The words Jewish wedding and Hava Nagila usually occur together. Hava Nagila literally means “Let us rejoice” and it is a traditional Jewish wedding song combining a raucous melody with a mind-boggling dance. The dancers form ever enlarging circles around the bride and groom, who are eventually raised and held high in chairs.
I love the dance, and not only because of the way it celebrates a bride and groom. It’s a good way to work off the calories of the wedding hors d’oeuvres, meal and dessert.
Yet, according to the Wall Street Journal, the Hava Nagila has lost its charm. Many couples see it as outmoded. They request tht their wedding bands not play it, and the bands are only too happy to comply.
And yet… If the song Hava Nagila was a person, it might well quote Mark Twain: “Reports of my death,” he once said, “have been greatly exaggerated.”
Olympic gymnast Allie Raisman performed her floor routine to its melody. A documentary devoted to the song has gained widespread attention, and its fundraising preview has been viewed over 300,000 times on Youtube. Despite their dislike of the song, bands say they receive so many requests that they often find it impossible to refuse.
Here we find a profound human truth. Our lives often resemble the fate of the Hava Nagila. Just when we think all hope is lost, good news finds a way in. Just when we feel we can’t cross the finishing line, we receive a jolt of energy. Just when we feel a relationship can’t withstand any more strain, a reconcilation and new level of depth comes into being.
Rebirth is possible wherever we are. The key is to look inside. For this reason, Hava Nagila, “Let us rejoice!”