Composition and audio © Alexander Massey
This is the second of two blessings that come before the evening Shema in the liturgy, that praises God for the giving of Torah. In the morning, this blessing begins ahava raba ahavtanu ‘with great love you have loved us’; in the evening, it begins ahavat olam ‘with an unending love’ (you have loved us). There is a beautiful teaching about why the wording changes. In the ‘morning’ of a relationship or marriage, the love is great, but we do not know whether it will endure, but in the ‘evening’ of the relationship when the love is still strong, then we know that the love is truly enduring. So I especially love the evening ahavat olam. Most of the phrases in this song start or end with a falling melody – I think of this as both the love of God ‘descending’, and the revelation of the Torah coming down (which is also a theme of this blessing).
I wrote this for the Kol Nidrei service in 2011, and it was sung on the same day in different Progressive communities in the UK. The piece was also performed at the 70th anniversary concert of the Council of Christians and Jews in Oxford, 2012.
With an unending love You have loved the house of Israel your people: You have taught us Torah and mitzvot, laws and precepts.
Therefore, our God, when we lie down and when we rise up, we will discuss [the meaning of] your laws and rejoice in the words of Your Torah and in Your mitzvot for ever.
For they are our life and the length of our days, and we will meditate on them day and night. And may You not remove Your love from us for ever. We praise You, O God: You love Your people Israel.
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