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From our Chanukah 1995 Newsletter

copyright © 1995, Joseph Good, all rights reserved

During this time of year, just before Chanukah, we often think of the miracles that occurred that enabled the Temple and its practices to be dedicated and restored. Children even play a Chanukah game, dreidle, which commemorates that “a great miracle happened there.” Likewise we should now think about modern day miracles that again will enable the Temple to be built and dedicated to the service of G-d. In the last few years, such a miracle has occurred, the return of the Biblical harps.

This amazing story began in California about eighteen years ago among a young Jewish couple, Shoshanna and Micah Harrari. Shoshanna had a desire for a small lap harp, very different from the classical harp that most people are familiar with. In the past she had tried other instruments but nothing had seemed right for her. Four years later, the Harraris made aliyah to Israel. They discovered a drawing of a small harp from a cave located at Megiddo. The drawing dated back 3,500 years. From this drawing Micah, who was a guitar maker, began to fashion Shoshannas lap harp. At the time the Harraris were living at Tiberias. Their yard had a lemon tree and one hot day a neighbor came to pick the lemons. Invited in for a drink of water, she noticed Micahs harp, then under construction. This lady happened to be a journalist for the Jerusalem Post and began a story on the Harrari harp. Her research revealed that the harp was the Biblical harp known as the Nevel and had not been made for almost two thousand years.

The article on the Harrari harp catapulted them into international prominence. To musicologists, historians, Bible scholars and teachers the return of the harp was interpreted as an astounding event. At this time Shoshanna and Micah knew very little about the history or Biblical significance of the harps. According to Shoshanna, people came to their home to ask questions on the harps. They responded that they were very busy at the time and asked everyone to write their questions down and come back in a few days. In the meantime Shoshanna and Micah delved into books in order to find the answers so as not to be embarrassed.

This first harp, known as the Nevel dates from the earliest Biblical period. Numerous sources reveal the Nevel as having three to twenty-two strings. Because Shoshanna desired to have a very practical lap harp that musically would have great range, they decided to make theirs with twenty-two strings. It was only later that they realized the spiritual significance of this choice. According to the rabbis, G-d created the world by pronouncing the Hebrew alphabet, one letter at a time, from the alef to the tav. This alphabet contains exactly twenty-two letters. The rabbis teach that G-d sang the creation accompanied by a heavenly harp, a Nevel. Besides creation, the twenty-two letters of the alphabet, as well as the twenty-two strings of the Nevel, speak of the Torah and the Messiah. The rabbis also claim that the Nevel makes the most perfect music in the world.

The Harrari Nevel has a half-tone lever system which research has revealed was in use at least during the Second Temple era. These levers provide the player with the ability to alter each string exactly one half-tone. They can also be repositioned very quickly, even in the middle of a song. This device allows the musician to change into different scales while playing, without stopping to retune the harp each time. It is now known that the Levitical choir performed these changes frequently in the awesome music of the Temple.

A second style of harp made by the Harraris is known as the Kinnor and along with the Nevel represents the major harps of the scriptures. The Kinnor is the Lyre of David and anciently had three to twelve strings. Shoshanna and Micah had chosen ten strings for the their harp as they wanted a full rich scale that would be interesting to the musician. Early one morning an elderly rabbi appeared at the Harrari home and requested to see the Kinnor. Very carefully he counted the strings, then counted again and again. He was obviously moved and Shoshanna and Micah asked him why. The rabbi then told them of an ancient portion of the Talmud that states: “The harp of the ten strings is reserved for the day when the world that is to come (the Olam Haba) is united in one harmonious whole.” Its reappearance signifies the soon coming of the Messiah and the redemption. The most impressive point is that the Harraris were unaware of any of this until that moment.

Today, our music is set up on an eight-note scale called an octave. This dates back to ancient times. Scripturally, there are several references to a song known as the New Song. This song is understood to be the song that is sung when Messiah comes. The commentaries of the rabbis abound with tremendous revelations of that time whenever this phrase is commented on. The New Song is understood to be on a new ten-note scale rather than the eight-note octave. These two additional notes, even though now present, cannot be heard at this time.

In the days of David and King Saul, the harp was used when the evil spirit came upon Saul. According to 1 Samuel 16.23, David played the harp and sang for Saul, who was restored with peace. Once again the harp is being used to combat spiritual forces against G-d’s Kingdom and restore individuals in physical and spiritual health.

The harp, whether the Nevel or the Kinnor, is played three different ways. The first is to play a pre-known tune such as Hatikvah or Yerushalyim Shel Zahav. Also, the harps may be played as accompaniment to cantoricals. The second method is where the musician begins to play on the harp as G-d directs him. This was most common in ancient times. In fact, the way that the ancient prophecies are said to have come forth is that the prophet began to play his harp freely and then would feel a hand on his shoulder. At this time the music was coming from G-d and the song was the prophecy.

The third method of playing of the harp is the most awesome and interesting. The harp is the only known instrument that can be played by the wind. A famous midrash tells of David hanging his Kinnor in a tree at night as he lay down. At midnight, the north wind would blow and the harp would begin to play, awakening David to study Torah. In Hebrew the word for wind is ruach, the same word that is used for spirit: the Ruach haKodesh is the Holy Spirit. Simulated wind, such as a fan, cannot induce the harp to play. Only the ruach, the spirit, can inspire the harp to beautifully resound without human hands. Truly, this is most phenomenal: to hear the Kinnor or the Nevel playing by the ruach, the Hand of G-d.

It is very easy during these days to listen to prophecy teaching that dwells on the horrific signs of the age in which we live. However, isnt it nice to see such a beautiful sign that will ultimately play a great role in the rebirth of the world, the birth of the Messianic era?

Hatikva Ministries has produced a 90 minute video of a program aired on television that shows a Nevel and discusses with the owners of this harp many wonders they have discovered. In addition, with these same guests two Promise of the Father programs covering the harps are now available on a 60 minute video tape. These programs are also available on audio cassette. An additional 6 hour (four 90 minute cassette) seminar covering a multitude of information on the harps has also just been produced. The videos and the audio cassette seminar have a recording of the Nevel being played by the hand of G-d at midnight in Jerusalem before the Kotel, the Western Wall. The length of this recording is 49 seconds. We feel that these tapes and videos are the most exciting of any the ministry has ever produced.

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