Wednesday, July 01, 2009

In Which Tchaikovsky Is My R' Nachman

If it's true that music from the upper worlds sometimes comes down to this world, I think 0:00-2:50 of this video (Tchaikovsky's 'Swan Lake') is the exact exemplification of that. In the new book The Rav: Thinking Aloud the Rav wrote about the profound effect classical music had upon him.

I've always thought you could make Torah out of 'Swan Lake.' Odette would be the yetzer ha-tov; Odile would be the yetzer ha-ra. Prince Siegfried symbolizes the guf and neshama, body and soul. Obviously Odile dresses up as Odette, so the yetzer ha-ra can sometimes masquerade as the yetzer ha-tov. This causes the person to make a vow of eternal dedication to the yetzer ha-ra mistakenly, believing it is the yetzer ha-tov. Only then does the cruel realization come. The yetzer ha-tov is lost, feebly struggling to survive. The body and soul must choose to rescue her. Depending on how the end of the ballet plays out, the re-commitment to the yetzer ha-tov breaks the power of the yetzer ha-ra, also symbolized by Von Rothbart, or the soul, body and all the inclinations perish and through their death earn a kaparah, thus meriting Olam Haba. I think this is one of the reasons the ballet is so powerful. Behind the external love story lies a deeper meaning which appeals to all of us; it's the story of the soul.

I think it would be fascinating to compare and contrast Song of Songs (especially as explained by the Malbim as a love story of the soul) with 'Swan Lake.'


CJ Srullowitz said...

I recently was linked to a shiur given by Rabbi Manny Nissel on Jewish music. It was, lulei demistafina, quite good. You can find it on the yu Torahweb, I think.

nmf #7 said...

I absolutely love Swan Lake- and you are so right..I've actually had some sort of hisorrirus from some of the music in it!