Ask The Rabbi

Divine Rhyme in 4/4 Time

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Ado-noi, Saying Hashem instead of

Yerachmiel Garfield:

Dear Rabbi,

What is the deal with the name of Hashem when singing Shabbat songs? I've noticed many don't say the actual name of Hashem, it makes me wonder what the author of the song had in mind? If we are not to say it why did they use the real names? Or maybe we should?


Dear Yerachmiel Garfield,

We should. Take for example the Shabbat song called 'Shimru Shabbtoti.' It has five stanzas, and each stanza ends in a word which rhymes with Hashem's name - 'Madanai' Mizkenai ' Kohanai ''

Surely, the author intended that the chorus be sung using the name of Hashem that rhymes with these words. Another Shabbat song, 'Tzur MiShelo,' also works the name of Hashem into its rhyme-scheme.

The composers of the Shabbat songs were great Torah scholars, some living over 1000 years ago. They put Hashem's name in their songs, and it's perfectly appropriate to sing them as the authors intended.

True, it's prohibited to say Hashem's name in vain. This includes making a blessing by mistake or unnecessarily, or any time a person mistakenly mentions Hashem's name thinking he's obligated to do so when in fact he's not.

Shabbat songs, however, don't fall into this category. On the contrary, their melody fills the air with delight, and their lofty poetry lifts our hearts in praise of Hashem for giving us the treasured gift: Shabbat!

Every talent can be used to do a mitzva. So If you have a good voice, use it to sing Shabbat songs or lead the synagogue services. The trick, however, is to focus on the words and not try to impress your audience!

Therefore, it's best to avoid repeating Hashem's name simply because the tune requires a few extra syllables. Rather, stick to the words as written.

Sources:

  • Berachot 33a
  • Maimonides Hilchot Berachot 1:15
  • Chavat Da'at 110
  • Pele Yoetz: Shira

 
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