Shir Hashalom (MBD)

November 26, 2021

Have you ever been called a shining celestial spheroid? How about a glimmering gaseous globe? If I had to guess, I would imagine that you have not. However, it is likely that at some point in your life you have been called a STAR. This all-round compliment means that you’re a great person – that you’ve risen to the occasion, shone brightly, and have been generally wonderful to those around you. What a relief! That sure sounds much better than being referred to as a luminous orb, does it not?

But the truth is, each one of us is a completely unique and special sparkling creation. Each one of us is a bright light in our individual atmospheres – the custom character traits and circumstances we’ve been bestowed by Hashem to accomplish our exclusive task. Why am I telling you all this? Because in this week’s parsha, Parshas Vayeishev, we relive the events that led to the eventual exile of our ancestors – the effects of which we are still reeling from to this day.

וַיִּרְאוּ אֹתוֹ מֵרָחֹק וּבְטֶרֶם יִקְרַב אֲלֵיהֶם וַיִּתְנַכְּלוּ אֹתוֹ לַהֲמִיתוֹ

It is no secret that where sinas chinam lies, golus looms. In the aforementioned pasuk, we get a first-hand glimpse of this frightening reality. Concerning Yosef, the Torah records: And they saw him from a distance, and before he approached them, they conspired to kill him (37:18). The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh, R’ Chaim ben Moshe ibn Attar writes that the real tragedy is alluded to in just those three short words: וַיִּרְאוּ אֹתוֹ מֵרָחֹק – his brothers saw him from a distance. They saw him from afar – detached and remote – not as a brother, but as a stranger. They had their grievances against Yosef – some real and some imagined – but rather than confront him on the issues, they remained apart, maintained their distance and allowed the resentment to fester within until it became a full-blown enmity.

My dear friends, this is what sinas chinam is all about. Chazal teach us: Yerushalayim was destroyed because of groundless hatred (Yoma 9b). Fortunately, we are also informed of the antidote: Shalom. And though it sometimes seems as if peace only exists in some far-off dream, this week’s parsha – in which fantastic dreams are very much a common theme – we are shown that shalom is in fact a great dream to have. And all of this, ladies and gentlemen, reminded me of a song. While we don’t normally feature cover songs or adaptations, in the spirit of the above message, I felt that this one deserved a closer look.

In 1973, German composers Heinz Meier (who used the pseudonym “Henry Mayer”) and Georg Buschor wrote an innocent love song called “Herzen haben keine Fenster” (Hearts have no Windows). It wasn’t long before the melody had reached universal acceptance. By 1974, the hit song had undergone a handful of adaptations in an equal number of languages, one of which was American singer Bobby Vinton’s multilingual version entitled “My Melody of Love.” When rising Jewish music star – see what I did there? – Mordechai Ben David Werdyger got wind of the tune, inspiration struck:

“As I sat one bright, starry night gazing at the sky, Hashem put the thought into my head how we Yidden are likened to the stars. Hashem told Avraham Avinu, ‘Your children will be like the stars in the sky.’ And although there are trillions of stars in the sky, to the naked eye some seem to be brighter than others, because the closer we are to the stars the brighter they shine. The same concept applies to us: If we would be closer to one another, we would certainly see the bright star in everyone.”

Thus, with newly inspired lyrics in hand, Shir Hashalom was subsequently released on MBD’s third official album, Neshama – Soul in the summer of 1975. Sung in Hebrew, this Song of Peace tells the story of the stars – how some are small and some are hidden, but how they are ALL unique and special. Just as Yosef envisioned a future of achdus and unity, so are we to dream of a time of lasting harmony and peace. It is our hope and prayer that through shalom we will witness the actualization of this dream, and will finally behold the arrival of our Ultimate Redemption.

Wishing everyone a dazzling Shabbos!

Lyrics:

השמים מלא עם עננים
וניצוצות של כוכבים
סובבים את העולם
כוכבים כמו בני אדם
שמאירים את העולם
ויש אור לכולם

CHORUS:
אם נתחיל עכשיו כולנו יחד

עם אהבה בלב
נוכל לחיות בלי שום פחד
וגם נשכח את הכאב
רק אז העולם יהיה ביחד
ולא נדע מלחמה
הכל יהיה
כמו בחלום
כשיבוא שלום

יש כוכבים יותר גדולים
ויש מהם שלא נראים
אבל כוכבים כולם
אם נעמוד יותר קרוב
נוכל לראות את האור הטוב
ונאיר את העולם

CHORUS

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