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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

 
A MUSICAL ROSH CHODESH

Meir Glaser & Yitzchak Miller, Rosh Chodesh in Jerusalem

What a lovely gift the good L-rd has given us, when every month we are renewed with Rosh Chodesh - the beginning of the New Month. This is a semi-festive day, on many accounts. In the Beis HaMikdash, the Holy Temple, a Korban Musaf [additional sacrificial offering] was brought, and the Levites sang Shira. Hallel prayers are recited, and our meals are a bit more lavish than those of a regular weekday. Indeed, we find in sefer Shmuel [I Samuel, Ch. 20] that King Shaul held a festive meal on Rosh Chodesh. People would visit the Navi on Rosh Chodesh, as on Shabbos, as we find in Melachim [II Kings, Ch. 4].
Although work is permitted, it is advisable to avoid strenuous work, and women do not engage in weaving, stitching, embroidery and sewing; some also refrain from doing laundry.

In addition, Rebbe Shaul Yedidya Elazar of Modzitz says that Rosh Chodesh shows that the Jewish People are above time. Hashem gave the power to the Jewish People to sanctify the New Month, meaning that He placed time in their hands. They are thus above time.

The joy and the festivity of Rosh Chodesh are associated with our Hallel prayers, which include the verse: "This is the day which G-d has made, let us rejoice and be happy in it" [Tehillim, 118:24].

With this in mind, a new-old "tradition" has begun to spread, where some Rosh Chodesh minyanim have started to daven accompanied by live music - usually guitars, but they can also include accordions, keyboards, tambourines, drums, trumpets and flutes. This was started by Reb Shlomo Carlebach, who often had musical accompaniment on special occasions such as Chol HaMoed. [See the Hallel of the famous Hoshana Rabba video here]. In addition for the many tunes he composed for Hallel, two of Reb Shlomo's notable compositions for Rosh Chodesh are his "Mizbeach Chadash," and "Ahavas Olam."

One of the foremost purveyors of this newly developing phenomenon is the Beirav Shul in Tzfat, Israel. The Carlebach-style minyan there, started by Shmuel Polsky [gabbai] and Meir Glaser [Baal Tefilla], has been going strong since 1997. Almost every Leil Shabbos [Friday night], the Kabbalas Shabbos crowd spills out to the street outside the Shul, for it is so crowded there!
Excerpted from their website:
"Rosh Chodesh: several times a year, the Beirav congregation welcomes the new month with a special Hallel prayer featuring guitars, drums, trumpets, flutes and magic. Rosh Chodesh Elul is an especially popular event.
Chol Hamoed Sukkot, Hoshana Rabba and Chol Hamoed Pesach: at Beirav, holiday Hallel prayers are magical and memorable, thanks to the scores of musicians who come to Tzfat especially to participate in them. In fact, busloads of Beirav devotees come from far and near to join in these unique, uplifting tefillot. Many of these special Hallel services have been recorded on video.

Here in Jerusalem, I have been privileged to have organized a number of these minyanim, on various Roshei Chodesh. In fact, the picture above is of Meir Glaser of Tzfat, who once came to Jerusalem to lead a Rosh Chodesh service [Yitzchak Miller, the other guitarist, davened Musaf] . I can only tell you that it is an experience that must be had, at least once - but [as they used to say about a certain potato chip] - you probably can't do it only once!

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