bnewman: (damselfly)
I'm thinking of a lady — a very famous lady — whose story has been retold at this time of year since ancient times. You may have heard of her. According to the story, she ate a fruit she maybe wasn't supposed to, and in so doing entered irrevocably into an awareness of the cycle of life and death, and her place in it.

Was she tricked? Or did she eat of her own free will and with some idea of the consequences, both good and bad? Opinions differ on this point. I prefer to think of her as a heroine with her own sense of agency, and with a powerful lesson to teach us.

That is why, at this season, I am proud to trace my lineage back to her, and will gladly lift up a certain seasonal fruit in her name, and eat, and remember her, and her choice.
bnewman: (explorer)
Gandalf confronting the Balrog at the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm, with Hebrew caption

The Hebrew text is a saying attributed to Reb. Nachman of Breslov: "The whole world is a very narrow bridge, and the essential thing is not to be afraid at all."

Click the image for a larger version.
bnewman: (damselfly)
[livejournal.com profile] fiddledragon told me excitedly that she had seen a tee-ball parade across the street, but I heard "tea ball parade" and was momentarily confused, until I thought of this charming fictional tradition:

At the appropriate season, the townspeople gather in the square outside the herbalist's shop. Each person has a large tea ball on a string on a stick (like a fishing pole). People select herbs and flowers that symbolically represent a wish or prayer that they have (and that are non-toxic to aquatic life) and put the herbs in their tea balls. Then everyone marches together down to the river (this is the parade part), gathers at the shore, and steeps their tea balls in the current for an appropriate length of time. The wishes are believed to be carried down the river to the sea and out into the universe, where they may be fulfilled.
bnewman: (damselfly)
Sometimes I dream about luggage. Usually, there is too much of it. I'll be moving, or leaving a convention, or — more often than not — changing trains. Usually I wake up before I manage to schlep, or even zip up, all the luggage. I don't know what it means. Maybe I'm trying to tell myself that I have too much stuff (probably true), or too much "stuff" in some inner sense (probably also true).

Which brings me to the High Holy Days.

Officially, the old year ends when the new one begins, at the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. In my head, though, it makes more sense to think of the old year ending ten days later, at the close of Yom Kippur. The ten Days of Awe derive their special quality from belonging to both years. It's as if the new year has pulled up alongside the old one at the station, and we have ten days in which to transfer our luggage — and to decide what to leave behind.

This also suggests a (much less creepy) reading of that most haunting line from the High Holy Day Liturgy: "On Rosh Hashanah it is written, on Yom Kippur it is sealed." Our fate for the year is written at the beginning of the year, because everything that might happen already exists in potential, and sealed, not ten days later, but a year and ten days later, because at that point it has already happened. Yom Kippur thus represents a last chance to change the meaning of the year that has gone by, to "put a good seal on it".

Wishing everyone a good, sweet new year, with just enough luggage.
bnewman: (damselfly)
I've occasionally seen a bumper sticker or button asking, "What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about?" Recently, I googled this phrase to see if I could find a source or context for it, and what I found was a touching, almost midrashic commentary on almost the complete lyrics of the Hokey Pokey — definitely worth reading.

But maybe you want to learn the whole Hokey Pokey while standing on one foot (tricky, I know). Here, in the spirit of the High Holydays, is my summation:

You put your whole self in,
And you turn yourself around;
That's what it's all about.

Shana tova.
bnewman: (damselfly)
I wrote this song a long time ago, and never got around to posting it — I think I must have gone "I'll post this around Chanukah", and then "Waa, I'm too busy" (or "Waa, I am not recording another take of this tricky, tricky song"), and then "Oops, Chanukah's over, I'll post it next Chanukah" multiple times. So now I'm posting it, and hey, it's even still Chanukah!

The Real Story of Chanukah (mp3) (possibly an overly ambitious title) covers several key points about the holiday:
  • The military history comemmorated by Chanukah, and its political fallout, were more problematic that is usually acknowledged.
  • Nevertheless, we (Jews) are still here in part because of those events.
  • The whole thing about the miraculous conservation of oil is wholly fictional.
  • Nevertheless it is an essential feature of the meaning of the holiday.
  • (Not least because it helps tie Chanukah to universal themes that everyone else is also celebrating at this time of year.)
  • FRIED FOOD
Mainly, I wanted another Chanukah song because Chanukah songs are supposed to be peppy and festive, and my first attempt (Dedication (mp3)), which uses the Chanukah story as more of a psycho-spiritual metaphor, came out far too contemplative and edgy. My goal for "Real Story" was to create a song that is peppy and festive while still acknowledging the problematic facets of the story.

And speaking of fried food, I am planning to host a deep-fried party, again, finally, some time between Chanukah and Christmas.
bnewman: (explorer)
I was trapped at Walgreens by an epic thunderstorm on my way to fill a prescription for a new medicine that should help with my mood swings. I spent most of the time talking with Persephone (by which I mean the goddess Herself, not any human acquaintance of that name). We stood at the entrance looking out at the continuous lightning. (She says: Whoa, Dad, what's going on?) There was torrential rain blowing horizontally for a bit, but no hail or (thank G!d(s)) severe vortical activity.

We're fine, the most cleaning up we're going to have to do after this storm is putting away some stuff that usually lives outside but was brought inside so it wouldn't blow away, and resetting the clocks on some appliances that don't need to know what time it is anyway. But this was a biggie — there are people out there, whether or not there is any personal connection to them from this corner of the Internet, who are not fine. My heart goes out to them.

On the phone later:
[livejournal.com profile] scifantasy: I saw Thor
me: No, you saw "Thor: The Comic Book: The Movie". I saw Thor.

That was fucking awesome. Can we not do that again for a while, please?
bnewman: (firefly)
The rite of the Apple of Concord is a spell for achieving balance among the different areas of one's life. It represents a tikkun of the Greek myth of the Apple of Discord — you know, the one that started the Trojan war? Within the circle, participants re-enact the story, but this time a more sensible Paris does the right thing, war is averted, and everyone lives happily ever after.

You will need a large, crisp yellow apple... )
bnewman: (explorer)
I'm way behind on posting songs, but I'm working to catch up )

This newest song, however, I want to tell you about right now. I started writing it yesterday at MASSFILC and finished it today.

Remember the Hymn for a Festival of Sandcastles? That song was inspired by the ritual of a Tibetan Buddhist sand-painting which was created and then ceremonially destroyed at Swarthmore College as part of a cultural festival. Some day I want to actually host a festival of sandcastles... )

"Hymn" presents the festival as a meditation on impermanence as a truth that humans must wrestle with. It doesn't imply a cosmology beyond the simple fact that things end, certainly it doesn't introduce a fantastic setting. I always imagined it as a holiday belonging to our world that simply hadn't been done yet in that particular form. But then the idea of the festival came into contact with the idea of recursion, or of seeing small terrain features (like moss-covered rocks, or tidepools) as miniatures of larger landscapes, or scale-independent fractals, or At the Mountains of Madness, or something by Borges, or whatever, and the shape of the world from which the festival ultimately comes became clear to me.

The liturgy of the public event known as the Festival of Sandcastles makes no mention of any of the disturbing cosmological musings which follow. Little children learn nothing of them. Adults will not discuss them, even though they all know of them. It is teens who initiate their younger peers into the mystery, at the edge of adolescence where the playful life of a child meets with the capacity to take life's big questions seriously. In surreptitious retreats, they organize their own, secret Festivals of Sandcastles. Different stories are told, different songs sung, secrets taught that may only be spoken by firelight, on the beach, in the evening, when the tide has begun to come in and wash the sandcastles away, and even then only in whispers.

So, if you wish to learn, imagine yourself there. See the twilight, hear the breakers crashing, smell the wood smoke, feel the sand between your toes, taste the roasted marshmallows. Today you created a world with your hands. It was good fun, and good exercise, and you feel exhausted but refreshed in both body and mind. You created a world— and now, you realize, you are watching it die. At last you are ready to learn the secret mythology behind the Festival of Sandcastles. )

Read on for a more in-depth commentary on the secret... )

Coming into being at this moment in the history of our own world, this song is dedicated to the people of Japan, for whom the image of human civilization being swept out to sea like so many sandcastles is not a fairy tale. If it touches your heart, consider making a donation to support the ongoing relief effort.
bnewman: (Default)
Groundhog Day, which looks towards the end of winter, is a worn-down leftover of Imbolc, the Celtic pagan festival which celebrates lambing (η: according to one [possibly incorrect — see comments] folk etymology, the name has something to do with milk), the first rising of sap in the trees, the first stirrings of life under the soil in preparation for the spring to come. Maybe that's happening where you are... or maybe you're snowed in like the Boston area. Imbolc is sacred to (and sometimes called by the name of) Brigid, Celtic goddess of the hearth, the forge, healing, and the bardic arts.

Groundhog Day is also a delightfully strange, magical realist, romantic comedy movie, in which a disgruntled weatherman somehow lives the same day over and over again, until he gets it right.

What, besides being notionally associated with the same calendar date, do these two things have in common? I'm glad you asked. Both holiday and film are ultimately about the unfreezing of what has been frozen, the stirring of life in a world — or a heart — emerging from winter's blanket of snow to turn towards the returning sun again.

Many bright blessings of the day. More songs and updates coming soon.
bnewman: (damselfly)
Not those silly, cute Santa elves — real Elves. Think about it. Recall the scene of the departure from Lorien in The Fellowship of the Ring, and recall the Father Christmas scene in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The gifts are of the same kind — sacred treasures to help in the struggle of light against darkness, the tools we need to be light in the world. Those are always the best gifts. What gifts are you hoping to receive from the Elves at this season to help you do your part to make the world a better place?
bnewman: (firefly)
I don't write about Good and Evil very much — I tend to be more of the It's All Relative school. But Good and Evil do exist, and Heaven and Hell are very real as well, as close as the cartoon angel and devil on your shoulders. This Friday, real, unalloyed Evil, as petty and pitiful as it may be, will be coming to Brandeis University. I speak of a contingent from Westboro Baptist Church — yes, them, the so-called "Christians" who, without knowing anything about you, already hate you because you are different from them. I won't dignify them with a hyperlink.

The Brandeis community has, of course, organized a response. Wisely, it will not be a direct counter-protest, but a celebration of our community's shared values. Community members have pledged money to Keshet, an advocacy group for LGBT Jews, in proportion to the duration of the WBC protest. And Hillel is organizing a Harry Potter themed Shabbat dinner, I assume for the express purpose of pissing off the WBC. Good!

But, for me, as a Jew, as a fan, and as an enchanter, there's more to it than that. Harry Potter and the Torah both teach us that our words matter. G!d created the world with speech, and saw that it was good. We, too, can create the world as we speak — when we say "Thank you," or "I love you," and most of all when we articulate in speech our vision of the world we hope for, and invite others to join us in making it a reality. This is true of all speech, not just some special category of magical speech, but ancient Jewish wizards did, in light of this, seal their spells with the declaration "I create as I speak" — אברא כאדברא — Abara k'adabra. Abracadabra!

We create as we speak. But we can also destroy — this, also, we learn from the Torah and from Harry Potter. Jewish tradition speaks of לשון הרע/lashon hara, the evil tongue. Hateful speech that stings and demeans can poison souls and destroy lives, even kill. The line between creation and destruction may seem stark and clear, but it is very thin, as thin as one stroke of a pen, the one stroke that turns ר/resh into ד/dalet: "I destroy as I speak" — אבדא כאדברא — Avada k'adabra. Avada kedavra, words that kill.

This is what we're up against, the face of the Enemy. But ultimately, Harry Potter and the Torah both teach us, love is stronger than hate. When we stand together in love, G♥d is with us, helping us create a world of hope, tolerance, peace, and good will. So claim the power of your voice. Create the world as you speak — אברא כאדברא — Abracadabra! — just like magic. Because if we do that, together, we'll win.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have set before you this day life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your children may live. — Deuteronomy 30:19

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness comprehends it not. — John 1:5

Now, after writing Walk in the Day, I'm not sure how I feel about the diurnal assumptions embedded in that last quote. But we are diurnal animals, and that is our metaphor, and our Truth — it's the message of Chanukah, and it's the message of Advent (and Christmas after): The Light will return. Hate ultimately destroys itself. Love triumphs.

Prayers, spells, and all forms of positive energy are welcome in support of Brandeis's response, please direct such energy to the Brandeis community as a whole. Feel free to link to this post.
bnewman: (Default)
So, I already mentioned that [livejournal.com profile] fiddledragon and I are engaged. But the really awesome thing is that I was already having the best birthday ever (Wednesday, November 17th) before that. I have just turned 32, which is a very auspicious number in both Hebrew, where 32 = לב = heart, and binary, where 32 = 100000.

On this occasion, the world has been going out of its way to buffer overflow in private int self.soul.countBlessings(Context c) — whoops, that exception means that wonderful things have been happening to me faster than I can type. So, here's the executive summary:
  • I no longer seriously doubt that I will complete my PhD. Furthermore, I know more or less what my dissertation will be about.
  • I have been experiencing a profound spiritual awakening which feels like it's mostly going to stick this time.
  • My beloved and I are engaged.
More details will be forthcoming on all points, as well as on my (already mentioned) plans to actually produce my musical, as they become available and/or when I have time to write them down. Some of the spiritual stuff will be in locked posts, though. I haven't decided whether or not to create a separate filter for it.

Anyway, short short version: Life is really good right now, it looks like this is going to be my year, and I'll keep you posted on the details.
bnewman: (explorer)
Guess what I did this week? I wrote a one-act science fiction action/adventure musical about Quaker peacemakers and Space Marine engineers working together to save adorable fierce furry nocturnal aliens from extinction on a desert planet.

Yes, that musical. Yes, all of it. Last you heard, if you've been following this journal, there were four songs in this song-cycle. Now there are fourteen (the secret: a lot of repeated leitmotifs), linked together by about eight pages of prose dialogue. I know a lot more about the characters than I did before, and a lot more about the plot. Which is good, 'cause it's done.

After the cut, you'll find the complete script, and I recommend listening to the songs in context, but to ease your downloading, here's the complete list of songs (note that "Long, Bright Day" is three times longer and contains much more plot that the version posted last week):

[ edit: "Rules of War" has been expanded into "War vs. Peace/Open Your Eyes", which is a much deeper treatment of the just war vs. pacifism debate, please update your playlists accordingly. ]

mp3Called by the Shade
mp3Strange Rumors
mp3Speaking Lessons
mp3Long, Bright Day
mp3Science Lessons
mp3Shade
mp3Dark Moon Daughter
mp3Star-flecked Nights
mp3The Raid
mp3War vs. Peace/Open Your Eyes
mp3Peace vs. Peace
mp3The Escape
mp3Walk in the Day
mp3Meeting for Worship with Attention to Shade

This will be produced as an album, at some point — it's a single, self-contained album-sized work, so I have no worries about having future qualms about the exact selection of songs on it. I'd also love to stage it (like, really stage it), but that would require a Julie Taymor-like level of puppet design and an extremely creative lighting designer.

Meanwhile, if you would like to play any role (technical, vocal, or instrumental) in the production of an album, or if you would like to participate in an on-book cast (a recital, without blocking) at Swarthmore Alumni Weekend, Concertino, Pi-con, OVFF, GAFilk, Arisia, or Boskone, please let me know.

I'll also be posting some more expository notes in a separate entry to follow.

Complete script (long!) after the cut )
bnewman: (explorer)
Lately I've recorded a number of my songs that have been "published" for a while, but for which I have not previously posted a recording. There are also several songs that have been finished for a while, but which I hadn't posted because I thought I would set up a new version of my website first — and I still think I wil soon, but I've realized we'll all have more fun if I continue to post songs here meanwhile. On top of that, there are some actually new songs (besides the ones just posted). Here goes:

MP3s have been posted of the following previously-published songs: "The Galaxy is Silent", "Clockwork", "The Highwayman", and "Stars on Our Heads".

I've written two additional songs in the "Walk in the Day" song-cycle: "Long, Bright Day" (mp3) and "Dark Moon Daughter" (mp3). I've also posted a new MP3 of "Walk in the Day" featuring the new and better revised lyrics.

The Storytellers' World is my catch-all setting for high-fantasy ideas. Once, it was only that, without any other unifying theme, which means it tended to indiscriminately accumulate retreads of familiar high-fantasy tropes.

Since deciding to unify it with the idea that it is a world created by storytelling, I've tried to account for as many of those tropes as possible in ways that tie them in to the nature of the world. This isn't strictly essential, since of course any high-fantasy trope can be incorporated into the world as part of the content of a story, but it's more elegant to explain a trope in terms of the structure of the story if I can.

One of the tropes that got in there was the idea of elves, particularly the noble but inscrutable high elves, whom you can fall in among and then go home to realize later that time has done something wacky while you were away — a bit of a mix of the Tolkien sort and the Thomas the Rhymer sort. The song "Two Streams of Time" (mp3) explains what these beings are doing in the Storytellers' World, and what can happen to people who accept their hospitality unawares.

"Honeybird" is about sex the birds and the bees. Which, you know, is a really strange euphemism for what people need to know about sex, because pollination is very different from what people do. There are all kinds of biological implausibilities in this song, starting with the very premise of a sentient pollinatee who is discriminating in her choice of mate, but if there were such creatures, they would totally enjoy National Geographic articles about hummingbirds, and sing lusty ballads about the birds and the bees sex. Sorry, no MP3 yet, but the tune is another variation of the same one I've used for "Circle Story" and "Love Letter" — which fits, somehow.

Two more video game songs (to video game tunes):

For the adorable action/physics/puzzle game World of Goo (highly recommended), "Ode to the Bridge Builder" (mp3), based on the track of the same name (which is in turn a variation of "Amazing Grace") from the game's soundtrack, the music for the level of the same name, which is near the end of world 1 and thus included in the free demo. You can watch a (very skilled) play-through of this level here, which will illustrate a lot of the gameplay references in the song. Like "Many Pikmin", this is an anthem in praise of teamwork.

For the NES adventure game Blaster Master, "FROG!" tells the strange story of this strange but wonderful game — Jason's pet frog Fred has escaped, and... then he randomly gets thrown into a video game, basically. The tune (no MP3 yet) is from level 4 of the game, which does indeed involve "fighting through and endless maze of twisty little slimy tunnels searching for [your character's] giant, mutant frog".

Two songs about A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge, (possibly the best gee-whiz epic space opera adventure thriller ever written):

"Transcendence", the Fire Upon the Deep filk of Dar Williams's "The Ocean" which I said I wasn't going to write, so you should just listen to "The Ocean" and pretend I had filked it, has been written (⇐ spoiler warning). It's still very similar to Dar's original (moreso than any of my filks besides "The Vorlon Connection", which is identical to the original), so I feel ambivalent enough about posting a recording that I'm at least not going to do so right now.

Speaking of A Fire Upon the Deep, I've also finally (er, back in September) written a song for my favorite character in that book, the alien pack entity known as Peregrine. Like "So High, So Low", which is my song for the alien protagonist of A Deepness in the Sky, "Wandering Pilgrim Soul" (mp3) is mainly a character study but tied to a particular moment in the story, in this case near the beginning.

Jewish songs:

Two new Jewish songs were just posted, but you saw those already.

Even before those, I've had enough Jewish songs to make up an album for some time. I've known what the title of the album was going to be for some time, because I had come up with a great title for a Jewish filk album. I didn't know if there was going to be a title track, though...

And then, back in September, it all came together, as it seems to with me, with the insight that two stories are the same: the evil empire, the call, the quest in service of that redeeming power which binds the universe together — and not only those things, but also, and foremost, the desert (and it is the same desert!) — and so, out of that insight, I'm pleased to present "Yehudi Mind Tricks" (mp3 — note the musical reference in the chorus). Enjoy, and may the Force be with you!
bnewman: (firefly)
(See my previous entry for some background context which I won't repeat here.)

Another major Bryn Mawr tradition is the lantern — each student has a lantern, which is bestowed upon her during her first year at Lantern Night, a solemn occasion which serves as the sisterhood's initiation. (The Bryn Mawr traditions essentially constitute a single large sorority consisting of the entire student body.)

There are several occasions when these lanterns are traditionally lit, including step-sings, the night-time gatherings of song which close each of the major festivals. Guests are welcome at most of these events, and it's nice to bring a lantern, but of course it won't be a Bryn Mawr lantern. The last time I was at May Day, I made an impromptu origami lantern. (Why doesn't it burn? You'll see!) This year, I'm finally posting the instructions.

instructions for making the firefly lantern after the cut )

Firefly lantern
bnewman: (firefly)

As you may have noticed, my spiritual life is an eclectic patchwork — there's a solid core to it (although even that is a patchwork), but in general, when I see something I like, if I can find a way to make it fit, I will.

Through my relationship with [livejournal.com profile] fiddledragon, one of the religions I have collected parts of is that of Bryn Mawr College, a Wisdom cult which I've mentioned before. One of the major festivals of this cult is May Day, which is observed on the Sunday closest to May 1st (i.e. today — happy May Day!).

May Day celebrates the completion of the school year and honors the graduating seniors. One of the traditions assocated with May Day is that of "May Day gifts", which are legacies which must remain at the college and are thus passed from a senior to the underclasswoman of her choice. While I'm not a Bryn Mawr alumna (obviously), my experience of those Bryn Mawr traditions which I have attended has been an inspiration to me, and I want to give something back. Or maybe I'm just feeling creative and enjoying my own cleverness. Anyway, here's the first of two "open source" May Day gifts:

The BMC school song is "Σοφιας" (Sophias), a hymn to Wisdom, and it had occurred to me that, hey, we have that idea in Judaism, too, and maybe I could translate "Σοφιας" into Hebrew. However, [livejournal.com profile] fiddledragon forbade me to do so, and since it is her tradition and not mine, I have abided by her decision.

On the other hand, we have that idea in Judaism, too... maybe I don't have to translate this one from Greek? Where have I seen... right, pretty much the whole Book of Proverbs! scans to "Greensleeves", after the cut )

bnewman: (damselfly)

I've been meaning to write something on this topic for a long time, and the universe, being wise, conspired to get it written today. I davened today in a clearing in the woods behind Avery Park in Newtonville, on my way to my Pilates class. Apple trees are blossoming all over, and Newton is full of them. And the dance between my Jewish and pagan identities and practices is in full swing. It must be spring! (Happy May Day!)

The Jewish practice of going out into nature to pray doesn't really need an apology from me — Reb. Nachman said it much better — but this is a topic that's dear to me, and it seemed like a good case for one of those perky essay-songs in which I explain my worldview in rhyming stanzas. Indeed, if that chord sequence hiding under the talking blues line sounds familiar, it's because you may have heard it before. Right, or you might not have, because I didn't put up an MP3 of that song until quite recently, so there you go.

And here you go:

"B'Tzibbur"
lyrics and music by Benjamin Newman

Lots of lyrics and footnotes after the cut )

bnewman: (damselfly)
Over the last week or so, I have had a musical flood — I've written a number of new songs, extensively revised a few old songs, and recorded yet more songs to which I posted lyrics long ago. I've also posted a number of songs that aren't new-to-me, but which hadn't been posted previously.

The complete list of updates is on my songs page, without commentary. Note that this will probably be the last major update to that page, and also the last batch of songs to be announced on this journal, because this summer I will be moving my web presence to a new site and a new format, about which I will post at length after it happens. I will continue to use this LJ account for the purposes of reading and commenting on other people's journals.

[η: links fixed]

"Love Letter" (mp3) has gotten a major revision, with the third verse and its chorus ripped out and replaced with two new verses and choruses. This song was always intended, not just as one of those quirky songs in which Ben explains his world-view, but as a love song to the Holy One, as something you could earnestly pray. The original version started in a devotional mood, but then made a very abrupt transition to critical-thinking-land. This revision makes the transition much smoother, and the point-of-view character less canny, which helps to carry that devotional energy into the second half of the song. Of all the changes, the key may be "Please don't say you expect me to take this or leave it / 'cause I love you too much to say no." I don't think it's a coincidence that "Love Letter" didn't get properly finished until between Pesach and Shavuot.

click for even more songs )
bnewman: (damselfly)
I've been filking my way through the Jewish calendar for a while now, and am pleased to announce that I am finally (according to some interpretations) done! There are two groups of Jewish holidays which could each be viewed as a single extended holiday, and I've now got one song for each group (and for the other major holidays) but not for each individual holiday within each group. (See below for the complete list.)

The song which completes the sequence is "Love Letter" (MP3), which picks up the biblical narrative at Pesach but is really about Shavuot. On Shavuot, we celebrate the revelation of the Torah at Sinai. The Jewish interpretive tradition likens G!d and Israel to lovers, the revelation at Sinai to a wedding, and the Torah to a marriage contract, and reads the Song of Songs as an allegory of this story (which it is, and...). It's touching, it's meaningful... but let's look at the particulars... )

Incidentally, yes, the tune is very similar to "Circle Story" (MP3), which is a coincidence but not an accident — compare the section of "Circle Story" covering the corresponding part of the calendar and you'll see why.

the list of Jewish holiday songs )
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