Jerusalem Music Festival

Tonite reminded me of one of the reasons I love living in Israel.  This evening, just outside our windows, the Jerusalem music festival began.  During this festival, ethnic bands are scattered throughout the old city, with Jewish bands playing in the Jewish quarter, Armenian bands in the Armenian quarter, and a smattering of middle eastern musical groups at Jaffa Gate and the rest of the old city.  As the visitor walks into the old city, he encounters one band after another like a sort of musical “smorgasbord,” filling the senses with all kinds of sounds.  Of course being a resident of the Jewish quarter, I am most interested in the Jewish bands.  In the Cardo a Jewish rock band was playing, and in the square, a great Jewish jazz band played.  Last year, we were regaled by the Gat brothers, Ehud Banai, Adi Ran, and by Ariel Zilber.  We will see who arrives this year, but it is bound to be fantastic!  A word to the spiritually wise; Jewish people are musical.  It is built into the Torah.  Aside from the letters of the Torah, unwritten musical cantillations are part of the written tradition of the Torah, guiding the reader in the public chanting of the Torah.  Perhaps that is why Jews are so prominent in music, both as instrumentalists and as composers – much moreso than in the visual arts, for example.  When we let go of our logical functions and let our mind wander in the realm of basic emotions, music is the language of choice.  The dynamic of musical notes is a language of its own, accessing the deeper recesses of our mind.  Musical melodies give us a sense of a spiritual journey taking place, arousing various emotions of love, fear and apprehension before resolving them at the end of the song with a soothing conclusion.  Music is a story without words, and it has accompanied the Jews throughout our spiritual journeys.

For this week’s tefila tip on how to pray with deep spiritual meaning, go to www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly  And if you’d like to explore Jewish meditation and meditational prayer on a deeper level, then have a look at www.jewishspiritualbooks.com  Finally, for a glimpse of Jewish life in Jerusalem for English speakers, check out www.chabadjerusalem.org  Have a great week and it’s time to start thinking about Pesach!

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