19 Nov

Hava nagila v’nismeha – it’s Hebrew. Let us rejoice and be happy. It’s the kind of staple that makes those raised on it raise their eyes to Heaven when in youth: Oh brother not this again. The Jews do it at weddings, bar mitzvahs. Dance in the circle of the love of your kin.

Considering the history between Poles and Jews I’d say that it’s entirely appropriate that somewhere Polish Metalheads play this song savage. The tune hails from Ukraine. Another nasty narrative there. Is that peculiarly Jewish? That those things dear to their culture originate in their long history’s most desperate episodes. What rejoicing for Jews in Ukraine?


The behaviour of Ukrainians in slaughtering Jewish people shocked even the Nazis instigating it. There was deep hatred here. Hatred of what and why? The resentment and mistrust of Jewish people has a long cycle of slumbering punctuated by frightful awakening. It’s been at times both abated and sanctioned by authority but always lies dormant behind the curled lips and cranky eyes of those cheated at birth. In the third decade of the 20th century this… force? Is that what you call it? This… whatever awoke fierce and relished the tasks set it by those that gave the world an updated image of evil and the Hell it produces.

Let us rejoice and be happy. Hava nigila – they play it everywhere. In Texas they blend it with Country and wave flags that mean friendship and war; the fulfillment of dire prophecy. In a country where the nefarious fraudulent lies of the  Protocols of the Elders of Zion are being dispensed as truth they play it with tender respect. The melody is Ukrainian, the words Hebrew.  Starts slow in  claps and stomps. The beat rises faster and you begin to twirl, to dance in the circle. There’s a rub in a circle. Join hands and dance, it’s the oldest face of Kitsch. But there is an implicit threat in circles of love for what lies outside the circle is not loved and what is not loved can be despised with impunity even unto bloodlust.

In the first millennium of what we now clinically refer to as the Common Era two prophets set forth to bring the words of the Hebrew lawgivers to all the nations. They succeeded wildly casting the Word over a good half of the globe. I wonder, considering the now-lost details of the casual brutality with which the Hebrew people must have been treated by Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Rome, whether, on balance, so many Goy converts to the laws of Moses was better or worse finally. It wasn’t gravy, that much is sure.

Hava Nagila? I can’t remember the first time I heard it, got caught up in one of the world’s most infectuous dance tracks. You can’t help it, you will move. Slowly at first, swaying maybe, discreetly tapping something. And when the melody changes – Uru ahim b’lev sameah, Uru ahim b’lev sameah, Uru ahim b’lev sameah – you will move more. Acha’yot, ahim! Hava neranenah v’nismeha. Sisters, brothers, let’s sing and be happy.

Without it, life isn’t worth it.


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