The Songs of Passover (Passover 04/23/22)
The Songs of Passover
The songs of Passover don’t end on Seder night. Many of us are familiar with Mah Nishtaneh, Who Knows One, and Chad Gadya, yet there are many more. On the Seventh day of Passover, we sing the song upon the Splitting of the Red Sea. On Shabbat morning, we read King Solomon’s Song of Songs (Shir HaShirim). All the days of Passover we recite the songs of King David in Hallel. These pieces encapsulate the essences of the holiday: fear, yearning, redemption, and thanks.
This Friday evening, because we were transitioning from one day of Yom Tov to the next, there was no “official” Kabbalat Shabbat service. Kabbalat Shabbat is a part of the service where we sing Psalms, Lecha Dodi, and other prayers. In lieu of this service, I thought it would be meaningful if we sang some of the prominent songs of the holiday. If you can listen to the links, I’m sure you’ll enjoy them; if you don’t have the time, just take note of the words, for they convey the many themes of the holiday.
Azi V’Zimrat Yah (from the Song by the Sea and Hallel)
by Rabbi Shefa Gold:
עָזִּי וְזִמְרָת יָהּ, וַיְהִי לִי לִישׁוּעGod is my strength and song; God is my Deliverer
Adir Hu (Hagaddah) by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
אַדִּיר הוּא יִבְנֶה בֵּיתוֹ בְּקָרוֹב. בִּמְהֵרָה, בִּמְהֵרָה, בְּיָמֵינוּ בְּקָרוֹב. אֵל בְּנֵה, אֵל בְּנֵה, בְּנֵה בֵּיתְךָ בְּקָרוֹב.
Mighty is He; may He build His house soon. Quickly, quickly, in our days, soon. God build, God build, build Your house soon.
Shuvi Nafshi (Hallel) by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
שׁוּבִי נַפְשִׁי לִמְנוּחָֽיְכִי, כִּי יְיָ גָּמַל עָלָֽיְכִי. כִּי חִלַּֽצְתָּ נַפְשִׁי מִמָּֽוֶת, אֶת עֵינִי מִן דִּמְעָה, אֶת רַגְלִReturn my soul to your peace. For God has treated me kindly. For You have saved my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my foot from stumbling.
V’hashev Cohanim (The Musaf Prayer) by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
וְהָשֵׁב כֹּהֲנִים לַעֲבוֹדָתָם, וּלְוִיִּם לְשִׁירָם וּלְזִמְרָם, וְהָשֵׁב יִשְׂרָאֵל לִRestore the Cohanim to their service, the Levites to their songs and melodies, and the Jewish people to their dwelling places
Ana Hashem (Hallel) by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
אָנָּה יְיָ כִּי אֲנִי עַבְדֶּֽךָ, אֲנִי עַבְדְּךָ בֶּן אֲמָתֶֽךָ, פִּתַּֽחְתָּ לְPlease, G-d, for I am your servant, the son of your maidservant, release my bonds
These songs embody the spiritual cravings of our people. Yes, of late, the Jewish people have been characterized as great secular scholars, entertainers, businesspeople, and politicians. But Judaism has deep spiritual roots. Unfortunately, this aspect almost gets ignored. Part of the problem is the length of our services. These lofty messages often get overlooked in the rush to finish all the material. The Hebrew/Aramaic language barrier is not helping either. Yet these songs and prayers relate to us all. Everyone struggles at times. We also experience such thrills that we cannot avoid feeling gratitude. Judaism has a place for all of these feelings and those in between.
I strive to accentuate these pearls of wisdom and beauty in our services, but it’s a work in progress. Just know that they are there; Judaism has the words and the music to match all of our experiences and emotions.
Enjoy the music and have a wonderful week,