Episode | January 29, 2024

Transcript for Yair Levil’s the Walk Podcast

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Yair Levi: Life audio. 

All right. In Nashville. I really miss Israel in my family. I’m a Israeli Orthodox singer. I’m a Levite too. I’m coming from a family of Levite. I’m Ya Levy Levit from the Levy Tribe, and I am a former IDF Captain.

Joshua Swanson: Welcome to Conversations on the Walk. I’m your host, Joshua Swanson, and today we have a unique episode with an artist that is currently serving as a major in the Israeli Defense Force. But first, we wanted to quickly thank our partner, Planning Center, for their support. Planning Center is a set of software tools to help you organize, coordinate, communicate with your church teams.

They know how to connect you with your congregation. They can be found at planningcenter. com. I also want to thank the Worship Leader Institute. We’re launching a new set of community groups. And this is truly the best way to connect with other worship leaders, to mentor and be mentored, grow in your craft and in your faith.

So head to worship leader institute.com to find out about the bi-monthly community groups. Imagine a journey that begins in the military and culminates in worship music. Today we’re exploring the life of Yair Levy, an Israeli Orthodox Jewish worship leader whose path has been anything but ordinary.

Yair, a devoted husband to Yardin and a father of three with one on the way, proudly traces his heritage to the ancient Levi tribe, marking him as a Levite. The first section was recorded in June before the war broke out, and Yair explains his connection with a Christian audience. Then we’ll move on to a recording of Yair at our Raise Up and Pray for Israel event that we held in Nashville in October, just after the war broke out.

Then finally to a recording of Yair, now back in uniform, back in the army, in December. So here’s Yair Levy, artist, advocate, soldier.

Yair Levi: So I’m a father, for two kids, I have a wife. Uh, yeah, then we’re married for 10 years. Um, I really miss them. I write in Nashville. I really miss Israel and my family. I’m a Israeli Orthodox singer. I’m a Levite too. I’m coming from a family of Levite. I’m Yair Levi, Levi, it’s from the Levi tribe. And I’m a former IDF captain in elite unit.

So every Israeli going to the IDF when you, when you are 18. So I had a band when I was 16. I just left it because of the army. And I passed the test to be in an elite unit that’s similar to the Navy SEALs of America in Israel. And then I signed for more years, so I left them after 8 years with an option to go to a military career.

But I decided to quit to fulfill my dream to be a musician. When I was in the service, one of the things that, because it’s a special unit, you can’t tell anything. You can find yourself, I know that in America you can fly for a couple of months and then you go back. But in Israel, it’s like every day, you can make it like a very secret operation to risk your life and then to go back and to drink a beer with your friends and you can’t tell anything about what’s happened a couple of hours ago because that the war, um, happening inside of Israel, like, like, or maybe in the, or on the borders.

So you feel all the time, very proud of what you do because you know that what you did right now is. the life of your family. You see it like every day. I can, I can tell that in, in the operation that called Suketan, it was in the end of my service. I remember myself, like I was a captain and, and, and I was, it was in the end of, of my, my, my service.

So I, I, I had a lot of experience, but this experience was very, um, um, important, I think in, in my journey, because you feel that what you do is. Right now, when you fight in this fight, and when you win in this battle, it’s like, it’s helping to the people of Israel right now, because they have rockets on their head.

I remember myself, like, risking my life for the first time, and going back to the base, and asking myself, Why am I doing this? And it was like a moment of, of very deep thinking of why, like, I can, I can just be relaxed at home or just, I don’t know, why do I fight or why do I risk my life? And I have a lot of plans of my music and things, I don’t know, and family.

And the only answer I found was Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Bible. This is the promise of God to my people. So when I’m fighting, I’m actually fulfilling the, the dream of my grand grandfather that he couldn’t imagine that his grand grandson will fight for this land. He was praying for 2, 000 years. Next year in Jerusalem, every day, but it’s for him, it was like just a prayer that he, I think that they didn’t believe that it will happen.

And for me to, to go in this path of, of fulfilling this dream of 2, 000 years, this is what’s the only reason why I, I, I will fight for this land. So this is what’s something that changed my life when I was, when I understand that it’s all about God. And I remember myself that a lot of people coming to the service and becoming more secular.

For me, it was to go into the service and become more religion. That’s why people asking me like sometimes, you’re not disappointed that you start your career only when you was 28. It’s very late. And I said no, because this is what make me who I am. So the service was very important for me. I’m so glad to do it, so proud to be part of it.

After a couple of months, I understood that like the main, main people that keep listening to my songs, that I released more, more songs later, are Christians. And I asked myself, like, what will I do with this? Like, I’m an Orthodox Jew. I don’t know who are those people, what language they speak, what, what is the way to pray.

Who are they? Why are they so moved by this? Why, why do they listen to my music in Hebrew? I just went back home and I felt like, like I’m not doing what I want. It’s like, it, it, it, maybe it’s just happening, but it’s not what I want. I want to sing to the people of Israel. And I remember myself sharing this with my wife, and she told me, it’s not All about what you want.

It’s about what God wants from you. And I was like, wow. Okay, so you’re right I need to do it. I need to stop to run from it. But the more I make a research, I understood that we have like 95 percent of the things in a common and only very few things that we disagree That actually, there is a lot of things that we can do together, that you can make together.

I started to release more songs, and I saw that people really interesting of listening to the To the music, to Psalms, to, to music in Hebrew. So I’m, I’m putting like translation and translate on my songs that people can sing with me and to understand. I understood that people, that it’s like something that just happening right now in the Christian community, that people want to connect, to go deeper with their, their faith through the, the Hebrew roots.

I, I would not say like even Jewish roots. It’s a, it’s a Hebrew roots. So I started to share more things on social media about the Hebrewness of the Bible. Like things that you can’t understand if you don’t speak Hebrew. For example, when I shared that Lech Lecha with the story of Abraham, when God telling him, leave your country.

It’s not, go forward. It’s, in Hebrew, the meaning is Lech Lecha. It’s two words that means, go to yourself. And you can’t understand it, even if you are a Jew. If you don’t speak English, if you don’t speak Hebrew, you can’t understand it. And it’s a deep message. When you go to a journey, the journey is the purpose.

You need to find yourself in the journey. It’s not that you need to go to somewhere. The journey is for finding yourself. And this is what God wanted to say to Abraham. And I understood that people were so moved by this video that they understood. That they have to learn Hebrew if they want to go deeper with their, with their faith.

And it’s not about Judaism. It’s about Hebrew. There are so many people that talking about the, the, the things that we disagree about all the time in the media. So I’m so happy that the social media give, gave me the opportunity and it’s like actually this is what I think God wanted. To be the one that Illuminate the things that we have in common instead of fighting for me as an orthodox Jew is something that I couldn’t imagine that I will do I could couldn’t even think that I will sit here and speak in English and and And speak with people that have a different faith than mine God is our father is the father of all of us Jews Christian Muslim It doesn’t matter and he want us to be together at the beginning.

It was kind of a surprise In the middle, it was like, what am I doing with this? And in the end, right now, I hope it’s not the end, but now it’s for me, kind of a way to use music, to use the Hebrew Bible, to bring people together. To illuminate the things that we have in common to be kind of a light in this darkness of fighting and I feel that This is what God wants.

Joshua Swanson: We’ll be right back with more from Yair. Back with Yair. In this clip We find him transitioning from the artist to the advocate

Yair Levi: So I came with With some bad news and a big opportunity Just came from Israel a couple of days ago I am in a reserve in an elite unit in Israel. I decided with my captain to leave my friends and to do not cancel the events that was planned to be in the U. S. and to give the truth to the people of U. S.

of what’s happening in Israel. So it’s bad news and I will give you two examples that I just had in the last few days. One is a mother, she just called me and told me that her two sons kidnapped and are in Gaza right now, still. And no one in the news want to interview her because there are another 200 people.

At least. And she asked me, can I make an Instagram live with you? That your audience in the US will listen a little bit of what’s happening to me? And I started to cry.

Another story that I heard today.


son, a boy, 10 years old, and his brother

screaming in their house when they see their father just murdered in front of their eyes. And when the eye of the boy that is 10 years old. It’s bleeding.

The Hamas terrorists just went to the Frigidaire to drink cola, to drink coke. And there was, uh, cameras inside the house, uh, while he was drinking coke, the son, the boy was shouting, Please kill me. I can’t, I can’t live anymore.

Have you ever heard about 10 years old boy that don’t want to live anymore?

So although these terrible stories that this is only

small part of the big picture, there is a huge opportunity here, a calling from God for all of us to come together. What I realized a couple of days ago when I tried to fight in the social media to use my followers to tell the truth, I realized that the Jewish people are 15 million people and the Arabs are 1.

4 billion people. So you have no to do it alone, to tell the truth. This is how the algorithm works. And when my friend here from Israel said that we need you to share, it’s not because, like, as a campaign that someone tell, please share my story, share my song. It’s because we don’t have any other friends in the world.

And when I saw that right now in the US there are people that celebrating the fact that this 10 years old boy just murdered, I understood another thing. That the prophecy in Genesis is true. I will bless those who bless you and those who curse you. I will curse. This is a calling for you to help Israel, not just because that we suffered.

It’s because this is what God said, and if not, it will come here. And it’s starting to, to happen. So it’s a calling for you to help Israel, each one with this. Friends, people that he know to tell the truth that Israel is part of the prophecy of what God wants to happen in the future and now and this is just a calling as a father that called to his two sons the Christian and the Jews to come together and to work together and to fight against this devil

With God willing, I came here to Nashville, one of the reason is because that we’re gonna make a song that very amazing people involved in this song that say this exactly prophecy, I will bless those who bless you. And I want to invite all the amazing singers that just sang here today to take a part of this song and to come together and to sing this song.

And you’re more than welcome to come and, and, and tell me, uh, and talk to me after the event. Um, and let’s try to bless the world with, with the music, with the prophecy. And now I would like to ask you to stand up and to sing with me the hope, the Israeli anthem.


Joshua Swanson: Finally, we meet Yair in uniform on a sunny day in Tel Aviv in December. He explains what it’s like in Gaza.

Yair Levi: I’m in reserve am a former IDF captain in the Israeli version of the Navy SEALs. In the last, uh, conflict, last war, uh, a year ago, um, all this street was in a fight. The Israeli army started to, to look for people like me that walk in, in uniforms or just Innocent people that look Jewish and decided to attack them.

So the first thing that I did is to tell my kids, go inside, don’t go. And to my wife, and then I went out all the time with my weapon to see if I can, if anyone is coming to our balcony, to our, to our, uh, street. So this is like a one example of what’s every Israeli, every Jew. feel this moment. It’s not that you are fighting against an army.

What’s happening is that they use the people over there as a human shield. And when I’m saying it, you know, I know the media saying human shield all the time, but I will give you an example. At the beginning, when we went and we saw people in the streets, so they sending to you a kids and then started to shoot something from from a different place.

They’re using the people and the people volunteer for these missions. Of course, there are people that don’t want to be a human shield, but there are a lot of them that volunteer to be a human shield. I can tell you that if someone will tell me, Hey, go now and kill all those people. I won’t do it. You know, it’s something, this is our education.

We don’t need anyone from the US or from Europe to tell us, and you know it, that we need to make sure that no innocent people will be injured or die. This is something that we learned from, uh, first grade, so, so no one will do it. Because I’m in a special unit, I can tell that I was everywhere in Gaza, and I saw that, uh, the Israeli army working really good, and, uh, I was really happy to see it, that they have a lot of motivations.

I know that there is a lot of things in the media, they’re telling about conflict, but in the field you don’t see no conflicts, everyone together. Um, a different place in a different, uh, region, and I’m sure that the IDF will, will win because the people in the ground in the field have a lot of motivation and we all know that we are fulfilling the dreams of our grand grandfathers that could just dream that I will stand here with uniforms and of the IDF of Israel, people that was, uh, died by the Nazis and just ran from country to country.

Now that we are there, uh, Children’s that fulfilling their dreams that we will have a country. I saw open open arms and open heart for listening. to listen to the story of what is really happening. And I was so happy and, and I felt so good to know that we have such a good friends out of Israel. For years, I’m working with the Christian community.

You know that someone is your friend when you need it and is standing with you. So I saw more people and pastors that want to do events. Even if no one called them from Israel to do it. I know that we will win, but we need the help of people like you. First, to tell the truth. And second, to give us time for this work.

Because I know that there is a lot of pressure from outside of Israel. I don’t think that now it’s to stop, but it will start soon. To tell us to stop when people like you that have a lot of, can affect the, uh, the, those who get the decision in the, in the parliament and the, So, I will ask you, as a soldier in the field, we need your help.


a prayer for healing that Moses just prayed for his mother, for his sister Miriam. It’s a simple word. We will pray for the soldiers, for those who are injured around Gaza. So if you learn it quick, so join me, okay? Very simple. Five words.

Ah, no. No. Ah. It is not fun. I know it. It is not fun, I know. I think that’s it.

And And if we repent, then we will be saved,

and we will be healed.

Joshua Swanson: Thank you to Yair Levy for spending time with us and sharing some of your story. We pray for your safety and for the safety of all IDF soldiers, Jews around the world, and the innocents trapped under the control of Hamas. May God intervene, save the hostages, and bring peace to Jerusalem. To Israel and to the Middle East.

If you haven’t done so already, it would mean a lot to us. If you would subscribe to our podcast and leave us a review, those reviews really matter in terms of other people finding our great content. All right. Until next time, I want to thank the team at life audio for their partnership. If you guys go to life, audio.

com, you’ll find a huge collection of faith centered podcasts about all kinds of things, health and wellness, parenting, current cultural events, Bible teachings, devotionals, and more. So check them out at life audio. com. Again, I’m Joshua Swanson. Thanks for listening.