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.