Kirtan Rabbi Blog

Eight Days, Eight Songs. Candle Eight: Ein Od Milvado (Track 10 on Nondual)

Posted by Rabbi Andrew Hahn, Ph.D. on December 24, 2014 at 10:19 am.

Listen to this music by clicking here.

I chose this final, well-known chant to be the Shavasana moment of Nondual. What do I mean by that? Just as in a yoga class, after expending so much effort and raising the spirit, we lie on the floor in “corpse pose” – letting all that has come before both settle in and drain out (My Tai Chi Master would say, we “shed the Chi“) — so too, at the close of a rather energetic album we need a “denouement,” something calming to leave us in a state of rejuvenation. As a matter of fact, I envisioned this rendition of Ein Od Milvado as something I hoped yoga teachers would actually play during Sivasana, as it is so soothing and let’s one enter calm meditation so easily.

So, if you are a yoga teacher, or have a personal at home practice, please feel invited to use this song for your Sivasana.

Ein od milvado is a chant and melody which many of us have been singing for years. Frequently, in Jewish mystical writings, it is often stated that ultimate goal of Torah study and davenning (prayer) — and [indeed] all of our practice — is to arrive at this singular truth:

Ein Od Milvado, Hashem Hu ha-Elohim
There no other than Him (sic!). The Name is God.

In other words, going with the title of my friend, Jay Michaelson’s, book: Everything is God. (Or, as many of us like to put it: It’s all One.)

Yet, this truth — that everything is God — is stated in an interesting, perhaps typical Jewish idiom. It is stated as a negation. In other words, instead of simply saying simply “it’s all one,” these words say, there is nothing else other than the One. I would like to propose that this formulation teaches us something specific about nondual consciousness. As I have been saying all along, nondualism is not a mere affirmation of the unity of all things; instead it is also something else. And in so being, nondualism describes a situation every bit as complicated as the real lives we live. Non-dual, is exactly the same kind of formulation as ein-od: Just as there is no other, so even if it appears otherwise, things are in truth not two. There may seem to our senses to be many ‘some things’ (yeshes) existing in a state of separation; but, once we remove the coverings, there is nothing beside God. (I will be writing more about this in the coming days on Facebook and inviting a conversation.)

I only want to add one more thought for today. Some of you may notice that I decided to phrase the chant with a particular emphasis: mee l’vad-o. I chose this to bring out what is itself a separate word: l’vad. This is the word for ‘alone.’

So, after all this heady stuff, I really just invite you to the music and find joy in it. In the meantime, if you are looking for a “where’s Waldo” challenge, as you listen to the choral interludes, and the very long, soothing choral finish to the album, those of you who know Hebrew, see what phrases and snippets you can uncover deep in the tapestry of sound.

I want to wish you all a happy end of Chanukah, and a continuing light-filled Winter season. Thank you for reading these comments and, above all, thank you for enjoying the music. Love to you all. Reb Drew.

Features Taylor Bergren-Chrisman on stand-up bass. Frank Wolf on Spanish guitar. Joey Weisenberg directed the choral arrangement on this track.

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