Exploring “Shav’at Aniim”

Exploring “Shav’at Aniim”

Shav’at Aniim – Savior of the Poor

Psalms 38, music by Kobi Oz

Saviour of the poor from the powerful

And the needy and the destitute from the thief

The clamour of the poor shalt thou hear

You hearken to their faint cry and bring them salvation

תהילים להמַצִּיל עָנִי מֵחָזָק

מִמֶּנּוּ וְעָנִי וְאֶבְיוֹן מִגּוֹזְל וֹשַׁוְעַת עֲנִיִּים

אַתָּה תִשְׁמַע צַעֲקַת הַדַּל

תַּקְשִׁיב וְתוֹשִיעַ

To download the full pdf, please click here.

  • This is a psalm that is recited every Shabbat as part of the morning prayers.
  • The initial tune is from a traditional Moroccan melody and is interwoven with the original melody of Kobi Oz.
  • There is something noteworthy about the way a traditional Moroccan, Sephardi, Mizrachi tune eventually leads into the Ashkenazi sounds of a niggun (wordless tune) – a musical blending of traditions.

Guiding questions for “Shav’at Aniim”

In concerts, Kobi talks of the powerful message in this Psalm which does not call on the heavens to protect the poor from the rich. It calls on the heavens to protect the poor from those more powerful. The enemy of the poor is not necessarily the rich person, but rather the person willing to overpower the other.

In order to emphasize this strong call for social justice, Kobi worked with photographer Ziv Koren and video artist Doron Solomons in creating the video clip. The images, of the poor in Israel, are striking and disturbing.

Does the knowledge that these people are in Israel, and not in your own country, make them any more or less poignant in your eyes?

Do you find that these images spoil or increase your appreciation for the song?

Kobi also points out the notion that one cannot bring salvation to those whose cry we do not hear. The listening must first happen in order to offer appropriate help.

Can you imagine this forceful cry for social justice resonating in your synagogue experience? Do you feel that prayer and social action ought to be kept separate, or does one feed the other?

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