Etz Chaim: A Tree of Life

June 27, 2023 by Lazer Brody

On Sabbath Day after the Torah reading, we return the Torah scroll to the ark and sing “Etz Chaim”, two moving passages from Proverbs 3:17-18. This is King Solomon’s metaphor that the Torah is a Tree of Life. Here is an original melody that came to me during hitbodedut (personal prayer) under the starry sky of one beautiful Sabbath evening here in the south of Israel. This recording features Guy Tzvi Mintz on guitar and vocal with yours truly on Native Israel flutes and background vocal. I hope you enjoy it, for it’s a piece of my soul that I’d like to share with you. You can download here it for free, courtesy of Emuna Beams.

To enable you to sing along, here are the lyrics, by King Solomon, in Hebrew, English transliteration and English translation.

עֵץ-חַיִּים הִיא, לַמַּחֲזִיקִים בָּהּ;    וְתֹמְכֶיהָ מְאֻשָּׁר

דְּרָכֶיהָ דַרְכֵי-נֹעַם;    וְכָל-נְתִיבוֹתֶיהָ שָׁלוֹם

Chorus (from Lamentations 5:21, lyrics by Jeremiah the Prophet):

הֲשִׁיבֵנוּ ה’ אֵלֶיךָ וְנָשׁוּבָה, חַדֵּשׁ יָמֵינוּ כְּקֶדֶם

Etz chaim he, lamachazikim ba; v’tomcheha m’ushar.

Dracheha darchei noam; v’kol netivoteha shalom.

Hashivenu A-donai elecha v’nashuva; chadesh yamenu k’kedem.

She is a tree of life to those who cling to her; her ways are ways of pleasantry and all her paths are peace.

Return us to You, Hashem! Renew our days as of old.

One comment on “Etz Chaim: A Tree of Life”

  • Susan Eklove says:

    Dear Rabbi Brody,
    Today Hashem lead me to your article about the Judean Flutes you bought in Shilo. I studied Jewish meditation and I feel called to work with Jewish women through meditation to help bring them closer to Hashem. Music brings me to a really high state and I love the idea of playing a pentatonic instrument because I don’t actually know how to play a traditional 7+note instrument.

    I recently attended a “Sound bath” meditation. I noted how most of the instruments were gongs, and singing bowls. I wondered when it was over, how Judaism uses sound to heal…it didn’t take me long before I started thinking of the instruments in the Beit Hamikdash, the shofar as a call to teshuva, song, and even the healing channels of the letters and vowels themselves. Somehow…that lead me to the flute, and I learned about the American native flute. That lead me to look and see if there was a Jewish flute- which lead me to you.

    I reached out to the man in Shilo as I would love to buy a flute that his a “holy vessel” as you so eloquently put it, with holy sounds. Sadly, he is retired and I am trying to figure out where I can purchase such an instrument.

    I am hoping Hashem will help me, as I feel like he has lead me with a breadcrumb trail to you and this idea!
    Perhaps you know either someone else making them, or perhaps you know someone who purchased some and maybe they are lying dormant and would be happy to sell. I would love to buy.

    Please, if you have any ideas for me, I would be so greatly appreciative!

    Thank you so much,
    Susan (Sarah Leah) Eklove

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