Thursday, November 17, 2005
The following is from Daniel Nakonechny, a friend and fellow devotee of Reb Shlomo Carlebach. He was gracious enough to allow me to post this on my blog in honor of Reb Shlomo’s yahrzeit, which is beginning right now.
One word of clarification: Some of us refer to Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach as Reb Shlomo, others as Shlomo. In speaking about him, I use them interchangeably, depending also on whom I’m speaking with. However, when writing of him, especially before an unknown audience, I try to give him the respect by calling him Reb Shlomo.
Daniel refers to him as Shlomo, with the following reasoning:
From the very beginning I was never comfortable with 'Reb Shlomo'. It was too artificial. In his own eyes he was 'Shlomo' and only 'Shlomo', and that is how he was known to the world. In my later writings, I very quickly switched to 'Shlomo', and that is how I refer to him to this day…Understand, of course, that many are those who are greater than Shlomo, and no one dreams of calling them Rav or Rebbe or HaGaon, etc. We all throw around Moshe and Aaron, David and Shlomo, Hillel and Shamai, Rava and Abayei, and etc. without the slightest sense of disrespect or diminishing of their stature. That's who they are and how they were known to the world. And so, too, is it with Shlomo.
I fully accept his reasoning.
Finally, before getting to the actual post, I want to share some of Daniel’s blessings to me:
Music is such a blessing. In the face of all the difficulties here [in Eretz Yisrael], it often requires almost superhuman effort to lift people's spirits. Words just don't do it. That is why music is so important. It just goes in. It penetrates as if there were no barriers at all. The purer the music the deeper it goes. This is why [Shlomo], of sacred and blessed memory, and his music … [is] so needed. [It] touches the most neglected and forgotten places in the most gentle and loving way. [It] open[s] people's hearts and give[s] them back life and themselves.
What a precious gift to bring out the beauty and sweetness and cause them simply to glow. It is the deepest of blessings and today the deepest of needs…I bless you, Yitzchak, that you should continue to open hearts. The sweetness of music restores so many who have wandered so far from who and what they really and truly are.
B'Shalom, Daniel - 15 Ram Cheshvan 5766
written to and for all of us whom Shlomo's light and love continue to touch
by Daniel Nakonechny, Beit El, Israel
Shlomo's uniqueness, like every other Rebbe's, is that of timing. He came into the world exactly at the moment when he was most needed. Unlike the other great Rebbes, Shlomo had the great blessing of learning and living Torah both before and after we returned to our homeland, Eretz Israel, and the great merit of teaching our generation. We, the generation of return - to ourselves, to our faith, and to our homeland - are influenced by Rav Kook who sees the lights of our returning as the light for the rebuilding of Jews, Judaism, and Israel. He teaches that everything - inside and out - is G-dly, that we must return everything to its G-dliness, and that we must do it now. That G-dliness, our Holiness, is our reason for existence - Rebbes and Hasidim and world alike. That search for and return of everything to G-dliness is Shlomo. As a Rebbe he was blessed with both the insight to see our true Holiness and the ability to make us see it as well.
What Shlomo had in common with all the great Rebbes was the uncanny ability of making G-d personal to each and every person. He literally opened up our hearts and souls to that special dwelling place where G-d's Holiness resides. He showed each of us how we are uniquely connected to G-d and he welcomed each of us into G-d's Divine and Magnificent Kingdom. For some of us he opened up the Holy scholar that is inside, for others he opened up the Holy musician, for others the Holy teacher, and for others the Holy listener and friend. Whatever kind of Holiness we possess Shlomo brought it to life. When Shlomo reached out and taught us and cherished us he was giving us G-d's Holy message. Like every great teacher of Torah and every great Rebbe, he fervently hoped that we, too, would reach out and teach and cherish and give G-d's Holy message.
Shlomo gave so much, brought into the world so much, and shared so much. He left us with things that had we not crossed his path almost assuredly we would never have received them. Of all his teachings what Shlomo most bequeathed us was to hear song - to want to hear song - to ache to hear song - to know that song is in everything. He taught us to listen to the song of the broken heart and the falling tears, the song of the setting sun and the rising moon, the song of the children and parents, the song of Jews and Jerusalem, the song of husband and wife, the song of Israel and the Holy Temple, the song of brothers and sisters, the song of love and G-d, the song of You and Me, the song of Shabbat and Yom Tov, the song of G-d and Torah, the song of Creator and Creation. He taught us his songs and the music he sang is his Torah, the Torah that he used to connect us to the Holiest Song of all - the Song of the Holiness of Being and Oneness.
Shlomo was so connected that he was capable of connecting us, also. For many he was the most connected person any of us ever met. Perhaps what we miss the most about him is just how much he so connected everything and everyone. Perhaps what we search the most for, what we long and ache the most for is the kind of connection that Shlomo had and gave us. Perhaps, just perhaps, one of our most fervent prayers and wishes is that somehow some way we can grasp a little bit of him and become connected ourselves. Let it be a story, Torah, or song. Let it be a blessing, kind word or other mitzvah - whatever, just as long as it lets us be connected. Let it be that I am imitating what I think Shlomo would do, it really doesn't matter. I only want to be connected.
It's Gevald! There are people who didn't know Shlomo, who never met him, and who never even heard him perform, yet they are all thirsting for his help to make the connection. Where does it come from?! There aren't that many books about Shlomo, or that many books of his teachings, and he didn't leave a yeshiva or other formal organization. The answer is that he left two things that would let him come to Jews who couldn't come to him. He left as many sweet and Holy Yidden as he could possibly find and connect and he left his music. And he left each for the other. Where one couldn't get to or reach the other one would, and when one started stumbling the other would pick him up - the song the Jew and the Jew the song.
More than anything Shlomo wants us to hear the song and to know that the song of Shlomo is G-d's Holy song and that G-d's Holy song is the Torah. More than it was given at Sinai we, the Holy Jewish people, brought it into the world because we want the world to have G-d's love. We want the world to have it and we want it for G-d's sake. G-d's Torah is a Holy love song, one song of eternal longing for eternal connection one song of G-d and the Jewish people one song of eternal love of eternal lovers. Shlomo sang G-d's love song and he taught us to hear it and sing it. With the help of our Holy Rebbe we are continually bringing G-d's Holy song into the world and once a year we return to sit at G-d's feet and listen as the Master of the Universe sings His Holy song again.
While I am quite aware of his being a controversial figure, I prefer to "judge him on the side of merit" as our Sages bid us to do in Pirkei Avot [Ethics of the Fathers]. Let us suffice with two brief quotes about him. Firstly, from the present Amshinover Rebbe, when asked why he shows him so much respect: "That man's reward in Heaven will not only be greater than the one in store for me, it will even exceed the reward you think I am destined to receive."
And from the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rav Yisrael Meir Lau, who delivered a hesped [eulogy] at Reb Shlomo's funeral: "Your songs and your tunes are living monuments which, in this generation and in generations to come, will build you 'a monument and a memorial better than sons and daughters.' Every niggun, every letter, every note bears witness to the creative genius of that man whom it was our privilege to know."
And furthermore, Jews who are Ma'aminim believe that after ONE YEAR, maximum, every Jew is cleansed of his sins...
I rest my case...
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