• KINOT CONNECT: Part 2 - “B’leyl Zeh”

    Cantor Sidney Ezer and Asher Farber present a series of prerecorded videos on Kinot, liturgical dirges and poetry associated with Tishah B’Av. Different melodies will be presented in the days leading up to Tishah B’Av.

    B’leyl Zeh – “On this night weep and wail, my children”. This kinah, also chanted on the evening of Tishah B’Av, is of unknown authorship although scholars suggest it is by Eleazar Kalir (between the 7th and 10th centuries) one of the most prolific of the liturgical poets responsible for many of the kinot.

    B’leyl Zeh has its origins in the story outlined in Numbers 13:25-14:11 in which ten of the twelve spies returning from scouting out the land of Canaan produced a terribly slanderous report rather than have faith in God’s promise of protection. The nation chose to believe the spies’ discouraging word and they wept that night, causing God to declare “I shall give you many reasons to cry on this night!”

    The kinah laments the five tragic events enumerated in the Mishnah because of the nation’s lack of faith – the sentencing of the sinful generation to die in the wilderness before the nation would enter the land, the destruction of the first and second Temples, the quashing of the Bar Kochba revolt and capture of Beitar by the Romans, and the razing and plowing of Jerusalem by the Roman governor Turnus Rufus.

    Israel’s waywardness is referenced with examples of the rebellious daughter unworthy of compassion (Hosea 1:1-6) and the poet’s allusion to the ordeal and degradation of the Sotah, or wayward wife, as described in Numbers 5:11-31. The poet places this kinah into the mouth of either Jerusalem or the nation as a whole lamenting to her exiled children about the bitter tragedies which have befallen her.

    The melody we recorded is a German or Western European melody as transcribed by German Cantor Abraham Baer (1834-1894) in his work, Bā’al Tefillah, der Practische Vorbeter — an almost complete collection of Jewish traditional melodies published in 1871 which has become the standard reference work for cantors throughout Europe and North America.

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