Turn It


Turn It

MAH TOVU’s full length production with producer Gordon Lustig.


Turn It

Hebrew text from Pirkei Avot 5:22

In Pirkei Avot (Sayings of Our Ancestors), we are taught to study our way through the Torah, year after year, for everything important can be found within its teachings —  all that we need to know in order to learn, love, and live meaningfully.

The Torah is our life, it is the length of our days

Its lessons still inspire us in so many ways

So if you’ve got a question, open up and take a look

After all, we are the people of the book

From how to love your neighbor

To the way we treat the poor

The proper way to hang your new mezuzah on the door

Honoring your parents, how to hear the shofar’s sound

By peeling back the layers any answer can be found

You’ve got to...


    Turn it, turn it, again and again, for everything is in it

    Turn it, turn it, turn it again

    Turn it, turn it again and again for everything is in it

    Turn it, turn it, turn it again

It’s not up in the heavens so that someone has to say

“Who will bring it down for us to do and hear today?”

The Torah is so close, it’s in your mouth, it’s in your heart

But knowing that it’s near is just the start

Study by itself is not enough for us to do

Acting on these teachings is what it means to be a Jew

Learning it and doing it are two halves of a whole

Living Torah, being Torah, this is our true goal...


Ha-foch ba, va-ha-foch ba d’cho-la ba

Turn it over and over again

Ha-foch ba, va-ha-foch ba d’cho-la ba

Turn it over and over and over and over

And over and over again


These Are the Words

Based on Deuteronomy 1:1-32

Our biblical ancestors lost faith in God from time to time, despite the many ways in which God had provided for them. We, too, lose faith sometimes. But the beginning of the Book of Deuteronomy reminds us that God loves us like a parent, that God carries us in ways we don't always notice. That reminder can help us to believe.

These are the words

Words that were said

After forty years of wandering

Forty years of wandering

These are the words

Moses spoke these words

He told the tale

The reasons for our wandering

The lessons of our wandering

He spoke these words

"God carried you

Like a parent does a child

God carried you

All these years

God carried you

But you did not believe

Ein-khem ma'a-mi-nim bA-do-nai"

We read these words

Return to these words

The story of our wandering

The reason we our wandering

Is found in these words

Through all the pain

Despite all the pain

God is there God cares for us

So why is it so hard for us

To say these words?

God's carried us

Like a parent does a child

God's carried us

All these years

God's carried us

But we do not believe

Ei-nei-nu ma'a-mi-nim bA-do-nai

We know these words

We are these words

All of us our wandering

Learning from our wandering

Learning from these words

Sometimes I know it's true

Sometimes I know for sure

I'm sure that God is carrying me

I know that God is carrying me

And I know these words

God, carry us

Like a parent does a child

God, carry us

All our years

God, carry us

Help us to believe

A-nu ma'a-mi-nim bA-do-nai

A-nu ma'a-mi-nim bA-do-nai

Tov L'hodot

Hebrew text from Psalm 92:2

Psalm 92 is our people's biblical Song for Shabbat. It is our declaration that giving thanks to God with the melody of our hearts is the perfect way to welcome the Sabbath.


    Tov l'hodot LAdonai ul'zamer l'shim'cha Elyon

    Tov l'hodot LAdonai ul'zamer l'shim'cha Elyon

On this, the day of days

My lips shall sing Your praise

For I know that You'll always be

Here, surrounding me


My spirit takes release

I close my eyes in peace

And from my soul, heard far above,

Springs a song of love


I wish to understand

The wonders of Your hand

For all the blessings that are mine

Rise from Your design


(It is good to thank the Eternal, to sing to Your name, O Most High.)

L'chu N'ranenah

Based on Psalm 95

At the beginning of Shabbat evening services, Jews all over the world sing the words of Psalm 95, which acknowledges God's majesty in our lives and in our world. The Psalmist urges us to listen for God's voice, for it can be heard throughout creation.


L’chu n’ranenah - yai, lai, lai, lai, lai

Ladonai - yai, lai, lai, lai, lai

Naria - yai, lai, lai, lai, lai

L’tzur yisheinu - yai, lai, lai, lai, lai

Let us sing out to God, the Maker of all, sure and strong

Let all of creation, from mountain to sea hear our song


For all of the wonders in all of God’s light we rejoice

So now let us listen with all of our hearts to hear God’s voice


(Come, let us sing out to Adonai, let our song ring out to our sheltering Rock.)

Parents' Prayer

Based on Genesis 48:20

It has become a treasured custom around the Shabbat dinner table for parents to bless their children. Our inspiration for this is our patriarch Joseph, who blessed his grandsons Ephraim and Menasheh. Today, we pray that our sons and daughters will gain strength from the loving words we bestow upon them.

Here with you beside me, I feel so greatly blessed

This moment means much more than I can say

A time to be together, a time for us to rest

Shabbat is here, the time has come to celebrate the day

So I hold you close, my hands upon your head

And from me to you, my child, these words are said

Chorus:    Y’sim-cha E-lo-him k’Eph-ra-im v’chi-M’na-sheh

               May God give you life and strength like Joseph’s sons

               Y’si-mech E-lo-him k’Sa-ra Riv-kah Ra-chel v’Le-ah

               May God make you like our mothers, like our blessed ones

As I watch you growing, I smile through my tears

Sometimes I wish you’d stay forever small

But then I see you blossom, and I befriend the passing years

I love you now, I’ll love you then - I love to see it all

So I lift my voice to offer you this prayer

For every step along the way, I will be there


Modeh Ani

Hebrew text from morning liturgy

According to Jewish tradition,the first words we utter upon awakening every morning should be words of praise. We begin each day by thanking God for sharing the gift of life with us once again.

Wake up, you sleepy head

Open your eyes and get out of bed

The sun is up, and it’s a beautiful day

There’s so much to do, let’s go out and play

Chorus:    Modeh ani lifanecha

                Melech chai v’kayam

                Shehechezarta bi nishmati

                B’chemla rabbah emunatecha

But before we get up to wash and dress,

Before we brush our teeth you know we’ve got to bless

And say “Thank you God for takin’ care of my soul

You returned it to me, yeah you make me whole”


   I thank you God,

   I just know you’re out there

   You give my soul back to me,

   Now I’m gonna make today all that it can be!

Late last night before we went to sleep

We prayed to God for our souls to keep

But now that we’re up and feelin’ fine

We say “Thank you God” one more time


(I give thanks before You, O living and enduring Sovereign, for You have returned my soul to me in compassion. Great is Your faithfulness.)

Round and Round

Inspired by morning (Yotzer Or) and evening (Ma'ariv Aravim) liturgy

Both evening and morning worship services include prayers of gratitude for the wonders of creation. We express our appreciation for the passages between day and night, for the movement through the seasons, each filled with its own delights.

CHORUS:      Every morning the sun comes up

                        And every evening the sun goes down

                        It's a beautiful thing the way it all works together

                        And the world goes round and round

                        The minutes and the hours and the days pass by

                        Months turn to years, but I don't know why

                        God makes it all happen right before our eyes

                        And the world goes round and round

The Torah tells the story of the days of creation

God worked hard for six and then took a vacation

The moon and stars were quite a sensation

And the world goes round and round

The beasts of the ground and the birds of the air

Some with feathers and some with hair

And then woman and man, well they were quite a pair

And the world goes round and round


Spring leads to Summer and then comes Fall

Followed by winter but that's not all

When the snow comes down we're gonna have a ball

And the world goes round and round

But before you know it, the first day of Spring

The flowers will bloom and the birds will sing

It's really quite amazing, this seasons thing

And the world goes round and round


The wonder of the universe is hidden everywhere

If we only take the time to look around

The million tiny miracles that happen every moment

Are presents from the Holy One

Just waiting to be found


You Shall Be Holy

Hebrew text from Leviticus 19:2

At the very center of the Torah is a section known as the Holiness Code - the fundamental ethical guidelines for Jewish living. At the heart of those guidelines is the obligation to strive always to emulate God

God said to Moses, tell the people

God said to Moses, tell the world

The right way to act, the kind way to give

The right way to think about how to live

CHORUS: And you shall be Holy, for I am holy

                And you shall be Holy, I am your God

                It's not for a reward, it's not the price of heaven

                I created you to be like me, to make a better world


K'doshim, T'hiyu, Ki Kadosh, Ani Adonai Eloheychem


And you shall love your neighbor as yourself

Love your neighbor as yourself

Life has a meaning, God is in this place

The commandment to be holy

Can be found in your neighbor's face


Sim Shalom

Hebrew text from the morning Amidah

The Amidah, the central section of every Jewish worship service, always ends with Birkat Shalom, a blessing of peace. It expresses our deepest yearning for shalom, for wholeness - in our personal relationships, among our people Israel, and for the entire universe.

For Hemene Davis Zweiback, 1939-1999.

Chorus:    Sim Shalom, tovah u-v’racha

                Chein v’chesed v’rachamim

                Aleinu v’al kol Yisrael amecha

V’tov b’einecha livarech et amcha Yisrael

B’chol eit u-v’chol sha-ah bishlomecha


Baruch ata Adonai

Ham’varech et amo Yisrael bashalom


Thank You God

Inspired by Modim prayer, from the Amidah

Our tradition encourages us, all throughout the day, to express our gratitude to God. Me must get into the habit of noticing the blessings in our lives and acknowledging God's presence in our good fortune.

Thank You God for giving me this day.

Thank You God for the good You’ve brought my way.

For my breath, for my life,

For my soul that’s in Your care.

I thank You God for all the gifts You share.

Thank You God for the mountains and the seas.

Thank You God for the birds and the trees.

For the grass, for the air,

For the water and the ground.

I thank You for the wonders all around.

There are so many miracles

I take for granted every day.

But my eyes are open now,  I see them all.

So I’ve got to say . . .

Thank You God...

Thank You God...

I thank You for the blessings that are mine.

Thank You God for my family.

Thank You God for the love they shine on me.

For my teachers, for my friends,

For those I never got to know.

Thank You God for all who’ve helped me grow.

Ba-ruch a-ta A-do-nai

Ha-tov shim'cha u-l'cha na-eh l'ho-dot

U-l'cha na-eh l'ho-dot

For the mountains and the seas,

For the birds and the trees

For my teachers, for my friends

For love that never ends

For my breath, for my life

For my soul that’s in your care

I thank you God for all the gifts you share

I thank you God for all the gifts you share

Your Soul and Mine


Liner notes

Ben Bag Bag says: Turn it. Turn again. Everything is in it.

                                                             - Pirkei Avot 5:22

Now that is quite a statement. Rabbinic exaggeration? Jewish chutzpah? A product of a narrow-minded, almost two-thousand-year-old world view that posits Torah as the only Truth? We don't think so.

Ben Bag Bag, a teacher in the first century of the Common Era, is expressing a belief confirmed, no doubt, by his own experience, as it has been by ours and by that of all who love Torah. If only we are willing to open ourselves to them, the texts of our tradition are always relevant, always meaningful, always instructive. Upon reflection we will see what Ben Bag Bag saw: everything is in there. True, we might not always like the answers that are given. But that's okay. Struggling with these teachings and then acting on them is what it means to be a Jew.

And - best of all perhaps - the questions raised and the conversations sparked will enrich our lives in ways we won't even be able to describe.

This recording represents our effort to express our love of Judaism and Torah - our attempt to proclaim our pride, joy, and gratitude in being inheritors of such a tradition.