יום רביעי י"ז בשבט תשפ"ב 19/01/2022
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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Reflections

Harav Shlomo Carlebach

Harav Shlomo Carlebach was a singer, musician, composer and a great master of the emotions. He travelled around the world singing his songs and telling his stories – and through this, many Jews were brought back to their heritage.

David Sofer 03/11/2009 08:00
Harav Shlomo Carlebach was born in Berlin, Germany in the year 5685 to his father Harav Naftali, who was the rav and leader of the congregation there. After the Nazis yimach shemam rose to power, his family left Germany, and after a short sojourn in Austria they arrived in the United States in the year 5699.

Harav Shlomo Carlebach learned in Yeshivas Torah Vodaas in New York and then in the Lakewood yeshivah in New Jersey. He excelled in his studies and was considered to have one of the most exceptional minds in the Lakewood yeshivah. He was a prized talmid of the rosh yeshivah, Hagaon Rabi Aharon Kotler, and even received semichah from him – and it was very rare for Rabi Aharon to confer semichah.

During this period, when he was still an unmarried young man learning in Lakewood, he found himself drawn to Chabad chassidus and to the Admor Rabi Yosef Yitzchak Shneersohn ztz”l, together with his son-in-law Rabi Menachem Mendel Shneersohn ztz”l, who was later to become known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe after his father-in-law’s passing. Between the years 5711 to 5714 he was sent by them to various Jewish population centres around the United States, in order to bring the youth closer to Yiddishkeit. This new occupation of his, of kiruv rechokim, angered the rosh yeshivah Rabi Aharon Kotler, since according to his mind, the sole occupation of a yeshivah bochur should be to sit and learn – and nothing beyond this. In sorrow he summoned Shlomo Carlebach and told him; “Either here, or there” – and Shlomo Carlebach decided that his place was ‘there’ – in the world of kiruv. It is related that he then went to his room, packed up his belongings and headed out of the building. When he was already standing on the steps at the entrance, with Rabi Aharon Kotler standing nearby, he began to sing with great dveikus the words to the famous melody “Lulei Torasecha she’ashu’ai, az ovadti b’onyi” – if not for Your Torah which I delighted in, I would have been lost in my poverty. When he finished, Rabi Aharon asked him, with eyes brimming with tears, to sing the song a second time, and Shlomo Carlebach complied with his request. When he finished for the second time, Rabi Aharon Kotler told him – now, you can leave.

Harav Shlomo Carlebach left in order to spread his own brand of chassidus, which took its form from the ‘new wave’ of culture which was then overtaking the United States at the end of the 1950s and in the 1960s. He was also influenced by the Kotsker Rebbe. With the accompaniment of his guitar he wandered around the country, appearing in performances the main purpose of which was to bring Jewish souls back to Torah and emunah. Already in those early days he began to attract a following of his own chassidim who were inspired by his own particular brand of spirituality, which appealed to those already infected by the spirit of the times.

Carlebach then wandered to the western coast and decided to remain in San Francisco in order to attract the young, homeless dropout Jews there. To this end he established his ‘House of Love and Prayer’. In the year 5727 his father Rabi Naftali was niftar, and Rabi Shlomo Carlebach was then appointed together with his twin brother Eli (Eliyahu Chaim) as rav of the kehillah their father had led. During these years he began to travel over the world to different Jewish communities, including those in Eretz Yisrael with the accompaniment of his chassidim, of whom several served as his band. On his various stops he attracted crowds of thousands of admirers who packed the halls where his concerts took place, and his exceptional charisma gained him many followers. His approach was based on the great warmth that he showed to all Jews, drawing them close to him, and also on his great humility and simplicity. He looked on all Jews with a loving eye, recognising their essential goodness wherever they were holding in Yiddishkeit. He saw his love of his fellow-man, especially of his fellow Jews, as an expression of his love for his Creator. Owing to his great emotion expressed in his songs and dance during his performances, he became known as ‘The Dancing Rebbe’.

In the year 5728 his chassidim established the ‘Mavo Modi’im’ settlement near Latrun. Harav Shlomo Carlebach built a home for himself there, and divided his time between those who lived in the moshav and his home in the United States. Parallel to this he continued to perform in concerts all around the world. In the year 5730 at the first Chassidic Music Festival, his song ‘Veha’er einenu’ finished in second place, and his name gained yet more prominence in the Jewish world.

In the 1980s Harav Shlomo Carlebach established his chassidus, which already numbered in the thousands, on a more formal basis, and he also turned his attention to the story-telling of chassidishe tales, which he recorded and distributed. This combination of the Jewish tales with his emotional songs succeeded in arousing the spirituality and emotion of the Jews he reached, awakening their slumbering Jewish hearts and igniting their ‘pintele Yid’ that had been all but extinguished. In this way he merited to draw many closer to Yiddishkeit, of whom a large number became frum in every aspect, returning to the rock from which they had been hewn.

During his journeys in Europe he would travel around old shuls and collect seforim which had been designated for genizah, and in this way he gathered a large Torah library.

Harav Shlomo Carlebach was niftar on the 16th of Marcheshvan in the year 5755 from a heart attack. His chassidim relate that, “The rav was niftar with his fingers still plucking at his guitar strings and his lips still singing a song of dveikus to the possuk ‘Chasdei HaShem ki lo samnu, ki lo chalu rachamav.’” His levayah took place in Yerushalayim and was attended by a huge crowd who sang his songs for the duration. He was interred on Har HaMenuchos, and the names of several of the tales he told are etched on his headstone.

Carlebach left behind a rich musical legacy as well as his chassidic tales. His famous songs include: “Ha’neshamah lach”; “Esa einai”; “Hashmi’eini es koleich”; “Lulei Torasecha”; “Od yishama”; “Mimkomcha”; “Pischu li sha’arei tzedek”; “Yisrael b’tach b’HaShem”; “Od Avinu chai”; “U’va’u ha’ovdim”. His famous tales include: “Chatskele honours Shabbos”; “Yossele the holy miser”; “The holy hunchback”; “The blind chazzan”. It is impossible to characterise the typical admirer of Carlebach’s songs – they come from all sectors of the Jewish world, running the gamut from Manhattan businessmen to the simple Jew living in Moscow to the young kollel student who dedicates himself to limmud haTorah to the Jew on a kibbutz somewhere in the middle of Eretz Yisrael. His songs are sung in shuls around the world, and there also exist many minyanim that daven ‘b’nussach Carlebach’.
  1. 1. beautiful article
    batya 03/11/2009 15:37
    The article about Rabbi Carlebach was written in a manner that accorded him the honor he deserves, but is not always accorded. Thank you "Etrog" for exposing your readers to the history and current news about ALL the different Jewish rabbis.