.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Quill of the Soul: Negina of the "Alter Rebbe" of Chabad

thanks to "The Inner Dimension" for this pic
Again, I feel we would be remiss if we didn’t include some of Rebbe Schneur Zalman of Liadi’s words about Negina, his music “theory,” as well as some of his niggunim, on his yahrzeit – which is today. Since he was the first Rebbe of Chabad/Lubavitch Chassidim, he is affectionately known in their circles as der Alter Rebbe, or Admor HaZaken – which translates as the "The Elder Rebbe", meaning the first one in their dynasty.

from the chabad.org website:
The founder of Chabad Chassidism, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), passed away on the eve of the 24th of Tevet, at approximately 10:30 pm, shortly after reciting the Havdala prayer marking the end of the Shabbat. The Rebbe was in the village of Peyena, fleeing Napoleon's armies, which had swept through the Rebbe's hometown of Liadi three months earlier in their advance towards Moscow. He was in his 68th year at the time of his passing, and was succeeded by his son, Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch.

What follows are some sayings by the Alter Rebbe about Negina, and then a listing – with links – of some of his niggunim.

Worth mentioning is another story of the rhapsodic fame and simplicity of niggunim, again involving Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. A man of unconventional ways, he filled his homilies with folk tales and wise sayings of the Jewish People. One day, as he preached in the shul, he noticed the bewildered look of an old man who was trying hard to get the drift of his words. After he had finished his sermon and the congregation was departing, he said to old man: "I saw by the expression on your face that you did not understand my sermon."
"Yes, you are right, Rebbe," confessed the old man.
The modest Rebbe apologized, saying, "It may have been my fault. Perhaps I was not clear enough. At any rate, I'm going to sing to you now, for melody goes right to the heart and the understanding where words fail." And so he threw his head back, and closing his eyes, sang with ecstasy a niggun, the song of return. As the old man listened his face lit up.
"I understand your sermon now, Rebbe!" he exclaimed happily.

For Chabad, Niggunim were not only an integral part of Chassidism – the songs are a complex philosophy unto themselves. The Chabad system, as first formulated by Rebbe Schneur Zalman of Liadi, strives for the same goal as the other branches of Chassidim, namely the attaining of Divine bliss. But it had, and still has, a unique approach to that goal. Chabad contends that it is impossible to leap immediately from extreme melancholy to extreme joy. It is impossible for a human being to rise from the lowest to the highest state without proceeding through the whole scale of the intermediate sentiments of the soul. Great stress and care is laid upon each progressive stage of development, as significant for the education of the soul and for the improvement of the spirit. It is, Chabad Chassidism contends, as of someone who had never seen the interior of a palace suddenly stepped into its bewildering splendor without first having passed through its corridors. Such a person will never be able to sense fully the glory of the palace. The approach to joy, therefore, is extremely important, and each and every step must be achieved through deep meditation. The various stages in the process of elevation according to Chabad philosophy are:
1) “Hishtapchus Hanefesh”, the outpouring of the soul and its effort to rise out the mire of sin, out of the Klipa, the evil shell.
2) “Hisorerus”, spiritual awakening.
3) “Hispaalus”, the stage in which the individual is possessed by his thoughts.
4) “Dveykus”, communion with G-d.
5) “Hislahavus”, flaming ecstasy.
6) “Hispashtus Hagashmius”, the highest state, in which the soul completely casts away its garment of flesh and becomes a disembodied spirit.
Many of the Chabad songs are analyzed according to these steps of elevation. A system such as this could with much less success than the Beshtian School seek tunes from the outside, because no such program underlay the folk songs of the gentiles. True, one can find among Chabad Niggunim many songs of Russian and Ukrainian origin, often sung verbatim in these languages. By and large, however, these are the shorter and happier melodies of their repertoire. For the achievement of the goals as outlined above, Chabad was compelled to create original tunes which could express the meanings and thoughts of the various stages of elevation, tunes to be used as a means for the attainment of its purpose. Every Chabad tune aims to voice either all, or some, of the stages of elevation of the soul.

The following are attributed to “Sayings of Chabad,” so they are not necessarily from the Alter Rebbe – although they might be:

Comparatively of slower movement are the cadre of ten Chabad niggunim [link is in Yiddish] with a distinctive character and temperament of their own, created by Rabbi Schneur Zalman. Although he didn't write the first niggun nor did he write the last one, his ten are greatly revered as the classics of Chabad niggunim the world over.

Niggunim from the Alter Rebbe:

Niggun Three Bavos – from the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezritch, and the Alter Rebbe.
Niggun Four Bavos – sung at all Chabad chuppos [weddings].
Keili Ata – from Hallel; I have heard that the Alter Rebbe sang the entire Hallel with this tune. Can anyone verify this?
Tze'ena u'Re'ena; Kol Dodi; Avinu Malkeinu; Niggun Dveykus in Tefillas Shabbos; Niggun Likras Shabbos; Niggun Dveykus Rosh Hashana; K'Ayal Ta'arog; Tzama Lecha Nafshi; Niggun and Bnei Heichala.

A Niggun from the times of the Alter Rebbe; From the Chassidim of the Alter Rebbe

All of these can be found here. You will need the RealPlayer to hear them.

And finally, Shoshanas Yaakov - From Chassidim of Alter Rebbe, with a
Yiddish commentary.

UPDATES: You can find more Chabad niggunim on other locations on the World Wide Web. Among them:

1. There are many Chabad niggunim here. They also have the notes and history behind many of the nigunim. For example here. [from our Anonymous commenter].

2. Another place to find Chabad niggunim is at the Kesser website. Here you will find them in RealPlayer and MP3 formats.

3. Also visit Paul Kornreich's audio gallery of the Rebbe ZT"L singing some Chabad niggunim.

4. Finally, if anyone knows the composer of this Chabad Rikud [Dance tune], please answer in the Comments or e-mail me. Thanks!

There are many chabad nigunim here:


They also have the notes and history behind many of the nigunim.

For example here:

I apppreciate your kind words about Chabad and neginah, but speaking of neginah and not mentioning Chabad is like speaking of Chassidus and not mentioning the Maggid of Mezritch. You "honorable mention" is somewhat lame considering who you do mention....

sorry to be so harsh....
Dear Readers,

I have answered Hirshel Tzig off-blog via e-mail, and I think we understand each other a bit better now... :)
Glad you didn't mind.
I respect all requests to modify or remove links.
Since the links don't work on the copy I lifted from your site, they will HAVE to go to your site to get to them! :)
By the way, I don't know if you blogged about it, but the "Chabad On Line" web site has a music channel that is free streaming. It seems to play mostly the music of one artist who plays traditional Chabad nigunim as well as other songs. The link can be found on the left column. The address is: http://www.col.org.il

Wishing you continued success.
Here is the proper URL for many Chabad songs and others:


Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?