Tuesday, September 22, 2015

SY Rechnitz's Addendum to "Shak'a Chama" and my own Variation

I am of course happy whenever RAEK zt"l, my hero, is brought to the attention of new generations that may be inspired by his brilliance, but I am not entirely happy with the "addendum." V'ha'mayvin yavin madu'a.

I myself have written a zemer for Seudah Shelishis on the basis of Shak'ah Chamah. I have been told it is too moody, but here it is for "posterity:"

תשקע חמה תשקע נפשי, בתהום החולין של יום יום
כי עומדה ליפול היא במלחמתה, עם החלב והדם
ימים עוברים ימים כלים, מבלי קדושה קשים שאת
אם לא זאת שבת קודש, לא טוב החיים מן המת
החייני קלי צפות לשבת, תעבור שבוע כמו חלום
תשקע חמה, תתעלה נפשי, בעלות שבת מן התהום


The original:

1. The earliest recording of the poem (AFAIK): 

2. and a more recent recording: 


The advantage in the earlier recording is that it is more "raw." Reb Abish Brodt gives it a "flourish" it is not meant to have.


  1. 1) Our chazan on YK uses the A part of that tune for Misod chachamim unevonim, after the first paragraph of the Musaf amidah. 2) The RAEK version varies between gloomy and hopeful, where your extension varies between gloomy and suicidal, so yes, I agree with your critics. The end of Shabbos is sad, yes, but bits of Shabbos continue into the week, no? and then the later part of the week can be about preparing for Shabbos. So the weekly cycle isn't all death death death.

    1. I think that usage is pretty widespread - it struck me retrospectively on Motzo'ei YK that that is what the chazzan does at Ohr Somayach.

      Suicidal, huh? That bad? Maybe I'll get around to redoing it some day.

  2. Not a fan of the addendum by Rechnitz - Shak'ah Chamah is a masterpiece it doesn't need any altering. Any idea where I can find the Shir Hamalos by R' A. A. Kaplan? I know you once posted the music but I would like to hear how it is sung.

    1. Sorry for the late response. It is at http://www.aishdas.org/raek/shirHamaalos.m3u

      There are links to renditions of other compositions of RAEK at

  3. Do you know where I can download a decent picture of RAEK? I have been looking for one to put in my sukka for years, and all the ones I found for download come out horrible when printed.

    1. I don't know of any better one available. They exist, but are in some inaccessible archive somewhere. It is worth trying to write to RAEK's grandson (also RAEK), Rav Eli Kaplan, at eli4321@gmail.com

  4. I really like your addendum. Not suicidal, just gives a greater appreciation for shabbos. Just wondering... The english translation by Rechnitz is that his soul is going to fall together with his flesh and blood. Isnt the correct translation that the war is with his flesh and blood - meaning physical vs. spiritual. Please let me know what you think