Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Thunder and "Hava Nagila"

Daily Gratitude Year 4-Day 174: Today, I am grateful for thunder...and Hava Nigila memories.

Earworm woke up singing this morning. "Thunder only happens when it's raining." 

I love the sound of thunder and we are in need of the rain. What a delight to wake up to the sound of the rumble rolling across the plains as the clouds  empty life giving water on the thirsty fields and flowers.  

When I was a girl, Mama was nervous during the storms. I think it was one of the things that seemed very different in an 1800's farmhouse than it did in the city of Kankakee. No neighbors a few steps away. No fire department 911 service. Tornado's happened without warning back then. made her nervous. 
She used to try to distract us, so that she would be distracted herself. 

I don't know how many times Mama tricked us into cleaning our room (yes, we shared one) by challenging us to clean faster and faster as "Hava Nagila" played on an old 78 rpm on our portable record player. Of course, one loud crack of the thunder and shake of the house and Harry Belafonte temporarily lost our attention. Sometimes, the crack of thunder would hit as the song was speeding up. It sounded like God was cracking a we would speed up our cleaning in response. I remember the laughter of that dreaded task becoming more play than work.  

A thunderstorm still makes me think of Hava Nigila...and squealing with April as we cleaned. Sweet, noisy memories. 

Today, I looked up "Hava Nigil"a. It is a traditional Israeli song of celebration. The lyrics may have been inspired by Psalm 118:34- 
The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Still, the song is thought to be "modern and secular". 

Some believe a class of college students were assigned by a Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor, Abraham Zevi Idelsohn, around 1918 to take text and write a "modern" Hebrew song. In 1918, the newly founded university was building steam. The first recording was by Idelsohn in 1920. Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein were on the the new university's board of directors, and certainly added prominence and influence. Is it any wonder that this song would gain popularity? It was a time to rejoice. A time of celebration and hope. 

Although Idelsohn may have recorded the song first, there is evidence that the song's tune goes all the way back to the Ukraine and encompassed 150 years of the Jewish story. I discovered that there is actually a PBS movie, "Hava Nagila",  based on one woman's research in the history of the song.

"Hava Nigila" was ultimately used to unite Yishuv (the early Jewish enterprise) after the British victory in Palastine in WWI. It was a time to celebrate and celebrations need music. And, in true Jewish tradition, a hora (a circle dance) developed to accompany the popular tune. 

There is a fun recording of Harry Belefonte and Danny Kaye singing the song together on YouTube. It was one of Belefonte's most requested songs at concerts. He joked that he taught the song to most of the Jewish people in America. He probably did. 

For me, the song turned the fear of the thunder into a cleaning dance and a time of celebration. Children cleaning their rooms should always be celebrated. The fear of the thunder was transformed into something better. Respect for the power of God in nature. 

A sense of awe ensues when thunder booms and the sky lights up. It is a combination of celebration, reverence and pausing to take in the power of God. I still enjoy a thunderstorm. This scripture from Job came up yesterday...just in time for this morning's post. 

He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
    and sends it to the ends of the earth.
After that comes the sound of his roar;
    he thunders with his majestic voice.
When his voice resounds,
    he holds nothing back.
God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;
    he does great things beyond our understanding. -Job 37:3-5

Do we forget His power? I think I do. Do we long for the sound of His majestic voice thundering? Are we in awe...or terrified... when he "holds nothing back"? His voice thunders in marvelous ways. His ways are beyond our understanding. 

Some days...we hear the thunder but don't understand. He asks us to trust beyond the borders of our limited, human understanding. Some days... we stand in awe of his ways and  we grab the moments of celebration that he sends our way. A good rain. A wedding. A rite of passage into manhood or womanhood. "Hava Nagila"...let us rejoice! 

Today, I am grateful for thunder...and Hava Nigila memories.

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