Friday, November 19, 2010

A Contemporary Kabbalistic Kabbalat Shabbat: Shir Yaakov & The ADVA Network Reunion

Hi folks, Shabbat shalom.

I've mentioned before that I'm a fan of Shir Yaakov Feinstein-Feit and his many musical adventures. He's a deep and soulful guy. For this week's 'get in the Shabbat groove' music, I want to share a lovely Shabbat service that he uploaded to Soundcloud. This is a wonderful example of where a Jewish community can go with Shabbat service that includes instrumentation but isn't a folk-pop guitar focused songleader or piano accompanied communal sing (not that I have an issue with that style). It's something else entirely and not something that can be easily replicated on your average Shabbat. But it really took my breath away and dropped me right into a Shabbat zone in the middle of a work-a-day Tuesday. Wish I was there.

Here's the short description Shir Yaakov's provided on SoundCloud. After the player, is a longer explanation of the event and how the service was conceptualized and planned.

"Friday, November 12, 2010 about 100 alumni of the ADAMAH Jewish Environmental Fellowship and the Teva Learning Center joined their hearts and voices together in prayer at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center"

ADVA Reunion Kabbalat Shabbat 2010 by shiryaakov
Shir Yaakov - "Two years ago the ADVA Network was combined to bring together alumni from two programs of Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center: the ADAMAH Jewish Environmental Fellowship and the Teva Education Center. (Adva means ripple in Hebrew.) I lead Kabbalat Shabbat for our Reunion last year but didn't post the whole service. I posted almost all of this year's service, except one song which became very loud and overloaded the recording.

For the first time this year there were three Friday Night davvenen options: orthodox, traditional egalitarian w/o instruments, and the service I led. This gave me more freedom to move away from the traditional matbeah and develop a kabbalah-inspired form. It was parshat vayetzei, where Jacob has the dream of the sulam/ladder, so I built the service around the sefirot in the Tree of Life array....

The first song we sang — Hareni Mikabel Alai/Dear Friends — corresponded to Chesed/lovingkindness. The matches liturgically with it's theme of love, and also with the essence of the Kabbalat Shabbat service, first developed by the Tsfat kabbalists; the Ariza"l (R' Isaac Luria) taught his students that taking on the mitzvah to love thy neighbor as yourself was a pre-requisite to prayer. Also, the traditional Friday Night service begins with Lechu Neranenah (Psalm 95); the letters of "lechu" — לכו — are an acronym for v'ahavta l'rei'acha kamocha, so I see this as a allusive correspondance. This simple, one part chant also, musically, corresponds to the simplicity of mitzad chesed in the Tree of Life.

I chose a two part, "digging" melody — Lulei Siroscha by R' Shlomo Carblebach — for gevurah/strength-limitations. I wanted to use two-part melodies for mitzad gevurah, seeing as the left-side has the aspect of duality and judgement, sifting. This is apparently one of the only Carlebach niggunim that are still sung in the yeshivish world because he composed it before leaving Lakewood.

As I mentioned above our three-part melody is not in the recording because it became too full and loud for the recorded. I used another Carlebach niggun — Ki Va Moed, which is often sung to Psalm 96 on Friday nights. It's in a major key, and it's three parts allude to the balance, integration and harmony of tiferet/compassion-beauty.

For Netzach/endurance-victory, we return to the simple, one-part chant Yachid Ge'eh. I composed this on 18 Elul, the birthday of the Ba'al Shem Tov. The liturgical source is Ana B'choach (Tefilat R' Nechuniah ben Hakana) and we repeat the work zochrei/rememberers. Memory is linked with netzach and this piyyut has the supplicatory tone of Moshe, who often is voiced in the text as an interceder, and is linked with this sefirah.

Hod/glory-submission comes from a root meaning thankfulness, so I chose Modeh/Modah Ani as the text and this two-part melody to correspond with the side of duality. I also chose this (and other melodies) knowing they'd be familiar to the group I was praying with.

Yesod/foundation was linked with another composition of mine (written 2 Elul 5769); another three-part melody, as yesod is the synthesis of Netzach and Hod. Shabbat is often linked with malchut, however, I placed the two parts of Lecha Dodi there.

I had planned a longer meditation for ma'ariv, but as you can here, this part of our service went much longer than I'd expected.

The musicians involved were:
Cassia Arbabi, violin
Jonathan Dubinsky, percussion
Shir Yaakov Feinstein-Feit, guitar, vocals
Ilan Glazer, percussion
Joanna Kent Katz, harmonica
Rebecca Lemus, clarinet
Elisheva Margolis, flute
Yoshi Silverstein, octave mandolin
Tali Weinberg, vocals
Casey Baruch Yurow, mandolin

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