Two Songs, One Message and the power of children singing

So I was sitting in my office one day with a teen who is involved in our High School A Capella group, Marak Hayom ( Soup of the Day).

 

We were discussing their upcoming repertoire for the year and I asked if she’d heard this version of Hashem Melech by the Y-Studs A Capella group.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhYnF3PjmAM

 

I start to  play the video and she says “This sounds familiar”. I say “Yeah, it came out a few years ago as an Israeli pop song by Gad Elbaz.” She says “ No, I’m pretty sure I had to learn this song for a 7thgrade Spanish class.”   After I rearranged my puzzled expression , she said she was pretty sure it’s a Mark Anthony song.

 

So as it turns out, she indeed had learned the song back in 2013 when Mark Anthony released it as Vivir Mi Vida.

 

I couldn’t believe it, so of course we immediately pulled up the YouTube video of Mark Anthony’s hit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXnjy5YlDwk.  In it, Mark Anthony stands in the middle of a city block singing a song to throngs of fans, dancing joyfully to the following message. Translated here from the original Spanish:

I’m gonna laugh, I’m gonna dance

[I’m gonna] live my life, la, la, la, la

I’m gonna laugh, I’m gonna enjoy

live my life, la, la, la, la

 

Sometimes rain comes

to clean wounds

Sometimes just a drop

can overcome the drought

 

And why cry, for what?

If it hurts bad, forget it

And why suffer, for what?

If life is like this, you must live it

 

In Gad Elbaz’s “Hashem Melech” he takes Anthony’s song about laughing and joy and turns the focus to our joy in God.

 

Hashem Melech

Hashem Malach

Hashem Yimloch L’Olam Vaed

 

Ahallal LaShem Lelokim

V’ Agadlenu B’Todah

 

 

 

Y V’ Hey’ V’Vav V’ Hey

Hashem Elokeinu

Hashem Echad

 

God was king, is king and always will be king

I will praise the name of God

And thank him with praise

Yud Hey Vav Hey, Hashem is our one God

 

I love that Elbaz takes Anthony’s sentiment of

 

“And why suffer, for what?

If life is like this, you must live it”

 

To

 

“This is God’s name and it is one”

 

Both are beautiful statements of acceptance and emphasize our  humility in this world. If we accept the things we cannot change, that this world is God’s and the fullness thereof, we might as well live and proclaim God’s oneness with joy and thanksgiving.

 

Sounds like mindfulness doesn’t it?  It really is and I had this inclination to teach it to the Shir Atid children’s choir here at Beth El.

 

In the past two weeks, I’ve reveled in watching them sing this song with ridiculous enthusiasm. You can see in their faces that this joy is uninhibited, unfettered by the many sources of stress we can carry every day as adults. They haven’t figured out yet that the world is cynical and depressing and sometimes feels hopeless.

 

They are full of optimism, love and passion for music and for their Judaism.  When I watch them I also think of the children singing on the streets with Mark Anthony, grabbing life and refusing to let go.  That is also a form of mindfulness.

 

Shir Atid will be singing this song at the next Shir Yachad on 11/2.

 

So enjoy these videos, let the music spark some joy for you and remember. Zeh Hayom Asah Adonai, Nagilah V’Nism’cha Vo. This is the day that God has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it.

 

Shabbat Shalom!

 

Hazzan Fradkin

 

PS:  It turns out that Mark Anthony borrowed it from Arabic singer Khaled which you can listen to here.

Posted by Hazzan Asa Fradkin

Hazzan Asa Fradkin is the hazzan at Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, MD. He is a native of Baltimore.

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