Hebrew: biblical song אם השם לא יבנה בית

When I was about to go to Israel, I heard beautiful song at youtube.

I’m learning Hebrew right now, so I decided to take it apart. Here are the lyrics of what is being sung:

אם השם לא יבנה בית
שוא עמלו בוניו בו
אם השם לא ישמר עיר
שוא שקד שומר
הנה לא־ינום
לא ינום ולא יישן
לא־ינום ולא יישן
שומר ישראל

It is interesting that these are essentially two verses from the Old Testament (Psalms 126:1-2). I found it on purpose and there is a slightly different text. It turns out that in the video the name of God is not spoken (not sung) because

it is forbidden for orthodox Jews to even write it. It is simply called HaShem – or the Name. This is due to the prohibition against pronouncing God’s true name (Tetragrammaton) in Judaism – a religious respect for God and a desire to avoid using his name in ordinary speech or when creating texts. Tradition holds that God’s name is so sacred that it should not be pronounced or written down.

Here is my translation:

If God does not build the house,
The builders work in vain.
If God does not protect the city,
The guards guard it in vain.

He truly does not sleep,
He don’t sleeps or slumbers
He don’t sleeps or slumbers
He keeps Israel safe.

The point is this: if you build a house without love (synonymous with God), it makes no sense. If love does not protect the city, the guardian tries in vain. The song mentions the image of the Guardian of Israel, which is a symbol of divine protection and providence. This idea is important in Judaism because it represents divine care for the people of Israel and the entire universe.

The Psalter, from which the verses for the song are taken, is a book from the Old Testament consisting of 150 psalms commonly attributed to King David. The psalter is widely used as a source of inspiration for chanting and prayer in various religious traditions, including Judaism and Christianity. They express a variety of feelings and moods, from joy to sorrow, from reverence for God to prayer for help and protection.

I really like the melody in this song. Interestingly, in the Hasidic (which is the kind of dude who sings the song in the link at the beginning of the post) tradition, there is a musical trend called “nigunim.” Nigunim are melodies without words that are usually sung at services and prayers. They help recreate an atmosphere of spirituality and often have profound meaning for the faithful. Here they apply this practice by simply humming the tune between verses.

In Judaism in general, music often has a public character. There are chants that are meant to be sung together, such as “Zemiros,” traditional songs that are sung during Sabbath meals.

By the way, another famous Old Testament book full of poetry and hymns is the Song of Songs of Solomon. It describes the love story between a young woman and her lover, which symbolizes the love between God and the Jewish people. The Song of Songs serves as the inspiration for many religious and secular works of art, including music, painting and literature.

Music also plays a major role in Jewish festivals. During Passover, for example, families sing traditional songs such as “Dayainu” and “Chad Gadya” during the Seder. During Purim, people perform songs and musical numbers based on the story of the Book of Esther, and during Hanukkah, they sing the miracle of undying light, singing “Maoz Tzur” and other traditional tunes.

I now live near Safed, which is one of the centers for the study of Judaism and Kabbalah in particular. This is an ancient Jewish mystical tradition that also has its musical aspects. One example is music based on the Sefirot, the ten emanations of God. Kabbalist music uses symbols, numbers, and mystical concepts to convey profound meaning.

All in all, a beautiful and simple song, I recommend it to everyone. I will continue my study of Hebrew songs in the future. By the way, modern popular music in Israel is also not without the influence of ancient traditions. Many Israeli musicians and performers, such as Idan Raichel, Ofra Haza and Shlomo Artzi, draw inspiration from traditional Jewish music and modern world genres, creating their own unique sound.

If I wrote somewhere inaccurate, plz write in the comments, I will correct.
Your ole hadash igroglaz

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