Thursday, October 18, 2012


         Within my ex-Literature Professor's body lies an impish ten-year old heart. One should not be deceived by his wispy white hair, Professor-like spectacles, and equally Professor-like corduroys. He will forever go down in my college's history as the Professor who concocted raunchy double entendres and cheeky one-liners in between Austen and Dickens narratives. Former Bet Yaakov and Seminary graduates would blush, shudder, and then blush again at his mischievous quips. Interestingly, my ex-Professor thrived on this kind of reaction. His eyes would meet the crimson-hued student's, and he would declare proudly "Look at Shrpintza! She's blushing!" He would then emit a hearty giggle or two...or three. I did mention he has a ten-year old's mannerisms, right? Professor, in case you are reading this, I mean all of this in jest. Or maybe I'm just getting back to you for five semesters' worth of teasing me. Take your pick. (Me: smiling smugly).

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No, silly, that's not my Professor. He just has the same kind of glasses as my Professor.

          Why am I mentioning my beloved if somewhat rascally ex-Prof? Because amidst all his naughty wisecracks and superficial meanderings, he once proclaimed a sentence that I immediately filed under the "Brilliant Adages" compartment of my brain. I think it was during a Kafka lecture--or was it Shakespeare?--when he stated the following: "From all the creations on earth--more than nature, more than the stars--Music proves G-d's existence...well, at least to me." Unconsciously, I knew what he had uttered was pure in its truth and meaning. My heart and soul already recognized the role that music plays in human emotions and spirituality, yet my mind was still grappling with his maxim. Does music truly have this degree of power? Can music sway one to sincerely believe in G-d's cosmic existence more than an exhaustive knowledge of the animal kingdom? More than the sensory allure of botany, mystical tug of the ocean, or magnitude of celestial orbs?
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         I can't answer that question for all, because everyone's inner core is drawn to a different dimension of Divinity. However, the conclusion that I drew is that, yes, music can have that pervading, gut-wrenching, and inexpressible spiritual effect on an individual. My mind had affirmed what my heart and soul instinctively knew by way of the following theory: G-d is intangible and is unseen. L'Havdil, what other form of existence shares those qualities? That's right. Music.
           Music is the only other creative process that exists but is neither tangible nor visual. The classic "double negative equals a positive" principle can apply here. The Creator of the Universe (intangible and unseen) + Music (intangible and unseen) = A genuine sense that G-d is REAL and very much involved in our lives. Music can make G-d be "felt" and "seen" in a way that no other form of creation can.
         My philosophical ramblings aside--I hope they haven't made your eyes glaze over too much--I am mentioning all of this, because one of my favorite Jewish singers will be arriving from Israel to perform in various US locations. (And no, I don't always introduce community events with a several paragraph discourse on random subjects. Well, at least I hope not to do that in the future).
His name is Yosef Karduner. Please tell me you heard of him. What? You haven't? Okay, then you are missing out on some serious "double negative equals  positive" action over here.
Yosef Karduner is a Breslov Chassid and a tzaddik in his own right. He is graced with an angelic voice, genuine humility, and has produced many spiritually rejuvenating albums over the years. His songs consist of various lines from Tehillim, Prayers, and Rabbi Nachman's teachings.
Furthermore, his concerts' subdued and intimate ambiance add to the already tranquil vibe of his music. After-college/work relaxer? Check. Soul-balming experience? Check again.

"I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me-like food or water." (Ray Charles)


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