Vidduy: The Musical

Posted on May 3, 2009

Vidduy1

A Jewish traveler coming to a congregation just before Rosh Hashana inquired who leads their prayers on the Days of Awe. They answered him, “There is a carpenter among us who leads the prayers.” The Jew asked, “How does he lead the prayers?” They said, “He chants all of the confessional prayers in a joyous melody.” The Jew found the carpenter and asked him, “Why do you sing the confession with joy?” He answered, “When a man breaks a valuable vessel, it is common for him to sing joyfully while engaged in its repair, as there is nothing quite like the wonderful joy of repair.”

Vidduy: The Musical proposes a physical embodiment of the principal tool given by Jewish Tradition designed to repair the rupture that is sin – the Vidduy (literally Confession).

Vidduy: The Musical is a percussion instrument made of 22 white keys engraved with the “Vidduy Zuta” (Small Confession) composed by Rav Amram Gaon in the 9th century.
Alphabetically listed, written in plural (“We Have Sinned”), the Vidduy is recited daily, usually hurriedly, on most days of the year – but it is on Yom Kippur that this prayer takes center stage – sung, in many communities, in a tune that fuses subservience, happiness and a splash of relief.

The instrument is played in a manner that brings to mind the beating of the fist on the heart – the gesture that accompanies the Vidduy – hopefully producing a melody that reflects the wonderful joy of repair.


Credits & Thanks

• My wonderful fabrication team: Michael Ezra, Asher Ezra, Oren Tuma, Eli Ben Meir, and above all to Ira Feldman;  my musical consultant Ilan Green; and to Ariel Lanzman and Robert Cohen. Photos by Eliyahu Yannai.

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