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Thursday, September 29, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WORLD! - HAYOM HARAS OLAM [and other Yamim Noraim niggunim]

[thanks to Anat and friends for this pic]

There are three ways that a human being can respond to suffering: the lowest level is with tears; a more elevated level is with silence; and the highest level yet is when one can transform his distress into a beautiful melody.
-- The Kotzker Rebbe

Thanks again for this quote, to our good friend, A Simple Jew, G-d bless him!!!

THIS REMINDS ME of a story that Reb Shlomo Carlebach used to tell. It was during the days of the Iron Curtain, when Soviet Jewry was suffering so much persecution at the hands of the Communist regime there. At the time, there was a trial going on of some Jewish refuseniks from Leningrad. He arrived at the Kosel [the Western Wall], as usual, with his guitar. The news that he received was that the trial was going bad for the Jews, and they might be convicted, which would lead either to lengthy imprisonment or death. He was about to put his guitar away, when a Rabbi at the Kosel told him, "This is not a time to mourn. Now is the time to make up a new song." He opened the Siddur [prayer book], and composed, on the spot, "Motzi Asirim." The words are from the portion right before we say the silent prayer, the Amida, and are: "You release the prisoners, You redeem the humble, help the poor, and answer Your People Israel, when they cry out to You."

With this in mind, I would like to dedicate the following piece to the Modzitzer Rebbe Shlita, who is still unconscious in Ichilov Hospital in Tel-Aviv. May he have a Refua Shelaim b'Karov, a full and speedy recovery, and may Hashem answer our prayers for him soon!
Rebbe Yechezkel of Kuzmir, the Avi Shosheles [forefather] of the Kuzmir-Zvolin-Modzitz Chassidic dynasty, "proclaimed that a Shabbos without a new niggun was truly not a Shabbos" [Melodies of Modzitz, p. 13]. How much more so should this apply to a New Year! In this vein, the Modzitzer Rebbes would compose about a dozen or so new niggunim EVERY YEAR, to be used in the various parts of the long Yamim Noraim [High Holyday] liturgy.

Today is the 25th of Elul, the anniversary of the day the World was created. On Rosh Hashana, Hayom Haras Olam - "today is the Birthday of the World" - is one of the prayers recited at Shofar blowing. The other is Areshes S'faseinu ["may the stirrings of our lips be accepted," etc.]. These are just two of the dozen parts of the Yamim Noraim service that received new niggunim every year in Modzitz. These two were almost always waltzes, in 3/4 time.

I do not have easy access as to what sections of the Yamim Noraim service the first two Rebbes of Modzitz, the Divrei Yisrael and the Imrei Shaul, used to compose niggunim for each year. We do have traces - several niggunim to the various sections of the liturgy. But in the last 50 years or so [the Imrei Aish became the Modzitzer Rebbe in 1947!], we have a pretty accurate picture. In Tel-Aviv: Rebbe Shmuel Eliyahu [the Imrei Aish], in New York: Reb Ben Zion Shenker, and since 1995 in Bnei Brak [before that, between 1984 and 1995 in Tel-Aviv]: the Modzitzer Rebbe Shlita would present to their Chassidim and other mispallelim [congregants] some 10 to 15 new niggunim every year, sung at Selichos, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur davening.

Briefly, to sum up the remaining parts of the High Holyday liturgy that were set to niggunim - pretty much common to all three, are the following ten, in order of their appearance in the services:
1) Kaddish-Tiskabeil, a lively dance tune. Today's Modzitzer Rebbe Shilta introduces it on the first night of Selichos. In fact this year, it was introduced in his absence, as he taught it to the Chassidim before he was hospitalized.
2) Mechalkeil Chaim - at the beginning of Shmoneh Esre. This is usually a very serious tune, suited to the words. The Imrei Aish had a "bim-bom signature" to introduce this tune each year.
3) Simcha L'artzecha - a lively, simcha-dik [joyous] tune. We have some from the Imrei Shaul, and a Chassid of his, Kaufman-Yiddel Eidelson, as well.
4) Kadsheinu - this is generally a lively dance tune, but we have one from the Imrei Shaul that is more moderate.
5) Hayom Haras Olam - a waltz, as mentioned.
6) Ein Kitzva - a lively malchus-dik [regal] march. I almost always hear trumpets when this tune is sung.
7) Veyesayu - also usually a regal march. We have one from the Imrei Shaul, too.
8) Areshes S'faseinu - a waltz, as above.
9) Hallelukah - usually a lively waltz niggun.
10) Heyei im Pifios - a lengthy Tish niggun.

There will be more to come on this later. Right now I have to get over to the Kosel to pray for the Rebbe Shlita!

Very well put. I have a few tapes of the Yamim Noraim songs of the Imrei Aish, from the years 5727-5732, and the all have the same pattern.
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