Reinterpretting Sefer Yetzira
Victoria Hanna is an Israeli singer whose work incorporates the sacred Jewish texts and mysticism she learned growing up as a rabbi’s daughter in an Ultra-Orthodox Egyptian-Persian Jewish family. In this song and video, Hanna performs a mesmerizing rap with lyrics drawn directly from the mystical “Sefer Yetzira.” This early kabbalistic work describes the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, reflecting profound spiritual truths as well as mapping onto parts of the human body.
Kabbalistic texts can be intimidating, but Victoria Hanna translates them into contemporary songs and videos which are broadly accessible, yet faithful to the tradition’s depth. This is quite an achievement! Her exquisitely soulful vocal technique reflects her deep grounding in Mizrahi musical traditions, enhanced by her collaborations with beat-makers and videographers.
More from Victoria Hanna
Want more? Listen to some of her top tracks here, on Kolture.
Alicia Jo Rabins is an award-winning writer, musician, performer and Torah teacher
For those familiar with Hebrew
Think about how you are used to interacting with Hebrew, and how this video interacts with the language and letters. How is this song and video different from your usual interactions with Hebrew? Does it add anything to the way you consider Hebrew language and letters? Are there any similarities between your usual engagement with Hebrew and this piece?
Don’t think! Feel!
Mysticism (the subject of this video) is all about ideas that are beyond the logical brain. So, skipping over the need to literally “understand,” what feelings does this song and video evoke in you?
According to Jewish mysticism, God created the entire world out of the alphabet; Victoria Hanna brings this idea to life through song and visual images. If you were to imagine what this might mean, what might you create? How do you see the alphabet in the world around you? (Feel free to use the English alphabet if Hebrew is unfamiliar). This could be a pencil sketch, a series of movements, a poem, or finding shapes of letters within a favorite photo.
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