Reena (JEP Singers)

July 19, 2021

When Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim, He did not merely rescue a people and save a nation from slavery and torment; He was actually submitting us to a new process of creation. We were being given a completely new identity. When we left Mitzrayim and received the Torah, our hearts were aflame with a fire of love for Hashem and an unquenchable desire to receive His Land. Yetzias Mitzrayim was the metamorphosis from slave into a new entity called “Am Yisroel,” and our new collective soul would be inextricably bound to the teachings of the Torah and to the Land of Eretz Yisroel.

When the meraglim returned from their survey of Eretz Yisroel and submitted a negative report to their brethren, we, the Jewish people, blindly accepted their adverse view of the Land as fact. The words of the spies were taken as absolute truth to the point that our aversion to Eretz Yisroel had reached the very depths of our souls. It was then that our fledgling nation began to weep. Believing the account to be undeniably true dramatically altered our essential nature and ripped Eretz Yisroel out of the core of our true being. Am Yisroel had effectively severed their bond with Eretz Yisroel, something that will continue to torment us until the Final Redemption.

Yesterday, we sat on the ground and reminded ourselves of this dark moment of our nation’s youth, along with the many other gruesome events that were subsequently caused by this episode. However, the recitation of the Kinnos on Tishah B’Av was not just to remember our collective past, reflecting on the tragedies that have plagued our nation over the centuries. The purpose of the Kinnos was to regain and renew our outlook and perspective toward Eretz Yisroel – to engender deep and meaningful feelings toward Eretz Yisroel, so that Eretz Yisroel will once again become part of our spiritual composition.

Our avodah in reciting the Kinnos on Tishah B’Av and in reliving the tragedies of two thousand years outside our homeland was to forge a new spiritual bond with Eretz Yisroel. This renewed relationship is to be created through the expressions of longing and yearning to savor the grandeur and majesty of Eretz Yisroel. When all is said and done, the reason we read the Kinnos was to remind ourselves of this one foundational fact: We are Am Yisroel and we belong only in Eretz Yisroel.

Year after year, Moshe Hauben – one of the major masterminds behind the music and management of JEP, and himself a composer of many of our favorite JEP tunes – came across the words of Kinnah 31 and was intrigued. This particular kinnah recounts and contrasts the positive, happy events that occurred when we left Mitzrayim (characterized by B’tzaisi Mi’Mitzrayim), and the sad, mournful events that occurred when we were exiled from Eretz Yisroel (characterized by B’tzaisi Mi’Yeruslayim). By comparing the individual scenes and lining them up next to each other, the author of this kinnah dabs small paint strokes of both Galus and Geulah, until the whole panorama is clearly portrayed on the canvas of the page.

But then, the kinnah ends off with a tefillah of hope: Sason v’simcha, v’nas yagon va’anacha – b’shuvi l’Yerushalayim – Happiness and joy will accompany us and all crying and tears will leave us – when we return to Yerushalayim. The kinnah concludes with the great simcha and delight that we will experience when we finally return home – B’shuvi L’Yerushalayim – and it inspired Hauben to compose a triumphant, joyous niggun to these words. Reena was recorded on the first of four iconic albums in the Suki & Ding All Star series that were released between the years 1983 and 1987. Jerusalem introduced the series’ concept and featured some of the greatest talents in Jewish music singing songs of joy, praise, and longing for Yerushalayim.

After three music-less weeks, there is something wonderfully comforting about listening to a tune that combines Hauben’s hartzkeit, Suki’s eirliche arrangements and Ding’s proficient production, and is sung by the pleasant, harmonic tones of long-time friends and famed JEP duo Ali Scharf & Rivie Schwebel – truly a befitting way to mark the end of this bitter period of mourning. Just as we left Mitzrayim with music and glee, so too will we rejoice with simcha and song when Hashem takes us out of our current lands of exile and brings us back to our real homeland, Eretz Yisroel – to our real home, Yerushalayim. May it be today!

Wishing you a comforting Menachem Av

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