There are gates in heaven that cannot be opened except by melody and song.*
Some have defined a Niggun (nee-GOON) – or plural niggunim (nee-goo-NEEM) – as a wordless song, yet “…if a niggun is not sung, it is not a niggun. There may be a written melody which when actually sung out loud will permit a niggun to exist, but until sung, it does not exist as a niggun.”**
A niggun is considered a form of prayer and are an inspiration of the Hassidic Jews to whom nigguns “…were tools for elevating the spirit and “cleaving to God,” while words only got in the way.”***
Niggun of the Birds is a very special niggun sang by a gifted musician and prolific composer, Shlomo Katz. Shlomo Katz was born in the USA but grew up in Raanana, Israel. He was born into a family of musicians including his father, chazzan**** Avshalom Katz and his talented brother Eitan Katz.
Shlomo shared the following about Niggun of the Birds:
One night in Jerusalem, I wasn’t able to fall asleep. So what do you do if you can’t sleep? You walk down to the Kotel, the Holy Wall. (If you have enough strength)
It was dawn. Streets were silent, other than the birds chirping away. I was sure I heard them starting to sing this melody.
I can’t ever forget that moment.
Listen below to this beautiful niggun, inspired by the birds of Jerusalem. Sing along in harmony with your own heart’s song.
Though Niggun of the Birds is not available for purchase you can find both Shlomo Katz and Eitan Katz’s inspiring albums at either iTunes or Amazon.com.
* Attributed to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812) – one of the most famous composers of niggunim. He is also known for saying,
“If words are the pen of the heart,
then song is the pen of the soul.”
** Steven Evans, Lifting the Veil: Hidden Judaism Revealed, pg. 107
*** Milken Archieve of Jewish Music, July 3, 2012
**** Cantor – the person who leads the congregation in prayer.
Capivatingly beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
Susan it is isn’t it! There are days I just let this play over and over <3
Soothing to listen too ~ my soul gets lost in this music!
Jenny it stirs my soul too ♥︎ I find myself being quiet more often when outside as the ears of my heart listen for the niggun of the birds our Abba has blessed us with in our garden.
I was so blessed to hear Shlomo Katz sing this on a special rooftop overlooking the Temple Mount and the Kotel. As we all hummed or sang softly along I felt as if we were little birds singing God’s song of redemption over that holy place.
A wonderfully-soothing rendition of “Niggun of the Birds” – Shlomo Katz is a gifted musician!
Yes, he surely is Nannette. Baruch HaShem!