News & Views Prayer Leadership and Holy Melodies

By Hebrew College
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Rabbi Art GreenThis year’s Prayer Leader Summer Institute, Ani Kinor, kicks off with a special 2-day intensive on June 3-4 where you can study with Rabbis Art Green & Ebn Leader, and Cantors Brian Mayer and Lynn Torgove. Read this translation by Rabbi Green for a taste of the experience….then register if you want more!


Melodies (niggunim) are created by gathering up all the bits of goodness that each person finds within.  Go look for them and gather them together This is what it means to play an instrument, one that separates out the good winds (or strings) from the bad.  You are raising up and separating your good spirit from that which pulls you downward.

Holy music is something very high, indeed, and it is brought about by this act of separating good from evil, those points of goodness from that which drags you down.  Melodies and songs come out of this…This is what gives one the ability to pray, to sing and be grateful to Y-H-W-H…

And know that one who can draw these melodies together, gathering the bits of goodness to be found in every person, even the sinners, can get up and pray before the prayer-stand.  The one who does so is called a shaliaḥ tsibbur, a messenger of the community, and indeed has to be sent to this task by the whole community.  This happens through gathering those bits of goodness found in each one of those praying.  All those bits of goodness are joined together in the prayer-leader, who prays bearing all that goodness.  That is a shaliaḥ tsibbur.

Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav
Likkutey MoHaRaN 1:282
Translation by Rabbi Arthur Green, Rector of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College

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