Maamar: A chassidic discourse.
Niggun: A chassidic, soul-inspiring, often wordless melody.
Hachanah niggun: A chassidic soul-inspiring melody that introduces a maamar.

A chassidic discourse is quite an intense experience—for both the one delivering the discourse as well as the listeners. It’s sort of like a spiritual marathon. Accordingly, the proper mindset is needed to internalize the experience. Hence the hachanah niggun, to help everyone get spiritually aligned.

The real reason why we work is in order to sit at the pool and sip a martini . . .Rabbi Sholom DovBer, the fifth Chabad rebbe (1860–1920), was once sitting with yeshivah students when he indicated that he would deliver a maamar. The students began to sing the hachanah niggun, but, being anxious to hear the maamar, they rushed through the niggun.

Bad move!

Instead of delivering the discourse, the rebbe launched into a talk about living in the moment. So much of what we do is a stepping-stone to something else. For example, we go to work to make money that will pay for those things that we want. So, the real reason why we go to work is in order to sit at the side of the pool and sip a martini. Or, we go to school in order to get an education in order to become a rabbi, doctor, lawyer, etc. So the years of education are merely a stepping-stone to something else. And so on.

The problem with this approach is that we miss out on the opportunities that are available right here and now. We miss out on experiences that won’t be here when we arrive at our destination.

You know the Jewish joke: When does life begin? When your kids finish medical school! But if you are just waiting for the kids to graduate, then you are missing out on the moments that are happening now.

If you rush through the hachanah niggun, you miss out on the energy that is available now.