BAAL SHEM TOV
There is an old Jewish tale of a young shepherd boy in a small Polish village that did not know how to read or write. He spent most of his time in the fields grazing his sheep. Yom Kippur had come and the village congregation had settled in the synagogue when the young boy came in to the synagogue with his flute and started playing it with all of his heart and soul. As you can imagine, the villager were shocked, this wasn't a common site in the eyes of the villagers. They said to themselves "who does he think he is playing that flute in here" and "what a disrespect this is." As the rabbi saw the reaction of the congregation, he asked the boy to come up to the altar. The rabbi told the congregation that this boy had praised G-d more than anyone in the congregation for since he knew not how to read, he did not merely read and chant whatever was in the siddur but instead played a tune that came directly from his heart and truly praised and asked forgiveness to G-d.
This story tells us of the importance and purity music has in the Jewish culture. The Hassidim are a great example of the understanding of this idea. They believe a melody is the strongest connection with G-d. One of the most influential and holy Hassidim of all time is the Baal Shem Tov.
Since the Hassidic movement has done so much for Yiddish music by reviving melodies and words of Yiddish origin and giving them importance and holiness, we wanted to honor the great Baal Shem Tov for helping us understand that our music is a truly profound and beautiful thing.
Read BAAL SHEM TOV's Biography
Back to The Hall of Fame Index