A Carlebach Response to the Pittsburgh Massacre

ביום חמישי האחרון, בייארציט של רבן של כל הלבבות השבורים, שלמה קרליבך, זכיתי להופיע בערוץ הידברות, לדבר קצת על שבת, על שלמה, לנגן קצת ולשמח את לבבות עם ישראל.יש פעמים שמכינים מה לומר, אך כשזה מגיע ללב, הלב מרגיש, ובכל רגע הוא מרגיש אחרת, ולוואי שנזכה לכוון את מיתרי ליבנו.

פורסם על ידי ‏‎Zalman Stub‎‏ ב- יום שבת, 27 באוקטובר 2018

It has been quite an emotional time over the last week.

Last week,  thousands of followers of Reb Shlomo Carlebach celebrated on his Yartzeit his contribution to Jewish life. We acknowledge just as each of us is not perfect, neither was he. He talked about the broken Jew, the broken world that needs fixing. His message is so much needed today in this broken world. We are need of so much repair.

There were in excess of 50 worldwide gatherings honoring His contribution to Jewish music, love of all Jews, Israel and Shabbat. This was followed by the Shabbat Project. It was on this Shabbat that the terrible massacre in Pittsburgh happened.

Most of us only found out about the terrible shooting in a Shul after or during the many musical Carlebach Havdala services that took place around the world.

In indeed, not only was there a murder of innocent Jews, but there is a political, social tsunami aftermath of blame, hatred, and hurt which demands of us to reflect and stop. We need to reflect, think and look for ways for a better world, for Jews to have pride in their Jewish history and Israel, to come closer together.

In summary, the Jewish Response, The Carlebach way should be to encourage  :

–  Dialogue and discussion of different views

–  Boundless Love – achdut and love of all Jews and people

– A deeper understanding of Jewish History, the historical right of the Jews to Israel and Jerusalem.

– Shabbat – bringing the youth back to Shul, making Shabbat an island of inspiration.

In this blog, I bring different perspectives to the above responses which have come to me on my social media. Each in itself is a major topic, but by investing the time to address the ideas presented we may have a chance of learning from this tragedy and making the world a better place.

Shabbat – an opportunity

For many of us, the Shabbat Project is not a one-off event, but a weekly event. I refer to the link below that appeared on Israeli television last Thursday night for further inspiration. It is in Hebrew.

https://www.facebook.com/zalman.stub/videos/10210488237682279/UzpfSTE4MzUwMDE1Mzk6Vks6MjA0ODg2MjA2ODUxMDA1Mg/

One more point about Shabbat and the weekly Torah reading. Nothing is by coincidence in this world. Life is full of messages. In this week’s Torah reading we read Chayei Sarah where we have the famous account of Abraham buying the field in Hebron. Hence, this shows our historical right and connection to Hebron and Israel. UNESCO, social media and the Arabs, the left are trying to rewrite history and deny our historical claim and link to the Land that God gave to the Jewish people. So let’s use our weekly meeting with Shabbat to make Torah -relevant and alive. Let’s use this opportunity to bring out the truth about the centrality of the Torah to the land of Israel, to modern day Israel.

The Torah is our guidebook and is so relevant to us in this modern world. Let’s learn and connect to what has kept the Jewish people alive and vibrant over the last 2000 years and more

I am now sharing a few further articles which expresses this is such moving terms.

Boundless Love

by Michal Popper

Boundless Love

All Jews are responsible for one another wherever they may be. Our hearts are shattered by the horrific attack on our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh this past Shabbat. We mourn the 11 holy souls who were so cruelly torn from our midst, and pray to G-d to provide strength and comfort to their shocked and grieving families. Their unfathomable pain is shared by the entire Jewish people and all people worldwide.

We further pray for the complete and speedy healing of the injured, of the survivors and of the entire Pittsburgh community.

No words can possibly describe this pure evil. Jews who gathered to pray and celebrate Shabbat were killed for no reason other than the fact that they were Jewish. Again: While praying! On Shabbat! The killer’s bullets we’re aimed at us all. “All Jews must die,” he yelled while opening fire.

What is the remedy to such senseless hatred?! What can we possibly do to eradicate it?

The answer is boundless love.

Cold-blooded, fanatical, baseless, relentless hatred can be uprooted from its core only by saturating our world with pure, undiscriminating, unyielding love and acts of kindness. Today more than ever, we need to spread love and unity, positivity, light and solidarity.

This past week was also the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach who personified the act of love and kindness in the world.

As I stood last week at Rav Carlebach’s grave site in Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot, together with hundreds of other Jews and followers of Rav Shlomo, I felt like there was only love and peace in the world. We all stood there and sang psalms in his memory using his beloved melodies that are sung till today worldwide.

What was Rav Shlomo’s secret weapon? What made him and his melodies so special that they can be heard in every corner of the world? What was so moving about Rav Shlomo that made you feel protected from all evil when you were by his side?

Rabbi Carlebach was the symbol of love and positivity for all of mankind. He didn’t differentiate between man and woman, or any of the races. Every soul on earth was special and unique. He spread love with every breath he took. He told stories of love and sang songs that could lift up every spirit in the world. His focus was always on how to see G-d ‘s world and all it entails in a positive light.

Rav Shlomo saw all of the people in the world as good. He felt that seeing only good in others would bring peace and love to the world. We live in a world that has good and bad love and hatred war and peace. To change the world is not our job. Yet to spread love and acceptance onto ourselves and to others is possible. We pray to live in times of only good, yet we have not gotten to that point in time. However, in the time of the full redemption, only good will be one of the goals that will be achieved. Acts of hatred toward Jews are a true reminder to us that we are all one family, we are all brothers and sisters. If one of us is hurting, we are all hurting and affected. Our response is to unite and come closer to one another, and to Hashem, through love and understanding.

We must continue to walk to our synagogues proudly. And, even as we grieve and mourn, we must increase exponentially our acts of goodness and kindness. Some of the injured were law enforcement heroes who willingly chose to put their own lives in danger to help others. We stand in awe of their courage and dedication. Unfortunately, here in Israel, we experience these horrible acts of violence and hatred too often. We are being killed just for the fact that we are Jews.

The Jewish nation is everlasting and is the cornerstone of the world. We are the chosen nation from Hashem and He will continue to guide and protect us even when it seems to our naked eye that he isn’t watching. Hashem is and always will be with us. Not always can we understand the ways of the Almighty. Yet as believing Jews we know that Hashem is only good and will never leave us. May we join together with love and faith with all our fellow Jews worldwide – especially with those in Pittsburgh – and pray that the time of the full redemption will come and we will all live in harmony, in love and in true faith in one another and in G-d.

Dialogue and discussion of different views

Quoting Rabbi Sam Intrator – the longtime Gabbai of Reb Shlomo “ There is a need for openness and dialogue for different viewpoints and Jews. Referring to an article in the Times of Israel which discusses the relationship between Reb Shlomo and Rabbi Mier Kahana and explored the irony of how many young people in the 70s would regularly attend programs by both of them. For better or for worse that kind of consciousness does not exist today and our society as a whole loses something valuable as a result of that void. It was not easy then either to create such bridges but at least there was a willingness to explore them. I remember Reb Shlomo once told me after he had appeared at a program with Rabbi Kahana ‘I know my hippalach don’t like it when I appear with Meir.’ Reb Shlomo may have voiced very hawkish views on Israel but the love he showed Arabs when he encountered them has been documented and experienced by many who knew him and I will include myself in that group. Here is the link to the article https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/kahane-and-carlebach-counterculture-and-its-rabbis.

In fact, a testimony of this is the diversity of Reb Shlomo followers ranging from conservative, Hasidic, non-denominational, orthodox, reconstructionist, reform and renewal Jew including hundreds or thousands of women who stand by you and live by your teachings.

Many of these followers may on different pages of the Trump vs anti-Trump and the  #metoo movement but will defend you to the hills and without exception, all have a deep love of Israel and are defenders of Israel (as inspired your teachings)

Furthermore, there is a new generation of followers and musicians who never knew you who are the next generation who are inspired and are spreading your teachings, the use of music, the beauty of Shabbat and much more as encapsulated in the following article.

How Reb Shlomo Carlebach Got Me High on Torah (Even Though I Never Met Him)

For me growing up Jewish was bagels and lox, the Holocaust, and my Bar Mitvzah. I thought Judaism was an anachronistic, tribal psychology rule through fear religion. In 1998, I came to the Old City and discovered that Judaism was a lot more than that and more relevant to my life than I expected. That Judaism was actually a transformative spiritual path. One teacher whom I never met, but whose students, music and stories changed my life, was Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.  When I first heard Reb Shlomo singing, what I heard was a call. It was a call one man was putting out to the whole world.  A call to do Teshuva, to come home, to return to your true self. I had never heard a call before. I had heard commercials, I had heard orders, I had heard demands,  but this was something different. this was like something out of the ancient myths and legends, this was a call. And it was a call to do goodness, to restore the world to the way it should be. As a jaded 21 year old growing up in an age of cynicism, where people did nothing about genocide and starvation, I had almost come to view goodness as a myth as well. Something inside of me responded to this call, this call to lift myself up, to do good, and I wanted to live up to it.

It was a call to the whole human race, it was a world sized call, and that was the another thing that I learned about Reb Shlomo. He wanted to save the world, mamash, so he was literally putting out a call to everyone in the world , personally, he wanted them to come home. That was why if he planned your wedding everyone was invited, and that was why if he was making Shabbos, he invited everyone for Shabbos, because the whole world needed Shabbos, and if the whole world needs Shabbos then everyone is invited for Shabbos. The issue of there not being enough chairs or not being enough food was a non-issue, because for Reb Shlomo this was about Shabbos not about chairs and food, it was about saving the world through Shabbos, and it was happening now. That was the other thing, that he was doing it now, he wasn’t waiting until all the ducks were lined up in just the right way.  Reb Shlomo was saving the world now, whether or not there were enough chairs, because the world was not  in its perfect state, the whole world needed to do teshuva, and the whole world needed tikkun olam, and it needed to happen now, and so if there were people with issues and problems coming to Shabbos that was OK too, because they needed healing and they needed healing now, and anyway there wasn’t one person who didn’t need healing, because the geulah was happening now, the redemption was happening now, because change was happening now.

It says in Tehillim that when the redemption will come rivers will run backwards and mountains will skip like lambs, but rivers never run backwards and mountians never skip like lambs.  There’s a way things work and it doesn’t change, but Reb Shlomo was bringing the change, and things that never happened were happening! People who hated each other for years were loving each other, people who had given up on life and were dead inside were getting resurrected, there were mamash miracles.

This idea of change was also reflected in the davening. Because what I learned from Reb Shlomo’s students like Reb David Hertzberg (davening next to Reb David was like davening next to an electric power plant, in a thunderstorm, while angels were singing) was that you davened will all your heart, all your soul, and all your resources, you maxed out when you were davening. Davening was not a symbolic gesture, davening was not a perfunctory ritual, davening waswas transformativeavening itself changed you, and changed the world, and you had to give your whole being to it, why? Because you were praying to God, you were talking to God, you were singing to God and to be perfunctory when your standing in front of the King of Kings is not the way to go.  It was an ecstatic davening, it was a davening where all fear of being judged by others, of not being cool enough, of not being ‘in’ enough was gone. It was a davening where my heart could be open and free and I could sing at level 10 and everyone else was singing that way with me and we could all be that big and that happy. Life could be lived that big, and everyone felt like they had all the room in the world, there was so much love, we were all singing the same niggun and no one felt they had to sing it the same as anyone else, we were all singing our unique heart song, we were all singing the same niggun differently, and we were all One.

This raised my standards really high level for davneing, because my standard became – take a young teenager who has given up on living and is in a rush to get to his funeral because there is no God, and no one loves and no one cares, and put them in a room full of people davening and suddenly he knows with all his being that God loves him and God cares about him and that life is worth living. Davening was not a ritual experience, it was an ecstatic revelatory religious experience. It was another example of change happening now, and people used to crowd around the windows of Beit Simcha in Nachlaot to listen to us pray. Open celebration is the same thing as open revolution. When people are scared and fearful they are easily controlled, (Rebbe Nachman says thatls how the yetzer hara gets you) but when people are happy and joyful and remember who they arel and are in touch with their strengthl and are celebrating being alive in the name of the Lord, they are free. They are truly free, that’s why open celebration is the same thing as open revolution. I also learned that from Reb Shlomos students.

And I also learned about refuge, because when I met the students of Reb Shlomo I learned that I was welcome. That I was in exile and I didn’t even know that I was in exile (and feeling unwelcome) until I they welcomed me. Being welcomed by the chevre of Reb Shlomo gave me back my dignity, because I came from a world where if you were not famous you were anonymous, and what you did didn’t count , and when I came into Jerusalem I was welcomed as a human being,  as a Jew, and the love in that welcoming restored to me my dignity, and restored to me my sense that I have something to give, that in fact the world needed what I had to give, and it was  of the utmost importance that I was here. And so Jerusalem became a place for an anonymous unimportant Yid like me to remember that he was a child of the King. Jerusalem became a city of refuge for a weak, broken-hearted human being.  To learn that it was out of his weakness and crippling wounds that the greatest light could come. And that welcome taught me how to welcome other people, so when I met others Jews in the street who didn’t know they were in exile, and didn’t know they could come into a world of geulah, a world of redemption, I was able to point them to the Shlomo chevre and the Yidden out there shining their light, and they remembered who they were.

Reb Shlomo’s students also taught me about selfless Torah, about Torah for the sake of giving not for the sake of getting. People were selflessly giving to me food, and teachings, and places to stay, and they mamash wanted nothing back, they didn’t want me to bring a dish, they didn’t want me to chip in, they just wanted to give to me and I had never been loved completely selflessly before, and that selflessness inspired me to want to give back as much as I could, and to get to know these people. I remember my first Shabbos in Nachlaot was in a tiny room the size of half a trailer and it was packed to the walls, with people who were constantly singing, and telling stories, and making L’Chaims and the door was open and people were coming and going and telling more stories and singing more songs and making more L’Chaims and I had never experienced anything like this in my life and it was all being done selflessly and joyfully. We even danced around the table in that tiny room.

There’s a teaching that all forms of communication are either a cry for help or an expression of Love. The students of Reb Shlomo taught be how to be a man who could pick up a child who was crying and love them, sing to them, tell them a story, lift them up, and inspire them to be the best person they could be. Reb Shlomo was gone before I even met him but I met his students, and they watched him ties his shoes, and I watched his students tie their shoes, and now its up to us to remember the Love, the selfess Torah, the niggunim and stories. To keep the light going, and to reveal it in a new way.  May Hashem bless us to fulfill Reb Shlomos call “Lets go higher”. Originally published in Kol Chevre

Useful Links

Want more inspiration – Other Sites dedicated to Red Shlomo are:

http://www.shlomocarlebachfoundation.org

www.souldoctorstories.com

www.ohelshlomo.com

http://jewishoutlook.com

http://www.carlebach.intzfat.info

http://kolchevra.com

http://rebshlomo.peacechannels.org

https://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/carlebach

http://www.shlomofriends.com

About the Author
Jeffrey is a Blogger, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist (we can only dream) living in Jerusalem. He has five kids and three grandchildren. He is looking to spread the message of Ahavat Yisrael and Jewish Unity through the music and teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and connecting our lost Jewish brothers and sisters to Israel. God and themselves.
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