It has been over a year since I last wrote an article. The reason? I only write from inspiration, and the inspiration to write a piece worthy of publication has been far from my reach. Until today, this Rosh Chodesh of Nissan, the month of our redemption.
Checking Yeshiva World News as I do too often during the day, I came across an article about a reality show called “A Jewish Star”. My curiosity aroused, I clicked on it and spent the next half an hour watching the first episode of auditions – and was left so inspired that I could not wait to sit down and write about it!
We are taught in the Zohar, that every creature in Hashem’s world says “shira” – their own, unique song. Every person’s soul, every creation’s spirit, calls out from within, wishing to sing to Hashem, to elevate itself to the highest levels of purity and cling to the Creator. Every song is unique, every tune special, each displaying the love and hate, joy and sadness, the duality of feelings and emotions that have for so long been gathering within.
It is that moment – the moment where the Neshama’s floodgates just burst open – that the Jewish people connect to their unique destiny and begin to travel along the road to redemption. “Shira Chadasha Shibechu Geulim” – “Those who were saved sang a new song”, the song of their collective Neshama calling out and affirming for the world to hear – we are alive! We have been through the best and the worst – and we always emerge with song on our lips!
From the shtetl’s in Europe to the villages of Sepharadic countries; from the Piyutim of the Chachamim to the Rebbe’s tisch; Klal Yisrael has never stopped singing. With eyes closed, arms embracing each other, swaying like flickering candles, illuminating the darkness of exile. Never stopping to sing, not for a moment forgetting their home, their destiny and their purpose, the Neshamot kept singing and singing, yearning for the moment in time where Hashem would hear their song once again.
While the Jewish world has always been connected to music and singing, we have seen that the world around us has taken this area of existence seriously as well. Numerous reality shows around the world allow people of any age and background a chance to display their Neshama’s song to the world. They are then judged and go through a weeding out process until a final talent is discovered, helping them reach their dream of singing on a level perhaps a little higher than before.
We have read about youth from our own community who have had to step out and try their hand at such competitions. We know how many of our friends and colleagues religiously watch these shows. We ourselves may even be awed by the raw talent, the compliments and criticisms, the standing ovations or the occasional boos from a disappointed crowd.
After thinking about this for so long, I cannot help but feel so sad, so scared, that people whose moral compass is so different than ours, whose ethical standards are so off when compared to our own, are actually the judges, the role models, the idols if you may, of this generation!
This group has finally given us a chance. A chance at showing our fellow Jews that they need not run to foreign fields, that we have green pastures with the flowing water of Torah, that we have a place for them to display their talent and be judged by people who are humble and God-fearing, albeit each in their own way!
Oh, just the thought that there are Jewish musicians who are respected enough by our children to feel honored to perform in front of is a blessing! The thought that these people spend their days and nights unlocking peoples Neshamot and soaring with them into the world of song with Kedusha and Tahara, are showing our people how to do the same! Let us lift our heads and feel proud that we have merited to such a beautiful thing in such dark times!
HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, the original Chief Rabbi of Israel, wrote that in the generation of our redemption, our artists – authors, poets, painters, musicians – will have to make a choice. A choice that will be so hard to make, yet so worthwhile. Our artists must make a choice to use their talents for holy purposes, to sing the name of Hashem, to inspire the Jewish people to return, and ultimately to usher in the era of our final redemption, let that be soon!
With tears of happiness in my eyes and feelings of joy in my heart – I thank Hashem for letting us see such a beautiful thing, and bless the judges of this new show – do Hashem’s work, let Him be your guiding compass, and inspire a generation of people who will aspire to be like you!
Please take a moment to watch the first episode below (and notice that the amazing kid who got through is named Yoni!) or visit www.ajewishstar.com for more information!