Sunday, October 26, 2014
Pirke Avot, the Talmud tractate known as Ethics of the Fathers, has been translated into many languages, but it took Eliezer Auerbach, a rabbi and composer from Johannesburg, South Africa to create an arrangement of a song in the Zulu language based on a famous passage in this Talmud volume.
In Avot (2:20), it is written: Rabbi Tarfon would say: Hayom Katzer V'hamlacha meruba (The day is short, and the work is much.). Thuli Mazibuko translated the lyrics into Zulu..
Much of the attraction of the song is that Rabbi Eliezer Auerbach has joined with some of the best African singers in the Wits University Choir who managed to connect to the message and the values taken from Jewish sources, and transfer these through the song to the masses. The African language words fit with the rhythm and melody perfectly and a Zulu song was born.
The video below shows Rabbi Auerbach singing the song with a group of his students. If you want to hear it sung by the Wits University Choir and orchestra, click on the play button at the bottom of the Amazon.com page.
The Zulu lyrics are:
I langa I langa I langa lifisha. Nomsebenzi benzi moningi.
Basebenzi baya vilapa iholo labo labo lilingi.
I langa lifishi nomsebenzi moningi basebenzi baya vilapa iholo labo lilingi umphati uyaququzela.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)
(A tip of the kippah to Aliza Weisberger Kwiat for bringing this story to our attention.)