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Endnote: The Sweetness of Torah; Don’t Send Anyone Else

Riki Goldstein

“If people were to feel the sweetness of Torah they would ‘go crazy’ for it, because Torah includes all good of the world”

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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M

ic Drop

Yisrael Werdyger 

made sure the sweetness of Torah infused the album he was about to release

When Rabbi Hillel Paley composed “Mesikus HaTorah” for a 2011 convention of thousands of women and seminary students from the Gur chassidus in Jerusalem’s Binyanei Ha’umah auditorium, he surely didn’t imagine that the powerful words of the Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh — “If people were to feel the sweetness of Torah they would ‘go crazy’ for it, because Torah includes all good of the world” — would become a worldwide theme song for Torah learning.

Yisroel Werdyger was the first to record it — on his third album, Odeh LaKeil. The song that had become wildly popular in Eretz Yisrael in the months before soon caught on all over, becoming an integral part of siyumim and mesibos, and one of the theme songs of the last Siyum HaShas.

The song, perhaps Werdyger’s most famous, actually landed at his door by accident. “My friend and musical arranger Shua Fried had been commissioned to do a professional project for a school, which needed a really special song for the occasion. ‘Mesikus HaTorah,’ which people were already singing in Eretz Yisrael, got chosen, and I got paid to perform it. It was really just a one-time job,” Werdyger remembers. “But once the song was recorded, we realized that we had a gem, and we couldn’t possibly release our upcoming album without including it. We actually got permission from the school to rearrange and rerecord the song.”


You Never Know Who’s Listening

Singer Zanvil Weinberger, a Dushinsky chassid from Jerusalem whose sweet voice has been a feature of recent L’chaim Tish albums, got a career boost a few months ago when he received his most meaningful invitation to date. “I received a message from the home of the Sadigura Rebbe — the Rebbe had heard me sing at a dinner a few months previously — that he wanted me to sing at the upcoming wedding of his son. The music was conducted by Rabbi Pinchos Bichler of the Malchut choir, and we sang a new niggun for “Ilan Ilan Bameh Avarechecha” as well as Rabbi Bichler’s composition of the words “Yehalelucha Hashem Elokeinu” from Hallel. It was a very special simchah, as well as a kavod I’d never imagined.”


Don’t Send Anyone Else

Motty Ilowitz’s gift for Yiddish lyrics and witty verse had made him a sought-after badchan at many a mitzvah tantz, where honored relatives are traditionally called up in a rhyme rich with references to their names, character, and the significance of the simchah. Ilowitz remembers that he once caught a cold before a wedding and felt that he wouldn’t be able to perform at his best. “I called the mechutan to offer to find him a replacement. I was astounded by how he reacted. He said ‘I hired you because I like your style of badchanus. You don’t need to find me someone else — because we want you to sing, even with your cold!’ That was one of the best compliments I ever got — and it spurred me to sing and give it my best shot, even under the circumstances.”

                                                          

 
 
THE SOUND I LIKE BEST

Asking people in the music industry to choose their favorite instrument is almost like asking a father to name his favorite child. But most artists do have their favored medium, the sound they connect to most, which always strikes the right note.


Sheya Mendlowitz: Producer

The string section, and especially the violin. The sound of the violin playing is the closest thing to the sound of a human voice singing.


Pinny Ostreicher: Musician/Band Leader

The brass section. I’ve loved the sound of the trumpet and horns since I was a child. Horns might be less popular today than electronic music, but I’ll always hold onto them. I grew up on the chassidish albums, and all the intros, plus a lot of accompaniment and harmony was with horns, so I’ve naturally turned to them.


Menachem Herman: Guitarist/Band Leader

My favorite instrument sound is an electric guitar playing solo. The bending of those strings, both in slow songs and fast, evokes a lot of yearning for Hashem.


Sruly Meyer: Producer

It would definitely be the violin. It just has something that pulls at your heart. Really speaks to me and works in so many songs, from a ballad to the hook of a fast niggun.


Yoeli Dikman: Arranger/Conductor

The note A played by the oboe, which leads the tuning up of any full orchestra, has to be my favorite musical sound. After that very clear and definitive sound, all the musicians play an A on their own instruments, and tune their instruments together. It signals the beginning of great music.


Mendy Hershkowitz: Pianist

The cello section of an orchestra moves me every single time I hear its beautiful sound. It’s also what drew me to get acquainted with the other parts of the orchestra, and to start studying and writing music for big film-size orchestras.


Hershy Rottenberg: Composer

I like the sound of the lighter instruments — somehow they sound more real to me. Classical guitar, violin, and clarinet are high on my list.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 702)

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