Habotchim (Amudai Shaish)

May 21, 2021

לז”נ שמואל דוב בער בן יעקב טובי ז”ל

🎶“KOHANIM!”🎶

Here in Eretz Yisroel, we have the privilege of being on the receiving end of Bircas Kohanim at least once a day. During Bircas Kohanim, the Kohanim repeat the exact same words that Moshe Rabbeinu gave to Aharon, when Hashem told Moshe how the Bnei Aharon should bless the Yidden. As you may have guessed, these words just so happen to be found in this week’s parsha, Pashas Naso.

Just before Sim Shalom, the Kohanim gather in front of the peroches and recite the threefold blessing for all to hear. In the past, we have spoken about the pesukim of Bircas Koahnim and have highlighted some of the special tunes that have been sung to its words. Today I wanted to focus on the third and final bracha – and more specifically, the Divine blessing of peace.

The third, and longest bracha is, Yisa Hashem Panav eilecha v’yasem lecha shalom – May Hashem turn His Face to you and give you peace. This is a bracha given to Bnei Yisroel that means that even when Hashem is angry with us, He will hold back His anger and that He will not turn away from us or punish us.

But it’s that last word that’s so key. The last word of Bircas Kohanim is shalom, peace: a blessing that we will have peace at home, peace when we leave home, and peace among ourselves and our gentile neighbors. Bircas Kohanim – like the last bracha of the Shemoneh Esrei – ends with the word shalom, because peace is the most important blessing of all. Even if we have the other two brachos, if there is fighting going on at home, work, school or in the streets, all the other blessings are worthless. Without shalom, we cannot fully enjoy anything else.

What’s more, you don’t have to be told where your health, food or livelihood comes from. We all know that everything comes from the Ribono Shel Olam – we daven to Him that He grant us health, wealth and success. However, it may not occur to us that we must daven that He grant us peace as well. Peace isn’t just something that exists in the absence of war and discord. Shalom, just like everything else, is a gift from G-d, and can only be given (or taken away) by the Master of the universe Himself. Such a powerful thought, especially during times of such open displays of hatred and violence.

While there are many songs out there to the words of the aforementioned Priestly Blessing, I wanted to choose a particular tune from Amudai Shaish that will help bring home today’s message. You see, on Wednesday night we learned of the passing of R’ Shmuel Borger z”l who was niftar at the age of 68. Not only was he a tremendous baal chessed and a devoted eved Hashem, Shmuel Borger will always be remembered by Jewsic fans as the primary composer and choirmaster of the iconic Amudai Shaish boys choir. Together with his co-choirmaster and producer Avraham (Avi) Sherman, Borger put together the choir’s debut record in 1977 which contained songs composed by Borger, Sherman, and famed arranger and musician Suki Berry.

Borger’s unique and creative approach to Jewish music (perhaps perfectly represented by the cover of their first release) led to seven highly successful albums, and commenced the careers of the likes of Shloime Dachs, Mendy Wald and Yisroel Williger. In fact, as we covered back in October, Avraham Fried’s debut as an adult soloist would eventually take place in 1980 on the Amudai Shaish Wedding record (Kol Sason V’kol Simcha) when he sang R’ Suki’s moving composition, Aruka (A Moment of Meditation).

Habotchim comes from the words of Tehillim kappital 125, a kappital that was written to help strengthen our belief in Hashem. This song, from their first album, was composed by co-producer Avi Sherman, and features adult soloists Berel Leiner, Rivie Schwebel and Bumy Schachter. The pesukim reassure those who trust in Him that Hashem is constantly watching over them. It promises us that the success of the wicked will be short-lived, and that the righteous will benefit from Hashem’s eternal goodness: which, as we have now learned, is the sacred blessing of shalom.

🎶“SHALOM!”🎶

Lyrics (Tehillim 125):
הַבֹּטְחִים בַּה’ כְּהַר־צִיּוֹן לֹא־יִמּוֹט לְעוֹלָם יֵשֵׁב
יְרוּשָׁלִַם הָרִים סָבִיב לָהּ וַה’ סָבִיב לְעַמּוֹ מֵעַתָּה וְעַד־עוֹלָם
וְהַמַּטִּים עַקַלְקַלּוֹתָם יוֹלִיכֵם ה’ אֶת־פֹּעֲלֵי הָאָוֶן שָׁלוֹם עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵל

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