The Baalat Teshuva’s Song (3-Minute Inspirational Video)

The Baalat Teshuva’s Song (3-Minute Inspirational Video)

The surprising song I sang yesterday.

Here is the text of this video:
Yesterday, on my way home with a heavy bag of tangerines in my right hand and oranges in my left, I found myself singing a tune.

But I couldn’t place what tune I was singing…

Until I realized, I was singing a song we sang all the time when I was a student for almost a decade at a Quaker School. This song was, I guess, the unofficial Friends School anthem.

And it went like this:
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right

I can imagine the image of me humming this song is kind of shocking to those of you whose favorite song from childhood was:

Hashem is here
Hashem is there
Hashem is truly everywhere

But, it is what it is.

And I found myself, as I walked home with those tangerines on my left and those oranges on my right, thinking about the words of this song, for the first time, from a Jewish perspective.

All those references to turning, is that a reference to teshuva, or repentance? Literally “Turning”?

And this Quaker yearning for true simplicity. “Is that,” I wondered, “a Jewish ideal?” I tried approaching the question from a few different directions, but couldn’t figure out the answer…

But as is my general practice, within a few minutes I completely forgot what I had been thinking about. Until later yesterday night…

Every night, before bedtime, I spend 5 minutes reading a Torah-related book. But last night, I couldn’t find the book I’ve been reading recently, so I looked on our bookshelf, and maybe because last month I visited his grave in Prague, I picked up, for the first time in my life, the writings of the Maharal.

So I cracked it open, and read a little, and didn’t understand nearly a thing. Until I came across a line on the second page that drew my attention: “For a human being,” the Maharal wrote, “the characteristic of simplicity is superior to all others.”

I read this line over a few times. Stunned.

And I was reminded: Hashem is here, with me living a Jewish life in Jerusalem.

Hashem is there, with me when I was a little Jewish girl singing “Tis a Gift to be Simple.”

Hashem is truly everywhere, in the combination of worlds that is every baalat teshuva.

In the holy mishmosh that is me.

8 comments

  1. Which sefer, and what is the word in Hebrew?

    • נתיבות עולם חלק ב
      נתיב הענוה פרק א’ עמוד ב
      the word in Hebrew is פשוט and פשיטות
      hope that helps!

  2. Debra Alvo

    You’re absolutely adorable which I’ve said to you over the years. Your innocent and brilliant ability to just be you is nothing short of admirable.
    Thank you for spreading your light with us always.
    Hugs from the big 🍎 in NYC,
    Debra Alvo
    Ps hello sweetest Ayalah Haas 😘 (she sees my posts to you on random occasions)

  3. To everything/Turn, turn, turn
    There is a season/
    Turn, turn, turn,
    Ad a time for every purpose/
    Under Heaven.

  4. Chana Jenny, this is so beautiful. Keep embracing that baalas yeshiva mishmash and finding Hashems loving guidance in every moment… 🙂

  5. Love this, just what I needed.

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