So I'm catching up on my music reviews but still have a couple of good ones outstanding (sorry Gidi!). I would have gotten caught up except that I'm too easy to distract. This week's distraction, the Teruah Jewish Music Podcast. That's right, I'm working on a podcast. It's my brothers fault, really. I've had a couple of folks suggest that I start a podcast before, but when my brother and calls up specifically to ask me for one, I take notice. I've got a first draft just about done and will be circulating it to a few friends (maybe you?) for feedback this weekend and then posting it for all to hear sometime next week.
Right now, I'm looking forward to Shabbat. To help get in the groove, I thought I'd share one of my recent finds: the NeoHasid niggunim site. Niggunim are partially or fully wordless songs from the Chassidic tradition. The thought is that words are fine to help you focus your thoughts, but eventually they just get in the way. The NeoHasid site "is dedicated to bringing the wellsprings of Chasidut as far as the internet can carry them–an open door to Chasidic songs and traditions (aka "Chasidus"), for everyone: women and men, religious or secular, however observant, connected to a Jewish community or not." Neohasid is interesting because, unlike many Chasidic websites, NeoHasid.org "also features eco-Torah, egalitarian liturgies, and cultural reports on the new Chasidim." For a liberal Jew who loves much about Chasidus but has difficulty with the non-egalitarian aspects, it's pretty refreshing. New Chasidim? Must investigate further.
And I love their eclectic niggunim collection which includes very traditional niggun (often sung by women without any handwringing about Kol Isha) right next to contemporary compositions and interpretations (including a Rebbesoul electric jam on Avinu Malkeinu). While they're all worth listening to (and learning and singing), today I'd like to highlight the nigun Tzur Mishelo, from the Breslov tradition. The singer, Emilia Cataldo, describes it saying, "[t]his is a Breslov tune for the well known shabbat song. It is usually sung by men and is loud and rowdier. I picked up this more feminine version at Midreshet Bat Ayin, where I learned in 1999."
Tzur Mishelo performed by Emilia Cataldo
The OU Torah Tidbits website describes Tzur Mishelo this way...
[Tzur Mishel] does not mention Shabbat. It is based on Birkat HaMazon. The first stanza - HaZan et olamo... He Who feeds His world... we ate His bread and drank His wine, therefore, we must thank Him... This is the theme of the first bracha of Birkat HaMazon. The second stanza announces that we will bless G-d with song and the sound of thanks for the lovely Land He gave our ancestors and for the food which has satiated us... This parallels the 2nd bracha of Birkat HaMazon. The third stanza (that's the one on the AW) relates to part of the third bracha - Jerusalem. We ask HaShem to have mercy on His people (us) and on Zion, the site of the Mikdash (in other words - Jerusalem), and send the Moshi'ach. The other part of the third bracha relates to the Beit HaMikdash. This is the fourth stanza of Tzur Mishelo - Yibaneh HaMikdash... All this over a full cup of wine, as Birkat HaMazon is (should be, can be) recited. The refrain, is like the Birkat HaZimun, the call to join together and bench.I'm thinking I need to learn this one and add it to my families Shabbat zemirot repertoire..