The Heart's Note

The Heart's Note
Music in the Writings of Rabbi Nahman of Braslav – between Metaphysical and Existential Thought
Adaya Hadar

Recent years have seen a revival of the teachings of Rabbi Nahman of Braslav. What is it about Rabbi Nahman that, specifically in the New Age era, has more and more people drawn to his thought? Is it his existential mode that "touches" the soul of our generation or is it the nexus between spirituality and materiality?

This study purports to examine the status, roles and meanings of the nigun in the writings of Rabbi Nahman by way of comparison to the concept of music in the early Hasidic masters' homilies , from the Baal Shem Tov to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi.

Dr. Adaya Hadar holds a PhD in Jewish philosophy and is a researcher of Hasidism. Today she serves as the coordinator of the "Institute for the Study of Religious Zionism" at Bar-Ilan University.

Table of Contents

Danacode:   110-20318 ISBN:  978-965-226-549-4 Language:   Hebrew Pages:   226 Weight:   500 gr Dimensions:  17X24 cm Publication Date:   05/2021 Publisher:   Bar-Ilan University Press


Preface 11

Introduction 15

Nigun as an act and nigun as an image 16

Music as a vehicle or as a value itself 17

An alternative model 19

a) Music as representing or alluding to a metaphysical being 19

b) Music as representing or referring to concrete existence 19

Esotericism and the turn to concrete existence in the writings of Rabbi Nahman 21

The text 26

A survey of the relevant research literature 27

Rabbi Nahman: Biography and thought 27

Music and Judaism 28

Rabbi Nahman and nigun 29

Song of mercy 31

The main thesis 33

Chapter I – Nigun in the writings of the early Hasidic masters 35

Nigun as an image 35

The “minstrel” image from the Book of Kings 2, chapter 3 verse 15 36

The image of “the psaltery and the harp” 45

The images of organ, violin and musical instruments 48

The images of dance and the vessel of song 51

Nigun as an act 54

Music as awakening 54

Music as rejoicing 55

Music, contemplation and spontaneity 59

Shofar and trumpets 62

The practical-mystical dimension 65

Cantors 68

Yodea Nagen – the skilled musician 75

The difference between song and chant 78

Song and prayer 83

Cantillation accents, nigun and prophecy 85

Rhythm and pulse 92

Music of the nations 93

The nigun of Ishmael and the nigun of Greece 96

Summary 101

Chapter II – Acoustic and musical motifs in the thought of Rabbi Nahman 103

Trumpets and the voice of the shofar 103

Shofar and unity 109

Interim summary 116

Moaning and sighing 117

Rhythm and pulse 120

Music as therapy 126

Palm on palm 131

Screaming 139

The voiceless scream 144

Summary 146

Chapter III - Music’s advantages according to the thought of Rabbi Nahman 147

The benefits of music as a religious instrument 147

Movement and dance 147

Passage from sadness to joy 148

Ecstasy and cleaving to God 150

Magic and unification of the sefirot 152

Joy that brings about mystical exaltation and prophecy 157

Dance as a religious objective rather than driven by impulse 158

The useful advantages of music – education, leadership 159

Music as political and educational seduction 160

Musical education – personal, psychological and religious 168

Music of the nations and music of the Tzaddik 171

Summary 174

Chapter IV – Esotericism and music in the thought of Rabbi Nahman 175

Existentialism and esotericism 177

Tzimtzum and esotericism 183

Reproof and esotericism 185

Prophecy and esotericism 187

Summary 188

Afterword 189

Appendix 191

Bibliography 193

Indexes 205

Dr. Adaya Hadar holds a PhD in Jewish philosophy and is a researcher of Hasidism. Today she serves as the coordinator of the "Institute for the Study of Religious Zionism" at Bar-Ilan University.