Listen to Idan Raichel’s beautiful song while you read: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uJLsc05ZE4
As someone who likes to pretend they are fluent in Hebrew (especially when intoxicated), my ears automatically perk up whenever I hear the smooth, buttery sounds of my ancestral language. This time, however, my ears are tempted by terse, unfamiliar words and sounds. The first sounds that fill my ears are incomprehensible, speaking to an audience I have yet to find. Succinct and sharp syllabus reminiscent of bongos layer perfectly with the steady and modest background beats. An electronic-sounding instrument, touched by modernity, throbs rhythmically. The old Middle Eastern melodies blend faultlessly with the new digital sounds; a perfect musical harmony between what was and what will be. A collection of musical strata: layers of sounds, tones, languages, and instruments.
Tension rises alongside captivating crescendos. I sit with my earphones, hungry, waiting, like dog begging for a treat. A short Amharic phrase is recited. I don’t understand what it means, but its tranquil tones welcome me into the chorus. There, I am met with tremendous urgency and passion as Idan Raichel sings: “Come, give me your hand and we will go. Don’t ask me where, don’t ask me about happiness. Maybe it will come too. When it will come, it’ll fall upon us like rain. Come.”
So I go, following Raichel’s gentle yet firm command. His lyrics bring me back to the first Yom Ha’Atzmaut, or Israel Independence Day, I can remember; the first time I ever heard this song. My entire Jewish day school came together as a community to sing our own terribly out of tune yet somehow beautiful rendition. I am brought back to the sunset on the beach in Tel Aviv when my class sang the song with the sounds of the waves crashing in the background and the beautiful strums of an acoustic guitar accompanying us. I am reminded of my middle school graduation when we stood in front of our entire school, singing to all of our friends, peers, and families – our last time standing before all of them before we headed off to high school.
Boee. Come. “Come where?” I wonder, each time I listen to this song. I let Raichel’s intoxicating voice reach the deepest parts of my emotional and mental abyss. To where, I do not know. But Raichel does not care that I do not know my destination. He urges me to take that first step, to have faith in the things that call me, to trust myself and my surroundings. Because before I can get anywhere, I need to start walking.