T

he Days of Awe reach their peak on Yom Kippur, when we face the inevitability of our own mortality and the ultimate Day of Judgment. The Skulener Rebbe highlights that final judgment with his contemplative, haunting tune, “Akavia ben Mahalalel omer, histakel bishloshah devarim — Akaviah ben Mahalalel says, look at three things and you will not come to sin: Know where you come from, where you are going, and before whom you will in the future give an account, before the King of Kings, HaKadosh Baruch Hu.” The song is Track 5 on the Noam Skulen album, but it’s become the musical backdrop to this season as well.

The words — which are traditionally recited at the end of many levayos in Eretz Yisrael — echo in Skulen during the Yamim Noraim tishen. “It’s awe-inspiring to watch the Rebbe sing this song,” says a close chassid. “You hear his repetition of those words ‘din v’cheshbon,’ and the message of the words and the Rebbe’s demeanor are just so powerful.” (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 727)

 

“During Mussaf on Yom Kippur, we recite a piece about the Asarah Harugei Malchus (The Ten Martyrs) called Eileh Ezkerah. I could never read those words without being moved to tears, and I wrote a song about this tragedy which appears on our These I Remember album. Many people have told me that it is the single most tragic, heart-breaking song they’ve ever heard, the type of song that leaves you shaken to the core. And I can see why. But I guess on Yom Kippur that’s a good thing.” — Country Yossi