Authentic Kabbalah Music

Internet is flooded with so called “Kabbalistic music” by people “inspired by Kabbalah”, people with various visions and ambitions. Yet, music is a dangerous tool that if not used correctly can do more harm then good.

Once Kotzker (if I’m not wrong) Rebbe asked his disciples: “What is more important – speech or nigun ([spiritual] tune)”.  The disciples answered: Speech of course! To that the Rebbe said (and I paraphrase from memory) “Speech emanates from brain, goes down to vocal cords and then to throat, while nigun comes from heart to vocal cords and then ascends directly to Heaven.

My personal interpretation/understanding of the story: the Rebbe is talking about Hitorerut DeLitata (Emanation from top to bottom vs. bottom to top – see Zohar for commentaries). Thus the tune represents the awakening from below – lehashipa vs. lekabel.

The audio below has very interesting story to it. It was played by Reb Baruch on cello based on the Baal HaSulam compositions.

The story of Reb Baruch is very unique – he came from Russia to Israel in the beginning of 80th as philharmonic player and played in Israeli philharmonic. He knew nothing of Judaism, and “somehow” found Rav Baruch Ashlag.

He started to attend lessons in Hebrew that RABASH taught Baalei Tshuva – Jews coming back to Judaism. This was a huge effort on the part of the Rebbe as he didn’t speak Hebrew at all (his primary language is Yidish), yet he made himself learn Hebrew to teach those newcomers who were on the path to become religious and observant Jews the Wisdom of Kabbalah. [If I’m not wrong Laitman was part of this group]

Reb Baruch would have a private shiur with Reb Hilllel Gelbshtain after morning davenning (prayers/Shacharit) to catch up on Rebbe’s teachings. After awhile he decided to quit his job (his bread and butter!) in philarmonia as it requiered work on Sabbath, and he couldn’t come to desecrate Sabbath anymore. After a few years, Reb Baruch became very fluent in Talmud Eser Ha Sefirot and played the following music based on Rebbe’s guidance.

Here it is – unaltered by modern instruments, simple and authentic as it came directly from the Rebbe himself.

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13 Responses to Authentic Kabbalah Music

  1. judith gast says:

    I like your “daf” pls. write more…
    BHaclacha.

    j.g.

  2. Very clear , genuine performance,and what is more, it can really be called Kabbalistic music,because music consists of two parts : music itself and its performance.Very often some poeple take melodies of Baal Hasulam or Rabash and they play them in different ways and call it Kabbalaistic music, while it isn’t any more, because kabbalaistic music played by non-Kabbalist is like body without soul.We speak here about very subtle vibrations, which comes from the depth of the soul and straight into the sound.Besides all the trying of inventing “kabbalistic’ music and singing sentences and expretions from Kabbalastic books, sound as second hand poetry and faked “spirituality” and it is so evident, that those “pieces of contemporary kabbalaistic art” will never last more then their authers insist on it.Music in general and realKabbalaistic music espesially gets to the depth of human soul and awakes the most sacried levels, and you may not fake, or invent that. All you may get by trying to be “original, kabbalaistic” musician is to get on the nerves of the listeners. It is better to listen to Rabbash’s singing of Tehillim especially number 45, and other melodies sang by him or played by real musician as we have on this record.Quality of the record doesn’t matter, becuase all your soul needs is the voice of another soul, and not instrumental richness of its performance.And to have a chance to hear Rabash’s soul singing is unique and can’t be reapeted by anybody., it gives a person the elevation to the highest levels of spirituality, through the going to the very core of the soul-Bkhina D, and works wonders in his inner world, even if a person doesn’t realise it. Highly recommended to play to the children, especiallt when they are sleeping, it is the best deposide we may do into their spirituality.

  3. Kabbalistic music is highly recommended to let your children to listen to , especially new borns, or at the sleeping time for any ages,the music shouldn’t be very loud it is comprehended by inner hearing and so will not disturb others who sleeps with a child/others in one room.

    As for the classical music, it is important to remember that not all the classical music is suitable for listening in the sleeping condition. only the second parts of the sanats and simphonies are recomemded, these are the ‘slow’ parts ussually with a 60 per minute bit and is also good for children and grown-ups to sleep and relax.

    But kabbalaistic music ,of course, of a geuine performence is much more preferable, because it works not only on the emotional level as the calssical music does, but it purifies our instictual level and gets to the deepest “corners” of the soul.

    Music in general and Kabbalistic especially has the closet connection with the spiritual worlds out of any other kinds of arts, as we know that the best prise for the arts is when we say :” music in colors, or music in stone, the music of the poetry”

    Besides today it is important to help our children to develop a good taste for the music before they can ” disagree” with you, and so young mom are strongly recommernded to use real music and arts to make the enviouroment of a child.

    It is a big mistake to put Micky- mouse kind of pictures in children rooms, there are a lot of wonderful peices of art for child to look at and to speek with a child about.

    Teach your child to have a good taste for music, color, forms and your work won’t be done in vein.

  4. If you think whom to give the charity, give it to the jewish musician playing in the street, his music make a lot of souls soar up by touching the deepest levels of the inner world of any person, it let a lot of pain and dispaer free out of a person and make people filled with the feeling of eternity, hope and love.

  5. Jewish music has a very deep spiritual influence on any person,because it was composed by the souls of thousands and thousands of jews and servived through thousands years.

    There must be undoubtful connection of the music to the spiritual levels for it to be loved by jews and non-jews equally, no matter what is the person’s attitude to the jewish people, nobody can be indifferent when the jewish music is played.

    The Sages say, that the levels of spirituality which may not be explained and passed through the words may be for sure be passed through the music, and be directly understood by our souls and it is the reason for unexplainable love of all the peole to the jewish music.

  6. yehudith says:

    There is a very intresting fact from the life of the Rebbi from Modgitz, who was one of the greatest of Hassidic Ravs.

    When he was very old he needed an operation, but the doctors were very afraid that he won’t withstand the anesthesia, so the didn’t know who to adress better than the Rebbi himself and spoke to him openly and explained to him the problem.

    Rebbi didn’t find that to be a problem at all, he said to them that whenever they are ready to operate, just to let him know, and he will start composing the jewish hassidic tune and they may operate as long as they need.

    And so was it.

  7. Beshalach(Exodus 13:17-17:16)

    Music, Language of the Soul

    For the first time since their departure from Egypt the Israelites do something together. They sing. “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel.” Rashi, explaining the view of R. Nehemiah in the Talmud (Sotah 30b) that they spontaneously sang the song together, says that the holy spirit rested on them and miraculously the same words came into their minds at the same time. In recollection of that moment, tradition has named this week Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Song. What is the place of song in Judaism?

    There is an inner connection between music and the spirit. When language aspires to the transcendent and the soul longs to break free of the gravitational pull of the earth, it modulates into song. Music, said Arnold Bennett is “a language which the soul alone understands but which the soul can never translate.” It is, in Richter’s words “the poetry of the air.” Tolstoy called it “the shorthand of emotion.” Goethe said, “Religious worship cannot do without music. It is one of the foremost means to work upon man with an effect of marvel.” Words are the language of the mind. Music is the language of the soul.

    So when we seek to express or evoke emotion we turn to melody. Deborah sang after Israel’s victory over the forces of Siserah (Judges 5). Hannah sang when she had a child (1 Sam. 2). When Saul was depressed, David would play for him and his spirit would be restored (1 Sam. 16). David himself was known as the “sweet singer of Israel” (2 Sam. 23:1). Elisha called for a harpist to play so that the prophetic spirit could rest upon him (2 Kings 3:15). The Levites sang in the Temple. Every day, in Judaism, we preface our morning prayers with Pesukei de-Zimra, the ‘Verses of Song’ with their magnificent crescendo, Psalm 150, in which instruments and the human voice combine to sing God’s praises.

    Mystics go further and speak of the song of the universe, what Pythagoras called ‘the music of the spheres’. This is what Psalm 19 means when it says, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands … There is no speech, there are no words, where their voice is not heard. Their music(1) carries throughout the earth, their words to the end of the world.’ Beneath the silence, audible only to the inner ear, creation sings to its Creator.

    So, when we pray, we do not read: we sing. When we engage with sacred texts, we do not recite: we chant. Every text and every time has, in Judaism, its own specific melody. There are different tunes for shacharit, mincha and maariv, the morning, afternoon and evening prayers. There are different melodies and moods for the prayers for a weekday, Shabbat, the three pilgrimage festivals, Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot (which have much musically in common but also tunes distinctive to each), and for the High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

    There are different tunes for different texts. There is one kind of cantillation for Torah, another for the haftorah from the prophetic books, and yet another for Ketuvim, the Writings, especially the five Megillot. There is a particular chant for studying the texts of the written Torah, for studying Mishnah and Gemarah. So by music alone we can tell what kind of day it is and what kind of text is being used. There is a map of holy words and it is written in melodies and songs.

    Music has extraordinary power to evoke emotion. The Kol Nidrei prayer with which Yom Kippur begins is not really a prayer at all. It is a dry legal formula for the annulment of vows. There can be little doubt that it is its ancient, haunting melody that has given it its hold over the Jewish imagination. It is hard to hear those notes and not feel that you are in the presence of God on the Day of Judgment, standing in the company of Jews of all places and times as they pleaded with heaven for forgiveness. It is the holy of holies of the Jewish soul. (Lehavdil, Beethoven came close to it in the opening notes of the sixth movement of the C Sharp Minor Quartet op. 131, his most sublime and spiritual work).

    Nor can you sit on Tisha B’av reading Eichah, the book of Lamentations, with its own unique cantillation, and not feel the tears of Jews through the ages as they suffered for their faith and wept as they remembered what they had lost, the pain as fresh as it was the day the Temple was destroyed. Words without music are like a body without a soul.

    Each year for the past ten years I have been privileged to be part of a mission of song (together with the Shabbaton Choir and singers Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld and Chazanim Shimon Craimer and Jonny Turgel) to Israel to sing to victims of terror, as well as to people in hospitals, community centres and food kitchens. We sing for and with the injured, the bereaved, the sick and the broken hearted. We dance with people in wheelchairs. One boy who had lost half of his family, as well as being blinded, in a suicide bombing, sang a duet with the youngest member of the choir, reducing the nurses and his fellow patients to tears. Such moments are epiphanies, redeeming a fragment of humanity and hope from the random cruelties of fate.

    Beethoven wrote over the manuscript of the third movement of his A Minor Quartet the words Neue Kraft fuhlend, “Feeling new strength.” That is what you sense in those hospital wards. You understand what King David meant when he sang to God the words: “You turned my grief into dance; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to You and not be silent.” You feel the strength of the human spirit no terror can destroy.

    In his book, Musicophilia, the neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks (no relative, alas) tells the poignant story of Clive Wearing, an eminent musicologist who was struck by a devastating brain infection. The result was acute amnesia. He was unable to remember anything for more than a few seconds. As his wife Deborah put it, ‘It was as if every waking moment was the first waking moment.’

    Unable to thread experiences together, he was caught in an endless present that had no connection with anything that had gone before. One day his wife found him holding a chocolate in one hand and repeatedly covering and uncovering it with the other hand, saying each time, ‘Look, it’s new.’ ‘It’s the same chocolate’, she said. ‘No’, he replied, ‘look. It’s changed.’ He had no past at all. In a moment of awareness he said about himself, ‘I haven’t heard anything, seen anything, touched anything, smelled anything. It’s like being dead.’

    Two things broke through his isolation. One was his love for his wife. The other was music. He could still sing, play the organ and conduct a choir with all his old skill and verve. What was it about music, Sacks asked, that enabled him, while playing or conducting, to overcome his amnesia? He suggests that when we ‘remember’ a melody, we recall one note at a time, yet each note relates to the whole. He quotes the philosopher of music, Victor Zuckerkandl, who wrote, ‘Hearing a melody is hearing, having heard, and being about to hear, all at once. Every melody declares to us that the past can be there without being remembered, the future without being foreknown.’ Music is a form of sensed continuity that can sometimes break through the most overpowering disconnections in our experience of time.

    Faith is more like music than like science. Science analyzes, music integrates. And as music connects note to note, so faith connects episode to episode, life to life, age to age in a timeless melody that breaks into time. God is the composer and librettist. We are each called on to be voices in the choir, singers of God’s song. Faith teaches us to hear the music beneath the noise.

    So music is a signal of transcendence. The philosopher and musician Roger Scruton writes that it is “an encounter with the pure subject, released from the world of objects, and moving in obedience to the laws of freedom alone.” He quotes Rilke: “Words still go softly out towards the unsayable / And music, always new, from palpitating stones / builds in useless space its godly home.” The history of the Jewish spirit is written in its songs. The words do not change, but each generation needs its own melodies.

    Our generation needs new songs so that we too can sing joyously to God as our ancestors did at that moment of transfiguration when they crossed the Red Sea and emerged, the other side, free at last. When the soul sings, the spirit soars.

  8. yehudith says:

    The above article belongs to Rav Jonathan Sakcs.

  9. yehudith says:

    For those intrested, there is a website with a lot of lectures on Torah, Tehillim, Prayers and many other subjests, there is also some records of jewish music and melodies used in prayers under the title: Belz school of jewish music

    YUTorah.org

  10. yehudith says:

    There is an intresting discussion of Rav’s Kook attitude to art and creativilty on the

    YUTorah.org

    held by Rabbi Chain Brovender

    including Rav Kook’s letter to the Betzalel school.

  11. Rhythm of the Heart
    by Rabbi Y Reuven Rubin

    Tehillim
    Chapter 149

    I read in Pirkei Avos that I am now considered to have reached maturity, so perhaps I may be allowed to indulge in a bit of nostalgia. It seems that today’s young people speak an entirely different language from the way we spoke when we were young. I firmly believe that they think in uniquely different ways today and have a whole world of different viewpoints. I do not say this to be awkward or to besmirch anyone; I only state a fact.

    What was on the agenda when I was young is no longer even considered; there are new problems that cry out for new answers. At first I thought this view was mine alone and that it was the result of my being prone to being a bit wistful. But I once mentioned this to colleagues of my age and found that they, too, felt this way.

    I am reminded of the time I was standing on line waiting to enter the private office of a renowned sage. I had come to discuss a matter related to child rearing, and I waited with about a hundred other Yidden for my turn. At the door stood a venerable gabbai who had held this position for forty-odd years. He had seen generations of Yidden standing at this door and had watched the changes that time had wrought. Behind me stood an old-timer, a Yiddel of the old school, who had been a chassid in Poland. This older man looked at the younger folk waiting, and then turned to the gabbai with a bemused smile, as if to say, Look at these youngsters. They, too, are chassidim. The gabbai shrugged and sighed, “Listen, my friend, this is what they send us these days…”

    Yes, time stands still for no one, and the face and mind of each generation is different.

    There will be those who will argue that for the Torah Jew everything should be the same and that true devotion precludes any encroachment from outside forces. This is true to an extent; nevertheless, there are nuances of life that seep in, and to pretend otherwise would be counterproductive. No one can say that an Amerikaner bachur from our current generation is no different from the young men who lived in Poland before the war. What we have today isn’t what we had yesterday. I do not say that it is better or worse; it’s just different. And to this different generation, new ways must be sought, new approaches made with new understandings. If not, we could lose everything we have worked so hard to obtain.

    All this is nothing new. It has always been so. Reading sefarim from past generations will show you that many of the problems they had were the same, yet the way these problems present themselves changes with each generation’s circumstances. One can pick up a Chovas Hatalmidim written by the Piaseczner Rebbe, zy”a, and read how he cried out that the children of his generation needed a different approach from those who had been raised a generation earlier. Should we despair? Never, for this was all foreseen and addressed.

    King David shows us this in the penultimate kapitel of his huge and all-inclusive work.

    Halleluyah! Sing a new song to Hashem. May His praise be given in a congregation of the pious. Every generation has a new song to sing to Hashem. Yet David tells us that each new song will be seen as praise and will always be sung by a congregation of pious Yidden. We shouldn’t believe that the new generation isn’t pious. True, the previous generations were giants of the spirit, and we pale in comparison. But Hashem knows each generation and its trials, and in His eyes we will always have pious souls. Therefore, we should sing, and we should not fear if the niggun seems to be a new one.

    May Yisrael rejoice in their Maker; may the people of Zion be gladdened with their King. Parents fear for their children. We do so much for them, yet if we are honest, we must admit that we don’t really understand all that they are living through. Their trials are not those we experienced — or so we think. Yet the psalmist tells us that they, too, will rejoice in their Maker.

    The Bobover Rebbe, Reb Shloime, zy”a, once spoke to a group of Holocaust survivors in Eretz Yisrael. This was in the early sixties, and the community of survivors was first getting its bearings. He reminded those Yidden of their parents, of how their mothers would cry when they kindled the Friday night candles: “Ribbono shel Olam, let my children always be Yidden…” At these words everyone in the audience started sobbing. He was reminding them that although the world they were now in was light-years away from where they were born, their goals should be the same as those of their parents.

    Yes, their children would grow up in that new world, with new sights and sounds, yet they, too, would be connected with what came before them. This is the song that David gave us; it is the psalm of hope.

    They should praise His name with a flute; they should play for Him on a drum and a harp. The future generations will dance and sing their praises to Hashem, just as those before them did. Their dances and songs may not be the same, but they will be focused on the same Father in Heaven.

    Hashem desires His nation; He glorifies the humble with salvation. This is an enormous concept. Hashem desires us, and so, even as the generations seem threatened with new winds of change, Hashem will glorify His children with Divine deliverance. We may feel humbled when placed beside those who never had to face the forces arrayed against us, yet it is the will of Hashem that we be saved.

    May the pious be exuberant for having the honor of singing on [even] after they are laid to rest. The frume Yiddel will always rejoice in Hashem. He feels safe in his joy, knowing that Hashem is with him even in his private domain.

    The accolades of God are in their throats, while double-edged swords are in their hands. Each generation will sing praises to Hashem from deep within their hearts and souls. This creates a double-edged sword, warding off enemies from without and depression from within.

    These verses are amazing to me. David has sung to us and given us so much in the way of expressing our needs and desires. Here, in these last few pages of his monumental work, he looks to the future and gives hope and, yes, credibility, to what will be new and likely challenging times.

  12. Rhythm of the Heart
    by Rabbi Y Reuven Rubin

    Chapter 150

    I never knew how it would end; in fact, I rarely thought about the fact that it would. For several years I wrote about Tehillim, tapping words on the keyboard that I hoped would be read and shared. Each chapter was a new adventure, and the Tehillim project became very much a part of my life. With each new segment I came closer to the end, never really feeling that an end was what I sought.

    Tehillim is so strongly connected to the Jewish identity, and I have been privileged to be able to share some of my thoughts with so many. I expected that ending it was certainly going to be a wrenching experience. But fate has always been the co-producer of this work, and it has brought me to the perfect place to end this particular voyage.

    I was at Kever Rachel, in the company of some forty Yidden from Britain. We had come together for a few days to see the Holy Land and visit its special sites. This was a unique trip, because those who had joined us were all from different backgrounds. Some were Torah observant, others not yet so, yet we were joined together to see and experience.

    I had long wanted to make such a pilgrimage, to take some of my flock to see the Land of Israel as it is meant to be seen — through Torah eyes. We stood in prayer, the ladies in the other room with my wife, and I with my fellow congregants. My son was with me. He had come with a large group of his congregants from Glasgow. And so two generations of Rubin rabbanim stood with their communities, reaching out to Mother Rachel with hearts full of hope.

    Some of us could read lashon hakodesh, our holy language; others could not. Nonetheless, we were together, and we could speak in any way we found we were able to. It was as if each one of us was a different instrument, a different voice — unique but in tune with the others.

    Any musician will tell you that in an orchestral piece, the beauty is found in each instrument’s ability to add its voice in its own way. Alone, each individual piece makes no sense; it is nothing more than a set of tones with no bonding force. Joined together with the others, it takes on new character, a special majesty that can rend the heavens. This kapitel tells of this special bonding, and I am humbled that Hashem has brought me here to experience this event at this unique moment.

    Halleluyah! Praise God in His holy place; praise Him in the sky that contains His might. Sometimes you come to a place in your mind where everything feels so special and calm. Those around you pray, their voices creating a patina of soft murmurs. But it is always going to be about this — praising Hashem. Each chapter of Tehillim is full of potential, but when it comes down to it, the Yiddishe neshama is humbled. Hashem is so, so good to us, and after all is said and done, we can only mutter this one truth: “Praise Hashem!”

    Praise Him for His acts of strength; praise Him as much as befits His greatness. The Yid who turns to Hashem uses David’s words as the key to his own heart. With his words we can articulate that which would otherwise remain stuck in our throats.

    Hashem’s greatness is seen differently by each of us. His enormity is such that no one person can even begin to describe His uniqueness. But we praise Him according to our understanding, and in this way, though our words are those of the psalm, they are different when we render them.

    This is not a bad thing; in fact, it seems to me that this uniqueness makes Tehillim the vehicle of so much hope for so many generations. David’s heart was the heart of all Jews, and so he opened every Jewish heart with his words.

    Praise Him accompanied with a shofar blast; praise Him using a lyre and harp. Every Jew is an instrument of praise to Hashem. One may be a shofar, the next a harp… It doesn’t make a difference. Each one praises with his own voice, his unique tune.

    Praise Him using a drum and flute; praise Him using various musical instruments. Everyone can play in this orchestral masterpiece; in fact, if one instrument is muted, then the whole song loses its power. Here David gives us his final piece of Divine inspiration — the knowledge that every Jew is part of Klal Yisrael and is called upon to praise Hashem.

    I stood at Kever Rachel with tears coursing down my face. Hashem, this is not an ending. It is just the beginning of the start. Look at these Jews standing here with me. They are crying, sighing, some speechless, others in complete, unabashed awe of the moment. This is Your true praise, these Yidden with their newfound voices of love for You.

    Sometimes things happen that are a mystery locked in the moment. Before entering the tomb, I had given out a paper with the names of those in our community who are ill. After we recited Tehillim, we all read out those names, and then, for some reason I will never completely understand, one member of the community came to stand next to me, put one hand on the stone that lies above the kever, and bowed his head. Instinctively, I, too, placed my hand on it, and together we said Shema. He looked up with his red eyes and smiled. Then another came and another…until every one of those men had come to accept Hashem’s Oneness with me. This episode was unscripted, and it tore my heart in two.

    Even more astounding, and unbeknownst to me, was the fact that the ladies were going through the same sort of moment with my wife. Each one came closer to touch the stones as she shared words of hope. Mama Rachel must have seen all this and felt the wondrous light that we all shared. For me, it is what this sefer has been about, and it allowed me to finish what is never really finished.

    With the entire soul, praise God. Halleluyah! King David gave us this splendid gift, and with it we can open up all the souls of Klal Yisrael, making every soul just one soul, the soul of Hashem’s children.

    The crowd shuffled out. They were amazed at the intensity of their feelings. I, too, was amazed and deeply affected. In my heart I offered sincere thanks to Hashem for having granted me this moment, and I said slowly to myself, “Ashrei ha’ish…, Enriched is the man who has not followed the advice of the wicked, stood on the path of sinners, or sat among the scornful…”

    You see, friends, we never end, never…

  13. Vera says:

    Very interesting!

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