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Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Simple Voice - from Hornesteipel...

[NOTE: This was meant to be a continuation from my piece below, Cherkassy and Twerski niggunim]

Tonight is the yahrzeit of the Heiliger Pele Yoeitz, Rebbe Mordechai Dov Ber of Hornesteipel. A direct descendant of the Rebbe Reb Zusia of Anipoli, he was also the grandson and successor of the Cherkassy Rebbe, a son-in-law of Rebbe Chaim of Sanz, and a tremendous Talmid Chacham [Torah scholar] and Chassidic Rebbe in his own right. The story of how he saved a Jew at the Mikveh is as fascinating as it is amazing.

In one of my earlier pieces [about Rav Kook Zt"l], I mentioned that the interplay between wordless tune - niggun - and putting it to words or lyrics - Shir - has often puzzled me. Although Rav Kook had one approach, there is another angle that the Pele Yoeitz presents, which also reflects on this Selichos - Rosh Hashana season [my free translation]:

"The sounding of the Shofar has an effect on our Tefillos [prayers] for the entire year. On Rosh Hashana, we recite [Tehillim/Psalms 130:2], "O My L-rd, hear my voice; let Your ears listen to the sound of my plea." (Note: the Hebrew word, "Kol" can mean either voice or sound). The Pele Yoeitz wonders why the verse begins with the word, "Kol" by itself, and then ends with "Kol Tachanunai" - the sound of my plea.

He explains that there are two forms of prayer. A prayer that is manifest in words, even if it comes from the depths of one's heart, is not as lofty as another form of prayer. That is, one which emanates from the desire of the heart - which is a revelation of the innermost essence of one's heart, which cannot be confined into words, or letters - but rather is a simple voice or sound. This is the message of the Shofar on Rosh Hashana, which is but a simple sound. This tells us that we must strive to reveal that innermost essence of our heart, the heart's desire - in the form of a simple crying voice, and this can prepare us that our Tefillos throughout the year come from the depths of our heart, as we plead before Hashem.

So we thus ask Hashem to "hear our voice" - the simple sound of the Shofar on Rosh Hashana - so that "Your ears [will] listen to the sound of my plea" throughout the year - that our pleas to Hashem in our Tefillos every day of the year will be heard.

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