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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Rebbe Naftali Tzvi of Ropshitz: Breaking the Ice…

Rebbe Naftali Tzvi's sefer, Ayala Shlucha, 1903

Today is the yahrzeit of Rebbe Naftali Tzvi of Ropshitz, a talmid of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, as well as the Chozeh of Lublin, the Kozhnitzer Maggid and Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Riminov. Among his talmidim was Rebbe Chaim of Sanz. Ropshitz niggunim trickled down to later Chassidic groups, including Sanz, Bobov and Dzikov [see also below]. He was the author of Zera Kodesh and Ayala Shlucha.

Breaking the Ice
The following is an adaptation of a ma’mar of his, from his sefer, Zera Kodesh al HaMoadim:
The journey from Egypt, where they Jews had sunk to the 49th level of Tumah [impurity], to the level of Kedusha [holiness] necessary to receive the Torah, required 49 days of preparation, which is the 49 days of Sefiras HaOmer – the Counting of the Omer. Similarly, a woman needs seven ‘clean’ days to purify herself from ritual impurity each month.
Rebbe Naftali Tzvi of Ropshitz informs us that the descent into the Reed Sea on the seventh day following the Exodus from Egypt, was a form of purification that was accomplished through the singing of the Song of the Sea [Shiras HaYam]. It was through song that the forces of evil and impurity were subjugated and cleared away, so that the Jewish People could receive Kedusha, like one receives Tahara [ritual purity].
He continues, this can be compared to one who comes to immerse himself in a river during the winter, only to discover that the river is frozen over. He cannot immerse himself and attain purity unless he breaks through the ice that covers the waters.
Similarly, each morning we recite Pesukei d’Zimra – verses of Song – before we accept the Kingdom of Heaven upon ourselves with the prayer of Shema, and ask for all our needs in Shmoneh Esre. Indeed, the Pesukei d’Zimra culminate in Shiras HaYam. For it is the Pesukei d’Zimra that cut through [l’Zamer means to sing, and also to prune or cut] all the thorns and forces of evil that are in the way of the Kedusha and Divine Bounty to flow from Above…
One who leads the prayers with Song and Praise with a pleasant voice and with joy and exultation, cuts down and removes all of the barriers that are in the way, so the prayers ascend on High.

The Ropshitzer on Negina:
This was excerpted from my opening blog post:
Rebbe Naftali Tzvi of Ropshitz proclaimed that the Heichal HaNegina (the heavenly Mansion of Melody) was next to the Heichal HaTeshuva (the heavenly Mansion of Return or "Repentance"), and the person who did not jump from the former into the latter was an absolute fool because the doors were interconnected. Regarding this statement, the Divrei Yisrael [of Modzitz] added: "Everybody says that the Heichal HaNegina is next to the Heichal HaTeshuva. But I say that the Heichal HaNegina itself is the Heichal HaTeshuva" [Found in sefer Imrei Shaul , p. 309].

From R. Velvel Pasternak:
“Through song the gates of heaven can be opened. Sadness closes them. The origin of all songs is holy, for impurity has no song. It is the root of all sadness”

From A Simple Jew:
The Precious Key
What is a Chassid? Someone who possesses a precious key, a key that opens all the doors, even those that G-d keeps closed. And the key is the niggun, the song of joy that makes our hearts thrill. The niggun opens the gates of heaven. Melancholy closes them.

Ropshitz Niggunim
On the linked recording, Track 15 is a Niggun from Ropshitz; Track 16 - a Niggun from Ropshitz, Mazel Tov; and Track 17 - A Tanz lidl [dance tune] from Ropshitz

A Ropshitz Waltz by Andy Statman, from “Songs of our Fathers”

On Time to Dance, Vol. 1, by Yisrael Lamm, track 5 is also a Ropshitz waltz.
(Can anyone find me a link to this tune?)

UPDATE! And how could I forget – Ah Rebbish – a collection of joyful dance tunes from the Ropshitz, Dzikov and Bobov Chassidic courts. Niggunim from Hakafos [Simchas Torah dancing], weddings and other joyous occasions. Unfortunately, the only link for it I found, Eichlers, indicates that it’s out of stock.

Zechuso Yagein Aleinu v'al Kol Yisrael
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