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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Niggun [from the Parsha] of the Week - Vayiten Lecha

[click to enlarge]

Vayiten Lecha HaElokim, miTal haShamayim
U’mishmanei ha’aretz, v’rov dagan v’sirosh

May G-d give you of the dew of Heaven
and of the fatness of the soil, and an abundance of grain and wine.”
[Breishis, 27:28].

These words from Parshas Toldos, which we just read this past Shabbos, are recited by Jews the world over on Motzaei Shabbos [the end of the Sabbath], either at the end of the Ma’ariv [evening] service, or following Havdala. They are actually the beginning of the prayer called, “Vayiten Lecha.” According to Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, “These verses, selected from the blessings of Yitzchak, Yaakov and Moshe, are most appropriately part of this service, for they instill confidence in G-d’s help and blessing into those who now enter upon the unknown that the new week is to bring. [Our verse,] 'May G-d give you…' - Unlike Esav, who, like yourself was promised an abundance of material wealth, but who was forced to rely upon himself, upon his own strength and prowess; you, Yisrael [Yaakov], are to look to G-d alone for your happiness and prosperity on earth.” [Hirsch Siddur, p. 552]

As we have mentioned previously, Rebbe Shaul Yedidya Elazar of Modzitz, the second Rebbe, composed hundreds of niggunim, many of which were very intricate and lengthy. It’s been told that once a “modern” rabbi asked him to “give” him a niggun, but one that was simpler. I don’t know if this was the one, but perhaps Reb Shaul’s Vayiten Lecha, composed in 5695 [1935], was it. It’s certainly one of the shortest of the notations of Modzitzer niggunim [see above]. It appeared on the second Modzitz Melave Malka album [issued in the 1960s].

In any case, this tune was also sung by Reb Shlomo Carlebach to Havdala [as popularized by his talmid, Ben Zion Solomon*], and also to the words HaBen Yakir Li Ephraim [My dear son Ephraim], which is part of the Musaf service on Rosh Hashana.

*NOTE: I've added a link to Ben Zion Solomon's name above. This video shows him making Havdala on Reb Shlomo's moshav, Meor Modiim. At the very beginning of the video, he's at the end of singing the first part of Havdala to the Vayiten Lecha niggun.

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