Baal Shem Tov, or Besht — the founder of Chasidism —
Basi L'Gani – "I have come into my garden"
The Friday before the Frierdiker rebbe (the 6th rebbe of Chabad Lubavitch), ztz"l, died,
he sent out a maimar (a ma'amar or Torah discourse) to his disciples entitled Basi (Bati) LeGani, "I have come into my garden,"
instructing his Chasidim to study the maimar that Shabbat during the day, which turned out to be the day he passed away. As Reb Zalman wrote in his collection of songs Into My Garden, the Chasidim understood this maimar to be the Rebbe's parting message to them. Bati LeGani is still studied by Lubavitcher Chasidim every year on the Friediker rebbe's Yahrzeit.
Yosef Yitzhak Schneersohn, the Frierdiker rebbe (meaning the "previous" Lubavitcher rebbe), was the rebbe who sent Reb Shlomo and Reb Zalman as shluchim (emissaries) to the disaffected youth of the 60's.
Some years after the Frierdiker rebbe wrote his discourse Bati (Basi) LeGani, Reb Zalman wrote this nigun to the verses of Bati LeGani for his rebbe. Since Thursday, when Reb Zalman zts"l died, I have been singing it non-stop.
The verses come from Song of Songs (2:9, 5:1,2): "Here he stands beyond our wall, watching from the windows, peering through the lattice! I have to my garden, my sister my bride, I plucked my myrrh with my spice. The sound of my beloved knocking: Open for me, my sister, my love!" In transliteration: Hineh zeh `omed achar kotleinu, miashgiach min hacholonot, meitsits min hakharakhim. Bati l'gani achoti kalah, ariti mori `im b'sami. Kol dofeik, dodi, pitchi li, achoti ra`yati! (Note in the studio-recorded version, Reb Zalman says "bismi" rather than "b'smi". When I asked him a few years ago whether this was an alternate reading, he said simply, "At my age the file retrieval system doesn't always work right!"
This song is associated with death and mourning for me in another way. One of the last images I have of my father is an ethereal one, narrated to me by my aunt. She reported seeing his spirit passing through his lovingly tended garden, exclaiming, "You can't imagine how beautiful the colors are!" The day after shloshim ended for my own father, I asked Reb Zalman to sing Bati LeGani for me (without knowing the nigun's connection to the rebbe's Yahrzeit). This nigun became a comforting way to remember him, in his most beautiful persona.
I first heard this nigun at the second Ohalah conference in Boulder, the conference of Jewish Renewal rabbis, many years ago. In fact, it was one of the first nigunim I attempted to record to share with people (though that recording did not come out)! Here you'll find two versions, one from Reb Zalman's CD of nigunim, and the other as Reb Zalman sung it over Skype at the Oraita conference. The Skype version took a bit of tweaking to remove various noises (and I'll continue to clean it up as time permits). The CD version is the one I've embedded on the page to play automatically. (But I like the other, rougher,one better.)
I hope this sharing is a small tikun and ilui n'shamah for Azriel Godel, Richard Gary Seidenberg alav hashalom.
David, this is incredibly beautiful - both the song and your words. May his memory be a blessing.
Posted by: Nili at February 3, 2009 4:12 PM
Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006