"From when is Shma recited in the evening? From the time the priests enter to eat their terumah." (Berachot 1:1)
Those words are the opening to the first chapter of the Mishna, the Talmudic code of Jewish law. But now they're also the lyrics to a chassidic song I first heard on the radio this morning.
Maybe this isn't new and I've just been out of the loop. I didn't catch the name of the group. From the sound of it, they're Israelis who sing with an Ashkenazi accent. The tune is lively and danceable - though I can't imagine why anyone would dance to such words.
I can't recall ever hearing legal texts sung chassidic-style. Psalms, yes; the Song of Songs, of course; inspirational sayings, naturally. But legal teachings? They must finally be running out of traditional texts to use for lyrics.
What's next? Maybe I can suggest some new hits:
- "On the evening of the fourteenth we check for leaven by the light of a candle." (Pesachim 1:1)
- "There are four categories of damages: the ox, and the pit, and the man and the fire." (Bava Kama 1:1)
- "All meat is forbidden to be cooked with milk, except the meat of fish and locusts. And it is forbidden to take it to the table with cheese, except the meat of fish and locusts." (Chulin 8:1)
- "Transfers on Shabbat are two which are four inside and two which are four outside." (Shabbat 1:1)
- "Roots of garlic and onions and shallots while they are moist, and their tips whether moist or dry, and the column directed towards the flesh, the roots of radish and turnip, says Rabbi Meir." (Uktzin 1:2)
Now all I need is a composer and a band!