This past Shabbat was great, for many reasons. The whole weekend was. But, one of the highlights was doing a ‘Bedikat Khametz’ of sorts on our music. The ‘Bedikat Khametz’ is the ‘search for what is leavened’ leading up to Pesakh. Even the nominal Bible reader understands that leaven represents sin. So, what do I mean? Sin is ‘missing the mark,’ not quite meeting the perfection of the Torah; so, leavening is imperfections, and the Bedikat Khametz is searching for and finding the imperfections. We Messianic Peshitta Jews tend to ‘see’ the application of the principal in many areas of our lives during this season. For those of us who have been working on the translation of HaDavar, The Word, we have found even the tiniest imperfections, just before going to press. My great desire is that no one finds even ONE small mistake, one tiny stroke of the ‘pen’ out of place, and we have combed the document for six months now in that effort. Similarly, we want our music to be “spot on” during the Pesakh Seder. So that it ministers to the Body as we worship the Son of G-d, and declare His death the way He instructed us to in His Word.
As we were rehearsing, the music kept getting better and better. But, let me give you some background. We write a lot of our own music. Myself, Sha’ul, Tamarah, and Levi have all written songs for the congregation. And they are some of the most moving, powerful, melodious, and inspirational versions of the ‘psalms’ and other verses we’ve ever enjoyed. I say that because I am SO HUMBLED that Abba has gathered together such a team of musicians in the MOST UNLIKELY of ways.
We are such a diverse field of misfits! We hail from all over the country, the world for that matter. We are of every race. We hail from diverse backgrounds of faith. We are male and female. Our ages cross quite a wide spectrum. We represent multiple native languages and cultures. Some of us are very formally trained musicians and vocalists, and some are bootstrapped, self-taught musicians and vocalists. But we come together each Shabbat and for each Khag to lead an even more diverse group into the throne room of the Creator. And we do so in UNISON. Not just musical harmony, but spiritual harmony. We do so of our own volition, and not because we are paid. We do so joyfully.
And we all take our task very seriously, and worship as best we can, desiring to pour out our hearts to our Messiah, in the hope that the congregation will follow suit. And we do so in our rehearsals as well, and not just during the service. And, we do not ‘perform’, and not one of us desires ‘star’ status, or to outperform the other.
And for ALL of this, I praise G-d in my private time. It is a blessed gift that few congregations have. And we have LAYERS of skill, and others standing at the ready to fill in on a moment’s notice. I remember when it was just me on the keyboard, and my wife and I on vocals, singing a very limited repertoire of Hebrew music that I could actually play. I specifically remember praying that Abba send musicians and vocalists who love HIM more than they love their skills. We had people blow through who wanted to be paid to play and sing. We had people blow through who wanted the platform. But Abba removed them in His timing, and has put together a ‘unit’ of worshippers, the likes of which I have never seen. As much as we love some of the music coming out of Yisra’el, I love more what Abba is doing in this congregations ‘tribe of Yehudah’.
We are adding two new songs to our Pesakh order of worship this year, written by congregants. Both of them are very ‘Hebrew’ in flavor and tone, and both are from the liturgy of biblical worship [Psalms]. Tamarah wrote one that is phenomenal, which our congregation has yet to hear, and which we feel will ‘set the tone’ for the Seder. It is a portion of a psalm that is read/sung frequently in the Synagogues on Shabbat [some do it every week], and is in the Daily Prayers of Judaism, and has been for millennia. I have added a verse to one that I put together originally out of two ‘Tehillim’/Psalms, 135 and 115, with the latest verse coming out of 118. Our most ‘senior’ vocalist kept saying ‘we need to keep going’ every time we ended rehearsing/singing this song, and Abba apparently agreed. I was reading 118 last week, and the very similar verse structure I found one Shabbat morning during prayers in 115 and 135 ‘leaped’ off the pages at me, and a new verse was born for this very uplifting melody of exhortation. This one song’s three verses are from the “Hallel,” [Praise] which is a series of Psalms starting in 113 that are traditionally sung during Pesakh, since antiquity, and Yeshua followed this custom. Most believers do not realize it, because their translations are weak, and they hence do not see that they ‘sung the Hallel’ when they left the Seder to go the garden. Imagine that: Yeshua was SINGING as He began to prepare for His execution. He quoted some of these verses even while hanging on the tree.
So, we rehearsed this past Shabbat. We worked through the tricky spots in Tamarah’s BEAUTIFUL song. We worked through the tricky syntax and phrasing in my new verse. After having done each for several turns, the music just kept getting better and better, and ALL of us could ‘feel’ it, giving each other glances of appreciation while singing/playing. Our videos simply do not do justice for our sound, if you’ve never heard us live. I boast in Messiah Yeshua, again, for having brought us together. NO OTHER REASON but LOVE FOR MESSIAH brought us together! But I cannot begin to tell you how DEEP the ‘skill’ goes; and I’m not just speaking of instrumental/vocal or composition skill. [Incidentally, we already have on the roster Sha’ul’s notorious “I Will Sing” rendering of Shemot [Exodus] 15, which is the ‘song at the sea’ like no one has ever heard it!]. So, Tamarah had another new song that the team wanted to work on once we were done preparing for Pesakh. I had left the platform to help to add words to our overhead, and they started singing it. I had never heard it before, so I sat down with a copy of the words, and ‘listened.’ It overwhelmed me. Not just the song, but all that I’ve already communicated. When it ended, I came out of the ‘zone’, and Sha’ul was standing at the piano somehow. He had been overwhelmed too. With tears in his eyes, he said, ‘This is a product of Bat-Tzion, and I saw Daniel sitting there, and I realized that we are doing this because of Bat-Tzion, because of what Abba is doing here…” Both of us realized that there is a greater, ETERNAL purpose for our coming together. Gratitude of heart swallowed us both.
I wish people had taken advantage of the opportunity to come to our Seder. To hear the music, such that they could be escorted into His Presence. Because I KNOW it will happen. But, I further wish, but also trust that Abba is bringing the ONE whom HE wants to ‘touch’, because I know that the Messiah Yeshua, the Son of G-d, will be more clearly ‘communicated’ this year, and I trust HE is truly going to REDEEM someone. LIFE will occur, because of the declaration of His Death. Our congregants WILL further and more clearly understand the GREAT redemption they already have, and appreciate it more and more. And the worshipful, beautiful music will certainly play its part. I have said over and over that one of the main features of Pesakh, the Seder, is that it teaches our children, and us, by employing ALL the senses…. not five, but TEN. Because we are able to reach into the Nefesh, and Neshamah, because of Yeshua and the blood that He shed for us. As my Dad used to say when one of us didn’t show up in time for dinner: “Let those who don’t want any have the regret of not getting any.” I regret that not everyone I love could be there….again, I wish ALL could ‘see’ the details of what Pesakh does for us, on EVERY level. A very meaningful verse for our congregation, which will be over our doors if we ever build our own building, is fitting for this sentiment:
“That I may tell of all Your praise in the gates of the Bat Tzion, that I may rejoice in Your Salvation [Yeshua].” Tehillah 9:15