Pick Your Tune: Kah Ribon

“Kah Ribon” the fervent piyut written in the 16th century by Rav Yisrael Najara expressing love and devotion to Hashem and an impassioned plea for Redemption has over the centuries become the quintessential Friday night zemer (even though Shabbos isn’t even mentioned). Accompanied by the glow of the candles and the special aromas of the seudah the inspiration of the exquisite lyrics of “Kah Ribon” provides food for the soul whichever tune is at the table.

What’s your favorite niggun for “Kah Ribon”?


Composer and producer Sheya Mendlowitz:

“This is a tough one. I have a few favorites. From the current composers I like Mordechai’s ‘Kah Ribon’ which he wrote when he had just met the Ribnitzer Rebbe. It was originally recorded on I’d Rather Pray and Sing which he released back in 1977.”

Singer Isaac Honig:

“I have a few different tunes for ‘Kah Ribon ’ and a special one for when I’m very tired. But I’ll tell you what works very nicely: Sometimes my father z”l would sing the vintage Kaliver tune of ‘Sol a Kokosh Mar’ for ‘Kah Ribon.’ Fits beautifully.”

Composer and singer Meshulem Greenberger:

“I sing the Toldos Aharon ‘Kah Ribbon ’ the way it’s sung at the tish [‘ant hu malka ant hu malka ant hu malka melech malchaya’ —Ed.]. It’s an old tune which is said to originally have been brought to the chassidus from Bluzhev by the first Toldos Aharon Rebbe.”

Arranger Yoeli Dikman:

“My parents always sang the well-known Bobover niggun [the one with the ‘prok pro-o-o-ok yas anach mipum aryavasa – ar-ya-va-sa ve’apek ve’apek yas amach mi go galusa/ Lemikdashech tuv lemikda-a-shech tuv lemikda-a-shech tuv… asar asar asar…’ interludes —Ed.] but recently I’ve started to use the Vizhnitz tune [it’s recorded on MBD and Friends 1987 —Ed.]. It’s uppermost in my mind because so many people request it at chuppahs.”

Pianist and musical director of Sababa band Mendy Hershkowitz:

“I’m not sure I have a favorite at least not a nostalgia one as ‘Kah Ribon’ wasn’t one of the zemiros that we usually sang at home. But I’ve often tried to push Mordechai to perform his classic ‘Kah Ribbon.’ It’s beautiful.”

Leader of Mezamrim choir Chilu Posen:

“I usually do a hybrid: I start with the famous Bobov ‘Kah Ribon’ and switch to the Pittsburgher Rebbe’s hartzige tune for ‘Eloka Dilei.’ ”

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Issue 691)

Ka Ribon