A mystical musical prayer introduced by Hasidism
By James Loeffler
"There are gates in heaven that cannot be opened except by melody and song."
Attributed to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady, founder of Chabad
From the time of its emergence in the 18th century, the Hasidic movement turned to music and dance as powerful forms of Jewish religious expression. One result was the Hasidic nigun (Hebrew for "melody"; plural nigunim), a new genre of Jewish vocal music. Often described as a mystical musical prayer or a spiritual language beyond words, the Hasidic nigun is a fundamental part of all Ashkenazic culture and is, in the words of one Hasidic master, "the pen of the soul."
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