David Ramos/Getty Images
Sae Miyakawa of Japan competes on the vault during Women’s qualification for Artistic Gymnastics on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, August 7, 2016. David Ramos/Getty Images
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Rabbi Wants Money From Japanese Olympic Gymnastics Delegation Over Use of His Melody

‘This is a matter of sanctity that cannot be used for just anything’

by
Jonathan Zalman
September 02, 2016
David Ramos/Getty Images
Sae Miyakawa of Japan competes on the vault during Women's qualification for Artistic Gymnastics on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, August 7, 2016. David Ramos/Getty Images

Because this is a post about the Olympics, I thought I’d start by letting you know that the world-class competition in Rio isn’t actually over: The opening ceremony of the Rio Paralymics begins on Sept. 7 and goes through Sept. 18. Tune in.

Although, it would be rude of me to not warn you that NBC is also broadcasting these games, which is to say that the coverage will make you feel like you’ve stepped onto a Carnival cruise where every other passenger is a giddy Ryan Seacrest clone, and the competition is a test of who can Snapchat anything the fastest while double-fisting mojitos, rather than, ya know, watching the best athletes in the world battle it out in full.

But the Olympics! Back to ’em. Remember when Sae Miyakawa, a 16-year-old Japanese gymnast, performed her routine to Rabbi Nahman of Breslov’s “Kol ha-Olam Kulo Gesher Tzar Me’od? No? Here’s a primer:

WATCH:
The REAL spirit of #Rio2016. Young Japanese gymnast in Brazil dancing to….Kol Haolam Kulo!@Ostrov_A pic.twitter.com/QUTw0rVb4j



— SussexFriendsIsrael (@SussexFriends) August 10, 2016

Well, it turns out that a 70-year-old rabbi in Jerusalem will be seeking royalties from the Japanese delegation in Rio for use of the melody that he composed. Reported JTA:

Rabbi Baruch Chait, according to the Shirunt website of Israeli songs, composed the melody to the popular song “Kol Ha’Olam Kulo Gesher Tzar Me’od” to words attributed to the late founder of the Breslover Hasidic movement, Rabbi Nachman



But in an interview published Thursday by Ynet, Chait said that the gymnast never asked his permission to use the song, which he added he never would have granted because he considers her performance immodest and incompatible with the values promoted by the 18th-century rabbi who is believed to have been the author of the lyrics.

JTA cited an interview Chait gave to YNet in which he told the Israeli publication that her choice to use the song was a “disgrace” and that, in fact, the routine was “inappropriate” and “not modest,” not one bit. “Clearly, this is a matter of sanctity that cannot be used for just anything,” he said. “It is known in Hasidic circles that melody also has sanctity.”

The Olympics! Sanctity! Ryan Seacrest! See you in four years?

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.

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