Yoseph Janowski
By the Grace of G-d

Uplifting Songs

I was thinking about what to write in this post, and I started to sing a soulful and uplifting tune. It took me to a different place, to a place where the soul expresses itself, far above this world.

We have that capacity, to be in this world, and at the same time to rise above it.

Sometimes, the melody can be serious, as we reflect seriously on life.

And sometimes it can be a joyous tune, something that elevates the spirit and gives us a feeling of optimism.

Both are important, enabling us to carefully analyze and examine our actions, in order to fine tune and improve; and then to joyously carry on, confident that we will succeed.

When a soldier goes into battle, there is a clear and focused sense of the mission, and of using tools and training to accomplish it. At the same time, the soldier proceeds with an upbeat feeling, confident of victory.

The Alter Rebbe, the first Rebbe of Chabad, said that words are the pen of the heart, and song is the pen of the soul.

Perhaps this means, that when I sing, I can hear my soul.

There is a poignant Chassidic song called Kol Bayaar (a voice in the forest) composed of four stanzas. It’s in Hebrew and Yiddish, but here is a possible translation:

“A voice in the forest I seem to hear, a Father calls out to his children dear.

Children children where do you hasten, that I am thusly forsaken.

Children children please come home, for I cannot dwell here alone.

Father Father we cannot pass, for a guard stand by your door fast.”

I remember listening to this song years ago, and imagining G-d calling out to His children.

(You can hear the tune on by typing “Kol Bayaar” in Google.)

And then there are the joyous melodies. If you type “ nigun kakofos,” you can hear (a weekday recording of) a melody that was sung on the festival of Simchat Torah, when we dance with the Torah.

I remember it like it was yesterday. The Lubavitcher Rebbe and his brother-in-law were each holding a small Torah with their right arm. They walked to the middle of the synagogue, surrounded by Chassidim who stood on rising levels. They switched the Torahs to their left arms, put their right arms on each other’s shoulder, and started to slowly dance in a circle, as the Chassidim began to sing this melody. The Rebbe moved his head vigorously up and down, and the Chassidim sang louder. I remember feeling that I was higher than the ground, as we sang joyously with all our might. It was joyful, it was so uplifting, and it was unforgettable, inspiring a happy feeling whenever I think about it.

I heard that in later years, a different melody was sung while the Rebbe danced on Simchat Torah, namely the Rebbe’s father’s song. (Google: Reb Levik’s Hakofos Nigun)

The Rebbe’s father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, was exiled by the Russian government because of his efforts to strengthen Judaism (something that the communist Russian government ruthlessly opposed). His wife joined him, and she later related the following. On Simchat Torah, her husband, having no Torah, took the Chassidic book of Tanya in his hands, and in spite of his oppressing situation, danced with tremendous joy, singing this melody.

On today’s date, the twentieth of Menachem Av, seventy-nine years ago, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak passed away in exile. His son went on to lead an army of Chassidim, with introspection and joy, to illuminate the world with Torah and Chassidus.

Song. It can take us to precious places, energizing and guiding us to new lofty heights, leading us to the Geula sheleima, the complete Redemption with Moshiach.

May it happen now.

About the Author
The author lives in Toronto, Canada. He has written for