Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kad Yasvin composed by the Chazon Ish?

One of the most beautiful and haunting Jewish melodies is Kad Yasvin Yisroel. I recall this song from the David Werdyger album pictured above. The jacket claims that the song was composed by the Chazon Ish, and the words are from the Zohar, yet both claims seem to be incorrect. Also making that claim is the following website:

There is a beautiful phrase recorded in the Zohar about the
greatness of Torah learning. When the Chazon Ish (Rabbi Avrohom Yeshayah
Karelitz zt'l) read the words, he went into a secluded room and composed
a song out of it: "Kad yasvin Yisroel v'askin b'simchas haTorah Kudsha
Brich Hu omer l'famalya dilay: chazu chazu banay chaveevay d'mishatkchin
b'tzarah dilan v'askin b'chedvasah dili- When Klal Yisroel are sitting
and engaging in Torah study, the Holy One, blessed is He, says to his
heavenly army: 'See! See! My beloved children who forget about their
personal problems and engage in My delight'."

In October of last year, Gruntig posted the song along with the following...

Thursday, October 07, 2010
Oldie of the Week ~ Kad Yasvin - 1969

The ninth song in this series features the song "Kad Yasvin" from the album "Cantor David Werdyger sings Melodies of Camp Kol-Ree-Nah" accompanied by the orchestra and the camp choir. Musical director, Yaakov Goldstein. The album was released in 1969.

Soloists are, Mordechi Werdyger AKA MBD (pictured left, early 1970's), his brother child soloist Mendy Werdyger and their father David Werdyger, Tzum Langer Yuhren.

Popular belief is that these words are from the Zohar and the Tune is from the Chazon Ish.

In the words written on the album cover:

"Words of the Zohar Hakodosh set to the music by the sainted Chazon Ish, who fittingly portrayed its deep meaning."

However I've heard that many have failed to find these exact words written in the Zohar. Some are adamant that it is in the Zohar, perhaps in the Hahsmatos, while others says only its concept is form the Zohar (זהר במדבר דף קיח ע"א).

Also regarding the composition of the song, some say that it actually was not composed by the Chazon Ish himself but rather by someone else and the Chazon Ish liked it very much so it became known as his song. Similar to some Negunim of Rebbes.

They sang this song at the Lubavitcher Rebbe's Farbrengen in Tishrei, (i think Simchas Torah) 5722 (1961) and i heard from someone who was there that the Rebbe was very serious and Fardveikut.

כד יתבון ישראל ועוסקין בשמחת התורה
קודשא ברוך הוא אומר לפמליא דיליה
חזו בני חביבי
דמשתכחין בצערא דילהון ועוסקין בחדותא דילי
[Zohar Hakodosh (see above)]

English Translation:
When the Jewish people immerse themselves in the joy of stydying Torah , the the Holy One Blessed is He, Says to all His heavenly hosts: Look! look at at my beloved children as they forget their own sufferings and immerse themselvs in my loving Torah.

This past week, Mishpacha magazine published the following:

Lyrics and Legends

Kad Yasvin

1980. The lecture hall was filled to capacity, as a varied group of scholars gathered for the Jerusalem Yarchei Kallah. An esteemed rosh yeshivah from Yerushalayim took his place at the speaker’s podium and introduced his topic — the analysis of an ancient song, sung by Jews across the globe, whose source is hazy: “Kad Yasvin Yisrael.”

The stirring song is sung at several occasions on the Jewish calendar, most prominently on Shavuos and Simchas Torah. It’s famous not only because of its potent lyrics, but also because of its emotive melody. But its history is filled with question marks. Who composed its famed lyrics and melody? When was it first shared with the public?

During that Yarchei Kallah conference three decades ago, the rosh yeshivah quoted the words of this exceptional niggun. At the end of his speech, he challenged his audience to uncover the roots of this song. “Whoever manages to do so, I’ll address with the title of ‘Mori v’Rabi,’” he added.

Sitting in the audience was Jerusalemite researcher Yisrael Gellis, who resolved to accept the challenge. Following five years of research, Gellis finally unearthed an ancient machzor called “Machzor Vilna HaRishon — The First Vilna Machzor.” Beneath the text of hakafos for Simchas Torah, he discovered the words of this famous song: “Kad yasvin Yisrael — When Yisrael engages in the joy of the Torah, HaKadosh Baruch Hu tells His heavenly court, ‘Look and see My dear children who forget their tribulations and engage in my beloved [Torah].’” The inscription was followed by a comment that the lyrics had been created by none other than the Vilna Gaon. According to the notes in the machzor, the Vilna Gaon sang these words each and every year during the third hakafah on Simchas Torah.

Throughout the course of his research, Gellis also encountered a Yerushalmi talmid chacham named Rav Kalman Landau, a rosh yeshivah in Tchebin, who had heard the same song sung by the Chazon Ish ztz”l. The Chazon Ish recalled this song from his small hometown of Karelitz, located between Vilna and Eishyshok on the border of Belarus and Lithuania.

It has been reported that Kad Yasvin was a favorite of Rav Yitzchak Hutner. Also, according to Lubavitch sources, it seems like the Chabad Rebbe also enjoyed this Nigun. Lubavitch

שיחות קודש תשכ"ב - מנחם מנדל שניאורסאהן

בם״ד. כ״ט תשרי היתשכ״ב. צאתכם לשלום להאורחים שהגיעו מארץ ישראל.
הנחה פרסית בלתי מוגה
(ניגנו אידה ניגון ואח״כ אמר כ״ק אדמו״ר שלים״א: דא איז דא לידר מסתמא,
גערעדט וועגו א נייעם ניגוו, האסם עפעס אויסגעלעדגט דא? נו, איז קלייב צו־זאמען
די תלמידים און זינגס מיט אלעמען פון זיי. וניגן את הניגון "כד יתבון" עם כל הקהל,
וכשסיימו אמר כ״ק אדמו״ר שליט״א: ...וועסטו זאגן דעם הושיעה איצטער. וניגן עם כל
הקהל ניגון "הושיעה את עמר״).

בס״ד. שיחת יום ב׳ פ׳ נח, כ״ט תשרי, ה׳תשכ״ב.
— התוועדות ״צאתכם לשלום״ להאורחים שיחיו —
בלתי מוגה
[כ״ק אדמו״ר שליט״א צוה לא׳ האורחים שלימד ניגון חדש, לחזור
ולנגנו, וניגן את הניגון ״כד יתבון ישראל כו׳״. ואח״כ צוה כ״ק אדמו״ר
שליט״א שינגן הניגון ״הושיעה את עמך״].

Perhaps Mississippi Fred can dig up the above mentioned Machzor.

You can listen to the song on the Gruntig link above or it can be found along with 58 other Aderet compositions at Florida Atlantic University Music.

Update: 5/27/2013

I have been noticing a lot of traffic to this post lately.  If you arrived here via some link that I am unaware about, please note it in the comments section. Thank you.


  1. Funniest lie here has got to be the chaZon ishs hometown of karelitz! Hilarious

  2. Maybe it was a "thypo" (thought typo TM). I believe he was born in Kossova.

  3. Perhaps I'll do a post about it. I'm a little skeptical that there is a "Machzor Vilna Harishon." Also, a couple of centuries old is not "ancient" by any imaginary stretch. The research has already been done.

  4. I was unable to find such a Machzor, either, but my limited searches are not on par with yours. Looking forward to such a post.

  5. The version that I heard has R' Akiva Eiger composing this. Go figure.
    As far as I know, Yisrael Gellis is still around, I'm sure this can be verified.

  6. The Vilna Gaon gave it to R' Akiva Eiger who gave it to the Chasam Sofer who gave it to Kesav Sofer who gave it to the town of Karelitz who gave it to the Chazon Ish who gave it to Rav Hutner.

  7. read it and wept

    why can't we just categorize it as נזרקה מפי החבורה?

  8. We could. And had we done so no one would be complaining. But there is something to the concept of historical truth.

  9. is the truth discernible... or has it been lost in the mists of time?

  10. דמשתכחין בצערא דילהון
    I always believed that the proper translation to this line was "they find themselves in their own pain" which would explain the ב in בצערא.


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