Chabad Music Theory

"The tongue is the pen of the heart, but melody is the quill of the Soul"   - Rabbi Shneur Zalman:  Founder of Chabad Chassidic Philosophy

"The tongue is the pen of the heart, but melody is the quill of the Soul"   -Rabbi Shneur Zalman:  Founder of Chabad Chassidic Philosophy

For Chabad, Niggunim were not only an integral part of Chassidism – the songs are a complex philosophy unto themselves. The Chabad system, as first formulated by Rebbe Schneur Zalman of Liadi, strives for the same goal as the other branches of Chassidim, namely the attaining of Divine bliss. But it had, and still has, a unique approach to that goal. Chabad contends that it is impossible to leap immediately from extreme melancholy to extreme joy. It is impossible for a human being to rise from the lowest to the highest state without proceeding through the whole scale of the intermediate sentiments of the soul. Great stress and care is laid upon each progressive stage of development, as significant for the education of the soul and for the improvement of the spirit. It is, Chabad Chassidism contends, as of someone who had never seen the interior of a palace suddenly stepped into its bewildering splendor without first having passed through its corridors. Such a person will never be able to sense fully the glory of the palace. The approach to joy, therefore, is extremely important, and each and every step must be achieved through deep meditation. The various stages in the process of elevation according to Chabad philosophy are:

1) “Hishtapchus Hanefesh”, the outpouring of the soul and its effort to rise out the mire of sin, out of the Klipa, the external shell.

2) “Hisorerus”, spiritual awakening.

3) “Hispaalus”, the stage in which the individual is possessed by his thoughts.

4) “Dveykus”, communion with G-d.

5) “Hislahavus”, flaming ecstasy.

6) “Hispashtus Hagashmius”, the highest state, in which the soul completely casts away its garment of flesh and becomes a disembodied spirit.

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Many of the Chabad songs are analyzed according to these steps of elevation.  For the achievement of the goals as outlined above, Chabad was compelled to create original tunes which could express the meanings and thoughts of the various stages of elevation, tunes to be used as a means for the attainment of its purpose. Every Chabad tune aims to voice either all, or some, of the stages of elevation of the soul.



Posted on February 28, 2021 .