D’ror Yikra (Cry Freedom)
The first time I heard D’ror Yikra, it was on an Erev Shabbat in Rehavia (West Jerusalem). It was sung horribly by a friend of mine, who as it turned out, opened for me, doors into an incredible world for which I will be ever grateful. The tune is a powerful 10th century Iraqi-Jewish melody written by the Jewish grammarian Dunash Ben Lavrat with a Hebrew acrostic of his name embedded into the lyrics. The content is timely and profoundly moving. Its music, too, is a good example of powerful Sephardic stylings. There is no “C” or “bridge” section to the original tune, so we added a additional part. It has also brings with it the hope of the future redemption of Israel and a Messianic Age, similar, I feel, to the traditional prayer from the Siddur, “V’Techezena.” We only did the first 2 of a potential 80 million verses.
D’ror yeekra... L’ven eem vat V’yeentsarchem... K’mo vavat
Na’eem sheemchem... v’lo yooshbat Sh’voo v’noochoo...
D’rosh navee... v’oolamee V’ot yesha... ’aseh eemee
Neta sorek b’tock karmee She’ah shevat b’nai amee
- - - - -
(Cry out freedom... to sons and daughters, And he will keep you as the apple of his eye, Pleasant is your name and will not be destroyed
Sit (dwell) and relax/rest on the day of Shabbat.
Seek my sanctuary and my home, Give me a sign of deliverance
[and a sign of salvation make to me], Plant a vine in my vineyard
Look to my people, hear their laments)
Beige, Blue and Gold (The Cable song)
(True story—see to the right)
Buried (in)to the wall
And hanging high above my head
Is this woven steel cable
And this is what is said
It is pulled down in the daytime
It is pulled up in the night
And on its shoulders
Soldiers ride to safety in the fight
I'd forgotten how I loved you... But I loved you from of old
Pine and Dill and Cumin... Beige and blue and gold
And not too far beneath
On the hillside in the scrub
Are two-thousand year old tiles
You can kick as well as rub
Up and down the hills
Are these twisty windy streets
All the living quarters touch
And the past and present meets
Still can see that cable
Hang against the sky
It's silently a witness
Of a longing and a cry
That runs across this valley
That runs deep across this place
In years to come as well as done
This remains a sacred place
...Yerushalayim of old (Continued on right.)
Number Our Days
This song is inspired from Psalm 90 (“Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom”).
Teach us to number our days, Teach us to number our days,
Reach us in slumber (and) we’ll run unencumbered
Never to fall from your gaze...
(Beige, Blue and Gold, the Cable song Continued.)
A couple years ago we went back to visit Israel again. I saw old friends and realized slowly but powerfully, how the sites, the sounds, the smells, the kind of light in the area, the materials—and mostly the people who forever impacted me—had irrevocably changed me. I realized I was still there and that I never left. I also realized something about where I had lived (see below) and wanted to try to capture this all in a song:
When I lived in Jerusalem, I was situated in a very unique area that was yards from the Tomb of David, the Diaspora Yeshiva and the Kotel (Western wall). That area, Har Zion (“Mt. Zion”) was super rich in history where one could literally find spent shell casings from the '48 war along side p’sifas, (Herodian 2000 year-old mosaic tiles) on the ground in the weeds next to the beer cans. And I found tons of stuff there.
In my room for one inexplicable reason was anchored into the bedrock behind the wall, this huge braided steel cable that literally stretch across the valley. I never saw exactly where it ended on the other side and we hung our laundry to dry on that thing. Years later I did a little research and found out.
Bottom line: Everything in Israel—and especially Yerushalayim—is embedded with history and meaning, from the cigarettes sprinkled among the 2,000 year-old p’sifas / Herodian tiles, to the spent bullets from the 1948 war.
Years ago there was this movie on the inevitable Nuclear conflagration. I started thinking about all the people living on auto-pilot, going to work, coming home from work, living as automatons, exhausted, never living beyond the corporate nipple, never thinking about things beyond mortgage payments and Super Bowls. Blue tubes of TVs flickering in the dark streets in the silence at three am. Then a white flash.
- - - - -
Put your mind on automatic pilot;
And your body on cruise control,
And go thru the motions of another day—
Don’t let them drug your soul (o-ol)
Peel your eyes in the blackness;
And seal your dreams in a jar
And feel your way in a darkened room—
But don’t forget who you are (a-are)
Blue tubes flicker,
Rupturing the darkness
Structuring the silence
In a million living rooms...
Blue tubes flicker,
Novocaine the present
Portend for the future
Apocalypse is dancing,
Peel your eyes in the blackness...
A few years ago I was introduced into parts of the Shemoneh esrei and was inexplicably drawn to a phrase with the words, “V’techezena…” based on the sound alone. Later the actual meaning hit me with full force since I had been involved in something previous called Chazon and between that and its meaning felt compelled to learn more. Below is a transliteration and then a translation. I feel this is a prayer of hope.
Here's what it means: May our eyes envision/see
Your return to Zion in compassion, praise you G-d
(The) return of his Sh'china [presence] to Zion.
Check back for more tunes (there are hundreds and new ones in the works!