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Shlomo Katz

How do we have the chutzpa to dance tonight?

Addressing our congregation this past Friday night was nearly an impossible task.

After asking everyone in shul to please open their hearts, I proceeded by asking the following.

“How do we have the chutzpah to sing and dance tonight?”

Going from tragedy to celebration seems to be the way we are wired, but there is something in the consciousness of this wiring which needs to be altered.

There is a certain philosophy which goes something like this. ‘We show them they can’t take away our spirit, and we keep on going strong’. That may have worked while we began to rebuild our country, but at this stage in our journey, we have to allow ourselves to be as vulnerable as possible.

There was once a chassid who was sitting on a bench in the early 1930s of Yerushalayim. Someone carrying a newspaper walked by this chassid, and as he caught the headlines, he began crying uncontrollably. A few moments later, he arose from his tears, and began dancing as though someone just shared the best of news with him. After a few minutes, someone approached this chassid, trying to understand what just took place.

“As I caught the headlines reporting the death of two people who died in a factory in China, I began crying over the loss of life, and over the pain that these two families must be going through. In line with the famous teaching of the Ba’al Shem Tov, when something is exposed to me, it must have something to do with me. If not, it would have never come my way.”

“Then why did you begin rejoicing?”

“Simple. I realized that I got a taste of what it means to be alive, and how a Jew responds to this wondrous reality, and I couldn’t stop dancing. I cried when realizing the gift of having a heart that feels.”

I turned to the precious members of our loving and warm community in Efrat, and saw the longing in everyone’s eyes.

“Kehilat Shirat David Hayekara, as we are dancing in the holy Shabbos, there is a six year old boy who was just laid to rest after being murdered at a bus stop in Yerushalayim. His brother is in critical condition (later succumbing to his wounds), while his father is in surgery. Over 20,000 people lost their lives in Turkey during this week’s earthquake. There is a tremendous amount of suffering in the world.

How do have the Chutzpah to dance? Simple. We dance because we are so broken, and it’s exactly because of this sense of brokenness, we feel so alive.

Where did we learn this from?

We learned this from non other than Yitro. Yitro heard about Am Yisrael’s miraculous journey, as well as hearing of a people who are unfazed by what is taking place in the world. This is Amalek.

Receiving the Torah is the moment I begin to experience what it means to be in a relationship with G-d. We receive the Torah during a parsha named after someone who was ALIVE, and acted upon his sense of feeling alive.

Yes, the earth has literally been shaking this week. We will shake as well. We will shake ourselves free of any apathy.

We will shake ourselves away from the state of feeling numb, of being stagnant, of being stuck.

Why? Because we are Am Yisrael. We are the most alive people in the world, and we can’t afford to not be ourselves.”

About the Author
Born in New Jersey, while growing up between Los Angeles and Ra'anana. I released a number of albums, and have been blessed to sing some of my melodies throughout the world. Received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Chaim Brovender and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin at Yeshivat Hamivtar. We live in Efrat, with our precious son and four daughters. Spiritual leader of Beit Knesset Shirat David, in Efrat, where I get to pray and learn with some of my best friends. Founder of the Shlomo Katz project.
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