B'tfilah (Shimshom Delefkovits)
I have not seen this sold on any web site anywhere so I can only tell you to go and buy it in your local store.
A brand new album from Israel, which I recently purchased, is “B’tfila” from Shimshon Delevkovitz, of Oif Simches fame. The album takes on a unique approach. It is a meaningful project to benefit victims of terror in Israel, especially children, in the form of a musical compilation of hopeful and optimistic songs to bring light and joy into unfortunately many shattered young lives. The main beneficiary of the album is the “Kav HaMe’ach’ed” institute, (with which Shimshon is directly involved) which helps support terror victims both financially and emotionally, with a strong emphasis on focusing on a bright future. In order for others to contribute to this important mitzvah, Shimshon invited a talented crew of Israeli JM stars to perform on the album. Shimshon composed most of the songs, and wrote most of the lyrics. Only four out of the twelve tracks contain traditional lyrics, while the others contain original lyrics in Ivrit which focus on putting the bad behind us and making the world a better place by performing acts of chesed. In this review, I will be commenting on lyrical content in addition to musical content, since the words of the songs are the most powerful element of B’tfila. The music on this album, arranged by Shai Barak, is quite reminiscent of Oif Simchas, with a lot of techno, keyboard and guitar. Shimshon sings on each song, accompanied by an Israeli Jewish Music personality. All compositions and lyrics are by Shimshon Delevkovitz, unless otherwise indicated. (Song scores are out of 10.)
1. Elokai, performed with Udi Ullman. This techno song talks from the victim’s viewpoint, and stresses the point that although life may be hard at the moment, we must pray to Hashem so that things will be better. We also must thank Hashem that we have an institution such as Kav Ha’me’ached which helps put a smile on our face. (The smile is a common theme in many of the songs on the album). This song gives us a timely introduction to the purpose of the album. 8.
2. Gaaguim, composed by Shimon Boskila, performed with Yossi Berger. One of two tear-jerking ballads, this song was written in memory of Avraham Neriah, Tzvi Yaakov Yisrael and Avishai Yosef Shebo, and their mother, Rachel, who were tragically killed in a bombing (or fire, I’m not exactly sure) in their house (Hashem yinakom damam). The words are powerful, a mixture of sadness and hope, as the father who lived prays that his remaining family remains secure and that the sublime Malochim protect the neshamos of his wife and sons. The message is that even though the unthinkable tragedy has occurred, we are still required to continue life and appreciate the good that we have; “Ani lo levad”- I am not alone. The CD contains a video clip of this song, sponsored by the “Krel” clothing company, which depicts the father and husband of the deceased looking around his destroyed house as well as many photos of the boys and their mother experiencing life as happy Yidden. We also see Shimshon and Yossi in the studio recording the song. The lyric “Menaseh le’esoff et hashvarim”-We will gather the broken pieces” becomes a reality in a physical and emotional sense, as we see the remains of the house as well as the kevarim of innocent Yidden. If you thought you had thick skin this song and video clip may prove you wrong and have you crying along. The tune, tempo, music and lyrics are so appropriate for the song, it really brings out what our brothers and sisters in Eretz Hakodesh are suffering through. Gaaguim gets a well-deserved 11, and hopefully no similar song will ever have to be recorded again, since we will be busy rejoicing with Moshiach and Techias Hameisim.
3. Latet Tikva. This solo performance by Shimshon conveys a similar message to that of Elokai, with more emphasis on hope, and keeping a smile on your face. The tune is not as excting though; the verses sound a bit like MBD’s Yerushalayim At Yerushateinu, and the chorus is a little monotonous. However, the important aspect is the lyrics, which gives this song a mark of 7.
4. Yehudoh, performed by the Delevkovitz brothers- Elimelech, Shimshon, Menachem and Yehuda. Family involvement is very important when dealing with tragedies, so Shimshon invited his brothers to sing the praises of Yehuda, as stated in Bircas Yaakov. This is a heavy rock song with a lot of guitar, maybe a little too much, since the song is almost 6 minutes and annoyingly repetitive. The tune doesn’t seem to lead anywhere, and the voices aren’t really that amazing. There is however one humourous aspect at the beginning, when one of the singers goes really low when saying YehuDOH AtOH. You also hear a lot of the heavy Chassidic Israeli komatz and reish. 5.5
5. Nitchazek, composed by “Loazi” (see below), performed with Naftali Gold and Nir Captan. This pop song focuses on the strong need to change the world by strengthening ourselves with mitzvos, in order to bring the Yeshua. When I first heard the song I really enjoyed its hard beat and catchy tune and considered giving it a 10. Later, I became aware that the original song is credited to Britney Spears, (hence the vague “Loazi”) and is called “Stronger”, a song exalting the power of women in dealing with messed-up relationships. When I heard that, I nearly puked and considered giving Nitchazek a zero. I seriously do not think (with no due respect) that Ms Spears is an appropriate influence for a frum album which promotes Chesed and Ahavas Yisroel, among many other desirable themes. However, the power of the lyrics in Nitchazek must be taken into account, and they are written and sung in a persuasive manner, which is the main purpose of the song, to promote strong positive change. The song features some digitalised voice work. I’m rating the song 6.5 for the reasons stated above, and it’s a pity since I really did initially enjoy the song for its lyrical and musical content.
6. Hayehudi, lyrics written by Yitzchak Weinstock, (Hashem yinakom damo) performed with Itzik Ashuel. The second ballad of the album, Hayehudi was written by a young man, about to enter the Israeli army, who was tragically killed in a terrorist bombing of a train (Hashem Yishmereinu). Yitzchak Weinstock was but 19 years old when his trip to an army course was cut short by ruthless murderers, 10 years ago. This song was found among his possessions, and Shimshon Delevkovitz composed a tune for it. The song discusses the esscence of Yidden, who mean well and are always pursuing protection for and peace in Eretz Yisroel. Unfortunately, “kach zeh nigzar,” we have gone through so many trials and tribulations in the lead up to Moshiach, and, paraphrasing the lyrics, “Today the world seeks a Jewish soul.” We are constantly under subjugation, and our only hope is to daven to Hashem. The lyrics are beautiful, and profound, especially to have been written by a teenager. The tune however isn’t as powerful as Gaaguim, so this song gets an 8.5
7. Atoh Kidashto, performed with Mendy Jerufi and child soloist Ari Rosner. A nice song from Shmoneh Esrei on Friday night with Mexican carnival style music. Ari Rosner, who is one of the new Miami Boys Choir members, is also Shimshon Delevkovitz’s cousin, so this track involves more family. He sings the first two low verses, and unfortunately the part doesn’t show off his voice that much. Shimshon and Mendy sing the rest of the song, and I was hoping for Ari to join them but he never comes back. This is one of the songs where I like the music better than the tune and singing. The tune isn’t all that exciting. 7.5
8. Chesed, composed by Tzvika Pik, Yiddish lyrics by Yossi Roterman, performed with Yisrael Parnes. A catchy 70’s style rock song, Chesed is a bilingual praise of dedicated individuals who give up their time day and night to help others in need. The recurring theme is “Olam Chesed Yibaneh” synonymous with “di velt darf shtark tzi zeiere chasoodim”. Kabbolah and Chassidus teach that Chassodim performed by Yidden in this world are a mirror image of the Supernal Chesed, the figurative right arm of Hashem, and the source of the neshamos of baalei chesed is in Hashem’s middah of Chesed so “Olam Chesed Yibaneh” is true in more ways than one. The verses are in Ivrit and describe someone who experienced true Chesed first hand. The chorus, which sounds hilarious, is in Yiddish, and praises all the Heimishe Yidden who dedicate their lives to helping others. Great song. 9.
9. Ta’amin, composed by Gilad Masemi, lyrics co-written by Heila Palach, performed with Avi Ben Israel. Another song about overcoming hardships and trusting in and hioping for the future, Ta’amin is an average techno/Middle Eastern style song. I’m not a fan of Avi Ben Israel’s voice; it’s a bit too high and mellow for my liking. This song just doesn’t shtum with me. 6.
10. Tefilla, composition by Henry Berter, lyrics by Betzalel Aloni, performed by Oif Simchas and Sagiv Cohen, music arranged by Ron Tichon and Yishai Lapidot. This track is the exact same one on Oif Simchas and Friends. I believe that the song was actually released some time ago and this is an upadated version in dance techno. Really upbeat stuff, great to dance to and very appropriate lyrics. 9.5
11. Rap. English lyrics written by David Nuchburg (aka “Rap D.D.” ), performed with David Nuchburg and “The Chevra” (no relation to the trademarked Chevra). Time for some comic relief! This track is utterly hysterical. The song starts off with a rap beat and a background “check it out” from DJ D.D.. Then you hear a group of Israelis (who call themselves the Chevra) singing “V’ahavta etc, Zeh klal, etc, Omar Rabbi AkivEH (not AkivA) ashreichem Yisrael as the chorus to this wacky rap. The funniest thing is that they’re harmonising with each other, yet they sound half asleep. Then the verses start with David Nuchberg rapping away in his thick Brooklyn accent about Ahavas Yisroel. It’s a riot, and you won’t stop laughing. Two lyrics, which really crack me up are “Put negative feelings on the shelf” which is pretty much the opposite of the philosophy of the common rap. Then you have “Love your neighbour thou shalt not diss!”, which I can never stop laughing to. The entire song is hilarious with Shimshon having a few solos here and there. Definitely worth buying the album for this song, you’ll be on the floor. 10.
12. Shema Yisrael, composed by Tzvika Pik. While I’m neither a fan of this song (it’s the same one that Dedi sings), nor a fan of its trance techno style, it does wrap up the album nicely with our final tefilla, acknowledging Hashem’s oneness. The trance intro lasts 1:25 and Shimshon sings the song solo. 5.5 The final mark for B’tfila, based on individual song scores is 78%. However, bear in mind that buying B’tfila comes with a fringe benefit- the mitzvah of chesed and tzedokah. Here we have a most dedicated individual, who is using his musical talent to bring simcha to downtrodden children, which I think is an unbelievable achievement to be commended by all. May we be zoche for all the positive hopes and tefillos of this album be fulfilled now, so that the terrorised children will have an even bigger simcha to smile sing and dance to, the coming of Moshiach, bimheiro b’yomeinu.
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