Three Songs One Verse

Three Songs One Verse

All of them are songs from Lamentations 2:19, but one starts with the beginning of the verse, the other picks up the sentiment at the zakeif (trope, pause), the third continues after the et-nach-ta (the resting place).

The first part acknowledges the dark:

Kumi Roni ba-lai-lah
L’rosh ash-mu-rot

Arise, sing in the night
At the beginning of the watches,

We sing the first song, the Breslov version
In its entirety:

Kumi Roni ba-lai-lah
L’rosh ash-mu-rot

Shif-khi kha-mayim li-beikh
No-khach p’nei Hashem

The second part picks it up at the zakeif and begins with:

Shif-khi kha-mayim li-beikh
No-khach p’nei Hashem

— Lamentations 2:19

Pour out your heart like water
Before the face of G-d

We sing the Carlebach version.

What’s the difference between the two versions?

We begin by taking on the darkness:
Arise, sing, split the darkness with your song.

The second part moves directly into the heart of suffering:

Pour out your heart, like water, before the face of G-d.

There’s a third part:
What if we pick up the song at the et-nach-ta [resting place]?

S’i ei-lav ka-pa-yikh
al-nefesh ‘o-la-la-yikh
ha-a-tu-fim v’ra-av
b’rosh kol-chu-tzot.

Lift up your hands toward G-d
For the soul of your young children
That faint for hunger
On the top of every street.

It’s like the difference between Rav and Shmuel, in the famous argument in the Talmud:

Rav said, all the ends have passed, and the matter [to save the world] depends only on repentance and good deeds. Shmuel said, it is enough for the mourner to stand in mourning.
— BT Sanhedrin 97b

How will the world be saved? Isn’t that what they were talking about? All of us? Maybe there was a dark question that preceded their argument. If all else fails, how will the world be saved?

Through transformation, getting up, dusting ourselves off, splitting the darkness with our song [Rav], or right through the center, the heart of the matter, through the heart of sadness itself [Shmuel]?

First we sing, push the darkness, then we pour out our hearts like water, our tears. With the second part of the verse, we go to the center with our tears, pour out our heart, singular, like water before G-d.

In the third part, we lift up our hands to G-d, for the sake of our young children, we know the heart of suffering in the most vulnerable way. It’s not theoretical, it’s at the top of every street, around the corner, the call to action.

We are the heart of suffering.

We are also hope.

jsg, usa