B’ruchah Haba’ah – ‘Blessed Is She’

Composition and audio © Alexander Massey 12 Dec 2015. An earlier recording and a version of this article and song were pubished on Ritual Well (USA), June 2016.

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bruchah-habaah

Transliteration of lyrics:

B’ruchah haba’ah b’sheim Havayah.
Mi zot hanish’kafah k’mo-shachar yafah chal’vanah barah kachamah?

Translation:

Blessed is she who comes in the name of Becoming!
Who is she who shines through like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, radiant as the sun?

Songs evolve. So do people. So does God. Eheyeh asher eheheh – “I will be what I will be” (Exodus 3:14) When Moses asks God for God’s name, the answer is cryptic, fluid, perhaps not a name at all. We talk about having a covenant with God, and yet there have been many – Adam and Chavah’s, Noah’s, Abraham’s, Jacob’s, the event at Sinai, the two tablets, new and renewed commitments through the books of the prophets, and different Jewish movements and communities reimagining and renewing Judaism in our own times. God is timeless and ever-present, yet always changing and Becoming; the world is made new each day. Made in the image of God, we, too, are always Becoming. Just as our relationship with God is constantly changing, human relationships are constantly subject to re-negotiation, re-definition, renewed contracting and commitment. Zeh sh’mo l’olam (Ex. 3:15) – this constantly changing, indefinable God tells Moses, ‘this is my name forever’. Identity is always shifting, and yet enduring enough to be  recognisable.

When we welcome a new child into the world, and into our Jewish family, we are especially attuned to infinite, unknown possible futures for this child, lovingly watched over by the God of Becoming. And so, in this song, at one moment in the child’s journey of becoming, we invoke Havayah, the essence of Becoming.

I have used the feminine form of the verb ‘to come’, replacing the masculine form in Ps 118:26 that is often used as the opening sentence at weddings, to make it suitable for a blessing for a baby girl. And when I originally wrote the song, I still used the word Adonai as the substitute for the unpronounceable Hebrew yud-heh-vav-heh name of God. But Adonai is masculine, fixed, usually translated as ‘Lord’ – clearly not the right word to use in this song. Working on the music team of the ‘All Our Voices’ project at Reclaiming Judaism, it became very clear to me that my song needed to evolve to its current lyric.

I composed this for the birth of the daughter of my friends of mine. The first section came to me on the morning of the baby blessing, two days after the little girl was born; there wasn’t much time to prepare! The tune is deliberately very simple, as I wanted the congregation to be able to pick it up and join in after hearing it just once, which is what happened on the song’s very first outing. The repeated musical motif is intended to feel like a gentle lullaby call. The second section (Mi zot …) was written later that evening. The second line comes from Song of Songs (6:10), and is recommended for a baby girl’s blessing in Cohen, Debra Nussbaum (2001) Celebrating your new Jewish daughter: creating Jewish ways to welcome baby girls into the covenant, Jewish Lights Publishing. It is a beautiful, joyful sentiment, and can also be sung at a bat mitzvah. The song can used in its totality, but it also works if just the first section is used. This song could also be used for a wedding, either to address the bride in the opening processional, or to address both brides in the case of a wedding of two women – celebrating the constant ‘becoming’ of relationship.

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