Pesach and Music

April 6, 2009

While we have been cleaning for Pesach for about several weeks now, these past couple of days, there’s been one artist that has arguably gotten a lot of “air time” in our house as of late: Eitan Katz. Not only am I priviliged to call him both a friend and former classmate, but his niggunim reflect a certain tone of kedusha that permeats from the simplicity of the music. As such, I wanted to share with you his Dvar Torah Email that he sent out. If you are in the mood for some great Jewish music to listen to while cleaning for Passover, I’d recommend that you download any of his albums. You will feel relaxed and spiritually uplifted as you scrub, clean, and prepare for Pesach!

Dear Friends,

As Pesach is approaching, I wanted to share with you a beautiful idea which connects Yetzias Mitzrayim to the power of music.  In Likutey Torah on Pesach, the Ba’al Hatanya writes that the Yetzias Mitzrayim which took place thousands of years ago still takes place every day within the heart of every Jew.  Mitzrayim comes from the word Meitzar, narrow, rigid, boundaries.  When Klal Yisroel left Mitzrayim they did not only leave the physical boundaries of the land of Egypt but also broke through the mental and spiritual boundaries which Mitzrayim so tightly kept around them.

Every day, The Ba’al Hatanya writes, a Jew has the power to leave his own boundaries.  I know for myself, and for sure many people can relate to this, that in this crazy world, we feel like we are in our own spiritual jail, not being able to serve Hashem the way we want to.  Pesach is a reminder for us that just like there was a Yetzias Mitzrayim a long time ago, the same Yetzias Mitzrayim- the leap out of one’s boundaries, can be done today.  And here is where the connection to music comes.  The Ba’al Hatanya writes that because the first Yetzias Mitzrayim was eternal, we can look at the way they had acted then during the process of leaving, and apply it to our life right now.

The first act which Klal Yisroel did as a “free” nation was……SING!!!  After they crossed the sea, looked back and saw that the nightmare was over and that Hashem had taken them out completely form mitzrayim, they sang Shiras Hayam.  This wasn’t a coincidence, the Ba’al Hatanya writes.  The natural expression of someone that has just reached beyond their natural boundaries is singing.

Why?

Because when one sings, that is also an expression of leaving one’s boundaries.  How many times have we sat around the shabbos table, or at an uplifting concert or kumzitz, where we felt that singing just takes us to places where we never have been before.  When we sing emmesdik nigunim, the feeling should be that we are reaching beyond the places where we thought we couldn’t reach.  This, my friends, is the way how to tell if a nigun is “kosher” or not.  Not by how many instruments is being played, not by the arrangements, not by any of the superficial garbage we have come in contact with.  The only way to identify a kosher nigun is if it makes you feel bigger and greater  than what you felt before.

With this Torah, I released my latest album last month.  I felt that each of the nigunim (whether mine or not) had the ability in them to bring the listener to a deeper and more meaningful connection to Hashem.  I felt that the nigunim would allow a person to see how deep their neshama really is.   And I tell everyone who buys the CD that this is what I felt, but if you don’t feel that way about the nigunim, if you feel they are just commercial and not uplifting, please do me favor- don’t listen to them!

If you haven’t purchased the CD yet, you can listen to clips and purchase it here.

I wish everyone a Chag Kasher V’sameach!

Eitan

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