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Submitted by Steven David Bloom

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Information Picture Question
Category: Translation - Hebrew
Approval Date: 6/8/2008
Family Surname:
Country: Poland
Town: Przedborz
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I may be a descendant of Yakov of Widoma, so I'd like to know more about him. I get that the article mentions how he changed the melodies of prayers, but my Hebrew is rusty and I can not translate the details.

Please translate as much as possible, or at least let me know more specifically what the article is talking about.

Thanks.

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On  Response 
6/11/2008 The Nigun of R.Yakov of Widame

R.Yakov of Widame’s Nigunim had a place of honour in the Beth-Medrash of R.Yeshayale. Sometimes he would get up to doven mariv, and before saying “vehu rahum yechaper avon” he would sink into tremendous devotion and chant a nigun of sadness and begging from the depths of the heart, like a person begging for his life. Afterwards he would start with a nigun of happiness & excitement till near unconciousness. Presently he would start saying “vehu rahum” till “hashem hoshiya hamelech yanaynu beyom koraynu” with the tune of happiness & excitement.

Every motion of the nigun from R.Yakov’s mouth makes a person sink into a different world – tells R.Shmuel Lieberman in his book “hedvat Israel” – the motion means the yearning of the soul and the depletion of the spiritual energies. The soul weeps for the body and the body mourns for the soul, and both of them melt together into retrospective thoughts. And when he started with the nigun of mirth and happiness, it carried within it a windblow of hope, salvation, heroism of the soul, faith & security. A fresh liveliness penetrated all the souls, a greatness of the spirit, the nigun reached the very focal point of the heart. All present would be astounded and deeply touched. Only few could perceive the deep nature of the nigun. R.Yakov of Widame drew within his nigun the idea of the soul’s decension into the body. It wasn’t just a nigun, it was the storytelling of a soul hovering in a world of light & purity, starting out on a mission to the physical world. We can find it easy to appreciate the soul’s sorrow descending from the upper world down to the false world.

Vocabulary:
Nigun = a chassidic melody
Mariv – the evening prayer, starting with the verse “vehu rahum” (Psalm 78, 38)
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