Yishai Ribo’s evocation of the Avodah[1] of Yom Kippur stirs hearts and moves to tears. It has gone viral here in Israel; I’m told that the same is happening in the US. (One of the many, many beautiful things about living here is that – especially recently – people who proudly define themselves as staunchly secular have enough familiarity with the words of davening that they, too, admit to deep feelings of connection to songs like this. A raft of Israeli musicians have turned to piyutim for their material, and the street buys it.)

Those who love it claim it has stolen their attention from what other spiritual preparations they were making for the coming Days of Awe. No worries, though. The song, with a haunting melody, powerful delivery, and unforgettable message pays back the theft doubly, just as the Torah demands.[2]

The artist does take some liberties, which Briskers probably will not like. He turns the achas, achas v’achas count of the sprinkling above and below into an exercise in shamefacedly counting the transgression that we’ve committed. That allows him to contrast it with a new count of his own invention – a much, much larger count of all of the gifts, blessings, and acts of Divine intervention large and small that we also remember.... Read More: Cross Currents