GILGULEI NIGGUNIM - I
Like people, Niggunim also go through "gilgulim" or incarnations. As we enter the month of Menachem Av and begin our approach to Tishrei with Rosh Hashana a mere 59 days away, I'd like to discuss two niggunim of Reb Shlomo Carlebach's, which most of you will know by other names than what follows.
Around the year 1962, Reb Shlomo composed a beautiful melody for "Asisi L'Chananach", a prayer recited by the Baal Tefilla [chazan] on the second day of Rosh Hashana. At the beginning of chazarat haShatz, the Reader's [cantor's] repetition of the Shacharis prayer, the following words are said:
Asisi l'chananach, b'lev karua u'murtach,
Bakesh rachamim, k'ani b'petach.
Galgeil rachamecha, v'din al timtach.
They translate as follows:
"I have come to plead before You,
With a torn and burning heart
Pleading for mercy, like a poor man at the door.
Reveal Your Mercy,
and do not mete out harsh Judgment."
The tune actually bears a remarkable similarity to some of the "Chamols" of the Imrei Aish, the previous Modzitzer Rebbe. [We'll have a separate article on Chamol later on]. The tune has three parts, but probably most of you reading this may not be familiar with it. It is to be found only on private recordings of Reb Shlomo's niggunim.
Later on, Reb Shlomo forgot the third part, when the niggun was recorded officially as "Ani Ma'amin." The 12th of the Rambam's 13 Principles of Faith: "Ani ma'amin b'emuna shelaima, b'vias HaMoshiach; v'af al pi she'yismameya, im kol zeh, achakeh lo b'chol yom she'yavo - I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he may tarry, nevertheless, I await each day that he should come." If you know this tune, you can try singing it to the first two parts of "Asisi," as above. The third part, "Galgeil" is the one that was forgotten.
In the longest Selichos [penitential prayers] of the year, for Asheknazi Jewry, Erev Rosh Hashana, we find the following words:
"U'malteim mikol ra'os, bzos haShana -
Save us from all evil, in this [coming New] Year."
Reb Shlomo composed a lively tune to these words, but it didn't emerge as such. Its "final" gilgul was "Samcheim" to the words from the Friday evening Zemer, Kol Mekadesh: "Samcheim b'vinyan shaleim - Rejoice in the full building [of the Holy Temple]."