Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Melody in His Soul – The Dancing Man
Everything changed in a flash of Divine intervention. "You turned my mourning into dancing for me; You loosened my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness" (Tehillim 30:12). It was then that I heard the recording that shifted the world and changed my life.
(You can hear that recording, with much of it translated into English on the page, here. A few highlights are below as well.)
The Kol Israel (Israel Radio) microphones held by the Israeli war correspondents were picking up the voices of battle and the commands and instructions of the commanders...
Then the microphones pick up the following voices. Amidst intermittent bullet fire one hears General Uzi Narkiss asking breathlessly, "Tell me, where is the Western Wall? How do we get there?"
Israeli radio correspondent Yossi Ronen continues with following hesitant and breathless words, "I’m walking right now down the steps towards the Western Wall. I’m not a religious man, I never have been, but this is the Western Wall and I’m touching the stones of the Western Wall," and his voice trails off into a silence of awe.
In the background one could hear hoarse voices of battle weary soldiers screaming, "Shehechiyanu v’kiyimanu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh -- Blessed are You, L-rd G-d, King of the Universe, Who has sustained us and kept us and has brought us to this day." As Yossi Ronen and others answer "Amen," Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the Chief Rabbi of the army, declares, "Baruch ata Hashem, menachem Tzion uvoneh Yerushalayim (Blessed are You, who comforts Zion and builds Jerusalem)," and again a loud and hoarse "Amen" is heard. At that point some of the soldiers begin to sing Israel's National anthem, ‘HaTikva,’ next to the Western Wall…
That shofar sound was the most dramatic thing I had ever heard in my young life at that point and I felt that call in every fiber of my body. I felt the earth and everything I had known shift underneath me and suddenly things were crystal clear and pure. The shofar began a melody in my soul that would not allow itself to be quelled. I knew then like I hadn't really known anything before that time, that I would, one day be able to call myself a Jerusalemite. Nothing was clearer and nothing was more imperative.
It took too many years but I fulfilled the beginning of my vow (the rest of the vow included being able to dance with all my family in the Temple courtyards). The melody of that shofar blasts resonates in my soul every day I walk into the Old City of Jerusalem. It is that melody that seems to anchor my soul in the vision of what could be, what will be and what has already begun to be.
Early in the day I saw an older man walking across the square and stop when he heard the music. He turned to two strangers who were walking in the same direction, grabbed their hands and started dancing with them. They danced but soon left him, yet he continued to dance alone. Very quickly several other people joined him in a circle. When they eventually left he continued to dance on his own until he was joined by others. When one disc had ended and there was a pause before the next music disc was put on, he still continued to dance. It was obvious that the melody he heard was not coming from the speakers. A group of young secular children walked by and smiled at the dancing man. He beckoned to them to join him and they hesitated. They did not hesitate for long as they probably saw the melody burning in his eyes and another circle began to form.
The melody that began in the mighty blast of the Shofar at Mount Sinai and that I heard from the shofar of Rabbi Goren forty years ago and that ran through the soul of this dancing man was the very "song of Hashem."
As the Psalmist writes in Tehillim 137: "How shall we sing the L-rd's song (the song of Hashem) in a strange land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its strength. If I do not remember you, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I don't prefer Jerusalem over and above my chief joy."
It is a song that cannot be sung in a "strange land," and at times is forgotten. Yet those that have not forgotten the melody will find themselves drawn back to the land of their forefathers and brought up into the Gates of Jerusalem. "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the House of Hashem!' Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem." (Tehillim 122:1-2)
Those that hear the melody will continue to withstand the abuse and obstacles raised by those that are deaf to the melody. Those that dance to the melody will continue ignore the ridicule of those that after so many years of exile have forgotten how to recognize the melody that even they themselves hear it. On this Jerusalem Day we will be singing the song of Hashem in that "City that has been reunited" (Tehillim 122:3), and we will dance to that melody even though we are very aware that the dance has just begun.