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Am Yisrael sings: the music in the synagogues

Reading motivated by the Torah and prayers was an important, immanent element, in the imparting of the Torah and midrash and Sages went into the depth of the importance of the Naima which served as an important means of sharpening the memory and flourished from the Mishna period onwards

A reading embedded in the Torah. Illustration: depositphotos.com
A reading embedded in the Torah. Illustration: depositphotos.com

Didactic-religious aspect

The synagogue was also used as a place for Torah reading, study and seminary. Reading the Holy Scriptures in public, and in particular the cycle, was accompanied by singing and singing. It was mainly established already in the first century AD, however, its main flowering - spread during the Mishna period and onward, that is, from the generation of destruction onwards.

    This motivated reading was an important, immanent element in the imparting of the Torah and midrash and Sages went into the depth of the importance of the Naima which served as an important means of sharpening the memory. This is how, for example, Rabbi Yehoshua, who is known to be among the Levite poets, one of the leading sages in the second generation before the Holocaust, noted: "Everyone who learns the Torah and forgets it, is like a woman who gives birth and buries it." And Rabbi Akiva replied to him, as a complement to his words and strengthened by the examination of public teaching: "A singer every day a singer every day" (Talmud Babylon, Sanhedrin Cet, end of p. XNUMX-head of p. XNUMX). Rabbi Akiva, one of the greats of the generation, who was present in the world of the synagogue, uttered a teaching that is firmly rooted in the landscape of Torah learning, in light of the closeness of the above passages, that is, if you learn Torah with pleasure, you are guaranteed not to forget it. And this instruction of his became an institutional foundation in the Sage tradition.

    The sages of the third century AD particularly highlighted this teaching and demanded the power of music as a huge force, as a means of teaching, the strings of midrashim. And in the name of Rabbi Yochanan, one of the greatest of the generation of sages who arose for the people of Israel in the third century AD, something was said that, in my humble opinion, served as a trumpet and stage to raise an idea that is very fundamental in the whole issue under discussion. Rabbi Yochanan said: "Anyone who sings in a non-pleasant and different way without singing, about whom the scripture says: 'And I also gave them bad laws' (Ezekiel 25:XNUMX) (Talmud Babli Megillah XNUMX p. XNUMX). These things, not only that, may teach us how far the Sages' knowledge of the importance of music as a tool, as a means of teaching, of studying the Torah (for memorization and memorization) reached. In other words - music that touches holiness, and surpasses it - before us is a binding instruction, a respectable regulation that was borne by the mouth of the greatest of that generation, and thus it takes on a special dimension and a special status. And yet: from the spirit of the installation I learned that before us there is a clear tendency of the Sages to establish rivets regarding the necessity and necessity of music as a very important element in the entire religious being that prevailed in the synagogue and even outside of it.

    The seriousness of things may even indicate a special situation, a special reality, the result of the acute crisis that befell the Land of Israel during this period. This crisis gave its signs in the Jewish community, when it, or at least a part of it, did not fulfill mitzvot and religious obligations. Sages were particularly sensitive to this issue, and especially in those days when they were not as good as they were. And how interesting it is to the subject of our discussion, that the sages chose as a musical means to bring, among other means, the situation to its correction and improvement.

    This period brought before the public for the first time the figure of the "interpreter", who demanded the words of the preacher, and brought to the public gathered in the synagogue. "Interpreters" used to spice up their words with rhymes, to find clues to the hearts of the listeners and, for example, from the mouth of Rabbi Yossi Mam'on in the Tiberian Synagogue to the priests: "Why should I come to look at the Oriyata (do not look at the Torah) / No Yahvet to look at the XNUMXth of Mentah" (Talmud Yerushalmi Sanhedrin chapter II XNUMX p. c). And about them the Midrash said in this language: "These are the interpreters, who raise their voices in song to make the people hear" (Kohelat Rabbah XNUMX:XNUMX). That is, time and again music was used as an important means in the sanctified system of the synagogue.

    This issue brings us back to the problematic question: Did the Jews have music notes? We have already dealt with this question in one of the previous chapters and sought to show that there is no authoritative, precise and clear information on this. But since the discussion was about the music of the temple earlier, and now the topic under discussion is the synagogue, it is appropriate to refer to new testimonies in this regard.

    Well, only in the Talmud does a terminus technicalus appear under the name "Pisuk Tamiim, or "Tami Torah". These terms were used by the sages of Babylon, with the exception of only one mention of the Land of Israel, and were dated to the third century CE, in terms of a clear term.

    It is true that medieval commentators such as Rashi, the Rash, Rabbi Ovadia of Bartanura and more, tended to see the above terms as related to some musical writing. However, let's not forget that this is a commentary that from the date of the discussed Talmudic memorials to the date of this commentary, more than 600 years have passed - a period of time that was not only long and protracted, but witnessed the development of poetry in the synagogue and many changes in the state of Judaism. And more than that, we are talking about Judaism that is widespread among different countries and the commentators of the Middle Ages covered not one but two customs and ways that were embedded in the European countries of those days. If so, it seems to me that any anachronistic projection backwards, from the medieval period to the Talmudic period, is careless and irresponsible from the historiosophical point of view.

    More than that, the examination of the Talmudic context within which all the aforementioned references were settled clearly shows that this is some means of understanding the Bible. And indeed, although in a later period the term "flavors" included a musical meaning up to our present day, the Talmudic references as they are, on the background of the narrative-descriptive background from which they are taken, do not provide us with a reasonable and sufficient basis to assume that indeed we are talking about musical notes.

    It must be assumed, both with regard to temple music and synagogue music, that it is a study method based on oral tradition. A tradition, despite its secrecy during the Second Temple period, and despite its explosion during the Mishna and Talmud periods, Sages have not yet chosen any graphic method to accurately record its teachings. This assumption, not only does not harm, even if it is, the actual existence of the music that prevails in the synagogue, but on the contrary: it gave it a special dimension and touch, such that the majesty of a magical sanctity is overshadowed.

    the shofar

    In the previous chapter, I sought to highlight the extent of Ribaz's contribution to imparting the sounds of the shofar among the Jewish public, despite the destruction of the house and the transformation of this instrument into the one and only one that the synagogue was blessed with.

    The shofar, whose sounds were heard mainly on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, received during the period of the Mishnah and the Talmud the deep symbolism of the binding of Yitzchak according to the sources that put the following sentence as spoken by the hero: "Blow a ram's shofar before me so that I may remind you of the binding of Yitzchak ben Avraham and I am upon you as if you had bound yourselves before me ..." (Talmud Babli Rosh Hashanah XNUMX p. XNUMX- p. XNUMX), in terms of an intrusive and powerful statement that gives both the shofar and the ram (horn of the ram = shofar) and not to mention the linguistic context between shofar and shofar.

    It should be noted that the shofar sometimes took on the function of the trumpet which was accepted in the days of the Second Temple, and for example, to order the entrance and exit of Shabbat with blasts, a role that is unique to the cantor of the Knesset. Rabbi Shimon ben Gamaliel the president emphasized that compared to the Israelite custom of blowing the shofar six times, the Babylonians blew only five.

    The period after the destruction of the Second Temple emphasized the duty of each and every person in Israel to commit to the takiya, while during the days of the XNUMXnd Temple, the takiya in the temple was reserved only for those in authority. This obligation, the Sages argued, was fulfilled despite the fact that "and not everything is in the blowing of the shofar..." (Talmud Babli Rosh Hashanah XNUMX p. XNUMX), and even in the words of Rabbi Shimon ben Gamaliel in the general instruction that "the voice (of the shofar) should be thin" Or thick, or a bundle - kosher, that all the voices are melodious (in the shofar)" (ibid.), we can learn about the difficulty in producing specific sounds from this instrument, the shofar, and therefore all of them are kosher. This is a kind of revolution with an inclusive, popular, "democratic" meaning. And the fact that the production of beautiful sounds from this instrument, from the Shofar, was in terms of both art and craftsmanship, should not be used as an excuse by those who sought to exempt themselves from the impeachment. It is therefore a musical instrument, no doubt, with which the Sages sought to bring all Israel's creatures closer to the diverse world of religion, and this is definitely a kind of social reform that touches on a quiet revolution. Indeed, the sources tell us about a father teaching his son and instructing his students to blow the shofar.

    This testimony, and especially the sipa in it, was an unprecedented innovation. A testimony that has no equal from the popular aspect in the Second Temple period, and its appearance in the Mishna period is like the Sage's recognition of the importance of this tool.

    The many instructions related to the shofar - the way it is blown, the manner of handling the instrument (the shofar) and its maintenance, may bring us closer and closer to the assumption that this instrument, not only acquired its world during the period of the Mishna and the Talmud, but that the Sages made sure to maintain certain rules attached to it so that it would not become This is to Hokkah and not among the general public who dealt with it, and this is because it is not about the music of the temple, in which special supervisors were separated from the instruments, but at a time when the Sages demanded that the instrument be made of public significance, for the use of everyone in Israel.

    From the sages we hear about a discussion of special cases such as - coating the shofar from the inside or in the "place where it is placed" (Yerushalmi Talmud Rosh Hashanah chapter XNUMX XNUMX p. XNUMX), plugging a hole in the shofar and more. And it is interesting to know that the sages permitted the performance of such and similar actions under one express condition: that this would not harm the sound of the shofar, and hence could delay the blowing. And thus teach us about the great importance they attributed to its natural sounds. Therefore, for example, it was allowed to brush the shofar with water or wine so that its voice would be clear.

    We have already insisted several times on the fact that producing Arabic sounds that are pleasant to the ear from the shofar was a completely difficult task, and only a few, talented and skilled ones, succeeded in doing so. And now, during the period of the Mishna and the Talmud, when the condemned instrument became a folk instrument, there was a fear that the strumming in the sacred classes and ceremonies would turn into one big cacophony. Sages were willing to sacrifice the sonority of the arab at the expense of the social-public goal, but despite all this, the Sages asked not to damage, as much as possible, the sound effect of the shofar, and as evidence of this the aforementioned traditions settled in the sources.

    Another reference, which indicates the importance they attributed to the shofar, was found in Rabbi Elazar's article: "And the tena, the shofar, and all its instruments delay the Sabbath" (Talmud Babli Shabbat XNUMX p. XNUMX), as the rulings of the days of the Second Temple, that musical instruments delay the sacrifices.

    The shofar's place in a more dignified ceremony was during a fast, when then it was not the priests who blew but the priests who blew according to the instructions of the Knesset cantor.

    In the margins of the discussed section, the question came up again - is the main thing to sing with the mouth or with the instrument? This question became more acute in light of the importance attributed to the Shofar. Well, we can say in a general sentence, because during the Mishna period the main part of singing was with the mouth and not with the instrument. In the synagogue, vocal music was the main thing and not an afterthought, and next to it came the horn of the shofar. This constellation is in no way similar to the musical system used in the second temple.

    Third century AD onwards

    As mentioned, we saw that various musical effects were mainly the property of the third century CE and onwards, and this time we opened with an external testimony, the testimony of Clemens of Alexandria, that the year 202 CE found him in the Land of Israel, where he had the opportunity to listen to Jewish music and read the Holy Scriptures. This music attracted his heart to such an extent that he found it to be the most suitable for prayer and thanksgiving in the Christian church much, much more than the pagan Greek music.

    I have no doubt that Greek music, which was saturated with a rich variety of musical instruments, was much more developed than Jewish music. If so, what was the use of this sage (Clemens of Alexandria) in his regulation?! I think so, and I rely on the Sipa in his words, emphasizing the pagan Greek music. In other words, his claim was not based on a purely musical basis. It seems to me that Clemens was influenced precisely by the musical ritualism that is widespread in the synagogue - "and all the people sing" as a ritual that symbolized holy unity. And it was this experience that helped him, apparently, to formulate a philo-liturgical-Jewish and anti-instrumental Greek opinion. Moreover, we cannot rule out the possibility that the music he heard also had a very nice musical effect, which probably strengthened his above-mentioned argument and demand.

    And it is interesting for the matter in the same matter Netaim, that as for the prayer, the sources of the period in question emphasized that the voice of the Arab in the prayer, an examination of necessity is. These praised Israel sitting in the synagogue and praying: "In the direction of knowledge, with one voice, with one opinion and taste" (Song of Songs Zota 16:15). Then God listens to their voice. And it is important, the tradition testified, that the hallelujah should be read "with one mouth, with one voice, with one voice" (Song of Songs Rabbah 94:XNUMX). In other words, the unity and uniformity that characterized the music is what paved the way to the heart of God. And even the Midrash, in another place, which he emphasized - "because your voice is evening in prayer" (Mikhilta Darbi Ishmael, in Shelah II, Horowitz-Rabin edition, p. XNUMX), is well rooted in the landscape of the time and the subject discussed here.

    The sources of the period demanded much, much more prominently from the second century CE, about the singing of the angels, the angels who sang in honor of God. And we have already dealt with this topic, we were highlighting the temple-of-above as an entrance to the temple-of-below. And here, in general instruction - the army of angels as an entrance to the army of worshipers, when these and those raise the horn of the musical effect.

    The sources of the period are full of praise for poetry in general, for everything special embodied in it - the heavenly power and associated it with the "Athalta Dagaulah". Rabbi Tanchuma said that "the time has come for Israel to sing hymns to God" and in the continuation of the above-mentioned midrash the verse appeared: "The time has come for the Temple to be built" (ibid. 28-25) as a very interesting and significant idea that the renewal of the Temple and the presence of the Shekinah in place will take place if Let Israel sing to God. And in this spirit we will understand the midrash: "The shield of your voice - in the houses of churches" (Pasikta Darev Kahana the words of Jeremiah 31). And next to him, from the mouth of Rabbi Elazar ben Fedet: "I was a dove in the feasts of the rock... make me hear your voice... this is the singing... because your voice is a night... - this is the song..." (Song of Songs Rabbah XNUMX:XNUMX).

    Such a statement is certainly revolutionary in the subject of our discussion.

    Sages of the period in question often used the term "Kales", an examination of joy that includes singing praises to God. And lest this term, which does not appear in the Bible and in sources prior to the third century, originates from the Greek = "kalos"), whether from a religious situation or from a secular conjuncture.

    The sources decorated the kilos as pearls of praise of holiness, such as the belief that the ministering angels pray to God, only after the people do so. Or: "Each kilos and kilos that Israel gathers to God, God sits between them" Song of Songs Rabbah 21:XNUMX). And to such a degree of faith, that a person is not born except to curse God, and he who curses is guaranteed eternal life.

    There is no doubt that sages were influenced by the custom that was very prevalent in the period in question. This was the custom of the honors that the citizens of the cities had to honor the local rulers. And lest from here a strengthening of the aforementioned Greek nomenclature. That is, this term became well known to the Jews and the Sages sought to use it for their own purposes: to increase the awareness of motivated prayer among the Jewish audience. In other words - as a foreign secular custom, God must be seen as a ruler who demands that he be respected in "Kilosin".

    It should be noted that even the "voice" earned a respectable place among the sages of the period in question. The voice, its combinations, its distribution, its height and its strength, and there is no difference, this position is suspended in the air. It was deeply rooted in the landscape of the time and the subject discussed here.

    At the end of this section, I would like to trace that phenomenon, that is, why precisely in the third century AD and onwards, the importance of music in the context of prayer in the synagogue stood out and increased, much, much more than the period that preceded it.

    It seems that the key to this must be sought in the special conditions of the time and in Judaism. The period in question programmed as the period of Roman Anarchy. Knew many crises: military, political, social, economic and even religio-cultural. The Land of Israel suffered quite a bit from the bad fruits of this period: rampant inflation, heavy tax burden, abject poverty, decline from the land and more. It is possible, even if very narrowly, to assume that the Sages sought a way to emphasize the value of prayer in the synagogue, which prevents the public from being trapped in the aforementioned precipice around the religious center in question. And it is also possible to assume that the Messianic revival of the period in question was involved in one way or another in the topic under discussion. However, again, this is only a hypothesis.

    In conclusion, it was said that the institution of the synagogue, which arose at the beginning of the Second Temple, and the prayer as an important element in it, i.e. the motivated prayer, which is established towards the end of the Temple days, became especially important from the destruction onwards, as a sort of inheritance of the Temple, and then the music, the liturgy, which Like it as an element that captures and unites the public.

    More of the topic in Hayadan:

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