Today, the sixteenth of Kislev, is the yahrzeit of a man who left his mark on the Jewish world in an extremely unique fashion. Reb Shaul Yedidya Elazar Taub zt”l, the second Modzitzer Rebbe, known for his sefer, “Imrei Shaul,” was world-renowned as phenomenally gifted in both musical ability and Torah scholarship. He guided thousands of Chassidim in Poland, later in the US, and finally in Eretz Yisroel. He composed over 1,000 niggunim and songs, a great many of which gained worldwide popularity and are still sung today by even those outside of Modzitz circles.
Please forgive the lack of a full-length feature on the occasion of the yahrtzeit of one of the most prolific composers, if not the most prolific composer in modern history. We wrote about Reb Shaul Yedidya Elazar when we did our R’ Ben Zion Shenker piece not that long ago, so I really wasn’t planning to write anything today… But then I came across a Modzitzer vort that had to do with what we posted here last night (I had nothing with which to feel inspired last night, other than by means of a wordless niggun), and I couldn’t help but share it with all of you today.
Neginah, says the Rebbe, has a place in Avodas Hashem that is not found in other paths. It is generally known that the way to dveykus (attaching oneself, clinging) to Hashem is only through Machshava, the realm of Thought. However, this method has a disadvantage, in that it is not open to sharing with others. This can be done through the realm of Speech, however, in speaking, one can share his ideas with and inspire others, but how much will depend on his own ability to communicate and the listeners ability to comprehend.
However, there is another way, and that is through sound – kol – specifically the musical sound of a wordless niggun. This combines both the advantages of thought and speech, but without any of what they lack. That is, it has the advantage of thought, which can be deepened and lead to dveykus baShem, but not only does it lead to dveykus, Neginah can also lead one to teshuvah. Moreover, it has the advantage of speech, in that it can involve others, as those who are in earshot of the niggun can hear it, join in, and deepen their experience by attaining dveykus in Hashem and by being inspired to teshuvah.
Furthermore, Reb Shaul Yedidya Elazar said that only a niggun that is formed in the heart can enter another, as we know, Devarim hayotzim min haLev, nichnasim el haLev – matters which come from the heart, enter the heart of others. This was my exact intention with yesterday’s “Nigun Lev” and in the same vein, I have attached a short recording of a niggun composed and sung by the Modzitzer Rebbe himself a few years before his passing. May the Modzitzer Rebbe’s merits protect us all!
Reb Shaul Yedidya Elazar ben R’ Yisroel – Zechuso yagein aleinu v’al kol Yisroel
P.S. Tonight, the 17th of Kislev, is the yahrtzeit of Rav Yosef Yoizel Horowitz, zt’l – the Alter of Novardok. There is a wonderful tune by Ari Goldwag from his latest album Yesh Li Hakol that I would recommend (listen below).