Be Strong


Be Strong - (2010)    

Judah ben Teima

for high voice and piano


Be strong as the leopard,

    swift as the eagle,

    fleet as the gazelle,

    and brave as the lion   

    to do the will of your Father in Heaven.

[ 2 pages, circa 1' 10" ]




The text is found in the collected Pirke Avot, or Ethics of the Fathers, 5:23.  Rabbi Judah ben Teima is sometimes included in the list of the ten Mishnaic sages who were killed by the Romans in the second century CE, though not all lists agree on this. What the saying suggests is clear and personal, written in a times centuries after many were removed from their lands by the Romans. The metaphors of leopard, eagle, gazelle and lion are prophetic sources, through which he counsels much the same as we read in Micah 6:8, "To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." A similar story comes from the Talmud (Shabbos 31) in which the sage Hillel summarizes all of Torah while standing on one foot by teaching "that which you hate, don't do to other - a paraphrase of the command to love your neighbor. "That is the entire Torah," Hillel comments, "the rest is simply an explanation. Go and learn it." For this one must be strong, swift, fleet and brave in a world where such attributes are often derided, merely out of secularism or political correctness.



The song is simple, straightforward, as a 6/8 meter's repeating eighth notes and rising diatonic scheme urge the song forward. The vocal part is written out in a 3/4 division of the measure to underscore the strong melody overlying the accompaniment.



The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.


Be Strong