Ein Od Milvado interview
Injured Musician Sings of Faith, Redempion
By Benyamin Bresky
December 19, 2004
Interview with Shivi Keller, lead singer of Ein Od Milvado.
QUESTION: The reason I wanted to interview you is because I got your first album. It’s called Ein Od Milvado. The cover is very colorful and on the inside, the CD just has a blank white label with the words Ein Od Milvado. The last song is fifteen minutes long and it’s called Ein Od Mulvado and just about the only words in it are “ein od milvado.” So I decided I have to interview this guy and figure out what he’s about.
SHIVI KELLER: [Laughing] OK, well, the issue is ein od milvado, you know? It’s just that Hashem is creating everything beautiful. As simple as everything is, Hashem is creating it all the time. So on the outside you can see the colorful painting of Baruch Nachshon from Hebron. On the inside, I just want you to listen to the music and feel the closeness to Hashem.
QUESTION: A lot of these songs are slow and moody. Why is that? What does this express?
SHIVI KELLER: Sometimes slow is faster. If you give enough space in silence to listen, you get inside and really feel what you really feel. When you're all the time rushing, you can't. There's all kinds of beautiful fast music and all kinds of styles, but this CD is where we're trying to really pray and ask Hashem to open up our prayers. Everyone that listened to the music told me they enjoyed it and it opened up something in their soul.
QUESTION: Who are the guys in the band and what do they play?
SHIVI KELLER: We have some friends from Kiriyat Arba and Jerusalem, Eliahu Bigi on faz…
QUESTION: What kind of instrument is that?
SHIVI KELLER: It’s like Turkish guitar. It’s like an oud but smaller. It has a round stomach. We have percussion from Kiryat Arba, Moshe Levy on electric guitar, and I play the simple guitars and sing.
QUESTION: What is the song Behastcha about?
SHIVI KELLER: We say at the opening of the song, King David is praying to Hashem: “You know I have so much trust in you. I have so much trust in your goodness that you will reveal. I believe that you will bring the redemption and redeem me. So right now I am happy even though right now I am stuck. I know that for sure He is not going to let me stay stuck. Because I know that He is going to redeem me and redeem the whole world, so I have to be happy. So we sing to Hashem.” Those are the words of the song.
QUESTION: Are most of the lyrics about this subject? G-d, redemption, that kind of thing?
SHIVI KELLER: It’s all prayers to Hashem, but it has an atmosphere of people together. You can hear all kinds of voices coming together in the album and we're just waiting together for the redemption. And what are we going to do while we're waiting? So we’re waiting and we’re singing and we’re crying out for the geula and here we are sitting here in Eretz Yisrael or wherever we're sitting, and we're waiting to bring the redemption and were bringing more light by singing, bringing more love and beautiful songs to the world.
QUESTION: Maybe you could talk about your town where you live.
SHIVI KELLER: I live in Kiriyat Arba. It’s a neighborhood of Hebron. I've lived there for ten years now. Before, I lived in Jerusalem.
QUESTION: Why did you move there? Why is it special to you?
SHIVI KELLER: Well for me, Kiriyat Arba is part of Hebron. And Hebron is the light of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They are buried there. It’s a very high and spiritual experience to come there and pray there. A lot of people that come, even for just one Shabbat, they feel very high connection, that something is opening up in their prayers. Baruch Hashem, we have a studio there, and we do our music right there. A lot of our songs are coming just by sitting there at the Cave of Machpelach, and we thank G-d for that. We invite all of Israel and the whole world to come and to see beyond all the wars and all the balagan that people usually talk about happening in Hebron to come and see how beautiful and how holy it is and to connect to their roots.
QUESTION: Now you had an incident driving home one day, I understand.
SHIVI KELLER: Yeah, yeah. Twice. I got injured twice in this war of the intifada. Once I came from the Tomb of Joseph in Shchem and lost my eye. That’s about 15 years ago. And once about three years ago I got shot near Hebron by terrorists. But I know that ein od milvado. So it's all from Hashem and it’s all for the best. We believe that the more we give Hashem the credit to take care of things and to know that he's the boss of everything, so everything is going to be beautiful and the redemption and moshiach is going to come. and we're waiting for that.
QUESTION: You only have one eye? [surprised]
SHIVI KELLER: Right. Well, only one good eye. [laughing]
QUESTION: All your songs are about love and G-d and redemption. Don’t you write songs about pain or anger?
SHIVI KELLER: Well, I'd probably do that if I was angry, but I'm not angry. I'm not angry. I love Hashem and I know that whatever is happening is for the best. There is nothing that can happen that is not His will. I know that sometimes it is like a difficult test for people to understand. We need a lot of help from the tzadikim to be connected to the tzadikim, to the Baal Shem Tov, to the Avot, to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. The whole meaning of being a Jew for me is to believe that Hashem is doing the best for all of us and to live a good life. So even if something happens, we're not going to stop and be angry all our lives. We're going to be happy that we're still alive and that we can still do whatever we can do. I hope all of Israel can get inspired by the music and get connected to a deeper belief in Hashem.
QUESTION: The covers of both of your albums are done by Baruch Nachshon. He’s kind of famous.
SHIVI KELLER: Yes, he’s very famous. And he’s a very big artist.
QUESTION: Do you know him personally How did you get him to do the artwork for the CD covers?
SHIVI KELLER: Well, he didn’t do them just for the CDs. They are large paintings that he made at home. He gave us the permission to use them for our covers. He lives in Kiriyat Arba and has been painting there for about thirty years. All his painting are special. I know that Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, when he came to Kiriyat Arba, we went together to Baruch Nachshon’s house, and he wrote down in his journal that the paintings belong in the days after the redemption. Everything is really clean, with no evil. So we try to connect to that.
QUESTION: How did you get into this whole music thing? Did Shlomo Carlebach inspire you?
SHIVI KELLER: Yeah. I was connected to Shlomo since I was about thirteen years old. I used to go to his concerts in Jerusalem. Later on, we got pretty close. I would love to call myself his student. I don’t know, I think that’s too big for me. It’s like he was so big and so much about love and music and connecting everybody to Hashem. So we try to go in his path.
QUESTION: Your music sounds little like Shlomo Carlebach, but no really. You’re kind of doing your own thing.
SHIVI KELLER: So I’m an Israeli. I live here and grew up here. Reb Shlomo didn’t want anyone to do anything else but their own thing. So that’s what were doing.
QUESTION: When if your next concert?
SHIVI KELLER: There’s going to be a concert in Tel Aviv on Rosh Hodesh Adar. Something big. We’re looking forward to it. It’s only getting arranged right now, so we’ll see.
QUESTION: And you also perform with other musicians?
SHIVI KELLER: We have a group of friends that are all musicians. Sinai Tor is very big now. Benny and Moshe Levy -- all kinds of friends are in this studio of ours. We’re going to make more discs for everyone. Each one has his own music, but we’re all doing it together.
QUESTION: Is there a web site or email address?
SHIVI KELLER: Right now, not yet, but whoever wants to come to Kiriyat Arba is invited and we’ll meet you there.
QUESTION: Can you talk about the song Ein Od Milvado? It’s fifteen minutes long and just about the only words are “ein od milvado”.
SHIVI KELLER: When you do meditation, you have a mantra. They call it a mantra but it’s in the kabbalah, too. You can just take a few words and do it. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov talks about it a lot. Even if you don’t have what to say to Hashem, if you have only a few words, so just say these few words, again and again and again. It can be higher then just talking without any feeling or inspiration. So we just took these words that mean “nothing but G-d”, ein od milvado, and I guess we really get into it. (laughing).
QUESTION: Any final words?
SHIVI KELLER: What can I say? I love you all and I hope that we can all sing together in Jerusalem. We hope the whole world will come together and sing one song in Jerusalem. This song won’t have so many words. Just praise to Hashem. That’s what were waiting for.
To purchase CDs by En Od Milvado, visit Gal Paz music.
For more information on artist Baruch Nachshon, visit www.NachshonArt.com
Benyamin Bresky is host of The Beat on Israel National Radio and a frequent contributor to Jewish newspapers.