🕯 Reb Shaul Yedidya Elazar Taub zt’l, The 2nd Modzitzer Rebbe (1886-1947) – 16th of Kislev

December 2, 2020

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

We should include at least one of the Modzhitzer Rebbe’s most famous nigunnim, right? For that, we’ll choose a personal favorite – Prok Yas Anoch – from Modzitzer Favorites Volume 3, as originally sung by R’ Ben Zion Shenker back in 1970.

As the liner notes present: The candles are burning low, the delicacies have been served, and the rich warm Shabbos blanket of peace has fallen over the entire family. The home is filled with the quietude, restfulness and spirit of Shabbos Zmiros. The family sings a heart-rendering melody and all is well.

The lyric majesty of this excerpt from Ko Ribon (the work of the famed poet Rabbi Yisroel Najara, in the sixteenth century) PROK YAS ANOCH has been clothed in the regal robe of heart-warming melody by Rav Shaul of Modzitz זצ”ל.

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