Baal Shem Tov, or Besht — the founder of Chasidism —
met the soul of the Messiah during an ascent to heaven.
The Besht asked him, "When will the Master come?"
The Messiah answered, "When your wellsprings break forth to the outside!"
(from a letter
written by the Besht to his brother-in-law about one of his soul ascents)
Hatikva isn't just a Zionist song; it's a thoroughly Ashkenazi song. Yet here is a 1930 recording of a wonderful Mizrachi version from Tunisia, sent to me by Rabbi Kevin Hale, sofer stam. It's not only wonderful and different, it also uses the old lyrics, which are just a bit softer and less nationalistic. It also includes many verses (read them here). In particular, the end of the chorus went like this:
Od lo avdah tikvateinu,
עוד לא אבדה תקותנו
Our hope is not yet lost,
The ancient hope,
Lashuv le’eretz avoteinu,
לשוב לארץ אבותינו
To return to the land of our ancestors,
La‘ir bah david chanah.
לעיר בה דוד חנה
To the city where David encamped.
Listen to Hatikvah:
Note: this recording was made by Kevin using his antique Victrola played into an mp3 player, so expect it to be rough around the edges! On the recording, you will also hear Kevin flipping the record to the B-side for the last four verses. (The order differs slightly from the Wikipedia version, which is no longer on Wikipedia, but you can read it here.) About the recording, Kevin writes, "I bought the record in about 1995 from "The Place" a store devoted to phonographs, cylinder players and very early radios, in Bristol, PA, just up the street from my student pulpit." You can learn more about this recording here (thank you Noam Sienna!)
The version we're used to goes, "Od lo avdah tikvateinu, hatikvah sh'not alpayim, lihyot am chofshi b'artseinu, erets Tsiyon, Yerushalayim / Our hope is not yet lost, the hope of 2,000 years to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion, Jerusalem!" In the old version, there's just that subtle acknowledgment of historical conditions, and maybe even of the existence in the land of more than just the Jewish people, when it describes "our hope... to return to the land of our ancestors" rather than "our hope... to be a free people in our land". The first implies the land to which our ancestors belonged, the second is a description of ownership: the land belongs to us. One is true, the other is elusive and maybe even illusory.
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