“The most direct means for attaching ourselves to God…is through music and song. Even if you can’t sing well, sing. Sing to yourself; sing in the privacy of your own home. But sing.” –Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov is one of our great Hasidic masters. He lived during the 18th century, and his teachings speak towards finding healing out of crisis and suffering and developing a sense of joy and connection to God in everyday living.
One of the most primal vehicles for seeking this kind of spiritual connection is song. Rebbe Nachman is not the only Rabbi to teach us that song can help us to express our thoughts or most especially, our prayers, in a deep and meaningful way.
Abraham Joshua Heschel uses gematria; a system of assigning a numeric value to Hebrew letters and words to explain the interwoven bonds between prayer and song. The numeric value of the letters that constitute the Hebrew word for song; shira; is the same as the numeric value of the word tefillah; prayer. From this, we may understand that prayer is song. Liturgical song not only becomes an act of expressing the inexpressible; but also a way of bringing a connection with God; a sense of something bigger than us, into our plane of existence.
Sacred music is one of our five pillars at TE for this reason! We know that singing together fosters a sense of community and a sense of spiritual connection within our congregation. Nevertheless…what if you are unsure of the tune or the words?
Community singing can feel awkward if you have never done it before, or if you feel unsure of your voice. However, once you share your voice and join with others, communal prayer singing has the power to help you connect in ways you never imagined. You will leave services feeling connected, strengthened, motivated and inspired in new and different ways.
This is why I have created a digital songbook for TE. With Rabbi Rachael’s help in video and editing, we have made it possible for you to subscribe to our YouTube Channel that highlights our favorite and beloved Friday night tunes.
Each week in the Kesher Quick, I will focus on one particular prayer and its melody. I will give you some background about the liturgical text, and talk a little bit about how the musical setting evokes the themes and expressions of the prayer. You will find a link to the YouTube video within the message and at the bottom of the page. As you watch the video, you will see the transliterated words appear in time with the music on the bottom of the screen. Please sing along with me on your computer screen!
I believe that EVERYONE can sing! It is not about having perfect pitch or having perfect Hebrew. It is about joining your voice with the person sitting next to you, in front of you, and behind you in sacred community. The strength of our community and the possibility of its growth depends on our willingness to join our voices together as one. So hum; clap, snap and add your energy to help us create a truly transformative prayer experience.
Join us this Friday Night! Check out our YouTube Channel here!
Cantor Lauren Adesnik