The Breslev Chassidic movement is famous for its treasury of rich and varied melodies. Music has always held a central part in the Breslev community. Breslev families place tremendous emphasis on singing the Shabbat Zemirot, the Shabbat melodies at the Shabbat table. Rebbe Nachman composed many of these melodies himself. He wrote emphatically about the importance of singing the Shabbat Zemirot earnestly, with temimut and peshitut, with the innocence, purity, and simplicity so characteristic to Breslev. The original Breslev families with generations of tradition sing these niggunim with much reverence, thereby preserving the integrity of the melodies, as there is no "tish" in Breslever Chassidus.
There are many CDs of Breslev music; yet, Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira, the talented grandson of one of Breslev’s foremost tzaddikim of the previous generation R' Shmuel Shapira of saintly and blessed memory, saw was a need for a high quality rendition of the original, authentic Breslev songs, as sung by the old-time Chassidim. Reb Yitzchak had been receiving many requests from people around the world who wanted to learn the original Breslev melodies and to gain inspiration from the Shabbat atmosphere of the Breslever Chassidim.
Reb Yitzchak set out to produce a high quality CD. He searched for the right musicians to form a band that would complement his sweet voice and do justice to the Breslev Shabbat niggunim. Reb Yitzchak does not view himself as a performer or a professional singer, but he just could not turn a deaf ear to the demand for such an album. Not knowing what to do, he sought advice from his teacher, Rabbi Eliezer Berland, Shlita, one of Breslev’s foremost spiritual leaders. After explaining the situation to Rav Berland, the answer was clear: he must produce the CD, for the benefit of the public. Rav Berland, who speaks often in his shiurim about the importance of the Shabbat Zemirot as Rebbe Nachman of Breslev taught, urged Reb Yitzchak to produce the CD. At the same time, R' Yitchak received encouragement and blessings orally and in writing from Rabbi Michel Dorfman of saintly and blessed memory, one of the Breslever elders of last generation.
As a devout Jew, Reb Yitzchak happily accepted the task assigned to him by Breslev’s leaders, applied himself diligently to the project and founding the "Shirat Breslov" association. And so, CDs of the Shabbat meals came out, one after the other. The association was astounded by the wonderful feedback they received. Not only did the various Breslev streams enjoy the CDs, but the Charedi world at large embraced them, as did the National-Religious public.
In these wonderful albums, Reb Yitzchak Shapira sings, accompanied by a choir of young men and Pirchei Breslev, the children’s choir. The singing is with a Yerushalmi Chassidic accent, as is customary in mainstream Breslev. Also taking part in the project are some of the greatest Breslov musicians; Dani Maman - guitar, Gadi Pugach - violin, Chilik Frank - clarinet, Nachman Zucker - wind instruments, and many others who edited, arranged and played until the perfect result of Chassidic singing with classical musical accompaniment was attained.
All of this was done without losing sight of the main goal of these CDs, which has been to learn and teach Breslev's Shabbat Zemirot to all who seek them, for the sake of future generations.
This series of CDs created a revolution in Breslev discs, and many others have recorded Breslev niggunim since. But this is the only series containing all of the Zemirot for every Shabbos meal, and in the order in which they are sung at the Shabbat table.
In addition to the high-quality musical production, the last two CDs come with a pamphlet which not only contains the Zemirot, but lists the melody's source/composer. This information was researched for over a year in talks with elders of Breslev and through studying books of the Chassidic movement.
These CDs, the first of which came out almost a decade ago, bring the Breslev Shabbos atmosphere into your home. The pleas alongside the true joy bursting forth out of closeness and dveikut to Hashem - those who want to link their future to Rebbe Nachman will certainly gain insight and enjoyment from the holy Zemirot.
The CDs have been received with such enthusiasm from so many in the Breslov community, presenting you with a quality, authentic musical experience, and teaching all the members of your household to sing the Breslev Shabbat Zemirot in an enjoyable and pleasant way.
Niggun U’Neima and Shabbat in Breslev are available online at the Breslev Israel store. Here is a delightful taste: