Saturday, November 7, 2009

Spi-Ritual Gas - Carlebach Style

This blog attempts to discuss ideas, not people. Yet some people are in reality institutions, hence they are the exception to the rule. This week marks the 15th Yahrtzeit of Reb Shlomo Carlebach and therefore I felt that a few words were in order.

Reb Shlomo dominated the Jewish music world for almost half a century. His music permeated every area of the globe. His golden heart was as legendary as his melodies. His globetrotting made the basketball team from Harlem look like pikers in comparison.

Yet, once a year, deep within the bowels of the Lower East Side Reb Shlomo performed an unpublicized free concert for Yeshiva Bochurim only. Many Yeshivas on the East Coast were represented with a carefully handpicked few.

Reb Shlomo would then entertain far into the night with his unique singing and story telling. His wit was also on display. I remember one year him asking why Avrohom Avinu did not move into Sedom and open a Shul – Anshei Sedom…to be Mekarev the sinners there.

But what was different about this concert from all others was, in Reb Shlomo’s words, to benefit HIM and not US. “All year long I am running around the world, but once a year I need to stop and fill up on gas. The Yeshiva Bochurim are the gas that keeps me going for the rest of the year”.

And so this past Shabbos, I made it my business to attend a “Carlebach Minyan”. While such Minyanim are not necessarily my style, nevertheless, I think that it behooves us all to fill up on spi-Ritual gas – at least once a year.


  1. very tender post.

    Two points. you make it sound like Roshei Yeshiva made a reshima as to who could attend, keh-ilu it was R' Avrohom Yehoshua we were talking about.

    What you should've written is that "Many Yeshivas on the East Coast were represented with a few hardy souls who broke ranks with their more stolid brothers and were unafraid to do something a little unorthodox and out of the box."

    And BTW many a hardy Yeshivisha soulc attended (*GASP*) his conventionally unconventional "mixed" (*SHUDDER*) kumzitz and learnings as well. How do I know? I was one of them.

    BTW fabulous pic. When where was it taken? How did you get it? Can you ID any of the others? (Or will it shter their ainiklakh's shiddukhim LOL)?

    1. I contacted Chaim Adler (personal communication Aug. 27, 2013) and also spoke to Yaakov Lerner, and concluded that this photo is from August 1960 and not 1958 or 1959 as many on the Internet have erroneously concluded. Lerner identified the people in this photo for me: From left to right: Yaakov Lerner, Reb Shlomo, Chaim Adler, Yaakov Tzuker, and Yosef Miletzky. It was in August 1959 that Adler who was a student in the Hevron Yeshiva then located in Geula, Jerusalem, first met Reb Shlomo. He organized this get together in the Kings Hotel the next summer.

  2. WADR though I think you have to take his fill up line with a grain of salt. Part of his genius was making EVERYONE in his daled amos feel like he had a unique khasivus. It could be a grubbe yung, a Buhdist priest, a black panhandler on a train, a teenage runaway or, when the situation demanded it... a yeshiva bokhur.

    this is pure specuation on my part but I think that as Shlomo evolved spirtually and was nourished on the likes of Rav Nakhman, Mei haShiloakh, Zalman Schachter and halucinogenics he no doubt felt that straight-laced yeshivaleit had missed the boat and were "ikkar khoser min hasefer".

  3. Correct. The bochurim were handpicked not by the administration.

    I got the picture by asking Reb Google. He is very nice. It took some time, though, to find a picture that didn't portray hippieness.

    As for the gassing up, I believe he was emesdik about it.

    {Bray, I removed some comments. I want to keep this blog impersonal.}


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