayer
Just sing a song for peace
in a loud shout
Allow the sun to penetrate
through the flowers
don’t look back
let go of those departed
Lift your eyes with hope
not through the rifles’ sights
sing a song for love
and not for wars
Don’t say the day will come
bring on that day –
because it is not a dream –
and in all the city squares
cheer only for peace!

The seemlingly-prophetic words still in his coat pocket as the assasin’s bullet stole him from us.

What should have been one of the happiest nights of my life was marred by this terrible tragedy. Such an awful, awful night. For me and my family, it was so surreal as we numbly maneuvered through a group of oblivious partygoers.

5 Iyar 5768/9 May 2008
In anticipation of Israel’s 60th, I started listening to music that I have long associated with our Homeland and of course Shir LaShalom was among the melodies. For the first time in nearly 13 years, I was finally able to listen without pangs of sadness. And though peace seems less possible today than it did on November 4, somehow we must continue to hope and to cheer for that peace.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, 16 May 2008 4:50 am

    isn’t it amazing how the soundtrack of our lives affects us?

  2. Friday, 16 May 2008 12:51 pm

    I find that to be true of music across the board. For me, I relate music to events and then when I hear it, the memories are especially strong. Have a wonderful and peaceful Shabbat!

  3. Dadgiraffe permalink
    Friday, 16 May 2008 1:09 pm

    This really brought tears to my eyes. I always thought I let you down by not “being with it” the night of your engagement party. Sadly, as you note, peace seems farther away today than ever. But, that will not stop us from yearning for it. So, with fervor, we shall sing together, “Od yavo Shalom aleinu…ki va moed!”

  4. Friday, 16 May 2008 3:29 pm

    Maybe things like this will help…

  5. Saturday, 17 May 2008 10:47 pm

    As long as we keep singing there is always hope.

    Don’t let the song die.

    (here via the carnival)

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