[M.M.X.I.V. 221] נחמו עמי (post is in English)

In some sense, this post is a sequel to my “A-Cappella” post from two Saturdays ago.  This one will be very different, as there are some additional considerations.  It was indeed inspired by a song: נחמו עמי (Comfort My People), to which a YouTube link follows for the ShireiNU rendition of the song:

The song is taken from the opening lines of Isaiah 40, and is read as the opening of the הפטרה (prophetical reading) on the first שבת (Shabbat) that follows תשעה באב (Tisha b’Av: a day of historical calamity to Jewish people).  From here, there are seven weeks remaining until the High Holidays!

This song has several pieces of significance to me.  The first one is that it was one of the first songs that I heard from ShireiNU during my career at Northwestern, and really was one of the first songs that struck my chord in terms of seeking out music in Hebrew (the first time I heard the song was in 2010, at the ShireiNU “JewTube” concert.  It definitely stuck with me.)

They sang it again at the “Jewno” concert in May of 2011, and I had INCORRECTLY associated the song with a common bumper sticker that I saw in Jerusalem during my sixth day of Birthright, shown below.

However, another thing about the word נחמו (comfort in the imperative voice) is that the first two Hebrew letters correspond to my first name in Hebrew!  In fact, what is so big about this is that in the ArtScroll סידור (prayer book), at the conclusion of the עמידה (Amidah), the instructions read: “Some recite verses pertaining to their names at this point. See page 924.”

I chose to be one of those “Some,” and looked at page 924.  I learnt that it is a source of merit to recite a biblical verse that either contains my name, or begins and ends with the first and last letters of my name.  The list that began with נ did not have any verses that ended with ח, but the one that ended with ם was this:

נחמו נחמו עמי יומר אלוקיכם

(“Comfort, comfort my people, says your G-D.”)

Yes indeed, the same song that I have mentioned in this post!  The reason that this works is that my first and middle name in Hebrew is נח אברהם (Noah Abraham).

So, to bring this full-circle, I often sing this song in an undertone while doing my personal prayers following the עמידה.  Last night, however, we sang the song aloud in much the same way that the Friday night personal prayers might be signposted by שלום רב (Shalom Rav), עושה שלום (Oseh Shalom), and/or “If you are not finished with your personal עמידה, please continue at your own pace.  We continue on page 47 [“Slim Shalom”] (or 314 [Sim Shalom]).”

Does this mean that my innermost thoughts were being probed by the whole congregation at Mishkan Chicago last night?  🙂

I have a few more posts that I wanted to touch on, which will come in the next few days.  These include tomorrow, a post on the word “ostensibly,” and on Monday, a post that has been stockpiled for a long time.  Stay tuned!

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Today is the two-hundred and twenty-first day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes thirty-one weeks and four days.

Today is the twenty-sixth day of the Character Building Trial.  That makes three weeks and five days.

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