Harps / New Song
Harrari Harps: Music for the Messianic Age
During the time of the first and second Temples, half of the 38,000 Levite priests played on two types of harps, singing melodies that no one else was permitted to learn. This secret knowledge was passed from father to son until the destruction of the second Temple. Since that time the special knowledge of this music has been said to be "hidden." Because of the sacredness of the music of the Temple instruments, most Orthodox Jewish communities do not use any instrumental music in their synagogues as a sign of mourning over the Temple.
But after a 2,000-year absence, the sounds of the biblical harp have returned to Jerusalem. The return began when Micah and Shoshanna Harrari were in California, building and repairing stringed instruments and studying harp-making. They were planning to immigrate to Israel when they heard that the mayor of Jerusalem had said, "Jerusalem needs a harpmaker." Answering this need, the Harraris decided to research the biblical harp. They discovered that the harp of King David was considered a symbol of Israel, and believed that its recreation would serve as a symbol of the future of Israel as foretold by the prophets of old.
A story is told that when they had first made their replica of the ten-stringed harp of David, and tuned it to the ancient Hebrew mode, a rabbi came by to see it. When he saw and heard it he exclaimed that this was a fulfillment of prophecy, for the Talmud said that this harp was a symbol of the world to come, and that when the harp was again sounded in Jerusalem the Messiah would come!
The Harraris believe that they are part of the divine plan in ushering in the days of the Messiah and world peace, for it is also written of this harp that the Shir Hadash or New Song, whose main theme is a world of no more war, will be sung upon it. They also believe that it is the Asora, the mythical harp spoken of in Jewish literature "whose song will rise on the day when the world that is to be will be recreated in one harmonious whole."
(Ready to Rebuild, Thomas Ice & Randall Price)
The Passover Haggadah speaks of two new songs of rejoicing, one in the feminine form and one in the masculine. We introduce Hallel, the psalms of praise for the Exodus, by calling it a new song, spelled with the feminine suffix Hei. The song of Messianic Days, however, is...in the masculine form. Before Hallel, when we are about to thank God for redeeming us from the Egyptian bondage, we use the feminine form to suggest that the redemption was incomplete, as it was followed by other exiles and sufferings, each more painful than the preceding one. This as yet unended chain of national suffering is similar to labor pangs which ease up for a short period only to be followed by more severe pains. Indeed, the tribulations of Israel are called the birthpangs of the Messiah. After Hallel, we pray for the complete and final redemption of the Messianic era, which will finally bring everlasting peace and complete happiness to the world. In the prayer, which alludes to the period after the advent of Mashiach when the pangs will have stopped, the masculine form is used (Tosafos, Pesachim 116b).
(Rabbi Michael L. Munk, The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet, Mesorah Publications, Ltd., 1998)