Songs of the Heart – Part 1

November 2, 2023

I write this with tremendous hesitation. To be honest, the fact that you are reading this means that I was able to push aside the little voice inside my head – and perhaps the voice of better judgment – telling me NOT to send this out.

For those who may not have noticed, I haven’t been able to publicly address or express the whirlwind of emotions or musical memories that were conjured up by the passing of some very special neshomas whom we have recently lost; larger-than-life personalities who have deeply affected our lives with their unique gifts.

It has always been my intention to use this platform to help inspire and uplift those of us who find it easiest to do so through the medium of Neginah. However, while I may have helped others publish their own public tributes, I, myself, have not found the words nor the emotional strength to do so. Maybe one day I will – but for now I am content with my lack of contribution.

R’ Menachem Irenstein, Dedi Graucher, Rebbetzin Malka Saks, Sheya Mendlowitz zichronom l’vracha – tehei nishmosom tzruros b’Tzror HaChaim.

Someone asked me today if all was quiet where I live in Yerushalayim. I knew what he meant – and I knew he meant well – but I was still unable to answer him in the expected “Yes, Baruch Hashem” manner. Under current circumstances, how could I? With the lack of peace, there hasn’t been “quiet” for weeks! Klal Yisroel is in a painfully prolonged eis tzoroh! Our sleepless nights are followed by days filled with urgent instructions for increased tefillah, coupled with the multitude of opportunities to help our brothers and sisters in this very serious time of need.

We have all been inundated by news articles and videos, WhatsApp statuses and viral clips galore these past few weeks, and I am not so foolish to believe that Jewish Musical Notes is anything more than some extra noise in your already noisy lives – an unnecessary nuisance if there ever was one.

But for people like me, music is not noise. For people like me, what goes on around us translates almost immediately into a holy tune whose words help us define and become inspired by that particular moment in time. The songs that have been playing in my personal soundtrack have acted as a musical subtitle to the historic events that continue to unfold before our eyes, and in these past few weeks alone, there have been many (and I do mean MANY) songs from which I have gleaned some much-needed chizuk.

And so, I am sending this out for us, those musical souls who utilize music as a tool to help identify and magnify the deep emotions and feelings that we experience day by day; the feelings of faith, of pride, unity and hope; the need for comfort from our pain, our fear and our broken heart. For us, music heals. It invites us to cry when we find it hard to shed a tear. It uplifts our souls that have been so weighed down by the magnitude of our emotions. And, most important of all, it renews our connection to the Borei Olam, and reaffirms our trust in Him and His plan.

It is my hope that these songs reach those who need to hear them, when they need to hear them, and that they give the listener the same strength and resolve that they afforded me when I needed them most.

🎵 Va’ani Tefilati – Composed and sung by MBD (Neshama/Soul, 1975) 🎵

Dovid HaMelech says of himself וַאֲנִי תְפִלָּתִיI am prayer, thereby teaching us that our tefilos are not merely something we say but rather are part and parcel of who we are.

The words of Dovid HaMelech, soul-stirringly sung by the incomparable Mordechai ben David Werdyger, allow us to feel what it means to daven with pure devotion. (Words from Tehillim 69)

וַאֲנִי תְפִלָּתִי לְךָ ה’ עֵת רָצון אֱלקִים בְּרָב חַסְדֶּךָ עֲנֵנִי בֶּאֱמֶת יִשְׁעֶךָ


🎵 Hamayim Shetafunu – Composed by Eli Klein & Yitzy Berry, sung by Shloime Gertner and child soloist Shalom Peretz (Single, 2018) 🎵

In his commentary on Tehillim (Eitz HaDaas Tov) – in what can only be described as a veritable prophecy for our times – Rabbeinu R’ Chaim Vital zt’l interprets the eight pesukim of kapittal 124 to be referring to Galus Yishmael, the exile and suffering of Klal Yisroel at the hands of the descendants of Yishmael in the period just before the coming of Moshiach.

Today, as we witness the evil attempts of the sons of Yishmael, it behooves us to recite this kapittal with the words of R’ Chaim Vital in mind, and to thank Hashem for not falling into the hands of an enemy – the Perah Adam – who wishes to destroy us.

May we all merit to see the end of this final exile with the coming of Moshiach, speedily and in our lifetime. Amein!

א) שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת, לְדָוִד: לוּלֵי ה’, שֶׁהָיָה לָנוּ יֹאמַר נָא, יִשְׂרָאֵל. ב) לוּלֵי ה’, שֶׁהָיָה לָנוּ בְּקוּם עָלֵינוּ אָדָם. ג) אֲזַי, חַיִּים בְּלָעוּנוּ בַּחֲרוֹת אַפָּם בָּנוּ. ד) אֲזַי, הַמַּיִם שְׁטָפוּנוּ נַחְלָה, עָבַר עַל נַפְשֵׁנוּ. ה) אֲזַי, עָבַר עַל נַפְשֵׁנוּ הַמַּיִם, הַזֵּידוֹנִים. ו) בָּרוּךְ ה’ שֶׁלֹּא נְתָנָנוּ טֶרֶף, לְשִׁנֵּיהֶם. ז) נַפְשֵׁנוּ כְּצִפּוֹר נִמְלְטָה, מִפַּח יוֹקְשִׁים: הַפַּח נִשְׁבָּר, וַאֲנַחְנוּ נִמְלָטְנוּ. ח) עֶזְרֵנוּ, בְּשֵׁם ה’ עֹשֵׂה, שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ


🎵 Acheinu – Composed by Yossi Green, sung by Avraham Fried (Forever One, 1983) 🎵

A tefillah that we say in Shacharis every Monday and Thursday, these lyrics have never held more relevance and significance than they do for us today. They are words of pain and of hope; pain for the members of our family – אַחֵינוּ – our brothers – who find themselves בַּצָּרָה וּבַשִּׁבְיָה – in distress and in captivity; and hope for their immediate salvation and return to safety.

אַחֵינוּ כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל הַנְּתוּנִים בַּצָּרָה וּבַשִּׁבְיָה .הָעוֹמְדִים בֵּין בַּיָּם וּבֵין בַּיַּבָּשָׁה הַמָּקוֹם יְרַחֵם עֲלֵיהֶם וְיוֹצִיאֵם מִצָּרָה לִרְוָחָה וּמֵאֲפֵלָה לְאוֹרָה וּמִשִּׁעְבּוּד לִגְאֻלָּה הַשְׁתָּא בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן


🎵 Ani Mamen – Composed by Yigal Calek, sung by The London School of Jewish Song (London Live, 1976) 🎵

The 12th of Rambam’s 13 Principles of Faith. But unlike the other Emunah imperatives, this one comes with an added stipulation: even though he may delay, still in all, I await his arrival….” Writes the Rambam (Yad Hachazaka, Hilchos Melochim 11:1), it is not enough to just believe in the ultimate arrival of Moshiach and in the days of utopia that will follow. Rather, we are obligated to constantly – every second of the day – await the imminent arrival of Moshiach as well! Both aspects are required in order to fulfil this fundamental mainstay of Emunah.

Yigal Calek introduces the song by saying, “We lived through generations of suffering, but we also lived through generations of hope and faith; through many generations of אֲנִי מַאֲמִין. Here we have a different Ani Ma’amin – it’s not as sad. It’s not only full of hope, but it’s very, very confident. It’s a march. And b’ezras Hashem, we shall march towards Moshiach Tzidkeinu.”

אֲנִי מַאֲמִין בֶּאֱמוּנָה שְׁלֵמָה בְּבִיאַת הַמָּשִׁיחַ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיִּתְמַהְמֵהַּ עִם כָּל זֶה אֲחַכֶּה לּוֹ בְּכָל יוֹם שֶׁיָּבוֹא

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1 Comment

  1. Yisroel

    Incredibly uplifting post! Thanks!!!


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