Kirtan Rabbi Blog

Eight Days, Eight Songs. Candle Two: All Worlds (Track 3 from Nondual)

Posted by Rabbi Andrew Hahn, Ph.D. on December 18, 2014 at 9:07 pm.

This song is arguably the happiest moment on the album — and that’s a lot to say for an album with one fun and happy moment after another! It stands out for Frank Wolf’s excruciatingly luscious and beautiful guitar work, as well as out-of-this world flute playing by Steve Gorn with Eleonore Weill. And out of this world is just the idea!

The melody itself comes from… Well, I’m going to let you figure out what melody this is [HINT: I was traveling just North of Gainesville, Florida when the idea to set these words to this tune came to me!]

The words themselves come from the Zohar (The Book of Splendor), which is often called the “Bible of Kabbalah.” There it says that the Divine, m’malei kol olmin ve-soveiv kol olmin, that God “fills all worlds, and surrounds all worlds.” In other words, God is described as both being within everything, as well as encompassing everything. To use the fancy language of Both/And: God is both immanent as well as transcendent — all at the same time.

Later, holy saints write that it is this more interior aspect of God (the m’malei) to which we have more access, the aspect of God which touches the heart and fills our soul with light. In contrast, the Soveiv (the makif) is that which, while it generates and drives the worlds, is also more abstract and inaccessible to our hearts. We could say that this is very similar to the contrast we encountered in the Kedushah Reggae between a heart-twang of yearning (Where O where?) and a philosophical truism (God is everywhere).

Again, I am asserting that true Nondual consciousness consists not just in the abstract idea that “All is One,” but in holding that knowledge alongside the feeling which derives from a sense of separation.

I had a little fun with the words. In the Zohar, we find the phrase only as m’malei kol olmin ve-soveiv kol olmin (fills and surrounds). I thought to myself, this is unfair! It should also go the other way around, surrounds and fills. So, I doubled up the phrase so the entire mantra in All Worlds goes:

m’malei kol olmin ve-soveiv kol olmin, soveiv u-m’malei kol olmin

This move not only allowed the words to fit better to the mantra melody I had chosen: It also made for a wonderful interweaving of the ideas of filling and surround and surrounding and filling — an interweaving that becomes especially pregnant in the final mashup fade-out at the end.

Joey Weisenberg assisted with choir direction for this chant. Produced by Frank Wolf and Rabbi Andrew Hahn

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