Two days after the album’s release, Schnitzler received a call from a couple who wanted to thank him
MICHOEL SCHNITZLER’s just-released album Leibedige Sifrei Torah — the eighth in the “Neshama Flam” series — brings his fans another serving of original Yiddish songs in his trademark rich baritone and unmistakably dynamic delivery. But still, this album, with vocals recorded in the new Neshama Flam studios in Jackson, NJ, is a little different.
“When we started the Neshama Flam series, a lot of the songs were ballads retelling stories of tzaddikim,” Schnitzler explains. “But I got so much feedback appreciating the chizuk-oriented songs that now I’ve shifted the focus. This is an entire album — 14 tracks – of chizuk for listeners. I spent a year and a half collecting songs for this album, and each of them is a gem — bringing home a message of encouragement through hard times, or of inspiration and empowerment.”
Hershy Ginsberg of London, whom Schnitzler has worked with in the past, is responsible for most of the music arrangements that cover a mix of styles, from haunting to upbeat and happy. Reb Pinky Weber and Motti Ilowitz lend their exceptional grammen talents to several of the compositions as well, and Lipa composed two songs. “Kol Atzmosai” and “Be'ito Uvizmano.”
The song “Mein Brider,” with arrangements by new talent Yanky Ciment, is a song especially close to Michoel’s heart — in which he calls out to his brother who passed away a few years ago. He says it took him a long time to actually sing the song, as he was crying throughout and had to try repeatedly to get the vocals right.
One of the album’s emotional highlights is a song titled “Eppes Besser” [Something Better], written by Reb Chesky Weiss. On a shivah visit to a friend who had lost a child, Schnitzler listened as the parents repeated what their sick daughter had told them shortly before her passing: “Hashem doesn’t refuse our tefillos. He either answers ‘Yes,’ or ‘Not yet,’ or ‘I have something better for you.’ Later, when an older single bochur confided in him about an almost-shidduch that had suddenly been derailed, Schnitzler encouraged him to believe that Hashem had a better plan in store. Shortly afterward, he was engaged, and he admitted to being happier than he could ever imagine being with the earlier shidduch. This inspired the singer to commission the niggun.
Two days after the album’s release, Schnitzler received a call from a couple who wanted to thank him. They had recently suffered the loss of a child, and told Schnitzler that the message of “Eppes Besser,” that the One Above is always in charge and has good things in store for us, gave them a very comforting perspective.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 863)