"Hey has a numerical value of 5, alluding to the 5 fingers of the hand. As such it represents understanding, the hand that holds wisdom, distributing and channeling it. At the beginning of a word, the prefix Heh means "the". It is the definite article that specifies and delineates an object. Like the hand, the definite article holds and specifies a concept that is specific rather than general. At the end of a noun, Heh indicates the feminine possessive, "her". This is because understanding is the domain of the feminine essence." -Aryeh Kaplan's commentary on Sefer Hayetzira (The book of Creation).
Those familiar with Kaplan, the Book of Creation, Kabbala and the power and meaning of letters in the Hebrew alphabet may ask: how does this fit into a cd?
To flow from the upper world of emanation (Atzilut) to the lower world of action (Asiya) there needs to be a channel: a specific Universe, Year and Soul. Universe is the concept of a place. The place chosen is a tiny performance space in the very heart of Jerusalem: Nahlat Hashiva, Synagogue alley,a meter wide. A wooden door on the outside is all one sees. A spiral staircase leads down to a curtain on which is written the text to the 5th song - Hey. Behind it a room for which "womb" is the best description. In the past :synagogue,warehouse and meeting place. In the 80's : Mizraka(fountain),a teahouse with floor seating where Ofer played Neil Young, Cat Stevens and Pink Floyd. 2002: poetry workshops, theater experiments, jazz evenings. Visions of Phillip Diskin, psychologist and theater director. Ofer serves as a magnet pulling the creative ingredients into the cauldron and as a lighter to light the fire under the soup. Called Khan Katan (little inn). The place is magic, a vortex of creative energy, which Jerusalem has an abundance of. Prophets from all over the world come to shout their truth here.
The time (Year) came when The Foundation gave Ofer a Korg D-1600 studio in a suitcase which records 8 digital tracks. With these 18(life) songs he made sketches, wrote charts and went fishing for musicians (Soul).
Over a 2 month period, 6 performances were given at Khan Katan. Same 18 songs. 5 changing musicians. A small audience (the place holds no more than 30). A recording every time.
The Musicians (Soul): Neta Amir or Ariel Gavizon on bass. Abe Doron (Bohdran Bongos) or Shmuel Mishan (eastern percussion). Daniel Yacobson (son of Jacob) - Clarinet and a surprising mouth harmonica on track 15. Daniel Nester - Bassoon and Rahel Jaskow on Harmonies. Jerusalem masters.
The cd captures the feeling of a live performance though the clapping and most commentary (with the commentary it is a Kabala lesson)is omitted.
Hey begins with YOU CAN (if you believe you can - but you must believe that you can believe). Also called soundcheck for 4 microphones. An 8 bar canon inviting to sing along on the affirmation which served many workshops as a spirit-lift. I KNOW -a chromatically climbing bassoon inviting to "plug in play along with us -put down that gun get on the magic bus". Prophecy which became reality for the bassoon player. EIGHTH DAY jumps into the bible's host of female characters - Eva, Sarah, Esther, Rachav, Miriam, Dina, Rachel. A raggae groove with 4 year old Noam as overdubbed dolphin ending with "Ishmael - like Jacob had twelve sons - but no daughters. I.M.A.G.N.U.S. a Jethro-Tull-blues-bragger in 6/8 with charachters covering 600 incarnations. Hey -the meditative title piece- uses only 5 letters in a tapestry of voices on the words Haya (was) Yihye (will be) Hove (present) Ehyeh (I shall be) and Havayah (essence, experience, being). What Abulafia the 13th century Kabbalist would have sounded like if women had sung his meditations. SHAHID- a call to turn from the politics of power and military is a prophecy - "the dagger will become a flute - the alters turn to drums and all the mosques and churches dance halls when the peace train comes". MUSICIAN :Ofer's journey from soldier to musician with his ancestors looking on is a seminal version. BUTTON:a sci-fi story with a moral question: would you take someone else's life and inherit all he has if it was someone you don't know nor will ever meet? Bouncy and cabaretish. LITTLE PEACE: a children's tune with the basic rules of peacemaking was born in the Hey delivery room before the accordion-xylophone-trombone arrangement on Hebrew Alternative.
To the Tree of Life -BANANAS- a Russian singalong.DOORS- minimalist funk. The offering of Isaac in reverse on the eastern side of Jerusalem -MERHAV HAMORIA, or the family 13x4=52. Interspersed with hints of Hebrew songs from the 50's where one who recognizes the melody finds himself searching for the words which lead to Jacob, the middle path of Mercy between Abraham's love and Isaac's judgment. Waiting for Rachel. Wrestling with the angel. Outwitting Lavan the father-in-law. Reconciling with Esau-the brother he tricked. Ofer's grandfather Jacob reached the Promised Land realizing that "we were in heaven but we did not know we were in heaven". Tower of Song: Ofer's a translation which 2 years later blossoms into a full 2 sets of Cohen. A Hebrew version of Eighth Day with a bridge Me'ever Lanahar (from across the River), Grieg's Sunrise (from Peer Gynt suite) arranged for guitar, bass and cymbals sets the scene for a morning when the king disguises himself and goes among his people, meeting his equal in a fisherman to whom he reveals his identity in a riddle (who is a Jew?) before bowing out with a musical quote from the Jungle Book.