Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (1925-1994)

Today is the 16th yahrtzeit of Rabbi Carlebach, affectionately known by many as Rebbe Shlomo.

Rebbe Shlomo was a wonderful singer whose soulful melodies gushed forth from the depth of his heart and penetrated to his listener's very souls. Both his original compositions and the songs that he breathed new life into as he introduced them to a younger generation and broader audience carry messages of hope and longing, of striving for a better world, of a harmonious existence of the spirit and body.

The stories that he would relate to us - stories of ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary feats as well as spiritual giants and their deeds - captured our imaginations and sent us soaring through the transcendent heights that one could reach, if we only "opened our hearts."

I'm well aware of the controversy surrounding Rebbe Shlomo, and I understand why many people have difficulty lending him any credence, but I cannot hep but give him his due. Despite his personal shortcomings, he played an integral role in bringing many people closer to HaShem, including myself. Rebbe Shlomo gave me my first taste of the warmth and energy of Judaism in general, and specifically the world of chassidus. With his stories, he escorted me into the world of Ishbitz and Breslov, and taught me about a holy rebbe from Poland who wrote staggering works filled with insight and love for Jews.
When I first encountered his music, I was going through a particularly difficult time, and I had many questions and not enough answers. Rebbe Shlomo seemed to be the first person to validate my feelings, to echo certain ideas and sentiments that I held that separated me from the more mainstream crowd. Through his world, I was introduced to the broad, textured, incredibly deep experience that being a Torah true Jew can be...

I owe him a tremendous debt for that...

Image result for rabbi carlebachI am sure there are others who feel the same way.

Z'chuso yagein aleinu.

1 comment:

Neil Harris said...

So true. He as an orignal and helped many many types of Jews connect with their Jewishness. One of my favorite reads is HOLY BROTHER.

I think my 5th grader was actually listening to Reb Shlomo before Uncle Moishy. :)