In the tiny shtiebel, the beautifully appointed shul, the backyard minyan. At the Kosel in the middle of the night. In ER waiting rooms and people’s kitchens. With hearts bursting with joy or breaking with sorrow. Wherever Jews are, whatever challenges they are facing or simchahs they are celebrating, nowadays you will often find them reciting the words of Nishmas.
As Rabbi Yisroel Besser tells us in the Introduction to his new and unique book, Nishmas: Song of the Soul, this hallowed and ancient tefillah is “…the ode that somehow manages to express our deepest emotions, the gratitude and hope and simple joy of being alive, part of His magnificent world.”
In Nishmas: Song of the Soul, Rabbi Besser gives us a whole new understanding of the magnificent words of Nishmas, with a sweeping, fresh, and contemporary commentary that includes both insights and dozens of stories that illustrate the many themes of Nishmas. “During corona, people davening at home discovered new ta’am, new flavor, in tefillah,” he says. “I felt it was a good time to take the traditional sources of this tefillah and transcribe them in a way that would uplift and reach contemporary audiences, using ‘normal’ English and many stories to illustrate the concepts.”
When women — thousands of them — would come to Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky a’h, looking for a berachah, an eitzah, or the simple comfort of her warm smile, they would receive all of those, and something extra: a printed card with the words of Nishmas on it. As this book was being prepared for print, ArtScroll approached Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita and asked him for the source of reciting Nishmas. The answer of the gadol ha’dor, the Sar HaTorah? “It’s a sevara.” Simple logic.
As Rabbi Besser explains, “Because at the core of thanks is a recognition that we owe our Creator everything. That understanding essentially serves as a tefillah too, because since we have nothing without Him, we cannot go on without His kindness. And that awareness itself is a form of tefillah and brings down even more Divine chesed!”
Nishmas: Song of the Soul is a must-read for the thousands who’ve joined the “Nishmas army,” and for the many more who’ve wondered why so many are reciting this tefillah regularly. Most importantly, it is for anyone who is longing to strengthen the connection to Hashem, through the power of gratitude. Through the power of Nishmas Kal Chai.