« Book Report: Superior Donuts | Main | Another Atoz from the Mists of History »

Shabbos Frivolity: When Rebbe Elimelech gets...

During these weeks Between the Gates, it isn’t really appropriate to have Frivolity of any kind—in fact, one isn’t supposed to listen to music at all. On the other hand, I didn’t do a Shabbos Frivolity note last week, and after spending too much of the day focused out of the horrific images coming out of Norway, I should take a break. And what is frivolity for, if not to remind us that the Divine is in the singing and dancing, as well as in the grieving?

Which makes this a good day for Rebbe Elimelech, perhaps. Not for the real Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk, the Rebbe of all Rebbes, but for the Rebbe Elimelech in the drinking song. Who might be the same Rebbe, after all, you know, as the Lizensker was known for his singing and dancing to express his joy in the Divine or sorrow in the world. He probably is not the character in the song, though. The lyrics are sometimes attributed to Moishe Nadir, and sometimes considered Traditional, and we Anglophones know them (more or less) from Old King Cole (Here are Sharon, Lois and Bram singing both); Rebbe gets tipsy and takes off his t’fillin and calls for his drummers two, who drum for a while, and the Rebbe gets a little more freylich, then he calls for his fiddlers two, who scrape their fiddlers for a while, and Rebbe gets even more completely shitfaced and he calls for the cimbalom players two, uswusf uswusf.

You can have a nice orchestral arrangement, if you would prefer, with Itzik Perlman and the Israel Philharmonic, or a choral version recorded at the Museo Diego Rivera, or there’s Mandy Patinkin with a version that starts off slow but gets worth the wait about two minutes in, and then descends (or ascends) into ululation. Or do you prefer Metal? Here’s a version by Gevolt, who refer to themselves as Yiddish Metal Pioneers.

Well. Here’s a group I only recently discovered, called the Sirba Octet. Mind the trippy overproduced video effects, but have a listen (and, if you aren't stoned, a watch); Rebbe Elimelech is the first tune in a medley they call “pot pourri des Rabbis”:

And here is a version a capella by Portotrio that I really like (and I’m not often a huge fan of the klezmer-without-klezmorim):

PORTOTRIO "Der rebbe Elimelech" by Tralalex

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Why did the people who produced the first one want to make me feel like I wasn't wearing my glasses? Fortunately I can switch tabs and still hear. Nice!

Comments are closed for this entry. Usually if I close comments for an entry it's because that entry gets a disproportionate amount of spam. If you want to contact me about this entry, feel free to send me email.