Shalom, friends! This week I am going to focus my post on a specific type of Jewsic. For my first in depth post about Jewsic and its many different types, I decided to start with traditional Jewish music. Judaism is an extremely musical religion on many levels. Even when reading from the Torah, or Old Testament, we sing the words instead of just reading them aloud. In the printed versions of the Torah (rather than the actual scrolls that are read in synagogues each week) there are cantillation marks that represent the different melodies each word is sung with. These marks are known as trop in Yiddish, or ta’amim in Hebrew, from the word ta’am, which means taste. From what I understand, though I need to double check with my local rabbi, they are named “taste” because they are the figurative flavor of the text.
Traditional Jewsic is much more than just the melodic reading of the Torah though. Traditional Jewish music, to me, includes everything from prayers and hymns that are sung to traditional Jewish folk songs. What I really love about traditional Jewsic is that there are so many versions and variations of almost every traditional song out there. Even when singing the prayers (different from when the Torah is being read), every community, sect of Judaism, and sometimes even every person can have their own way of singing the prayers.
One of my favorite traditional Jewsic songs to sing and play is a version of the popular Jewish hymn “Hinie Ma Tov” which is made up of the first verse of Psalm 133. This is also the song I was teaching in the video from my first blog post. There are many versions and variations of this song, but the version that I like to play and teach is one created by Mikey Pauker (his music video is liked below). Mikey Pauker besides being the creator of this version of the song, was also the man who introduced me to Jewish song leading, but that’s a completely different post.
Before you listen to the song, I want to talk about the lyrics and what they mean. In Hebrew, the lyrics are “הִנֵּה מַה טוֹב וּמַה נָּעִים שֶׁבֶת אָחִים גַּם יַחַד.” These lyrics are pronounced “hinie ma tov u’ma-nayim Shevet ach-im gam ya-chad” and translate to “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” In Mikey Pauker’s version, he translates the words a little less literally to “How great it is for brothers and sisters to hang out on this day.”
I love this song for how simple it is, but also because I love the lyrics and meaning. I am all about peace and love, and this song really is just about hanging out and being peaceful. It is a great song and Jewsic staple. I may even consider uploading a video of me preforming this song in one of my future blog posts. Until then, I leave you with Mikey Pauker’s “Hinei Mah Tov (Eeoohh!)”