Yotzeir Or

Composition and audio © Alexander Massey 22 June 2011

The Yotzeir Or blessing is a reminder to live joyfully and gratefully, to raise our voices in song, and our feet in dance. This nigun was shaped with that in mind – and heart. In the Yotzeir Or blessing, with deep amazement and appreciation, we celebrate God as the Creator (borei) of everything – and that God renews Creation every day, in every moment. The mysterious truth is that this means God also creates (borei) darkness and trouble (ra, as mentioned in the Isaiah 4:7, the source text for this verse). But the existence of a darker side to Creation is no reason to despair; for God also coordinates, balances and reconciles many elements to ‘make’ (oseh) peace – whole-ing what is in need of healing. How is this done? God takes ‘light’ – a metaphor for the very essence of God – and ‘shapes’ (yotzeir) it towards good.

As we sing and dance this nigun (and these words), we can do so in the knowledge that, being made in the image of God, our essential nature is to have the power and responsibility for creating thoughts, feelings, actions all the time. What will we do with this? We can heal and be peacemakers. We can bring light into dark places, allow light into our own dark places, seek to be enlightened and to enlighten; we can lighten the loads of others, travel lightly and delightfully.

 Performance notes:
  1. This piece can take the place of the full version of the first blessing before the morning Shema. Some congregations sing this chant, and then complete the blessing with the chatimah (seal) of: Baruch atah adonai, yotzeir ham’orot (Blessed are You God, maker of lights.)
  2. Like all chants, this works best when repeated quite a number of times, ringing the changes between the Hebrew and English. You could start by singing it as a nigun to ‘Yai lai lai’.
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