The Matzav Shmoooze: Is ‘Adamah V’Shamayim’ an Avodah Zarah Song?

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Dear Editor@Matzav.com,

I’m sure you’ve heard of the song Adamah V’shamayim, an often-requested song. Some people know and understand the lyrics, most don’t. But 99.9% of our community doesn’t know the song’s origin. So here goes, working backward:

Before Motti Weiss (aka Matt Dubb) recorded the song, it was recorded and popularized by a Buddhist-style Israeli group by the name of Segol. Little detail is given by Segol that the song is originally in English.

The original song is “Strong Wind, Deep Water” (the original lyrics and the source can be found here and below). It’s a song by an earth-worshiping pagan cult, translated into Hebrew, almost word for word, for the Segol group. A Google search will show many results confirming that the song is of pagan (i.e., avodah zarah) origins.

I appreciate that this is not intuitive information, the lyrics are subtle. But the fact is that a song by earth-worshippers describing earth worship has crept into our community, and we’re now dancing at our simchos to an avodah zarah song (literally). If rabbonim knew the above about this song, many might say that one is not allowed to say the bracha “Shehasimcha Bim’ono” at a chasunah where the song is played.

Ever since I researched this song, I’ve been asked by multiple ba’alei simcha to play it. After giving a short and concise background of the song, the response is absolutely unanimous – both from chosson and kallah couples and from bar mitzvah parents: “OMG I didn’t know, yeah let’s not play that song.”

Since spreading this info on a social media group for Jewish musicians, there have been a few responses: Some respond with unfortunate leitzanus, and others respond with indifference. Yet many musicians have thanked me for the info and said they would not be playing the song. One artist reached out to me privately to let me know that he’s not including the song on his upcoming cover album, as he originally intended. Another artist to whom I reached out regarding this song also decided to not include it in his recently-released cover album.

I would strongly urge you to consider whether or not you should play the song in the future. We wouldn’t sing about gilui arayos of shfichus domim at our heiligeh simchas…singing a song of avodah zarah should be no exception. Boruch Hashem, we have many great and leibedik songs to choose from without an avodah zarah chant.

Yehuda

P.S. The reason I researched the song, to begin with, is two-fold: 1) The tune (with the repetitive A and B section) has the sound and structure of a classic far-eastern or pre-American chant, and 2) the lyrics convey a spiritual feeling of experiencing nature as an end to itself, rather than experiencing G-d through nature. It sounded extremely foreign and strange to me, not something written by a Jew, let alone a frum Jew.

Strong wind, Deep water; Tall trees, Warm fire
I can feel it in my body; I can feel it in my soul
Heya heya heya heya heya heya ho
Heya heya, heya heya, heya heya heya ho

Strong wind, Deep water; Pure Earth, Warm fire
Soft breeze, Vast Ocean; Bright Sun, Grand Mountain
Sweet kiss, Long River; Earth Live forever

{Matzav.com}

65 COMMENTS

  1. Oh my goodness! Wowowow!!! Thank you so much! Did not know this and will you try to avoid listening to the song and spread the message… insane.. thank you, Yehuda!

  2. Alternate version (heard this Purim in Lakewood to the tune of Adama veshamayim, and makes more sense than the original version):
    אני נוסע על אופניים
    אני נוסע בלי ידיים
    אני מרגיש בשמיים
    אופס! נקרעו המכנסיים!

    • Here’s my version. Definitely more inspiring than Ex-Israeli’s. Hum it to yourself with the tune three times, and if you like it, you can suggest to your friends who don’s want to give up “Adama”, but are still disturbed by the meaning of the lyrics:
      אעוף אליך עד השמים
      אלך איתך באש ומים
      אגיש לך את גופי
      ורוחי ונשמתי
      אהא. אהא. עבד השם
      אהא אהא עבד השם
      אהא עולם ועד
      אהא אהא אהא’

  3. WOW. I always wondered about this song – the lyrics sounded like they had no spiritual import and the tune was very bizzare to me (“heya heya ho”) This confirms my suspicion. I wonder if Matta Dubb knew the origin! In the description to his YouTube video , he credits “AMMI” as songwriter. No clue who that is, and probably innacurate since doing a bit more research after having read this article, it is unclear where the song actually originated although terms like “pagan/goddess/earth-worship” keep on coming up. This is a great and important piece. We have to be so discerning with regard to “Jewish music”! Music has a tremendous power of kedusha but can ch”v corrupt in the same measure. While the influences of our society have breached the walls of our machaneh kadosh, it is the music scene that seems to have been hit the hardest. Let’s seek truly genuine Jewish music! (It seems so strange now that the “Gimmel” party used this song as their campaign theme… so strange.)

    ON THE OTHER HAND – There is a concept, particularly in Chassidishe sources, of elevating music. I know only rebbes used to do it and they were much holier and able, but maybe there is something to thousands of yidden using this song to dance at simchos and be mishabeach Hashem “adamah v’shamayim” – with gud (adamah) and neshama (v’shomayim). Just another perspective. I can hear both. Thoughts?

    • Wondering Jew, the credit to “AMMI” highlights the absolute and abject ignorance and shoddy job researching the song. The Hebrew word should be “Amami” (spelled ayin-mem-mem-yud) which essentially is the Hebrew term indicating that the composer is unknown.
      You raise excellent points in your comment. Thank you!

      • Fascinating. Haha! That is actually pretty hilarious. Because on the original hebrew folk version, it saws the hebrew word “amami” (which like you said means the genre of “world”) but whoever wrote the credit to matt dubb’s song thought it was like a double “m”. am aratzus. Great point!

  4. ALSO – in the description to the music video, Matt Dubb writes: “The song “Adama V’shamayim” is about the beautiful nature that God has created and how you can feel it in your heart & soul.”

    If Hashem is acknowledged as the creator of nature, isn’t it then permissible to praise His creations – “Mah rabu masecha Hashem”? The whole “Barchi nafshi” is basically about that. (Admittedly, there is continuous reference to Hashem throughout that mizmor and in the song any mention of a Creator is lacking and the original intention was that the earth and heaven were themselves divine ch”v. So I guess… yup! Definitely something off and pretty creepy (I don’t think ill ever be able to hear this song now without thinking about cannibals chanting this at a bonfire with gusto to a conga beat while taking bites out of a juicy tourist… yeeek! “No, I will have neither stuffed chicken nor steak for my main. The band just played “Adama v’shamayim”. Totally lost my appetite!”)

  5. Dear Matzav,

    please remove this hate filled letter that will just create animosity between yidden.
    Like all other music played by jews, some will love it, some will hate it. If you hate it, just dont listen to it.
    No need to hate on other jews. especiialy one Like Matt Dubb who creates music that so many love and feel uplifted by.

    Heya heya, heya heya,
    Yiddel

    • He doesn’t “create” any music. Just rips off goyishe songs and gets them played by our weddings. In the old days, they would at least change up the words. Not anymore. Newest case in point is this new one “Papa Outei”. Straight up song from a French singer, with the same exact chorus!

      • Because you dont appreciate talent and electronic music doesnt mean he isnt an artist.
        Grow up.

        Hes being mekadaysh niggunim. if thats not something you enjoy listen to chazzanus and thats all.

        Peace,
        Yiddel

        • If the only types of music that exist in your mind are “electronic music” and Chazzanus, you seriously are clueless when it comes to music.

      • OK, wait a minute, “Matt Dubb”.
        1) If this not really Moti Weiss please don’t impersonate him because you are inadvertently casting aspersions that he supports distributing a Wiccan song in our community. Which brings me to…
        2) If this is really Moti Weiss, then…dude: The song is frikkin’ Wiccan. You know those wierd 5-point stars you see on graffiti? Yeah, that. They believe in a “god” and a “goddess”, and the song is of those tribes who worship nature. If you’re in full knowledge spreading a song like this in our community then you don’t count towards a minyan, and let’s hope that the wine in your parents’ house is mevushal. 100% serious man.
        Tremendous thank you to the writer. Music from Weiss and his contemporaries never crossed the doorstep of my house.

      • hi matt dubb i know that these idiots are not normal and are making u because hadam vshamyim also has a diffrent transalation wich it is a very holy song

    • Sadly you have attacked the writer by claiming he has written hate filled content. You have done the same thing the left wing media and the Democratic Party does, you have stifled conversation and debate by labeling opposing opinions as hate.

    • Oooh look what we got here…a Bolshevik! “I don’t like what you’re saying (even though it’s a fact that all people on this post are thankful for except you) so take it down!”. The fact that you claim that the writer wrote “hate filled letter” as a cover to silence those whom you want to silence looks real bad, bro.
      Next, Avodah Zarah is not uplifting. It drags you down. If Matt Dubb, or whatever his real name is, cared about the music he was releasing he’d do his homework before leading thousands to sing and dance to Avodah Zarah.

      • stop taking things out on matt dubb.
        totally agree with writer and will stop listening to it but no point of bashing another Jew.
        #LoveYourFellowJew

  6. Uh… what Avodah Zara is the writer suggesting Native Americans are worshipping? I’m pretty sure they hold by the El Elyon who cannot be truly known, generally.

    Alas, the ignorance of Yidden, who think all monotheism is only from them, when the Torah makes clear that simple goyim outside of great Empires generally worship the actual true G-d.

    • The only origin listed onling says this song has pagan/goddess/wicca origins. Here is some info on the Wiccas – this is not an instance of the “ignorance of yidden”. (And btw yes, avraham brought monotheism to the world. Do some research before calling others ignorant)

      From wikipedia –

      Wicca has no central authority figure. Its traditional core beliefs, principles and practices were originally outlined in the 1940s and 1950s by Gardner and Doreen Valiente, both in published books as well as in secret written and oral teachings passed along to their initiates. There are many variations on the core structure, and the religion grows and evolves over time. It is divided into a number of diverse lineages, sects and denominations, referred to as traditions, each with its own organisational structure and level of centralisation. Due to its decentralized nature, there is some disagreement over what actually constitutes Wicca. Some traditions, collectively referred to as British Traditional Wicca, strictly follow the initiatory lineage of Gardner and consider the term Wicca to apply only to similar traditions, but not to newer, eclectic traditions.

      Wicca is typically duotheistic, worshipping a Goddess and a God. These are traditionally viewed as the Moon Goddess and the Horned God, respectively. These deities may be regarded in a henotheistic way, as having many different divine aspects which can in turn be identified with many diverse pagan deities from different historical pantheons. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as the “Great Goddess” and the “Great Horned God”, with the adjective “great” connoting a deity that contains many other deities within their own nature. These two deities are sometimes viewed as facets of a greater pantheistic divinity, which is regarded as an impersonal force or process rather than a personal deity. While duotheism or bitheism is traditional in Wicca, broader Wiccan beliefs range from polytheism to pantheism or monism, even to Goddess monotheism.

      Wiccan celebrations encompass both the cycles of the Moon, known as Esbats and commonly associated with the Goddess (female deity), and the cycles of the Sun, seasonally based festivals known as Sabbats and commonly associated with the Horned God (male deity). An unattributed statement known as the Wiccan Rede is a popular expression of Wiccan morality, although it is not universally accepted by Wiccans. Wicca often involves the ritual practice of magic, though it is not always necessary.

      • To be a bit more accurate: Avrohom Avinu did NOT bring monotheism into the world. He brought the concept that there is no need for intermediaries between us and the One G-d. No need for mazalos to bring the shefa to us. We may serve Him directly. Daven to Him directly.

    • I learned how to swim in my local YMCA many years ago. What’s wrong with using their services, if they’re not available in your local frum communities?

  7. Thank you for posting this letter.
    It’s one thing to copy non Jewish tunes, it’s much more problematic to copy their lyrics.
    I hope the person who spread around this song withdraws it.

  8. Not to compare but the Skulener Rebbe uses for his Friday night kiddush niggun the theme song from the popular video game Halo

  9. since you did the research why not present the backround and facts to a godol that understands neginah niglah & nistar and come back w a second letter about the points made maybe someone like rav wolfson shlita or rav yakov hillel….shlita
    you have some valid points ( oy where is rav belsky?)

    • יוסף בריה דרבי יהושע חלש [חלה] אינגיד [מת].
      [אחר כך קם מן המתים] אמר ליה אבוה [אמר לו אביו] מאי חזית [מה ראית. בעולם העליון]?
      אמר ליה [אמר לו] עולם הפוך ראיתי עליונים למטה ותחתונים למעלה. [רש”י: עליונים למטה. אותם שהם עליונים כאן מחמת עושרן ראיתי שם שהם למטה. ותחתונים למעלה. ראיתי עניים שהם בינינו שפלים שם ראיתים חשובים].
      אמר ליה [רבי יהושע לבנו] עולם ברור ראית.
      ואנן היכי חזיתינן [רבי יהושע שאל את בנו, אנחנו תלמידי חכמים כיצד ראית אותנו?]
      אמר ליה כי היכי דחשבינן הכא חשבינן התם

  10. The first time I heard some kids singing the Hey-O part I thought it was some American Indian thing and was wondering what kind of song is this for Jewish children to be singing…..

  11. Lets calm down everybody! I am not going to comment on the origins, however the way Segol recorded it is actually a very Jewishley themed song.
    It is well known that in Kabbala it is said that everything is made up of these four elements- Earth Air Fire Water. Now if read the lyrics, (if you understand Shomayim as air), then there you go! A perfectly Jewish song, I can feel it in my Guf Ruach and Neshama the three levels we are made up of!
    Just to leave you the lyrics here:
    Adama V’shamayim, Chom Ha’esh, Tzlil hamayim
    Ani margish zot begufi, beruchi, benishmati.
    English translation:
    Earth and sky, heat of fire, sound of water
    I can feel it in my body, in my spirit, in my soul.
    Here are two basic links to the Jewish idea of the four elements:
    https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/835292/jewish/The-Four-Elements.htm

    https://www.aish.com/sp/pg/83525102.html?mobile=yes

  12. It was always so פשוט to me this song was a spiritual song connecting to nature without alluding to hashem.

    Even without finding it’s pagan source, the Hebrew version itself was a Israeli secular song with no religious connection.

    It amazed me how accepted it became in frum world but I assumed we raised the song somehow by associating the words with hashem.

  13. Seems to me that the earliest version is the Hebrew version by Sagol. Which was copied into English later. Google finds no versions in English preceding Sagol’s version.

  14. Ahh that’s why – It’s really TALL TREES
    Gila Antara – Tall Trees seems to be the original, and yes it’s Wiccan.

  15. Ok: final update: It seems the Sagol is the original. They definitley believe in Hashem and are not Avoda zara – their album has a song “Hashem Sefatai Tiftach (see the album on bandcamp).”

    This Wiccan Jewish Gila Antara lady took the song from Hebrew and translated it to English. She called it Gila Antara – Tall Trees. I cant find any earlier version in English online.
    So sof sof its kosher.

  16. The earliest version online is from Sagol in 2005. They seem to have composed it. And they are not Avoda Zara (see the other songs in their album.

    It seems to be coopted by Ovdei Avoda Zara later, in 2009. So it seems to be kosher originally.

  17. Ok, I was wrong. The original song was recorded by an obscure group called Prana. Then Sagol rereleased it from obscurity. It most def is an Avoda Zara song:
    These are the orginal lyrics:
    ” feel it in my body and feed it to my source.” Def Avoda Zara.

  18. Good job Asher Scheiner. I “knew” it had to precede Sagol, but I couldn’t find the original composers anywhere.
    Their lyrics definitely sound problematic.

    Although it is not at all clear that a melody with kosher words is a problem. The melody does not hold Tum’ah or Kedusha per se.

    I always sang it with feelings of Regesh and Dveikus B’hashem.
    Going forward I have to check the Halacha further.

    • https://youtu.be/IwOpfypZbO4

      In this shmooz from rabbi YY, he quotes rabbi matisyahu Solomon, saying that music has its own koach, and doesn’t effect from where it comes from, so as long as you don’t sing those words it’s fine….but then quotes that if you find out where or who a song comes from and it will effect your thoughts everytime you listen to the song…then you should not listen or sing to it anymore…I believe this is said in the last 10 minutes of the shiur…

  19. In case anyone actually wants the truth. The composer’s name is Tony Wrench. He owns a farm called “That Roundhouse” and believes in living with nature. I have no way of knowing that he worships the earth as Avodah Zarah rather than simply he is a naturalist hippy who believes the way the rest of us live is bad for the environment. His website is http://thatroundhouse.info/live.htm – you can check it out. He makes his money as a musision and in the late 70’s he composed his now famous song which he sings about the “Rocks, Stones and Crystals” to our beloved Adama V’shamayim tune. See http://www.earthheartmusic.com/prana-earth-my-body_e.htm TRACK 9. Over the last 40 years the song has evolved to many forms including the 1993 Album by Gila Antara called “strong trees” (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkzfsnSJgtg) If you want a MAN singing the 1993 version see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0wCBqyJKxM where its exactly like the Matt Dubb version.

  20. This seems alot like ignorance lol.

    And that’s all the substantive argument that is needed against this kind of letter.

    Live a little. Change is coming anyway. You can either resist it and become irrelevant to your grandchildren… Or get to shape the future by engaging with it.

    Chag sameach.

    • Reb Yid, do you hear what you are saying? Become irrelevant to your grandchildren?
      You have the obligation to teach your children right from wrong and to continue our precious mesorah passed down thousands of years. Your children will have the same precious obligation towards their children. What you are saying is “let my kids become influenced by the streets, whatever’s out there”, and it’s YOUR job to stay “relevant” to THEM. I pity you if you take this approach towards Chinuch in the long run.
      No! The tail does not wag the dog! If there is something which is “not kosher”, then you tell your kids to stay away from that, teach them how to stick to our principles. As Yidden we don’t just follow the whims of the world just because it “feels ok”. If you believe otherwise, then I have a reform temple to sell you.

  21. please tell me how Strong wind, Deep water; Tall trees, Warm fire
    I can feel it in my body; I can feel it in my soul
    Heya heya heya heya heya heya ho
    Heya heya, heya heya, heya heya heya ho

    Strong wind, Deep water; Pure Earth, Warm fire
    Soft breeze, Vast Ocean; Bright Sun, Grand Mountain\

    it is an avodah zarah song

    thank you Chaim Aryeh

    • Sure. There are groups of pagan groups who literally worship the earth. This was written and adopted by one of these groups; it is a song describing and exalting the worship of earth. As you can see, there is no reference to any other entity other than earth, no mention of G-dliness. Given that nothing from this song was changed other than the literal translation accounting for rhythmic meter, the song Adamah Veshamayim retains its status as an Avodah Zarah song limhadrin.

  22. I first heard this song in its yiddish version (on moishy burger album), while I am surprised to find the songs origins, I must say he did a very good job of eliminating any of the earth worship trash in the original and the pagan sounding chant. Kept the beat though 🙂

  23. Maybe it just comes down to we need to create our own music and stop trying to copy others. That way we stay far away from emulating the goyim or their practices. I’ve heard plenty of Jewish cover songs made from songs that are just down right sexual and or inappropriate in their original form. Are we spending so much time trying to be hip that we are ignoring how much influence comes from the original meanings of these tunes and songs? This song is one of the more mellow of the bunch but the main point shouldn’t be ignored. If they are representations of the pagan world or secular society than we really are obligated to avoid them.

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