Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The truth about Eli Zion

First, I was an idiot to refer to it as Kaylee Zion. As pointed out, on the threads and by email, the word Eli here means "Wail" and has nothing to do with the God of the Hebrews, or the God of the Cannaites who also was called "El"

Second, the famous tune, as many suspected, is not originally from a Jewish source. Scholars have linked it variously with a 15th-century German court ballad called Die Frau zur Weissen Burg, 14th and 17th-century Catholic songs, a 17th-century Spanish folksong, and a Czech song of the same period. Says the Virtual Jewish Library:
Since all these comparisons are based upon resemblances of isolated motives or melodic phrases, and a direct prototype has not been identified as yet, it seems more probable that it represents a particular instance of a widespread European "migrant" tune or melodic pattern.

Third, "the earliest notated evidence of the melody found so far is in the manuscript manual of Judah Elias of Hanover (1743), for Lekhah Dodi" (Virtual Jewish Library)

So, the custom denounced as a "modernishka" tradition is, in fact, older than Chabad Lubovitch (its founder Shneur Zalman of Liadi was born in 1745) and also older then Velozhin, "mother of all Yeshivot: (1803) Considering the Bal Shem Tov was still living in 1743, a case might be made that this scorned and disdained "Young Israel" custom of using Eli Zion on Shabbos Chazon is even older than the whole of Hasidic Judaism


HT: Lkvod Shabbos Kodesh

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