Tzedek u’mishpat mechon kis’o
Eish lefanav teilech u’telaheit
עָנָן וַעֲרָפֶל סְבִיבָיו
צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט מְכוֹן כִּסְאוֹ
אֵשׁ לְפָנָיו תֵּלֵךְ וּתְלַהֵט
Clouds and the Firmament surrounding,
Justice and righteousness
are the foundation of the divine throne
A Consuming fire bursts forth…
In my songwriting lately, I have been trying to explore how the melodies we sing can help better express what the words are already trying to say. How can the melody serve as a deepening of meaning, as opposed to just sounding nice. This melody weaves around and around, swirling higher and higher and then beginning again from the bottom. The words for this song come from Psalm 97, one of the psalms we sing during Kabbalat Shabbat (Welcoming Shabbat) every Friday night. “Anan v’arafel sevivav” “Clouds and darkness surround the Divine Presence”. And then the melody establishes itself firmly, “tzedek u’mishpat mechon kis’o”, “justice and righteousness are the foundation of God’s throne”.
It is at this point that the melody unravels, changing tempo as its energy is unleashed. “Eish l’fanav teilech u’telahet” A fire bursts forth before God and blazes…” This fire is all-consuming. It is raw and uncontrolled, seemingly untamable. But our task is to harness the flames, let its embers warm us and its light inspire us, while we attempt to establish justice and righteousness in our own time.