Hislahavus’ Review of Yankel Yankel

General, Reviews — By on June 12, 2009 12:10 pm

yankel

While there are many Chassidic niggunim albums, and a fantastic number of Chabad niggunim albums*, none has made the impact on the general Jewish music world that Avraham Fried’s highly successful series of niggunim albums. So it was with high expectations that I picked up Yankel Yankel. My thoughts? Well, bear with me – as listening to this album over the past few days has brought many thoughts to my mind, both about the skill and artistry of Avraham Fried, as well as about the niggunim he presents before us.

*Can you guess how many artists have produced a Chabad niggunim cd? Answer – based on my calculation – on the bottom!

In producing his niggunim albums, Fried had two goals to accomplish: 1) Bring niggunim to the mainstream crowd, and 2) attempt to keep the highly sensitive and spiritual side of the niggunim intact. Considering the delicate balance of many variables, a difficult task indeed. This album is closest in style to Avinu Malkeinu, but with a few variables – it seems to me that there are more vocal arrangements going on here than on Avinu Malkeinu. In any case, it works out very nicely. The selection of niggunim is excellent – balancing all sorts of styles – the deep, the whimsical, the leibidik, etc.

The theme of the album is, as Fried makes clear in his liner letter, hope. (No, this has nothing to do with Obama.) It does come at a time that many of us are struggling, with little in terms of leadership and inspiration. The Rebbe writes that a Chassidic niggun can bring “faith, joy and light” into a home – and it is quite apparent that this was Fried’s focus. There are at least 6 niggunim on this album that directly deal with hope, and the breakneck pace of the joyous niggunim have a certain taste that leads me to humbly believe that this was the inner intent to them as well.

(*** ) Track 1 – Baruch Hu: This niggun was until now virtually unknown. It sounds klezmer/folksy – I can easily imagine Theodore Bikel singing it. It has a light-hearted feel to it in its simple tune. Avremi G excels here in his arranging abilities – he takes what otherwise would be nothing to write home about, and gives it a classy, beautiful frame that really brings out the best in it.

Chabad Chassidus has a word to describe the internalization process we use to truly make something part of us – we call this being “mafnim” something; or bringing something down “bepnimius”. We want concepts to become part of ourselves, rather than remain aloof and sterile in their intellectual realm. I would venture that this niggun, with its repetitiveness (“Noch a mol, noch a mol”), is attempting to do just that.

(****) Track 2 – Sholom Aleichem: A stunning tune, set beautifully to the words of Sholom Aleichem. This is one of the Alter Rebbe’s compositions, and it reaches deep into the heart, especially with Avremel and Co.’s vocal rendition. A word on the excellent liner notes: I had no idea that this was one of the Alter Rebbe’s niggunim, and I had never heard that the melody was adapted to Sholom Aleichem at the Rebbe Rayatz’s initiative. Fascinating – and I am very thankful to Avremel for the readable and interesting liner notes – as opposed to the boring notes on so many other albums. This really feels like Avremel is listening to the CD over your shoulder. One last comment about Sholom Aleichem – does Mrs. Fried let Avremel hit those end notes at the Shabbos table? Wow.

I’ve always loved this nigun, sung in yeshiva with tens of other bochurim at late night farbrengens. We had always sung this nigun as each stanza repeated twice each, rather than as Fried sings them in the Sholom Aleichem version, and I don’t know which is the original composition. Nonetheless, I guarantee that thousands of families, Chabad Houses and camps across the world will be changing their Friday night repertoire over the next few months.

(***) Track 3 – R’ Mendel’s Niggun: A rollicking nigun, sung with real gusto. Fried seems to get a kick out of this nigun, which is likewise not a very well known tune, by any means. The arrangement is once again, really nice – the hora beat gets you moving, and the percussion, specifically, is classy.

(****) Track 4 – Yiddish Medley: Avremi G. did a great job with the medleys on this album. They are, for the most part, seamless and natural, and don’t get boring. There’s a certain progression that you feel building up, rather than a bunch of songs almost randomly tossed together – as on so many albums. This album has a funny quirk in that its lead song is just one number in a medley (not even the first!) – I don’t think that has ever happened before!

Fohrt a Yiddeleh: Before anyone has a heart attack on the message here, read the liner notes! Lubavitcher niggunim have many cryptic messages (how about all the songs about vodka, for starters), so don’t think this is prayer to the Rebbe! It’s a pretty song, although I thought the children’s choir was overreaching on the words “Mommenyu” and “Tattenyu”. Could’ve done without it. But Fried makes up with his powerful “Rateveh!” afterwards.

In Chassidus, the struggles of parnasah and the like are described as “Mayim Rabbim” – the raging waters that cause us to be distracted from serving Hashem properly (see 8th Day’s updated version of this song). A rumor about this song – I heard that in its original form, it didn’t have the little ditty afterwards. The Rebbe heard someone singing it, and he didn’t like the fact that there was no positive ending to the song, so they surgically attached the ending. If I can get any accuracy reports on this story, I’d appreciate it. :-)

Yankel Yankel: A fun and hopeful niggun. What else to say about it? It’s also fairly simple – it doesn’t have a high part. But the Yiddish words are straight and to the point. And Fried and Bros. do a good job of presenting it.

Di Velt: Here’s the Yiddish version of Kol Haolam Kulo that almost no one knew existed. This is another fun niggun, presented in Mizrachi format. Great vocals going on, with tons of energy and feeling.

I heard this niggun years ago from a shliach to the Crimea, Rabbi Itche Meir Lipszyc. He also taught us another version of the Yiddish – and whether this was added jokingly, or was originally part of the song, I do not know – “Un der ikkar – s’vellen shiker – und nisht tzu naar’n zich!” Approximate translation: “And the main thing – we’ll all get drunk – and let’s not mess around!” Getting drunk, both in Chassidic musical heritage and philosophical usage, refers to delving into the mysteries of G-d and His creation. The message here would then be to remember that whatever one learns needs to be applied to the world and to our service of Hashem within the world. One cannot think that his life in yeshiva is one thing, and his life outside yeshiva is another.

Ober a Maaleh: This one’s a classic. It’s been a staple at Lubavitcher weddings and Simchas Beis Hashoeivahs, but now it’s getting its world debut. Check out the rocking arrangement at 6:15 – it gets new inflection and power, carried out with great gusto by Fried. And then we follow into the ending of the medley – the harmonic combining of three of the four songs together, along with the message in English, “Don’t give up!” which is easily one of the best endings of a song in Jewish music. Brilliant.

Chassidim oftentimes sing the chorus of “Chotsh” with the replacement words: “Ad mosai/ Do we have to wait/ We want Moshiach now/ We don’t want to wait.” Just BTW.

(***) Track 5 – Niggun L’Shabbos V’yom Tov: When I heard the opening notes of this niggun being sung, I was thrilled. This little-known but gorgeous tune is one of my favorites; one I can recall many late night farbrengens singing intensely with fellow bochurim. It still brings me to another world when I sing it. But yet… I was disappointed by Fried’s work on it – I felt that it’s a bit rushed, and that they tried to do too much with the arrangements and the choir. I think this one tune should have stayed as pristine as possible. They say that while recording Nichoach, the guys simply made a L’chaim in the recording studio and sang. I don’t know whether or not that is true, but I’d venture Fried could have done a better job on this particular niggun had he tried that simplistic and natural approach. The end of the niggun is performed beautifully, though.

Somehow, the high part of this tune has been linked with the niggun “Eilu Va’eilu” on Fried’s Baal Shem Tov’s Song. While there are many who argue they are two different songs, I was told by my Rosh Yeshiva that he heard the venerable chassid R’ Mendel Futerfas sing Eilu Va’Eilu with the high part. It certainly adds considerable oomph to that niggun. “Oy, Ashrei, Ashrei! Ashrei me shelo chata!”…

An aside: go ahead – try it yourself. Sit down on a shabbos morning during shacharis, tune everything out, and sing this niggun softly to yourself a few times, while thinking of your relationship with Hashem. See what it will do to your shacharis.

(****) Track 6 – Niggun Simcha: Great niggun, better performance. The vocals really interact well on this fast niggun. This is one of the rare instances that the musical arrangements really don’t need to be that up-front-and-center, as the palpable energy of both Fried and the choir, along with good and natural harmonies make the song flow easily and fluid. And then you stick in the sax semi-solo (all five seconds of it), but to great effect.

(***) Track 7 – Motzoei Shabbos Medley: It’s interesting that there are so many Chabad niggunim with words that aren’t part of our nusach. Neither of these zemiros are part of Chabad nusach. On a well-produced album, this medley (of two songs) is simply average.

Hamavdil: A Chabad classic. While we don’t sing this zemer as part of the post-Shabbos tefillos, you will hear many Chabadniks singing this tune after Shabbos. I felt that it wasn’t given enough attention on this album – almost as if it is used merely as an entrance into Al Tirah Avdi Yaakov. It’s an extremely easy to sing niggun, and it has a certain Motzoei Shabbos flavor to it.

Al Tirah Avdi Yaakov: This quasi-waltz has many points of a quintessential Lubavitcher niggun: the slow, introspective, serious side, and the leibidik, positive and exciting march. I wasn’t sure what to make of the two opposing sides, especially with the lyrics, but eventually I came to really appreciate it. Great moments begin at about 3:30, with high harmonies and nice brass, followed by soothing, humming harmonies in the return to the slow part. Once again, the niggun is ended with tremendous skill in the arrangements – great harmonies, the double claps, and the niggun being sped up – a natural progression, were one to be singing it with the gantzer mishpoche.

(This is also the second time I can think of that an artist released an album with two songs with the same words on the same CD. The other time – Ani Maamin on MBD’s Moshiach.)

(***) Track 8 – Krementshuger Berelach: This heart-rending powerhouse of a tune is another davening niggun. While Fried does an excellent job on this niggun, I gave him a lower rating in comparison with Andy Statman’s phenomenal representation of this niggun on Zalman Goldstein’s Chabad Classics 2. If I were involved in the arrangements here, I would have brought Statman aboard (as he was for Hupp Cossack and Baal Shem Tov’s Song) if only for a reprise. At the same time, this is an exceedingly difficult niggun to come across as convincing. It’s comparable in some ways to the Poltava Niggun on Avinu Malkeinu in terms of its depth along with sheer vocal power needed. ILast thought – thought that the fade out in the end was weak.

(****) Track 9 – Tzvei Freilachs: Again, two rocking niggunim – the first an all-time favorite, and the second a “new” niggun. The arrangements here herald a bit of a return to the first two albums, in terms of the classic Jewish music sound, but the vocals and harmonies again take over the song.

There’s an interesting shtick that is popular among bochurim while singing this first song. If you pay attention, it seems that the song is analyzing two sides of the issue during the second stanza, while the third stanza seems to come up with a solution. The fourth stanza takes the “solution” and proceeds happily. So the bochurim inserted one word here – “Uber”- at the beginning of the third stanza. Sometimes, during a discussion at a farbrengen, someone will interject with this niggun, starting with that third stanza: “Uber… ayayay!”

As for the second niggun here: I’m noticing a bit of a balancing act on this album between classic niggunim and the more rare stuff. This rare niggun has been put out just recently by Yoni Zerbib (a Mendi Gerufi clone) on his Chabad niggunim album called “Shamil”. While he does a decent job with it, Fried obviously has the talent, production and power that Zerbib does not, so it’s obviously trumped by this version. Nice niggun, good balance, good stuff.

(****) Track 10 – Cry of the Soul:

Bchiyas Haneshama: The first niggun here is a plaintive cry, detailing the descent of the soul into the body. You can call this “the Chosid’s Neshomoleh”. Avremel’s son sings sweetly here in a pretty, although simple, duet.

Reb Moshe’s Niggun: Excellent choice – a highly underrated and overlooked niggun. Avremi G. stuck with parts of the original arrangement from Nichoach, which is kinda cute – especially since in that case, it works well. This niggun fits well musically after the previous one, but I don’t see how they work together conceptually. This niggun is another “toss away your worries” niggun; which is seemingly an opposing emotion to the heavy responsibility Bchiyas Haneshama calls for. If you’re not going to read into it like I am, you’ll enjoy it – again, tremendous vocal arrangements, and very pretty musical arrangements. But what’s the last little shout at the end? Is that a word, or just “Bum-tche”? Whatever it is, it sounds good.
After I wrote this, Avremel kindly informed me that the words here are “On Shoin!” See the comments below.

(*****) Track 11 – Finale Medley: One reason this album really flows well is because it gets better, rather than “wasting” its best song in the beginning of the album. And the finale medley really has some of the best moments on the CD. This is just an awesome medley.

Nyet Nyekavo: A classic – performed with the authority inherent in the tune. When the fifth Rebbe of Chabad heard this tune, he said, “Dos iz a toihudiker Ein Oid! This is a chaotic ‘none other than G-d!’” As the Israelis would say, “Pitzutz! A bomb!” This is the anthem of the fight of the Russian Chassidim against the Imperialists as well as Bolsheviks. The rock arrangement fits perfectly.

I was walking down the street one shabbos in Dnepropetrovsk, when a building caught my eye. There was some raw feeling that the building exuded – not a feeling that I can really explain. There was a certain… fear, something sinister, that hit me as I looked at it. Mind you – I was looking at the side of the building, not even at the front. So I asked my companion, a local guy, “What is that, a hospital?” His response: “Funny you mention it. That was the KGB headquarters, where the Rebbe’s father, R’ Levik Schneerson – besides for untold thousands of others – was held prisoner for many months.” I stood there dumbfounded – here I was, a fifth generation American with no personal connection whatsoever to the pains and fears of Soviet Jewry, yet somehow the evil that permeated this building hit me like a ton of bricks. And spontaneously, and with great feeling, I started singing this nigun. The mighty KGB stands no longer, and we, the frum Yidden, are there to dance over its decadence.

Hoaderes: Walk into almost any Chabad shul on shabbos and you’ll hear this niggun. Performed just once before (by Piamenta, on 1990), here it gets a great update. A friend walked in while I was listening to this song and commented that he never had thought the song was that good until he heard this version. In shuls, it’s sung verse by verse, progressively getting faster.

R’ Meir’s Niggun: Along comes an extremely geshmake niggun. (Thanks, Sholom, for reminding me to insert this here!) This is is actually one of the strongest tunes on the albums, and, as fitting for the excellent medley it was placed in, it has a very fun and engaging vocal arrangement. I particularly love the shouts of excitement placed throughout. Very appropriate, and it sounds great. This is such a singable niggun – I guarantee by its end, you’ll be singing along with it.

Tzi Azoy: If you want a real creative version of this niggun, check out Mona Rosenblum’s Ne’imot Chabad/Chabad Melodies Vol. 1. When I first heard the niggun, it irked me how similar its chorus is to Nyet Nyekavo. Here, Avremi G. and Crew use it to their advantage, tossing it in the same medley. Again, Fried seems to relish the “Tzi Azoy, Tzi Azay” – there’s a lot of personality here.

R’ Tuvia’s Niggun/High Note Niggun: While Fried calls it the High Note Niggun, I would call it the Syncopation Niggun. To me, this is the best spot on the CD – everything is in perfect sync. The vocals, the tune, the phenomenal arrangement each time through the tune. I love it all.

Chasidei Chabad: And finally, a fitting ending song. While Fried inexplicably changed the lyrics (the original is: Besismat ufaratzta neleich be’oz/Im haRebbe neilech berosh/Chassidei Chabad anu/Chayalei HaRebbe Ashreinu. Translation: With the slogan, “Spread out!” we will go with strength/ With the Rebbe at our head/ We are Chabad Chassidim/Soldiers of the Rebbe, fortunate are we!), his new lyrics are fitting for the (virtual) end of the album. You may notice the ending notes of the niggun Ashreinu just as the song goes into its last moments. Well done.

(***) Track 12 – Birkas Kohanim: I love Birkas Kohanim. As the Baal Tefillah on Yomim Tovim in my little shteeble, I put a lot of emotion into this beautiful tune. So forgive me if I go on for a few moments about it. Firstly, for the children’s sake, they should have started a notch lower. Secondly, I don’t like Avremel’s intros to songs (Boruch Haba, Gott Fun Avraham). But besides that, if I were arranging this niggun, I would have tossed in three little extras here: firstly, the crowd answering “Amen” after each of the brochos; secondly, the mumbling of the Kehila saying Ribono Shel Olam during the last three words; and finally, a cacophony of “Yashar Koach Kohanim!” would have been awesome. Oh well.

Tachlis: This is an excellent album. It has flavor, emotion, power, excitement and passion. Avremel and Avremi G. are an excellent pair; they’ve proven that quite clearly. While as a Lubavitcher I may feel that some of the niggunim could have been presented a bit better, at the same time, musically they’re wonderful – there just isn’t that much to complain about, and there’s lots to be uplifted by. This, my friends, is a worthwhile acquisition for your music collection.

*By my count: Fried, Statman, Merkavah, Chanan Bar Sela, Avi Piamenta, Nichoach, Moshe Laufer, Mona Rosenblum, the Kabbalah Dream Orchestra, Yoni Zerbib, Meir Eshel, Yaron Gershovsky, Zalman Goldstein, Neginah Orchestra, Moshe Benasher, Chassidance, Mordechai Brodsky, Yair Calev, Shmaryahu Feld, Simcha Kantor, Charitonov, Gershon Wachtel, Yossi Goldstein, Elor Wilner, Nikolayev Kapleye, Mayer Rivkin

Others who have used a Lubavitcher niggun somewhere: MBD, Journeys, D’veykus, Lipa, Piamenta, The Baal Shem Tov Band, Yood, A Groyse Metsie, David Lazzar, RebbeSoul, Shlomo Gronich, The Klezmatics, Tzlil V’zemer, JEP, Matisyahu, Pirchei Ukraine, Yehoshua Rochman and probably many more.

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28 Comments

  1. musiclover says:

    That last shout-out at the end of track 10 is “kumt shoin”- refering to Moshiach
    nice analysis of the album

  2. Hislahavus says:

    Thanks! But I’m not catching “kumt shoin” there. I’m hoping to get an insider’s take, so I’ll let you know. :-)

  3. Hypo says:

    No queston, Avraham Fried is the Best, real yiddishe neshoma, always professional, and the voice……AMAZING. not a goyish sounds like lot of new singers album. CHAZAK AVREMEL

  4. Hislahavus says:

    BTW – a brief search on ITunes for “Chabad” or “Lubavitch” pulls up quite a few random niggunim done by very random artists. Some sound like they’re decent, some fairly awful. But it’s quite incredible how many niggunim have permeated the mainstream.

  5. Meir says:

    Hislahavus,
    1)GREAT REVIEW!! I’m a “Classic Yeshiva Litvack” through and through and your little notes on each niggun are SO interesting. It’s really a world that I’m not familiar with and those notes add so much to the CD for me. Thanks a lot for the time you clearly put into this review.
    2)Gonna have to disagree with you a little here though. I think that the children on “Furt ah Yiddileh” are supposed to be overreaching. That’s the whole point of the song. A child is drowning and shouting for help from his/her parent’s, neither of whom can offer any words of comfort. It’s a “shout” not a “song”… Gonna have to go with “G.” on this one… (Plus, I LOVE the kazoo. Seriously, how does he think of this stuff…)
    3)Also, the arrangements, vocal and musical on “Cry of the Soul” are so amazingly haunting. My wife is expecting our first child, Iy”H, and I seriously get goose bumps from that song. No disrespect to Abie here, but I think Fried and Avrumi G. got the emotion of a Neshoma resisting it’s destiny FAR better then Abie, MBD and Lamm…
    4)It sure sounds like “Kumt shoin” to me…
    5)Speaking of cryptic words at the end of a song. What’s with the “Rotz Katzvi” at the end of “Nyet Ntekavo”?
    5)I hate to be a “nudge” but I’m very curious. Did you re-listen to/have any change of heart on “Tiher”?

  6. Hislahavus says:

    Thanks for the compliments! And you added some beautiful thoughts yourself. As for the “Rotz Katzvi”, that’s actually Russian: “Ras, dva, tri” – “One, two, three”. Sorry I forgot to include that in the review. :-p As for Tiher, I did eventually respond on the Fried article (although it took me forever), but it doesn’t do it for me. It’s just too long. I think that the reason I like some of Fried’s other chazonus pieces is because they’re in and out – a quick minute or two, rather than what amounts to 5 or 6. JMHO.

  7. YG says:

    The Halachik Problem with answering Amen at the end of Birchas Kohanim on this album would have been a shailah of Amen Yesoma which the Gemara discusses. One is not allowed to say Amen in vain. Being that this is a song for entertainment purposes and not the time for the prayer I would venture that it would be contraversial to do it.

  8. Hislahavus says:

    Fascinating. Sounds like a good enough reason to me. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Sholom says:

    Great Review !!!!!!!!!! I really enjoyed reading it!

    A few points.
    1) about the “uber ayaya” song, it started way back in the 1960’s when bachurim (rabbi shapiro, miami etc.) would sing in the 2nd stanza “mein get tzoom mikva … ay ya ya ya, mein lernt chasidus … ay ya ya ya … uber aya ya ya ay” (if you get what i’m trying to “sing”)
    2) in fort a yiddele .. notice how fried begins the stanza calling to the Rebbe with much more emphasis on the “fort” words indicating more hope.
    3) Between Haderes and Tzi azoy you over looked a nigun.

  10. Meir says:

    Hislahavus,
    Wow, I guess I’ve established my credentials as a bona fida non-Lubovitcher with that “Rotz Katzvi” thing… Thanks for clearing that up!
    I’m going to suggest something crazy, let me know if you think I’m onto something, or I’m one of those conspirecy nuts who’s convinced that R’ Shmuel Brazil and Abish are totally stealing songs from B. Spears.
    When listening to “Boruch Hu E’lokenu” I noticed some slight similarities to Avi Piamenta’s performance of “The Bach Suite #2” on HASC 5… Later on the High Note Nigun there is a significant similarity to Yossi Pimanta’s performance of “The Sabre Dance”, ALSO on HASC 5… It sounds like Avrumi G. wrote arrangements reminicent of those songs. (more on the “High Note Nigun” then on “Boruch Hu”)
    Coincidence???

  11. Meir says:

    Whatever, I think I’m just hearing things…

  12. Hislahavus says:

    Sholom – I can’t believe I missed R’ Meir’s Niggun! I’ll add my thoughts on that forthwith. And yashar koach for the origin to “Uber!”

    I posed some of the questions we had to Avremel himself, and he was kind enough to let me in on some of the things going on. Here are some of his comments:

    1) At the end of that Nigun we sing: Un Shoin. Let me explain: This Nigun reminds me of the old style Yiddish songs which some of them end with these 2 words. So that’s why I threw it in.
    2)The reason I did not put in “amens” in the Birchas Kohanim was not so much for Halachik fears, but rather for taste reasons. I did entertain the thought and also to add room noise so as to give it a real feel, but at the end decided to keep it simple and not get carried away.

    The “kazoo” that someone wrote about is a harmonica.

    Meir: the similarity of High Note Nigun to the Sabre Dance is in the syncopation that I wrote about. From wikipedia: Syncopation includes a variety of rhythms which are in some way unexpected in that they deviate from the strict succession of regularly spaced strong and weak beats in a meter (pulse). These include a stress on a normally unstressed beat or a rest where one would normally be stressed. “If a part of the measure that is usually unstressed is accented, the rhythm is considered to be syncopated.” It’s a style – so I doubt it was modeled after the Sabre Dance.

    And, yes, you do hear the fluttering flute which is similar to that Bach piece that Avi plays in HASC; but again, I don’t know if Boruch Hu was davka influenced by it.

  13. Reuven says:

    I don’t see any other way to contact you ( the another of the review ) So this is not a comment necessarily, rather a question.

    At the end of “Sholom Aliechem” where AF does his high pitched “Baruch Hu” I personally thought it sounded very muffled and in general sort of “computerized” if you know what im tying to say…

    I was wondering if you thought the same, and if you got some info on that, b/c when my friends and I listened to that the first time, we all turned around and said, WHAT?! that’s not how AF usually hits his high notes…..

    It sounds like as if he is losing his range to be able to hit the note with his regular voice…

    Otherwise I cant find any other “mistakes” in the CD… Sounds great!
    Reuven

  14. Felicitas says:

    Sorry for responding more than half a year later, but I’ve only read your review a few days ago and want to thank you for this very informative and insightful review. I also have a few questions:
    1. Why did you tell the readers that they shouldn’t get a heart attack by listening to „fort a yidele“? What is there in the lyrics that might cause a heart attack?
    2. Could you explain to me what „ober a ma’aleh, vider a ma’aleh“ means? I know that „ober“ means but and „vider“ means again, but what does ma’aleh mean in this context?
    3. This is not a question, but a statement: I agree with you that in „Cry of the soul“ as well as in „Al Tira“ there seems to be a clash between deep and serious introspection on the one hand, and serenity on the other. They do not really fit together; but maybe he chose to put in the light, serene parts to leave the listener with a sense of comfort and light-heartedness. The fact that in both songs, the merry parts come after the serious ones, would speak for this argument. If you bother to read and respond to my message, I will thank you very much in advance.
    Greetings from cold and snowy Germany,
    Felicitas

  15. Hislahavus says:

    Thanks for the comments! I’ll attempt to answer you point by point:
    1. I was afraid that people would think that Chabadniks pray to their Rebbe, rather than to G-d. The song is a parable, and should be taken as such.
    2. In my opinion, the song is circular: the “ober a maaleh” is to say that, whatever the case, we have a quality; “vider a maaleh”, and another quality, which leads into the “even though/chotsh”… of the second part.
    3. Your third point is fair, and well stated. :-)

  16. Felicitas says:

    Thanks a lot!
    To 2.: I am even more confused now. What case and what quality is meant here? And what does the “even though” refer to? (I forgot to ask this before) I have a feeling this is basics and may thus not be of general interest; please forgive me for asking such newcomer-ish questions.;-)

  17. Hislahavus says:

    No, it’s perfectly fine. The song is talking about the Jewish people, so the lyrics go something like this:
    Uber a maaleh, vider a maaleh, oim ani choima – But a virtue, and another virtue – strong in its faith like a fortress
    Uber a maaleh, vider a maaleh, bara kachama – But a virtue, and another virtue – bright as the sun
    Chotch, chotch, chotch goila vesura – Even though we’ve been exiled and dispersed
    Doch, doch, doch damsa lesamar – Still we are compared to a palm tree.

    Questions are always good, so don’t worry!

  18. Felicitas says:

    Thank you so much for your patience and your translation of the lyrics. Now that I understand what he’s actually singing, it feels even better listening to the song. Are the lyrics in Aramaic?
    I have a last question before I’m silent: Where is the Al Tira passage taken from? What is its source?

  19. Hislahavus says:

    No prob! The words are Yiddish and Hebrew, the Hebrew taken from the Hoshanot prayers on Sukot. The Al Tira Yaakov lyrics are from a zemer that some people have the custom to sing on Motzei Shabbat. While I don’t know who composed it, the lines are taken – in alphabetical order – from pesukim that mention Yaakov’s name. You should be able to find it in bentchers.

    And we will have the Live DVD review up within a day, G-d willing.

  20. Shabbos says:

    a really, really good album!
    I would love to know the lyrics

  21. Hislahavus says:

    The lyrics can be found in the liner notes, or in virtually any Chabad bentcher.

  22. Shabbos says:

    Thank you! I found almost all… btw, would you be so kind to tell me the Yankel Yankel part of yiddish medley? couldn’t find it, and the Hoaderes in Finale M. neither…
    the changed words.. ♪Chasidei Chabad anu…what?
    Thanks again! :-)

  23. Hislahavus says:

    1. Yankel, Yankel/ hob kein moireh/hof’n hof’n hof tzum Boireh/Az G-tt vet dir lozen leiben/Un vos du darfst vet er dir gebben

    2. Hoaderes is taken directly from the passage in the Shabbat morning prayers.

    3. Tayere brider mir vellen zich vaiter zehn/mit’n Rebbe’n b’ezras Hashem/Chassidei Chabad anu/talmidei haRebbe ashreinu

  24. Shabbos says:

    Thank you so much! :D

  25. Ashreinu says:

    Thank you very much for your excellent review. Can you write the translation for the following phrases:

    1. Ti Azoy Freilach Dart Mein Zain (If I heard correctly).
    2. Tayere Brider Mir Vellen Zich Vaiter Zehn/Mit’n Rebbe’n B’ezras Hashem.
    3. Al Tira Avdi Yaakov/Yankel, Yankel/Hob Kein Moireh/Hof’n Hof’n Hof Tzum Boireh/Az G-t Vet Dir Lozen Leiben/
    Un Vos Du Darfst Vet Er Dir Gebben.
    4. Di Velt ? Un Der Ikkar/Nisht Tzu ? Zich (What words come instead of question marks?).

    Good luck!

  26. Hislahavus says:

    1. No matter what, we need to be happy. (Darf men zain)
    2. Dear brothers, we will see each other later, with the Rebbe, with G-d’s help
    3. Yankel, don’t have any fear! Just trust in the Creator! G-d will give you life, and whatever you need, He will give you!
    4. “Ai di velt is a shmoller brik un der ikkar is nisht tzu shrekken zich” – “The world is a small bridge, and the main thing is not to be afraid.”

  27. Daniel says:

    Sorry to come back to this so much later, but what do the words of Chassidei Chabad anu get changed to?

  28. Hislahavus says:

    Tayere brider, mir vellen zich vaiter zehn
    Mitten Rebbe’n, bezrash Hashem
    Chassidei Chabad anu
    Talmidei HaRebbe ashreinu

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