Mystical Piyyut as a Gateway to Deep Practice

Chanted at the festive table, in Shabbat and High Holiday prayers, at dawn vigils or in hitbodedut,  Piyyutim, the alliterative prayer-poems of Jewish tradition, are are at once a literary and an embodied art. Some piyyutim express longings for the Beloved (Yedid Nefesh), the mystical joy of Shabbat (Yah Ekhsof), the music of the heavenly spheres (El Adon), while others are stately and mysterious (Adon Olam), trance-formative (L’Chei Olamim), or trace a quiet blossoming into devekut (El Mistater). In this course, we will focus on a selection of mystical piyyutim, especially those that have entered into the liturgy and zemirot. We will decode their deep meanings, their performance context and kavvanot, and will learn chants (spanning the Jewish world) that enliven and transform the semantic meaning. Students in the course will have access to a website that will provide historical and literary analyses, sound clips, and visual dimensions of these prayers.

Department: 
Track: 
Rabbinic
Cantorial
Course Type: 
Elective
Track (term):