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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

 
THE MUSICAL TALENTS OF THE "TIFERES SHLOMO"



Tonight, the 29th of Adar, is the yahrzeit of Rebbe Shlomo HaKohen Rabinowitz ZT"L of Radomsk, (1801 - 1866), author of one of the best-known classics of Chassidic literature, "Tiferes Shlomo." The Chassidic Dynasty of Radomsk in Poland has existed for over four generations. Rebbe Shlomo, its founder, became Rav of Radomsk in 1842. Many stories are told about him, including "I Remember Him from the Rebbe" – an amazing story of Rebbe Yechezkel of Kuzmir, Rebbe Shlomo HaKohen of Radomsk, the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, the Chozeh of Lublin and the Yid HaKodesh.

As a Chassid, Rebbe Shlomo HaKohen became a follower of Rabbi Meir of Apta, Rabbi Fishele of Strikov, and Rabbi Yehoshua of Pshedburz. He also went to Rebbe Yechezkel of Kuzmir, as the above story and the ones below indicate. In 1843 he was chosen as Rebbe of Radomsk, which developed under his dynamic leadership into a major center of Chassidus. With his moving sermons and uplifting niggunim, he attracted thousands of ardent followers.

The "Tiferes Shlomo" was also known as a great Baal Tefilla and composer of Chassidic music. He used to say: "New and beautiful niggunim for each holiday are just like a new and beautiful Esrog for Sukkos." In his younger years, when asked by Rebbe Meir of Apt to sing “Kol Mekadesh,” a Friday night tune, the latter later remarked, “His singing is like the sound of the wings of the Cheruvim.”

Rebbe Shlomo had a penchant for visiting the various tzaddikim of his generation on Shavuos. On a visit one Shavuos to the “Divrei Chaim” of Sanz, the Rebbe entreated him to daven before the Amud [to lead the prayers].

But it was one of the Tiferes Shlomo’s visits to Kuzmir on Shavuos which was truly a remarkable event, and earned him the reputation as a tzaddik who was bestowed with lofty talents for negina. Rebbe Yechezkel of Kuzmir sent a “delegation” of singers to Radomsk before the holiday, to learn the new niggunim that the Radomsker had prepared. Rebbe Yechezkel had a mechutan [one whose child was a spouse to the other’s child] named R. Emanuel, who was a gifted and experienced baal menagen and baal tefilla. He urged Rebbe Yechezkel to honor the Radomsker with leading the tefilla of Kabbalas Shabbos upon his arrival in Kuzmir. R. Emanuel knew that the Radomsker’s tefillos were powerful enough to move those who heard them to tears and to fervent emotions.

In his deep humility, the Radomsker began to daven simply, without revealing his true talents. Noticing this, R. Emanuel approached him and whispered, “Here they sing “A’anim Zemiros,” one of the concluding poetical prayers. With that, Rebbe Shlomo forsook his humble stance and sang “A’anim Zemiros” with such fervor that the Beis Medrash in Kuzmir was filled with light and joy.

On the first day of the Yom Tov Shavuos, Rebbe Yechezkel honored the Radomsker with leading the Akdamus, the famous piyut [liturgical poem] recited before the reading of the Torah, which beautifully describes the Giving of the Torah. Rebbe Shlomo agreed, but only on condition that he would have a choir, properly prepared, singing with him. Indeed, he had an eighty-man choir next to him, which included Rebbe Yechezkel’s son, [later to be known as] Rebbe Shmuel Eliyahu of Zvolin. As they burst into song, with Rebbe Shlomo’s voice soaring above the others, it seemed like the very walls of the Shul, and its windows, were vibrating with the sound. That singing of the Akdamus, plus Rebbe Shlomo’s amazing dancing, were the “talk of the town” of Kuzmir for quite a while. From the great arousal of the Radomsker’s singing, Rebbe Yechezkel paced about the Beis Medrash and asked all of his Chassidim: “Have you ever seen or heard such a thing as this?” This was indeed an unforgettable Yom Tov in Kuzmir.

A story of yet another Shavuos that the Radomsker spent in Kuzmir,
From the Mountain to the People, is worth reading as well.

Every year for the Yamim Noraim [High Holy Days] and Chagim [Festivals] the Tiferes Shlomo would sing new niggunim. He would not only sing his own niggunim, but also those of his Chassidim who composed for him. The Tiferes Shlomo also sent money to one of his Chassidim in Tzfas, Israel in order to organize a Radomsker “Shalosh Seudos” [third Shabbos meal] in Eretz Yisrael, where his niggunim would be sung each and every Shabbos.

The tefillos of the Radomsker were with intense fervor, yet full of simcha [joy]. This form of Divine service took root amongst his Chassidim, and remained an integral part of Radomsker Chassidus.

Many of the Radomsker’s niggunim are found on a recording entitled “Niggunei Radomsk,” sung by the chazan R. Chaim Adler. Featured are seventeen Radomsker niggunim, sung on Shabbos, from Kabbalas Shabbos through Shalosh Seudos. You can hear two of them, Shalom Aleichem and Kulam Ahuvim. We look forward to the release of more Radomsker niggunim in the near future!

Zechuso yagein Aleinu v’al Kol Yisrael - May Rebbe Shlomo's merits protect us all!

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