Song of the Soul

It was Shabbos morning, and the congregation was singing the songs of praise in the morning prayers. Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov stepped over to the shul's broad-framed window. He gazed out over the valley below -- over the rolling green hills, the fields rich with crops, the amber blue sky. And when his heart was filled with love and praise for the Creator, he sang the words of the Nishmas prayer, "The soul of all living things shall praise Your Name, L-rd our G-d, and the spirit of all flesh shall always glorify and exalt Your remembrance, our King . . . . To You alone we give thanks. If our mouths were filled with song like the sea, and our tongues with joyous song like the roar of the waves, our lips with praise like the expanse of heaven, and our eyes were to shine like the sun and the moon. If our hands were spread out like the wings of the eagle, and our feet were as swift as the hinds, it would not be enough to thank You, L-rd our G-d and G-d of our fathers, and to bless Your Name for even one of the thousands and myriads of favors, miracles and wonders that You have done for us and our fathers . . . ."

Every week he sung these words, while the congregation hummed quietly along in rapture. So beautiful was the melody that the gentile shepherds would gather their flocks in the valley beneath the shul to hear his song of praise.

But time went by. The Dinover Rebbe became old. He fell into ill health, and at last, left from this world for higher realms. The week of his passing was hard for his congregation, but those moments in shul on Shabbos morning were the hardest of all. With heavy hearts the congregation sang the morning psalms, and a solemn air hung over the beis medrash as they approached those special verses of praise. Then, suddenly, just as they were about to intone the words of Nishmas, the familiar melody rose up from outside the shul and floated in through the window.

The congregation ran to the window in disbelief. There, below, the gentile shepherds were singing the melody of praise. They had gathered together as usual, and spontaneously, the Dinover Rebbe's wonderful song had broken forth from their lips.

from Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, p.166

(C) Eliezer Shore, Bas Ayin