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Jewish men sing and dance at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem. (YouTube capture)



“Be glad now and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things.” (Joel 2:21)


Hava Nagila, Lorenzo,

You’ve heard it and maybe sung it.

But do you know what Hava Nagila means?

Since their wilderness wanderings, the Jewish people have danced and praised, shouted and sung in good times and the bad.

Several Hebrew words describe such joy: simcha, sameach, soos, are a few. But one word stands out above the rest thanks to the lively song, Hava Nagila! הבה נגילה, which means Let us rejoice!

Nagila comes from the root gheel, meaning to rejoice, as in be glad, joyful, exhilarated. It is in the form of a command, giving instruction to rejoice!



There’s nothing more encouraging to tell ourselves at the beginning of a new day, whatever prospects may await, than “this is the day that the Lord has made” and “I will rejoice and be glad in it!”

That is what Psalm 118:24 says and that is the foundation for the lyrics of “Hava Nagila,” which goes like this:

Hava nagila, hava nagila
Let us rejoice, let us rejoice

Hava nagila ve-nismecha
Let us rejoice and be glad

Hava neranena, hava neranena
Let us sing, let us sing

Hava neranena ve-nismecha
Let us sing and be glad

Uru, uru achim
Awake, awake brothers

Uru achim b’lev sameach
Awake brothers with a joyful heart

You can click here to listen to one of many renditions of the song, but come back to read the rest of this article.


Orthodox Jews Dance


Bless Israel and the Jewish people today, click here


The Beginnings of a Musical Legend

Hava Nagila began as a wordless tune, which in Hebrew is called a nigun.

In the early 19th century, the Hasidic communities in Eastern Europe and Russia were known for humming a nigun.

They did so as a way to maintain a level of joy and happiness in the face of oppressive regimes, pogroms, and ruthless anti-Semitism.

In the early 20th century, a group of Hasidic Jews from Sadigora, Ukraine brought their tunes with them to Israel.

One in particular caught the attention of a Jewish composer and musicologist, Abraham Zvi Idelsohn.

A passionate Zionist who immigrated to Israel in 1905, he wanted to unite the Jewish People (the early pilgrims to Israel) in song through the music they brought with them and the newly revived Hebrew language.

Idelsohn transcribed the tune into sheet music and is credited with adding the lyrics while serving as a bandmaster in the Ottoman Army during WWI.

In 1918, a choir sang his rendition for a celebration concert in Jerusalem after the British Army defeated the Turks.

It caught on and quickly became an all-occasion song.

From High Holy Day feasts to informal folk dances, Jewish weddings, and bar/bat mitzvah celebrations, Hava Nagila is a staple song.


Dancing the traditional circle dance known as the Hora at Kibbutz Dalia
in 1945. (Israel National Photo Collection)

In the 1950s, the famous Jamaican-American singer Harry Belafonte helped to popularize it among the non-Jewish world by closing his performances with the joyful song.

Today, a version of it exists in most any music style, such as mambo, surf rock, and even heavy metal.

Bob Dylan, a famous American Jewish singer, named his rendition “Talkin’ Hava Nagila Blues,” saying it was “a foreign song I learned in Utah.”

That sums up how familiar this Eastern European Hasidic tune has become to Jew and Gentile around the world.

Why so much attention?

Because it really is a happy, joyful tune.

However, Idelsohn secularized Psalm 118 by removing references to the Lord, and few who sing it know how much God delights to hear us rejoice in song to honor Him!


Singing and Dancing David (painting in a Florence church)


Rejoicing in Our Maker

“Sing [shout, rejoice] joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him.” (Psalm 33:1)

The psalmist tells us in many ways to rejoice in our Lord and Maker:

“Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!” (Psalm 149:2)

Nations are to rejoice in their Maker:

“Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,” (Psalm 67:4)

Even the natural world is to join in the joy:

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice … Let all creation rejoice before the Lord (YHVH), for He comes, He comes to judge the earth.” (Psalm 96:11, 13)

The Rabbis also teach that it is forbidden to be sad on the Sabbath, based on the Scripture that says we are to "call the Sabbath a delight.” (Isaiah 58:13)

Singing and rejoicing in God ourselves, thanking Him for all He has done, is a crucial part of drawing near Him.


Jewish men dancing with the Torah (Word of God) on the holiday of Simchat
Torah (Joy of the Torah).


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Rejoicing in Our Salvation

King David made rejoicing a very personal matter when even after the sin of sleeping with a married woman and murdering a man, he wrote:

“Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.” (Psalm 51:14-15)

He always kept his eyes on the source of his salvation:

“I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation (Yeshua).” (Psalm 13:5)


Yeshua Teaches His Disciples to Pray, by James Tissot

The disciples of Yeshua echoed the Tanakh (Old Testament) that joy is not optional:

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:12)

“Rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.” (Luke 10:20)

“Rejoice in hope… Rejoice with those who rejoice.” (Romans 12:12, 15)

“Finally, brothers, rejoice!” (2 Corinthians 13:11)


Believers dance and rejoice at a Messianic synagogue. (YouTube capture)


Rejoicing in Our Salvation Leads to Victory

“Is rejoicing really that important?” you might ask.

When we consider that joy is one of our spiritual weapons, the answer is yes!
Rejoicing is linked to praise, and praise is linked to victory!

When we rejoice, we put on the “garment of praise [tehilah] for a spirit of heaviness [dullness, depression].” (Isaiah 61:3)

The enemy would dearly like to destroy our joy; it’s one of his weapons to separate us from God. So, it's critical that we remember to rejoice.


The Songs of Joy, by James Tissot


God Rejoices over Israel!

An end-time prophecy is being fulfilled right now.

Only one time in the whole Bible does God say He will do something with all of His heart and all of His soul.

It is the planting of His Chosen Jewish people back in the Land that He gave to them as an everlasting possession:

“I will rejoice in doing good to them, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all My heart and all My soul.” (Jeremiah 32:41)

Jerusalem, the City of the Great King, is “created to be a delight” (Isaiah 65:18); and again, God says that He Himself will “rejoice over Jerusalem” and “take delight” in His people (Isaiah 65:19).


Jerusalem

Yeshua wept over His city 2,000 years ago (Luke 19:41) because the people rejected Him.

Today, the people of Israel still reject Yeshua and His salvation, but He is coming soon!

And at that time, they will “rejoice greatly” as they sing and shout out what is prophesied in Psalm 118 and Matthew 23:

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

The Jewish people will then be singing songs to the Lamb and who knows, maybe also Hava Nagila!


The History of Jihad: Proof Islamic Terror is as Old as Islam Itself
By Robert Spencer on Aug 26, 2018 08:11 pm
Here is a good summary article about my new book The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS, which you can order here. “The History of Jihad: Proof Islamic Terror is as Old as Islam Itself,” CBN News, August 26, 2018: It is taken for granted, even among many Washington policymakers, that Islam is a […]
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Germany: Known jihad terrorist became “mentally ill” and so wasn’t deported; then he plotted jihad massacre
By Robert Spencer on Aug 26, 2018 08:06 pm
Showing proper gratitude to the kuffar. “Terrorist got sick… was allowed to stay in Germany and worked on a bomb,” translated from “Terrorist ließ sich krankschreiben… durfte in Deutschland bleiben und bastelte an einer Bombe,” Bild, August 24, 2018 (thanks to Searchlight Germany): Karlsruhe – Another one we tolerate here and who wants to blow […]
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California: Congressional candidate disavows Munich jihad mass murderer grandfather
By Robert Spencer on Aug 26, 2018 07:41 pm
How convenient for Campa-Najjar that Hunter has been hit with corruption charges that are clearly politically motivated. And now he has disavowed his jihad mass murderer grandfather, and so he could sail to victory and a seat in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, race car driver Conor Daly has lost a sponsor because his father […]
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UK jihad preacher Abu Hamza was “strip club ladies man” — then he became devout in Islam
By Robert Spencer on Aug 26, 2018 07:32 pm
Abu Hamza is in prison for plotting to establish an al-Qaeda training camp in Oregon. But when he worked as a door man and a bodyguard, he “had no interest in Islam.” His interest in Islam turned him into a preacher and plotter of mass murder. British and American authorities should ponder the implications of […]
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Robert Spencer: Muslim Leader Calls for Conquest of “America, Britain, Russia, France, and Italy”
By Robert Spencer on Aug 26, 2018 07:23 pm
My latest at the Geller Report: Recently a Muslim spokesman in Tunisia named Said Khecharem, who is affiliated with the international pro-Sharia, pro-caliphate organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, declared (to delighted screams of “Allahu akbar” from his audience), that the “establishment of an Islamic state…requires the conquest of America, Britain, Russia, France, and Italy – Rome and […]
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Erdogan says he isn’t target of the currency crisis: “The target is Turkey. The target is Islam.”
By Robert Spencer on Aug 26, 2018 07:17 pm
Erdogan said this at a celebration of the Battle of Manzikert. To learn about the Battle of Manzikert and why it was such a disaster (and how it led to the Crusades), see my new book The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. Erdogan was “calling on people to ‘take ownership of’ Mecca, Medina, […]
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UK: Gang dressed in burkas stole $136,000 of jewelry and watches
By Robert Spencer on Aug 26, 2018 06:59 pm
But remember: banning face veils as a security risk would be “Islamophobic.” “Gang who dressed in burkas jailed for 230 years,” P1 News, August 14, 2018: This is the moment robbers armed with machetes stormed a jewellers to steal £106,000 of stones and watches while disguised as Muslim women in burkas. The gang of ten […]
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UK: Ex-BNP, KKK top dogs hail Labour’s Corbyn for his Jew-hatred
By Robert Spencer on Aug 26, 2018 06:48 pm
For years, counter-jihadists have been defamed with claims that we are neo-Nazis and racists. Now we are seeing who the real neo-Nazis are, and they’re on the British Left. “Ex-BNP chief Nick Griffin praises Corbyn over slur on ‘British Zionists’ as Labour leader’s ally McDonnell claims he was only trying to ‘secure peace,'” by James […]
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NYC: Muslim who set fire at gas station getting psychiatric evaluation, cops can’t find motive
By Robert Spencer on Aug 26, 2018 09:25 am
“He was ordered to appear in court on Aug. 17 for a conference,” but this story drops out of sight after the August 8 report below. Either the August 17 conference was postponed or it was held in secrecy. Meanwhile, cops “could not provide a motive.” Jihad? You mean the interior spiritual struggle within the […]
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Muslim researcher: Jerusalem once belonged to the Jews, but they disobeyed Allah, so Allah “gave it to the Muslims”
By Robert Spencer on Aug 26, 2018 09:11 am
Every now and then a non-Muslim stumbles upon Qur’an 5:21, which has Moses saying: “O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has prescribed for you, and turn not back in your traces, to turn about losers,” and starts saying that the Qur’an promises the land of Israel to the Jews, and that if […]
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Muslims in New Mexico jihad compound allegedly planned jihad massacre at Atlanta hospital
By Robert Spencer on Aug 26, 2018 08:32 am
“Frank Fisher, an FBI spokesman in Albuquerque, said the agency cannot confirm or deny whether a person is listed in a terrorist screening database. He declined comment on the officer’s claim that local authorities were unable to intervene because of a federal investigation. ‘It would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time,’ he […]
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