Shir Shel Shavua : Issue 16

August 25, 2023

Ki Tavo - An Evening Prayer with Cantor Zim

According to Ashkenazic tradition, there is a beautiful prayer added to the evening service during the weekday davening. Yiru Einenu is a liturgical chatima, or signature, concluding a lengthy passage entitled Baruch Adonai L’Olam.

The Baruch Adonai L’Olam prayer is likely familiar to those who of you who participate in our weekday evening Zoom services. It is a collection of 18 biblical verses which were added during the late Geonic period. This liturgy functioned as a shorter replacement of the evening Amidah. Folks, presumably working in the fields, could recite this selection instead of the Amidah as darkness descended. When the workers finally returned home, they would recite the full Amidah in the safety of their homes.

The concluding paragraph, called Yiru Einenu, includes heartfelt themes of redemption, kingship, and joy, which resonate for the Jewish parishioner during the regular week and, even now, as we approach the High Holiday season:

May our eyes behold, our hearts rejoice, and our souls exalt in Your true deliverance, when it will be said to Zion: “Your God has begun His reign.” “Adonoi is King, Adonoi was King, Adonoi will reign for ever and ever.” For the kingdom is Yours, and to all eternity You will reign in glory; for we have no king except You. Blessed are You, the King in His glory, will always reign over us forever and ever, and over all His creation.

The following rendition is a version of the tefillah as sung by our own cantorial superstar, Hazzan Paul Zim. This version represents a collaborative work by a number of talented musicians, all of whom were dear friends and colleagues of Cantor Zim. In particular, the piece is composed by Cantors Leopoldo Edelstein from Perth Amboy N.J. and, the one and only, Moshe Koussevitzky. The selection is orchestrated by Paul’s friend, Bob Resienman.

Any fan of cantorial arts will no doubt appreciate the vocal sophistication of coloratura and melisma chanted by our Hazzan. The piece interpretively begins in the classic ahavah rabba modality, and then offers startling modulations to the major key when announcing the arrival of the Kingship of God. This recording demonstrates our Cantor’s vocal flexibility and sensitivity to dynamic and pacing, while still engaging the congregation in passages which lilt and beg for us to join along inviting melody.

As we enter into Shabbat, please enjoy this Shir Shel Shavua. Don’t be surprised as the music indeed exalts your soul and enriches your heart!

Shabbat Shalom

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