Keil Mistater (Shmueli Ungar)

April 16, 2021

This week’s song choice is the heartwarming Keil Mistater from Shmueli Ungar’s 2018 hit album Mach A Bracha, and was composed by the brilliant songwriter Hershy Weinberger. It was subsequently adapted into a beautiful a cappella version sung with the majestic Malchus Choir and is the version being used for today’s post. Taking the original masterpiece and making it into an a cappella version was quite the achievement; the end result effectively maintained the song’s original splendor. An impressive feat to say the least.

During the mystical Third Shabbos Meal – Seudas Shlishis or “Shaleshudis” – we find many enigmatic songs, but maybe none more so than Keil Mistater. This Kabbalistic zemer was composed in 16th century Tzfas by Rav Avraham Maimon, a talmid of the Ramak – Rav Moshe Cordovero. The numerous interpretations give us some idea as to the conceptual complexity that is contained within its verses.

In it, we navigate the Ten Sefiros, the metaphysical realms through which Hashem is revealed. Here we refer to Hashem as The Keil Mistater – The Hidden G-d (Yeshayahu 45:15). His ways are hidden, His reasons are hidden, His light is hidden. We also are shown that through Emunah, understanding is gained and Binah is acquired. We proclaim Hashem’s Greatness all the while acknowledging our complete lack of understanding into His Vastness. It is a study unto itself, one that is worth delving into – especially during Sefira!

The piyut’s profound depth is aptly matched by the song’s melody and brought to another level still, by the artist tasked with singing it. I would argue, therefore, that you could not have found a better singer to convey such powerful and lofty concepts than the incredible Shmueli Ungar. I will not be able to do justice to Shmueli’s immense talent and sheer ability in just a few short sentences. Suffice it to say, this warm, evocative, and emotional rendition will invoke awe and humility and will take you to transcendent heights, in a way only Shmueli Ungar can.

Wishing all of you a transformative Shabbos!

Lyrics:

רְחוֹבוֹת הַנָּהָר נַחֲלֵי אֱמוּנָה
מַיִם עֲמֻקִּים יִדְלֵם אִישׁ תְּבוּנָה
.תּוֹצְאוֹתֶיהָ חֲמִשִּׁים שַׁעֲרֵי בִינָה

קֵל מִסְתַּתֵּר בְּשַׁפְרִיר חֶבְיוֹן
הַשֵּׂכֶל הַנֶּעְלָם מִכָּל רַעְיוֹן
עִלַּת הָעִלּוֹת מֻכְתָּר בְּכֶתֶר עֶלְיוֹן
.’כֶּתֶר יִתְּנוּ לְךָ הַ

בְּרֵאשִׁית תּוֹרָתְךָ הַקְּדוּמָה
רְשׁוּמָה חָכְמָתְךָ הַסְּתוּמָה
מֵאַיִן תִּמָּצֵא וְהִיא נֶעְלָמָה
.’רֵאשִׁית חָכְמָה יִרְאַת הַ

מִי קֵל כָּמוֹךָ עוֹשֶׂה גְדוֹלוֹת
אֲבִיר יַעֲקֹב נוֹרָא תְהִלּוֹת
תִּפְאֶרֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל שֹׁמֵעַ תְּפִלּוֹת
.’כִּי שֹׁמֵעַ אֶל אֶבְיוֹנִים הַ

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