“Anim Zemirot”

Friday, 25 September, 2015 - 7:23 am


Dear Friends,


There are 347 Niggunim (tunes) printed in the Chabad book of Niggunim. These are not merely songs ordered from lyricists and composers; they carry with them deep emotional and spiritual messages.

Some of them are Niggunim of joy; some of them speak of cleaving to Hashem. There are dance Niggunim and a Niggunim to be sung at a Hitva’adut. That is also the reason why the vast majority of the Niggunim are without words – just music. Because they speak of movements and feelings that words cannot express.

One of the most special of them all is “Anim Zemirot”, to the words of the Shir Hakavod (which some congregations sing every Shabbat, as part of the morning prayers). The power of this Niggun is in keeping with the meaning of the words: “For to you my soul yearns”, and “My soul wishes to rest in the shade of your hands”.

Like other Niggunim, this Niggun too has a wonderful story behind it. The Lubavitcher Rebbe himself taught this Niggun on Simchat Torah of 1961 (5722). He told about Chassidim who came to Shul the day after Yom Kippur and found a Chassid still dressed in a white kittel, wrapped in his Tallit, walking around and around the stand of the cantor, his eyes closed. He was completely immersed in “cleaving and yearning”, and he was singing, from the depths of his heart, “My soul wishes to rest in the shade of your hands, to know all the secrets of all you enigmas”. 

He had not yet broken his fast, nor had he opened his eyes.


Three points come up to mind every time I think about this Niggun, points that touch the overall message of Tishrei, the month of the holidays:

  • The Chassid, dancing to the Niggun, immersed in the atmosphere of Yom Kippur;
  • Those people who came for the morning prayers, who had already continued on, and most probably had begun to build a Succah while he was dancing with Hashem in the Shul;
  • And the Rebbe, who taught the Niggun on Simchat Torah, the holiday that completes and sums up this busy month.

For what one can accomplish on Rosh Hashana with the Shofar, and on Yom Kippur with the fasting and beseeching, one can accomplish on Succot with the Arba Minim (Four Species) and the Succah, and everything together can be acquired and experienced during the dancing on Simchat Torah, the holiday that sums up the entire month.


Shabbat Shalom,


Zalmen Wishedski

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