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.
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