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Sunday, November 06, 2005


the Piaseczno Rebbe ZTUK"L
Today, 4 Cheshvan, is the yahrzeit of the Rebbe of Piaseczno [pronounced “pee-ah-setch-naw”], Rebbe Klonymus Kalman Shapira, ZTUK”L, HY”D. He was one of the greatest expositors of Chassidus in modern times. In the words of Rabbi Nachman Bulman zt”l, “The Rebbe was the last great educator toward Chassidic illumination for young and old in pre-war Poland. His words, even in writing, are aglow with truth and beauty.” [To Heal the Soul, p. v]

He was the author of the following sefarim: Chovos HaTalmidim [“A Student’s Obligation”]; Hachsharas HaAvreichim [Preparation for Mature Students]; Mavo HaShearim [An Introduction to the Gates (of Chassidus)]; Tzav v’Ziruz [“To Heal the Soul”]; Bnei Machshava Tova ["Conscious Community"]; and Derech HaMelech [The King’s Path]. But perhaps his most well-known sefer is Aish Kodesh – A Sacred Fire, which was written in the Warsaw Ghetto from 1940 to 1942. Fully aware of what was to befall them, the Rebbe gave discourses on almost every Shabbos and Yom Tov [holiday], wherein he encouraged his faithful to have faith in Hashem, to be strong, and if necessary, to give their lives for Hashem and his Torah – to die al Kiddush Hashem.
[NOTE: The links above are to the translations of the Rebbe's sefarim into English, published by Jason Aronson, Inc. They've also published another book about him - Holy Fire, which I believe is his biography. The titles which are not literal translations of the Hebrew titles are in "quotes."]

The Rebbe had a musical side as well: “His musical talents already appeared in his youth – he was entranced by the ‘music’ of Creation and expressed it both in word and in tune. The works he eventually wrote were not just Chassidic classics, but are classics of poetic prose.”

“Even in the simple sense, he was a music composer: he composed original niggunim for Shabbat and Yom Tov, and family gatherings. Then, when the Shabbat or Yom Tov was over, he himself would play the tunes on the fiddle. Those present would sing along with him, while he made sure that they did not err even in a single note.” [To Heal the Soul, p. xiv]


“A person sometimes needs to make ladders for himself, with which to ascend to Heaven. A niggun is one of these ladders, especially when sung joyously after the joy of a mitzva, with a broken [humble?] heart.

“Everyone has a portion in the Olam HaNiggun – the World of Melody. Therefore, when a tune is played or sung, one needs arouse his portion in the World of Melody that’s within him. If not, and one merely sings a tune made by someone else, it is like swallowing someone else’s saliva.” [Tzav v’Ziruz, part 36].
While we don't have any official recording of the Piaseczno Rebbe's niggunim, the Rebbe's younger brother, Reb Yeshayaleh, came to Eretz Yisrael in 1914. Known as "Admor-Chalutz" or the Pioneer Rebbe, he also composed niggunim, some of which were recorded as "Shirei HaRav Yeshayahu Shapira." In addition, in a sefer called "Admor-Chalutz," notes to some 35 niggunim appear. Most of these were composed by Reb Yeshayaleh, but others are from Grodzisk, Lizhensk, Kozhnitz, and perhaps Piaseczno as well. And finally, Reb Yeshayaleh's son, Reb Elimelech, was the Piaseczno Rebbe for many years in Tel-Aviv. At the yearly yahrzeit seudos, the Rebbe's niggunim were sung, and some were recorded privately.
Zechuso yagein aleinu v'al Kol Yisrael - may his merit protect all of us!

See here for another posting on the Piacezna Rebbe:

Wonderful post. A lot of information here about the Rebbe I had not been aware of...thank you (and to Simple Jew for directing me here).
And thanks to both of you, Simple Jew & McAryeh, for your posts and your comments!

[I've updated the Rizhiner post from Friday - check it out!]
where can i find his niggunim.. if ou know of any please email me a link yitz6170@yahoo.ca thank you
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