Following on from some recent comments about dancing and singing being somehow ‘unJewish’, I translated a recent shiur that sets the idea out more clearly.
The basic idea is that dancing and singing sweetens all the harsh judgements in the world.
Likutey Moharan is full of this idea, and BH, at some point I will try to bring more of the sources from there, too.
But in the meantime, this is some of what the Rav, Rabbi Eliezer Berland, had to say about it, a couple of weeks ago.
A shiur that was given over on Monday, of Parshat Beshalach, 8th Shvat
Amalek was a caster of spells.
The Parsha begins with Yosef HaTzaddik, and the taking of Yosef’s bones. Even Moshe needed to connect himself to Yosef.
A person needs to be connected to the Tzaddik every moment, and it makes no difference if the Tzaddik is alive or dead. Yosef was already dead, but it doesn’t matter. Moshe is: “Moshe took the bones of Yosef with him,” (Parshat Beshalach, 13:19) – because Yosef chai v’kiyam (is alive and exists).
Yosef chai v’kiyam! David chai v’kiyam!
So, the Ari showed everyone Avraham.
The Ari said today, you will see Yitzhak. Today, you will see Yaakov. Today, you will see Moshe. Today, you will see Yosef. Today, you will see David. And then he showed them the seven shepherds. He called up Avraham first, to the reading of the Torah.
All of them, he said to all the students of the Ari, this Shabbat, Shabbat Beshalach, Shabbat Kodesh – you will see all the Seven Shepherds! The three Patriarchs and Moshe, Aaron, Yosef and David. And then suddenly, they saw Avraham. Avraham went up to the Torah, Avraham read the Torah, he said: ‘Barchu’, “Who chose us from all the peoples, and gave us His Torah, Blessed are You Hashem, Who gave us the Torah.”…
Afterwards, Yitzhak went up, and they mamash saw Yitzhak. The students of the Ari saw Yitzhak, and afterwards, they saw Yaakov. Yaakov descended from the Heavens, said ‘Barchu’; said: “Who chose us from all the peoples, and gave us His Torah, Blessed are You Hashem, Who gave us the Torah.”…
And after this, they saw Yosef HaTzaddik, the bones of Yosef, and afterwards, they saw Moshe, and Aaron.
Before David went up, the Ari said: Whoever laughs won’t see the year out.
Because David capered around with all of his strength, because the ikker is to dance around with all your strength.
And even Michal, who was such a tzaddeket, and who used to put on tefillin every day…. Once, women would lay tefillin, not like in our days. Every woman used to lay tefillin, and used to wear tzitzit….
So, Michal used to lay tefillin, that’s what is written (in Tractate Eruvin, 96a). (I don’t know who wrote it, but that’s what is written.) That she used to lay tefillin. (I don’t know who permitted her to do this, who gave her the heter, which Rav gave her the permission. I still haven’t discovered this, I haven’t checked it out.)
Michal used to lay tefillin – but she couldn’t stand David’s dancing, even though she was such a tzaddeket, who used to put on tefillin.
And she said, in my life, I never even saw my father’s little toe. I don’t understand what’s going on here! I don’t understand how something like this could be happening!
It used to be forbidden to see a person’s trousers. There was no such thing, as seeing someone’s trousers, also not for the men. Everyone used to walk along wearing a long robe, that reached the ground. The robe used to rub along the floor, you couldn’t even see the sandals.
Not even another person’s sandals! You didn’t see anything! If you saw someone’s else’s sandals, this was already called ‘pritzut’ (licentious). I have a book from the non-Jews here, and even they knew that seeing someone’s else’s sandals was ‘pritzut’, mamash. It was forbidden to see a person’s trousers, to see their sandals. It was forbidden to see anything.
Michal said: In my whole life, I never saw my father’s heel, nor his little toe. Now you are jumping around, and it’s written [that she called him a] clown.
David was jumping in the air, doing cartwheels in the air. There’s a Midrash Raba (BeMidbar Rabba, Parshat BeMidbar) here, that he was jumping and jumping and dancing around, with all of his might.
That David, throughout his whole life, only jumped and danced with all his strength. People didn’t recognise this service of Hashem.
Rabbenu came, and renewed it, the dancing with all your strength, the dancing around, the jumping, the singing.
Without the songs, the prayers don’t ascend. Unless a person sings before and afterwards.
The Zohar says in Parshat Terumah, that by way of the morning zemirot the prayers ascend. Without the morning zemirot, Hashem doesn’t accept the prayers at all.
We need to hear the song of the birds, to get up in the morning, and hear the birds’ song – this is the angels. (I.e., angels disguise themselves within the song of the birds)…
So, the Rebbe says that everything comes by way of the niggunim (melodies), and by way of raising up our legs. And that’s how the parnassah continues. The Rebbe says that by way of dancing, the parnassa continues. By way of the dancing, a person gets his parnassa, his healing.
Parnassa is the legs. And so, we need to jump up with our heels…
The Rebbe says, that whoever doesn’t dance, it’s because they have dinim (harsh judgements) upon them.
It’s not that he decides not to dance, but rather, because he has dinim on him, so he thinks that he’s smart, for not dancing, and not singing.
Everyone is singing, but he thinks he’s smarter than everyone else. But really, this is because there are harsh dinim on him.
And suddenly, the child gets ill, suddenly, the wife gets ill – and he doesn’t understand why.
It’s impossible for you to dance! But you aren’t dancing because you have dinim against you. You don’t sing, because you have harsh judgements against you.
I went down to the Rav again yesterday night, for the first time in a fortnight.
There was a lot of dancing going on again, and hand-clapping – I literally was jumping for half an hour.
When you are there, you can feel that there is serious spiritual work going on, to ‘sweeten’ the harsh judgements in the air.
I don’t know what more is coming down the pipe, but judging from all the singing and jumping the Rav wanted us to do, there is something, that still needs a lot of sweetening.
Personally, we’ve been having quite a rough time the last few weeks, so all the ‘encouragement’ I’ve been posting up here is first and foremost for myself.
The last three weeks, we’ve had massive bills come due (that we didn’t know about for literally three years….), massive tax bills that suddenly ‘appeared’ because our accountant forgot to clue us in to how much we’d end up having to pay at year’s end, a lot of difficult health issues, massive arguments….
And most of all, the feeling that whatever was left to ‘ride’, in terms of the bad middot, is now not being left to ‘ride’ anymore.
The bill is coming due, and payment is being demanded.
If not for all the dancing and clapping, and hitbodedut, and pidyonot, and prayers and teshuva, we would be in quite a mess, right now.
As it is, it’s tough, but we’re getting through it, somehow.
Only in the merit of Rabbenu, and the Rav.
There is so much I could say… but I feel I have to keep shtum.
But let me say this: Just like in the non-Jewish world, there is ‘controlled opposition’ that looks like the real deal, but really is just there to confuse people, and pull them away from the truth, so that’s also happening – and going to happen way more – in the Jewish world.
Particularly around the subject of ‘who is a real Tzaddik’.
It’s going to be a very hard test, and I can already see that a whole bunch of people are going to get badly burned, God forbid.
More than that, I can’t say.
But keep dancing, clapping and singing, in the meantime.
It really does work, to keep you going when the tough times really start to drag you down.
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