Ezra/Neḥemiah (considered one book in the traditional Tanakh count), Chronicles, and Daniel are surprisingly important to Jewish tradition given their absence in the liturgical calendar of readings. The great tannaitic sage Rabbi Yosei said, “Ezra would have been worthy for the Torah to be given by him to the Jewish people, had Moses not already done so” (Sanhedrin 21b). Daniel is considered to be the earliest source for the custom to pray three times a day (Dan. 6:11), and his supplications (Dan. 9:5) form the basis of the traditional confession liturgy. And we traditionally read substantial portions from Chronicles (1 Chron. 16:8-36 and 1 Chron. 29:10-13) and Neḥemiah (Neh. 9:6-11) every morning during P’sukei. Why shouldn’t such fascinating and unique books have a melody of their own?
The following system is meant to rectify this absence. Inspired by the basic melodic structures of Ashkenazi cantillation, this system uses its own modalities and flourishes to reflect the unique and fascinating nature of these books – angst-ridden yet hopeful, regretful yet optimistic, and relevant. Perhaps one could use this system for the morning readings, perhaps in personal study, or perhaps one could organize a group to read these texts together. Perhaps these three books have no tradition, but may this system become its own tradition as the years go by.
“A Cantillation System For Ezra/Neḥemiah, Chronicles, and Daniel, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer” is shared by the living contributor(s) with a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.