Keter Melucha: The Call to Balance

My Congregational Hazzan, Hazzan David Propis, posted one day on Facebook a video highlighting the Spirit Series, thirteen CDs made up of traditional and contemporary Tefillot and Songs from the members of The Cantors Assembly. Seeing the post, I immediately reached out to him and with gratitude received three of the albums: The Spirit of Shabbat, The Spirit of the High Holy Days and The Spirit of Simcha and Celebration. Within each CD, I found inspiration. However, after a while, I found myself listening and loving one song more than the rest: Keter Melucha.

I had never actually heard this prayer or the melody before. But, turns out it is found within the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Musaf right before the holy words of the Great Aleinu. Written as a beautiful Piyut, it is sung responsively with the Shaliach Tzibur singing and the congregation responding with “V’yitnu l’cha keter m’lucha,” followed every three lines by a chorus of yai nai’s. It is meant to get the congregation excited and maybe even jumping a little. But, this Piyut is so much more than that because it gives the Jewish People a message that is key for the twenty first century.

The text states: וייראוך עם שמש מבקשי פניך, which translates as:”At the rising of the sun, those who seek You will be inspired with awe.” This line is powerful because every single morning at sunrise, if we choose to get up and start our days with the traditional words of Shacharit, then we will be inspired in various ways. Our text, though, also tells us a prophetic message: “those who are far off will hear it, and come.”

The Rabbis interpret this line in two ways: If one sings Tefillot and Zemirot loud enough, then those on the outside will be drawn to the singing and, therefore, come join in. Or, if one has passion and goes out to do what they love,  and one person sees you enjoying making a difference, it could inspire them to go out and make a difference as well.

These translations are on point because they help us balance our Judaism. On one side of the scale, we have our Zemirot, Tefillot, and Rituals used on Shabbat, Yom Tovim and year round and on the other side, we have our obligation of Tikkun Olam, Tzedakah and Olam Chesed Yibaneh. Right in the middle, though, to balance out the scale, we have our texts of Torah, Midrash and Talmud that strive to help us take the Halacha written by the sages and make it meaningful to use in our lives on an everyday basis.

Therefore, Chevre, as we approach the High Holy Days and the new year of 5780, let’s strive to follow in the words of Keter Melucha and balance our Judaism. Lets go to Shul and put a smile on someones face. Let’s go out and demand Justice while singing Zemirot that make us pray with our feet and lets take the same importance we have in making our world a little kinder and put it towards traditions that have and will continue to sustain the Jewish People for many more years to come!

Shanah Tovah U’Metukah: A happy, joyous and sweet New Year from my family to yours!

About the Author
Sam Arnold is a Magna Cum Laude and Presidential Scholar graduate from Western Michigan University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education with a minor in Comparative Religions. While at the University, Sam taught various grades at the Marvin and Rosalie Okun Kalamazoo Community Jewish School – a joint Religious School between the Congregation of Moses and Temple B’nai Israel. Additionally, Sam was a part of the first-ever NEWCAJE College Cohort, the second HUC Teaching Impact Fellowship, was a past Hadar Davening College Fellow, and is a Past President of the Western Michigan University Hillel. Sam currently lives in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
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