Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Erev ‘Rosh Hashanah 5772’

29 Elul 5771/September 28, 2011

What is it about songs and music that makes them so contagious?

Did you ever find yourself singing a song that you realized was in your head because you heard someone humming it when you walked past them a few hours earlier?

During my years in yeshiva, in the morning as seder (learning session) began I would often ask my chavrusa (study partner) ‘So what song should we have everyone sing today?’ We would pick a song which we would sing out loud as people entered the Bais Medrash. Then we would gleefully wait to hear people humming or singing the song hours later on the other side of the Bais Medrash.

For the last two weeks there was a song swirling in my head. It’s an ancient beautiful tune with Yiddish lyrics written by the Chassidic master, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Barditchiv, in which he makes a ‘deal’ with G-d. I very much wanted to purchase an album that had the song but I couldn’t find any. In fact, I purchased one album which I thought had the song, and was frustrated when I realized that the song wasn’t there.

Then one day last week I walked into a seforim store in Monsey for a few minutes to peruse the new selections. There was a fellow standing by the bin containing the shofaros who was sampling every one, helping to contribute to my afternoon headache. But in between his ‘blowings’ I was able to hear the song being played over the store’s loudspeakers – it was the very song I was looking for. I excitedly asked the cashier which CD was playing, and he pointed to a pile of new CDs. The CD had 39 tracks. At the moment I walked in track 36 was playing, the track I so much wanted to hear. [As I type this masterpiece I am listening to the song again. Perhaps if you listen closely you can hear it.]

What are the chances that that track, on that CD would be playing, at the moment I walked in?

There is so much happening in the world that we cannot comprehend. There is so much pain and suffering constantly that we have no answers for. And yet for a moment Heaven gave me a ‘nod’.

However, if G-d could orchestrate (no pun intended) that specific song to be playing when I walked in, that means that He orchestrates everything. Every time I am on line, or stuck in traffic, there must also be a rhyme and a reason, even if it makes no sense to me.

The world is full of messages, if we are looking for them. Those messages remind us that even when we don’t comprehend G-d has a reason for everything that occurs - to us and to the world. That is part of what we accept upon ourselves on Rosh Hashanah, the day of our reacceptance of the yoke of the King of kings upon ourselves.

Perhaps that is part of the reason why we eat symbolic foods, each with its own special prayer on Rosh Hashanah eve, to help us recognize that the whole world contains messages and the ability to pray and connect with G-d, if we only have our eyes open to it.

After relating my experience with the Barditchiver’s Niggun in shul before beginning Selichos this past Motzei Shabbos, on Sunday I walked into another seforim store in Monsey. I hope no one saw me laugh to myself when I heard the song being played overhead; the Barditchiver’s Niggun!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go buy a lottery ticket.

Kesiva Vachasima Tova

Good Yom Tov & Shana Tova,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum