Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Not One of the Shiva Devarim

This NY Newsday article on 'hip' Jews includes the following:
"Annette Ezekiel, of the klezmer rock band Golem, comes from a nonreligious background, but says she is now studying ancient Jewish texts, along with Yiddish, to deepen her appreciation of the music. 'My Yiddish teacher says that you don't have to believe it, but you have to know about it.'"
If some of the "frum artists would have taken a look at the context of their source material before they recorded a lyric, they might have avoided the embarrasment of having recorded a pasuk ("Chazak") talking about Jews encouraging each other to worship idols, or a pasuk ("V'haya Machanecha Kadosh") about the obligation of a soldier to carry a shovel to war in order to dig a latrine outside of the encampment. The words in both cases sound nice when viewed in isolation, but the context is indisputable.

For that matter, looking at the text might help artists to realize that they are omitting words and thereby making their lyric meaningless. For instance, there is a popular version of "Hamalach Hagoel" which omits the words "viykareh vahem sh'mi." As a result, the lyric on the high part, "V'sheim avosei ..." bears no connection to the lyric on the low part and is essentially meaningless!