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 of Farmington Hills, a freshman at Western Michigan University, belongs to Congregation Shaarey Zedek, BBYO and USY. His goal is to one day be ordained a Conservative rabbi. Sam’s goal is to “live a life full of passion and meaning.” He has volunteered at Forgotten Harvest and, as a member of the Jewish Fund Teen Board, helped allocate grants totaling $50,000. He’s volunteered at the JCC, working with kindergarteners and first-graders and at the Hillel Early Childhood Center Day Camp as a counselor. He also serves as chair of the J-Serve Teen Board Committee. He runs cross-country and plays the viola in the school orchestra. He attended the JustCity Leadership Institute at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the AIPAC Policy Conference and the Schusterman Conference as a USY representative. He was the Torah Bytes Fellow for USY Central Region and Shaarey Zedek’s representative for Motor City USY. Sam has worked at CSZ, Aish Detroit and Adat Shalom teaching Hebrew to third-through sixth-graders, and recently helped a congregant learn to read Torah and Haftorah for her 50th bat mitzvah anniversary. He is a regular Torah reader, Haftorah reader and Megillah reader at CSZ. He started his own blog on Times of Israel so he could share his love of Torah and his thoughts with the world.
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