These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[Self / Soul & Text] Singing

Posted on March 6, 2012 by David Bogomolny

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Weariness wrapped itself around him, and in moments of reflection he realized he missed his family.

This was a moment of such reflection.

He’d wanted to spend some time singing several days earlier, but after meditating and speaking to G-d, he’d been interupted by his roommate before he could begin his song. The interuption had been worthwhile, but he’d had to reschedule his singing.

The following day, he’d come to school early – before davening, and closed himself away in a classroom to sing and chant. That had been fun, but he’d felt somewhat self conscious about it, as passersby could hear him through the door. Still, he’d enjoyed it – especially the familiar Shabbat tunes that he’d chanted. Towards the end, he realized that he didn’t want to stop his niggun… but he had to go to davening.

This time, he decided to sing after davening ma’ariv. He’d been finding recent pleasure in singing ‘Aleinu’ loudly in the privacy of his apartment after davening, and it seemed fitting to begin his spiritual chanting after singing an impassioned rendition of this prayer (it reminded him of his childhood).

At first, the singing was loud and spontaneous – he felt a release of emotions, as if a pressure release valve had been opened. His singing sounded disjointed and ugly to him – it poured out of him desperately, angrily. He wanted to stop, but he continued – the notes wanted to be sung.

Eventually, the broken notes began to merge with one another, and he found himself chanting familiar Shabbat zmirot melodies. Dror Yikra (to the tune of Sloop John B.) was probably his favorite, and he eventually settled into a loud round of chanting. Then he realized that he was feeling… quieter… and his chanting became softer. and softer.


A high came over him, and he sat with it for some time. His lips were moving, but the sound of his chanting echoed only in his mind, and he found himself sitting empty, appreciating the quiet and the mechanical noises of his apartment.