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Repetitious Torture

Friday, 27 May 2011

Courtesy iStockPhoto

“This was absolutely the last time I’ll ever to have to sing that song,” I thought at the conclusion of my final service at my former synagogue.

Which really wasn’t fair. To the song.

Oseh shalom bimromav
hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu
v’al kol Yisraeil
v’imru, v’imru amein

May the One who makes peace in the High Heavens
make peace over us,
and over all Israel
and let us say, and let us say, amein.

These words are found in our daily liturgy. The Kaddish, to be exact. Its message is an important one. So important, in fact, that the custom at my former synagogue was to conclude the service with these words. Every service.

Had we used a different musical setting each week, I imagine I wouldn’t have such negative feelings. However, at some point in the early 1970’s, the decision was made that every service, and by every I mean every, would conclude with the version composed by the incomparable Nurit Hirsch.

Structurally, the piece follows an ABCBA structure, known as arch form. (Putting the $80K music degree to use once again, DadGiraffe.) Hirsch’s melody is pleasing and easy to learn. And though it placed only third in the first Hasidic Song Festival in 1969, it was catapulted to international success, finding its way into worship all across the Jewish spectrum.

But no song is the right song for every occasion, every mood, every anything. We are hard-wired for music. And, as studies show, we have emotional responses to the music we hear. I have written before about the negative visceral reaction I have each time I hear a certain leitmotiv. So too have I written about the way a certain contemporary setting of a piece of Catholic liturgy takes my soul to the most amazing places. Even with a piece that makes every fibre of my being soar, I could not listen repeatedly to that and no other. Not only does that particular Lauridsen composition not fit every one of my moods, I would most certainly come to despise it with forced repetition.

Which is precisely what occured with the Nurit Hirsch Oseh Shalom.

“Give it time,” said a well-meaning friend, “you’ll come to like it again.”

It’s been nearly seven years.
She was wrong.



Red Writing Hood is a writing meme. This week’s instructions: Write a short piece – 600 words max – that begins with the words, “This was absolutely the last time” and ends with “She was wrong.” Have fun with it. Think outside the box. Don’t go with the obvious.

I can’t say that I had fun with it, I have no idea of I thought out of the box, and this seemed like an obvious direction for me. Who knows. As always, constructive criticism is appreciated.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, 27 May 2011 7:03 am

    Very nice! I love how we all start with the same canvas and end up with such varied works of art.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 30 May 2011 9:57 am

      I know. It’s rather amazing, isn’t it?

  2. Friday, 27 May 2011 7:06 am

    What you endure reminds me of listening to an inexperienced violin player or an out-of-tune piano. Like a word that seems odd when read one too many times, the beautiful song has become something else entirely.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 30 May 2011 9:57 am

      A perfect summation.

  3. Friday, 27 May 2011 7:20 am

    I’ve read you before and YOU are hilarious. I don’t know much about the synagogue, being a born again Christian. But, you described the structure piece and the way it all is supposed to flow really well. 🙂 Thanks for the insights. Have a great weekend 🙂 Loved the sarcasm in the last line. Perfect.

  4. Friday, 27 May 2011 8:11 am

    I really enjoyed this. I love how you used it to be informative, and how it touched on a part of you and shared you with us. And I thank you for that openness.

    My only critique is that I definitely glossed over the links this time, so I could feel you. I enjoy and appreciate them, but sometimes I think they’re not completely necessary. And for this piece I followed what you were saying and experiencing well enough without them. I think for words that may not be clear to others you could always give a brief 2-3 word explanation within, so as not to detract from your piece, your writing and your incredible talent with words.

    Thanks, as always, for sharing and I’m thrilled to have met you through TRDC link-ups!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 30 May 2011 10:05 am

      I too am delighted that we have connected in this way!!!

      My general blogging style is to include the links as I have a goodly number of readers for whom the Jewish references are completely new to them. Would I be presenting this as an essay, for instance, I would do as you have suggested here.

      So feel free to gloss right over the links 😉

  5. Friday, 27 May 2011 9:21 am

    I enjoyed this! I can’t imagine listening to the same song over and over and over again…

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 30 May 2011 10:33 am

      Try imagining singing the same song over and over and over again…

  6. DadGiraffe permalink
    Friday, 27 May 2011 11:21 am

    It was such a bargain. Today, it would probably be $180K!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 30 May 2011 10:48 am

      More like $192,528.00.

  7. Friday, 27 May 2011 6:29 pm

    What an interesting take on the prompt. Thanks for sharing such an interesting part of your life, even though it caused you frustration. I know next to nothing about Jewish religion 🙂

    Visiting from RDC

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Tuesday, 31 May 2011 7:04 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Carrie. You’ll learn a lot about Judaism here in Frume Sarah’s World.

  8. Saturday, 28 May 2011 9:46 pm

    This is such an interesting take on the prompt! Jason talks a lot about people being hard wired for music, too. I’ve always loved hearing that, and it was lovely to read here.

    On a writerly note, I like what you wrote about the “out of the box” bit. What seems obvious to each of us is our muse. Following it will be unique to us. Pushing outside of that first instinct and going for what pops up next? Also good, also out of the box. You did great! 🙂

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Tuesday, 31 May 2011 7:05 am

      Thank you, thank you, thank you. 🙂

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