25 Adar 5781 / Tuesday, March 09, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayakhel - Pekudei
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HomeIsrael and SocietyJewish Music and ArtsNot Your Music, Crow!
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Not Your Music, Crow!    

Not Your Music, Crow!

Nissim was out in the woods speaking to Hashem when a crow started cawing, drowning out Nissim's voice. Then, the crow became outright bothersome, getting in Nissim's face...


Within Judaism we have the idea that the righteous never die. What does this mean? We’ve seen in the Torah portions of Chayei Sarah and Vayechi that the famous question is asked: Why are the respective Torah portions that tell of the death of Sarah and Jacob  titled with the word chai - “Life”-  in them, which as we know, is the opposite of death? How does this work? There are many ways that the righteous tzaddikim not only live but still have impact in our generation.

Rebbe Nachman in Likutei Moharan talks about the tremendous strength one can receive from seeing the face of a righteous person. He further explains that the Tzaddik who is no longer present can still be “seen” by his writings. So, whenever we engage ourselves in learning the sefer Chofetz Chaim, it’s as if we are seeing the face of Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kegan. And as we implement the advice and Halacha we are receive from such a book, we are benefiting from it, thus being impacted by the righteous person. You are giving life to the righteous one and he to you!
This past fall, I had the privilege of learning Likutei Moharan I:3 very in-depth. This specific Torah spoke to me very loudly as it deals with music and musicians. The Rebbe say’s that music that comes from a kosher person can improve and enhance one's relationship with Hashem, Torah, and mitzvot.  On the flip side, listening to music from a non-kosher or wicked musician can weaken your relationship with Hashem, Torah, and mitzvot. The Rebbe continues with informing us that all kosher music (which is akin to prophecy) comes from kosher birds (just as Moses received prophecy from the two cheruvim “bird” like figures on the ark) and that the non-kosher music is coming from birds of evil. He then goes on to give an interpretation of a story told in the Gemara by Raba Bar Bar Chana. In this story, the raven, called “Orev”, Rebbe Nachman connected to the word “Erev”,and  it came to eat the frog, which ate a snake, which ate a city that was as big as 60 houses (See Likutei Moharan 1:3 for full teaching).
There is much to this story, but this raven was symbolic of night. Rebbe Nachman then says that if a person studies Gemara and/or Mishna every night he will merit protection from the music of a wicked person. This is much needed as a musician trying to cling to Hashem in an industry that shuns any notion of G-dliness. I have to admit that I didn’t take the Rebbe’s advice until it went from advice in a book, to very loud advice - in real life. This is what happened...
I was in the process of working on a new music project, when suddenly I got a “great’ idea to do something different. I had heard some dark sounding instrumentals and I thought, “I should make positive songs to this music”, “Though it sounds very dark, perhaps I can reach more people in those places”. I have to tell you, I tried to write music that would be uplifting and my mind went to the dark side only. I realized I didn’t have the spiritual power to elevate such music. This bothered me and I questioned the project and if it was worth doing at all. With this in mind, I went to do my daily hour of personal prayer. I was in the open meadows discussing this with Hashem. All of a sudden a black crow flew and landed on a tree behind me. It began to “caw” very loudly, disrupting my hitbodedut. I even asked Hashem to make him shush… but it got louder and louder. I was very annoyed. I didn’t leave because after all, I was there first and everyday I’m there first. I didn’t budge and neither did it.
The cawing continued, and then suddenly it got even louder and louder, and closer and closer, then swoosh!!! The crow flew over, but very, very close to my head and landed on the tree in front of me. I ducked as it happened. Then it came back towards me like it was aiming for my face. It went back to the other tree again. I ducked that time also. I was a little shaken up. I wondered what was going on here. I then remembered that just two days before this I was sitting in my car parked in a lot, waiting for my wife to arrive. While waiting, I began to feed a crow sunflower seeds. For several minutes I fed this crow. When I thought back on feeding a crow, I said to Hashem, “do the crows lack gratitude? Why is it bothering me?  I just now fed one of them!” As I made my way out of the field towards the woods, the crow followed me for quite a distance continuing in this swooshing-over-my-head thing.  When I was a good distance away, it stopped. I then thought about what I was praying about…”The Dark Music”.  Along with this thought, I thought of Likutei Mohoran 1:3. It all starting ringing like a classic telephone.  I asked, “Are You telling me something, Hashem?” 


As soon as I stepped down from the grass area, now headed towards the woods, immediately a car pulled into a parking spot near me playing very loudly the exact sound of music that I was going to make. And it was loud, very loud. So, I thought, for me it was clear. That music wasn’t coming from the side of holiness and it wasn’t for me. But, It wasn’t over just yet. As I proceeded towards the woods, I thanked Hashem, singing and dancing. And as I entered the forest a peace came over me, and the sound of the loud music was drowned out by the most beautiful and calming sound of birds chirping in the trees. It was quite euphoric. And, as I walked down the trail, I said “for sure” - these are the birds from where I shall draw my music from.


I also concluded that while I was in the wide open field, the crow bothered me. But when I was in the narrow trail of the woods, I heard beautiful songs of chirping birds. I thought “In popular places this dark music is prevalent along with much evil, but in the narrow places music of light will be heard, I should stay in the narrow place.” This made me think of Rebbe Nachman’s saying on “The Narrow Bridge” and how I shouldn’t be afraid to reach less, because less is more! I also thought, “The crow is related to a raven. I shouldn’t feed the crows (which represent darkness). Instead I should learn Mishna in the night”.
I then saw how the advice of the righteous Rebbe Nachman had become alive in my own life and it showed me that the Tzaddik never dies. They are forever amongst us.



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  3 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  Very inspiring!
Dassie11/12/2018 6:28:18 PM
  What a wonderful gift to be able to hear the voice of HaShem
Anonymous,2/15/2015 4:27:24 PM
  Beautiful how Hashem talks to us...you are awake! (only subject)
Lori1/19/2015 11:01:05 AM

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