Thursday, October 16, 2008

Musician Lends His Creativity and Genius to Revive Levites Lost Musical Tradition


It is important to note that this "lost" tradition really is, except for a few tantalizing scraps of information, "lost." The attempt to recreate it is admirable, but, barring prophetic vision or new and previously undiscovered manuscript evidence, we cannot truly call this the Levite's tradition--but what's wrong with that?

If the tradition is lost, why not establish a new tradition? Is Judaism an artifact for a museum, or a living, breathing, religion of living, breathing people?

I am inspired by his dedication to bringing these traditions to our attention. I am so sick of the crazy people with the extremist views telling us that Jewish tradition is not a tradition with music or art or science in it. They are not correct when they make this assertion, and, more than that, they are setting a stumbling block before the blind. Music is our tradition and our heritage. Art is our tradition and our heritage. Science has always been our passion. There is nothing unJewish about any of it.

I think most of the problem the extremists (on both sides) have with Jews discovering their heritage is that it diminishes their control. They fear the fact that people may actually ENJOY praising Hashm if we were to reintroduce music and art. G-d forbid people don't see praising G-d as some awful obligation and as an actual pleasure. If this were to happen, people might actually come to synagogue and begin LEARNING about what our traditions REALLY are. If that happened, all these black-suited maniacs would lose their power!

Every day I pray for the Temple to rise again. Every day I pray for the day that I give my bread and the best of my food to a Kohan. Every day I pray for the renewal of respect for the Sanhedrin. We need to topple these "preist wannabees" before Judaism is completely ruined by them.

Jewish tradition is one of happiness and strength along with obligation and respect. We are not supposed to run around like Puritans in black and white clothes refusing to look beyond our own little world worrying that Hashm will smite us at every moment.

We are supposed to be an inspiration to the world! We are supposed to love Hashm, our people (ALL of them), and this wonderful world that Hashm has created for us--while living within the wonderful guidelines Hashm set up for our us. We can be Kosher without being cruel, we can be Shomer Shabbat without being exclusionary, we can be Tzniut without being judgmental, and we can be proud Zionists without offering excuses.

So, even though this musician isn't perfect, the guy is on to something here. Let's all make an effort to contribute to the Temple to come. Let us all take an inventory of our talents, of our riches, of our knowledge and, instead of holding it close and keeping it to ourselves, contribute it to the good of our Jewish brothers and sisters in making Am Ysrael Chai!


Jerusalem concert to feature fantasies of the Temple's lost music
Last update - 08:54 16/10/2008
By Tamar Rotem
Tags: Levites, Israel news

At the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, every day had a song of its own, played before morning prayers, says singer and instrumentalist Ilan Green, formerly a member of the group "Nekamat Hatraktor." Green will lead a performance of the Levites' lost musical traditions on Thursday night at Beit Avihai in Jerusalem.

"Music was a central element at the Temple," he says. "Every Shabbat and holiday was accompanied by music, to the point where the scriptures pose the question of whether we may replace a string on Shabbat, to which the unequivocal answer is yes."

"Could there be any stronger statement than that, that for music it is permissible to violate Shabbat?" he says.

Green plays in a number of ensembles, holds workshops on instrument building at his Moshav Sde Hemed home and heads the music department at Jerusalem's Musrara art school.

When Beit Avihai approached him two years ago about a potential musical project, he knew he was interested in investigating the instruments used in the Temple. Green's journey reflects the wider return to sacred texts in the Jewish music world, which includes artists such as Ehud and Meir Banai's renditions of liturgical songs.

Green says he does not consider himself religious, but he is very interested in the Jewish scriptures. He says that he discovered early on that this was barely charted territory.

In combing the Bible, Mishna and other texts, he discovered that aside from the familiar violin, trumpet and lyre, at least 30 musical instruments are mentioned whose sound and appearance are lost to history. Building on the few scraps of information he could find, and adding a heavy dose of guesswork, he reconstructed 16 of them from wood and metal.

Green says the mystery surrounding the instruments gave him a certain artistic license.

"It gave me complete freedom," he says, emphasizing that his project is not historical. "I'm not saying that these are the real instruments. My approach is artistic, and my interpretation is entirely personal."

Many of the instrument references came from Psalms, traditionally attributed to David, the harpist king, such as the enigmatic "For the choir director; on the Gittith" (Psalms 8:1).

"There's something mysterious in building musical instruments that just cannot be described," he says.

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