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Topic: Hava Nagilah, Origin & Meaning

From: "Dancing With the Jews"

Dear Rabbi,

I should probably be ashamed for not knowing this, but what is the literal translation of the popular Jewish wedding song, "Hava Nagilah?" Come to think of it, they play this song at every wedding, Jewish or not. So what does "Hava Nagilah" mean?

Dear "Dancing With the Jews,"

Don't worry the real meaning is really deeper then it seems, even if you understand the words! "Hava nagilah" -- Come! Let's rejoice; "V'nismicha" -- and be happy; "Hava N'ranana" -- Come! Let's celebrate; "Uru Achim" -- Arise, Brothers! "B'lev Somayach" -- with a happy heart!"

Hava Nagilah was composed by Klausenberg chassidim. Initially it signified attainment of the attribute of simcha, happiness. Everyone wants to be happy, but many times we just can't seem to escape our everyday difficulties to stay that way for very long. To counter this, the chassidim stress preparing oneself to rise above these difficulties and keep one's spirits high. Later, the young Zionist movement adopted the song Hava Nagilah, and it eventually spread to signify celebration for Jews all over the world.

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