12 Cheshvan 5782 / Monday, October 18, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
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Reviving Music    

Reviving Music

Rebbe Nachman teaches that one of the greatest ways to attach ourselves to Hashem is through song, for music comes from a lofty place in the uppermost realm…


Let them praise His name with dance; let them sing praises unto Him with the timbrel and harp. (Psalm 149:3) 
It’s not the first time I have mourned for a parent, but it was no less difficult the second time around. I thank G-d from the bottom of my heart for being a Jew, as I can’t imagine that any other religious practices comforting a sorrowful person as Judaism does. That should not be surprising since Hashem created us with His laws tailor-made for our well-being. They are also designed to bring peace and respect to the neshama (soul) of the departed.
As I neared the end of my 12-month bereavement period, I began feeling increasingly more depressed. Many personal issues seemed more trying than usual and even though I made a concerted effort to boost my emuna and speak to Hashem in daily sessions of hitbodedut (personal prayer), I couldn’t quite get out of the pit of sadness.
We are prohibited from being joyful during the time of mourning, publicly at least. There are, of course, exceptions, Shabbat and Chaggim (Jewish Holidays), among them. Yet even if I was not commanded to refrain from parties and get-togethers, I didn’t much feel like having a good time, constantly aware that my beloved father z’l was no longer able to enjoy the physical world along with us. In addition to missing him, his loss increased my longing for my mother a’h as well. The one redeeming thought that elated me was picturing both of my parents floating together in some spiritual, upper world, free of all the pain and worries of this challenging life.
Then one day I was invited to a gathering of women with music and song as the main event. I had to decline as I was still a mourner. Soon thereafter, I was a passenger in a car with the radio loudly playing a beautiful melody. I asked the driver to please lower the volume because of my ‘status’. I found myself enjoying it to the point that I almost cried. The music pierced my soul. And it was then that I realized the magnitude of the prohibition against music. Music is Divine and can bring untold pleasure to the person listening to it, so deep that it is beyond our ability to comprehend. Like most of the commandments we are obligated to observe, they are well outside the realm of our intellect.
For almost a year, I had been deprived of one of the fundamental sources of internal bliss – music. When I suddenly was able to catch a tiny fragment of it, I was overcome with emotion. Now that there are no melodic restrictions, I cautiously moved forward into the new reality, enjoying G-d’s gift to mankind with a new sense of appreciation.
Rebbe Nachman, of saintly memory, and his closest talmid (student), Rebbe Natan, zt’l, wrote extensively on the merits of music. Here are a few quotes:
-“In this material world, especially if we have sinned and are very far from God, the main way to attach ourselves to God is through melody and song.” (Likutey Halachot, Nesiat Kapayim 5:6)
-“It is good to get into the habit of livening yourself up with a tune.
Holy melodies are very exalted, having great power to stir the heart and draw it to God.
Even if you cannot sing well, you can still inspire yourself with a tune. Sing it as best as you can, in privacy if you wish. The loftiness of melody is beyond all measure.” (Sichot Haran #273)
-“The life and workings of the body are governed by ten basic pulses. These in turn are vitalized by ten kinds of melody emanating from the soul. Negativity, anxiety and depression weaken the pulses, and this can cause illness. But when the melody of the soul is joyous, it strengthens the vitality of the pulses and brings health to the body.” (Likutey Moharan I:24)
But we must also be careful which music we listen to. Just as we are taught to associate with righteous individuals who can influence us in a holy direction, our choice of music should also be of a spiritual nature.In so doing, we can grow to great heights!
-”A holy melody can bring you to the level of prophecy. Music is the foundation of true attachment to God.” (Likutey Moharan I:3)
Last but not least, a happy heart and a joyful, spirited disposition can even bring us to the ultimate desired goal of redemption. In these times of turmoil, let us all join together in unity, for in times of crises, there is no distinction between one Jew and another, between one human being and the next.
-“When harsh decrees threaten Israel, they can be sweetened through dancing and hand- clapping.” (Likutey Moharan I:10)
May we invoke Hashem’s exalted compassion through the path of emuna, song and prayer, entreating Him to grant us protection and salvation. May it be His will that we soon dance our way in gladness and joy to the newly rebuilt Beit Hamikdash. Amen.

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