As his name implies, Yair Levi is descended from the Temple musicians and his music is an expression of his love for the God of Israel. While it may seem out of character, he recorded a Hebrew-language version of the popular Christian Grammy-winning hymn, 10,000 Reasons, as a tribute to the original. It has already garnered 100,000 ‘likes’ on Instagram in its first day online.
The song, 10,000 Reasons, composed by the English Christian singer-songwriter Matt Redman and the Swedish songwriter Jonas Myrin, was inspired by the opening verse of Psalm 103; “Of David. Bless Hashem, O my soul, all my being, His holy name.” The song enumerates various attributes of the love of God for mankind that make him worthy of “praise unending”, and worship for “ten thousand years and then forevermore”. Redman recorded the song and it spent 16 weeks at the top spot on Christian Radio. In 2013, the song won two Grammy Awards. It has been rerecorded multiple times and translated into several languages.
But Levi’s rendition, released on Thursday, is the first Hebrew version of the song.
“As you know, the Hebrew language is a very deep thing,” Levi wrote about the video. “For me, taking this amazing song and singing it with the words of King David (Psalms) is a very powerful and spiritual thing! I hope you will pray with me and in Hebrew with this song.”
Indeed, the Hebrew adds a powerful element to the popular melody. Levy also makes videos in English in which he explains the deeper aspects of Biblical Hebrew.
“According to Jewish tradition, King David would take foreign melodies and use them to write the Psalms,” Levi said. Levi noted that he is descended from Sephardi Jews and the traditional Sephardi music frequently uses Middle Eastern melodies. This influence comes through clearly in his music.
Levi first heard the song while touring the US a few months ago and began to sing it in Hebrew. He sent a recording of this to Redman.
“He was deeply touched by my version and gave his blessing that I should record it,” Levi said. “This is not a copy or an attempt to rip him off. This is a tribute intended to honor the artist and God.”
Levi frequently performs for Christian audiences.
“I was reluctant at first because I thought it was forbidden by Jewish law,” Levi said. “I am first and foremost a Jew and from the nation of Israel.”
He consulted with his prominent rabbi who advised him on how to do these performances.
“I am acting as a light unto the nations. Many Christians have never met an Israeli or an Orthodox Jew. They have certainly not met an Orthodox Jew like me who does not wear black.”
Levi is a relative latecomer to music. As a teen, he loved music and formed a band. But when he was drafted into the IDF, he served in the elite Shayetet 13 for eight years, the Israeli equivalent of the navy seals, achieving the rank of captain. While serving in the IDF, Levi became religious and resigned from his commission. He restarted his music career but pandemic restrictions seemed to shut this down, making it impossible to perform in public.
One day, he composed a song as a prayer for healing for his grandmother. El Na Refa Na (Numbers 12:13) went viral and was translated into several languages. One of the most interesting cover versions for ‘Refa Na’ was of the Lebanese Christian singer Carine Basilli, who asked Yair to sing the song with her in Arabic, as a prayer for peace in the Middle East.
People who are interested can see his videos on YouTube, Instagram, or his Facebook page. Yair frequently tours the US and invites people to connect with him and open their venue for his music.