Community Blog A Reflection on “Sholem Velt der Gantser”

By Rabbi Nehemia Polen
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You have given the week the sweat of your toil.
But now, Man, you are a prince.
Come, beloved, and greet your Princess, your Sabbath rest.
Greetings to the whole world, in a spirit of fellowship.
Let our voices blend together in a heartfelt Shabbat song.
Quiet evening has descended, peaceful now is the hour.
Let us go, my beloved, to meet the bride and let us welcome the presence of Shabbat. (Translated from Yiddish)

 

Two brothers collaborate on a musical composition that not only speaks of Shabbat peace, it actually enacts it, conjuring a space of tranquility, equipoise and home-coming. The melody is stately, noble, unhurried—just as we wish Shabbat to be. We are brought into an ambience of nobility and grace, and we are assured by the lovely words that the peace we seek is already inside of us, waiting to be embraced with an abundance of trust and affection by the sacred Partner, Shabbat. The perfect blending of notes and lyrics channel a spirit of generosity, acceptance, and a palpable sense of arrival. The resonant, insistent cadence of sholem, sholem assures us that we are exactly where we want to be—securely in the domain of peace.

One line in particular leaps out, here translated as “Let our voices all blend together/ In one sweet Sabbath song.” Perhaps a bit more literally, one might offer the following: “Let us pour ourselves together/in an open-hearted Sabbath song.” The Yiddish tsuzamengisen is “to pour liquids together.” This so beautifully captures the ideal of souls melding together through the medium of music. These two brothers have brought to life the vision we strive for—universal peace, as realized through practices such as Shabbat, and enhanced through the miraculous vehicle of music perfectly crafted to capture mood and convey the evanescent spirit of sacred time.


Rabbi Nehemia PolenRabbi Nehemia Polen is Professor of Jewish Thought at Hebrew College in Newton Centre, MA.

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