“Among hasidim the niggun not only reveals the state of mind of the singer, but also arouses the singer to the [hasidic] worship that he must fulfill.” - Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber, the fifth Habad Rebbe
To understand the power of the niggun experience in the hasid’s religious life, it is necessary to elaborate on concepts such as devekut and ratzo vashov (ebb and flow), and to appreciate the spiritual importance of hasidic gatherings, in which the niggun experience plays a central role. These are the central topics of the new book by Raffi Ben-Moshe that was published in December 2014 as part of the Jewish Music Research Centre's Yuval Music Series.
This study, the first of its kind, is based on extensive field work and participatory observations carried out among gatherings of hasidim in Israel, on a formal analysis of the niggunim performed during these occasions, and on the hermeneutics of the sayings of the Habad Rabbis on music and its role in mystical experience. The book contains complete musical transcriptions of the niggunim discussed in the text as well as a CD with excerpts from the field recordings upon which the study relied.