Stories behind the Chasidic
Songs that Inspire Jews

Mordechai Staiman


Published and Copyright 1994, by:
Jason Aronson Inc.

* * *

  • About Niggun

  • Ordering Information

  • Interview with Mordechai Staiman

Each person expresses himself on three levels--thought, speech and deed.
When a chasid carries out his Rebbe's directives he unites with the Rebbe's actions.
When he learns Chasidus, he unites with the Rebbe's facet of speech.
But when he sings the Rebbe's niggun he becomes united with the highest of the three levels--the Rebbe's thoughts.------------------Sefer Hanigunim


The Table of Contents contains links to the text. Click on an entry in the Table of Contents and you will move to the information selected.

Path One

  • 2. The Lullaby
    In which we learn that a man is not taken away before he has heard what he has come to hear and before he has said what he has come to say.

  • 3 The Music of Return
    This is what the haunting niggunim--the deep calling unto the deep--are all about.

  • 4 The Singing Tzadik
    How one rebbe turned secular songs into sacred niggunim and made Hungarian Jews dance for joy.

  • 5 Song on Fire
    The inside scoop on how and where the Ziditchover Rebbe heard his "theme song" niggun from the angels in heaven.

  • 6 Song of the Dead: A Happy Story
    A rebbe and his niggun that will be here--at least until the coming of the messiah.

  • 7 Bringing the Glad Song Home
    In which a niggun is at the very heart of the fall and rise of Belzer Chasidus.

  • 8 How a Niggun Came Marching Home
    A rebbe recognizes a long-lost Temple song.

  • 9 Bam, Bam, Bam
    The Jewish way to greet the Messiah.

  • 10 The Rizhiner Connection
    In which the lesson a rabbi learned in his childhood made him immortal forever.

  • 11 David without the Slingshot
    In which the niggun "Kel Molei Rachamim" saves the life of Cantor David Werdyger in a Nazi concentration camp.

  • 12 I Am a Niggun
    About a niggun made of flesh and bones, having a Jewish soul, with the power to open the gates of heaven.

  • 13 The Story of the Boxes
    How songs keep fooling the yeitzer hora every time.

  • 14 For the Love of a Niggun
    In which a rebbe's niggun mekarevs a long-lost Jew.

  • 15 The Mysteries of a Niggun
    In which a rebbe undergoes a leg amputation with just a song in his heart and soul.

  • 16 Jail House Rock
    How the "Shpoler Zeide's Niggun" continues to rescue Jews in jail today.

  • 17 Leonard Bernstein Unbound
    In which the "Niggun Shamil" moves conductor Leonard Bernstein so powerfully to put on tefillin not once but twice!

  • 18 The Songs that Almost Weren't
    In which a "musical diary" niggun records a rebbe's flight and hardships escaping the Nazis during World War II.

  • 19 A Fair Exchange
    How one Jew captured the Russian army with one hand tied behind his back as he wrote a niggun with the other.

  • 20 Embers midst the Ruins
    In which the Bluzhever Rebbe uses the niggun "Veye' esoyu" to survive concentration camp and certain death.

  • 21 Travels of Two Niggunim
    An amazing thing happens as two niggunim are sung one night.

  • 22 Rebbe Hoppin'
    Why the "ice cream" yeshivah almost melted because of a niggun.

  • 23 The Dreamer Who Never Sleeps
    How a dreamer of the day--in other words, a realist-always acts his dream with open eyes, to make it possible.

  • 24 The French Don't Have a Word for It
    Why France has never been the same after a chasidic rebbe adopted "the Marseillaise" as a niggun.

  • 25 Jerusalem on Her Mind
    In which a sad little girl and a cantor find all the gold of Jerusalem in a faraway place.

  • 26 The Night a Jew Sang for His Supper in the Kremlin
    How a niggun helped bring the Kremlin house down and brought Torah home to thousands of Jews.

  • 27 A Twice-Told Story
    What happened when an artist heard a niggun--twice.

Path Two

  • 28 The Purpose of Life
    In which the Baal Shem Tov binds an inept Jew to the world of music, and thereby hangs a purposeful tale.

  • 29 Reb Yid
    In which the Ropshitzer Rebbe restores an errant soul to its rightful place just in time for Simchas Torah.

  • 30 The Journey
    In which two men crossed their own Red Sea, counseled Empress Maria Theresa of the Holy Roman Empire, and altered the course of Jewish history in Europe.

  • 31 Tateh
    In which the sweetest singer since King David departed this world, and how his sons learned the Torah from every limb of their tateh's body, and from his songs.

  • 32 The Jew Hater
    In which Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev sings a song and turns a hateful man inside out.

  • 33 The Beloved Disciple
    A righteous Gentile finally hears the right music for him.

  • 34 You Are What You Sing
    In which a niggun reveals the true identity of a Jew, and another Jew learns to sing.

  • 35 Out of the Mouth of a Babe
    How whistling once hastened prayers to heaven.

  • 36 Fortunate Is the Man
    In which we see how the power of a niggun lights up the past--and the present.

Path Three

  • 37 The Voice-Over
    A Parable in which a man and his niggun save the day.

  • 38 The Prince Who Became a Jew
    A parable wrapped up in a song reveals the delights of a mitzvah.

  • A Final Word: My Swan Song, Kosher, Of Course

  • Appendix A: Outstanding chasidic Rebbes Mentioned in This Book.
  • Appendix B: Discography of Chasidic Music.
  • Appendix C: Glossary.

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