By: Tal Rotem
Try this for a riddle: Name one song that you can hear synagogue youth groups singing in Canada and the USA, Israeli soldiers singing in border outposts, and Kabbala scholars humming while immersed in their learning. Here’s your answer – Yosef Karduner’s Shir Hama’alot.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev is more than explicit about the qualities that a Breslever should have: he should be extremely humble, live his life with innocence and simplicity, devote his waking hours to prayer and learning Torah as much as possible with special care to spend at least an hour a day in hitbodedut (personal prayer), and he should look for the good in others...
Yosef Karduner, Breslev’s sweet singer who’s a household word on both sides of the Atlantic, fits the above description to the letter. One would imagine that a world-famous singer and composer would have his nose high in the air. Not Yosef; his manner is calm and quiet. He doesn’t say much, but each word that he speaks in his soft but firm voice is certainly worth hearing. Yosef Karduner’s mind doesn’t leave the realm of holiness; when he’s not learning Torah or speaking to Hashem in prayer and hitbodedut, he’s working on his latest music project or engaged in helping his wife raise their lovely children ages 2 months to 16 years.
On stage, Yosef doesn’t make an effort to “put on a show” for the audience. He does what he knows how to do best, namely, he sings in order to cling to Hashem. His catchy, honey-sweet, and soul-piercing melodies uplift everyone that hears them. The enchanted listeners laugh, cry, dance, and flow with the Karduner melody stream. They’re with him in body and soul.