Reb Shlomo and Infinite Possibilities

Reb Shlomo's 17th yahrzeit on Sunday brings back memories for one of Arutz Sheva's veteran Judaism writers.

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Moshe Kempinski,

Moshe Kempinski
Moshe Kempinski
צילום: PR

My first encounters with Shlomo Carlebach were through my Gerer Chassidic Uncle who could not stop speaking about this young Hassidic musician who made his soul dance.

It was not until many years later that I, too, would begin a voyage that would somehow consistently cross Reb Shlomo's path at important junctures of my life.

A Shabbat in 1969 at his House of Love and Prayer in Jerusalem, even though Reb Shlomo was not there, solidified the feeling that our paths would somehow always intertwine and overlap. That they did, throughout my involvment in Kiruv [Jewish outreach]  activities and in several projects related to Am Yisrael.

Yet it was the concerts that captivated me. It was not just the music itself but the totality of the Shlomo concert experience. I rarely joined the dancing and I would usually stand  in some corner and just listen, sing and sway, but I was captivated.
I attempted for years to understand what it was that Reb Shlomo ignited in me.

It was his Torah. It was his big eyes inside a crinkly-faced smile. It was also his heavily accented " Gevalt Holy brother".

Yet there was something else. I think I finally realized it at Reb Shlomo's funeral on Har Hamenuchot . I think I saw it in the eyes of  the incredible array of people who were there to walk the last mile with their rebbe.

 Reb Shlomo gave one a taste of “ Infinite possibilities”. Around Reb Shlomo you never felt imprisoned by who you were. Around him,  you were impressed by what you could be. True Teshuva was manageable. Geulah [redemption,ed.] was within your grasp. The world was waiting for you to step out and take action.

That was the power that lifted up those who had fallen. That was the impact that seemed to give closure to unfinished business. That was the passion that would give one the empowerment to turn to Hashem like a child returning home. It was a taste of infinite possibilities and a vision of the Ain Sof, the infinite..

I thought of all those things when I encountered a story of another holy individual . I was watching a movie about Reb Aryeh Levin, the Tzadik of Yerushalayim. In it the narrator read from Reb Aryeh's letters describing his inner struggle to be who he wanted to be.

It featured many of the great and heroic of Israel  whose lives  were changed by the encounter with Reb Aryeh, people whose hearts and souls were warmed by his ever caressing hands. 

One of those life changing moments occurred when I heard an Israeli author describe his meeting with Reb Aryeh. He describes how as a rather mischievous child, he asked Reb Aryeh " they say that you are one of the Lamed Vav Tzadikim ( the 36 hidden righteous people in every generation) that true?"

Reb Aryeh looked at the child and simply said, " sometimes".
The child , surprised exclaimed " sometimes!?"

Reb Aryeh responded, " do you think being a lamed vav tzadik is a  is a level...sometimes I achieve it and sometimes someone else does"

The lessons I had learned from Reb Shlomo intertwined with the story of Reb Aryeh and impacted me greatly. Everyone of us has the power and the potential to be one of the Lamed Vav Tzadikim.. even for just a minute. It is even possible for an hour and sometimes even more. Again I tasted of the sweetness of the Torah of infinite possibilities .
Reb Shlomo taught that when in Psalm 92:3, it says: ""To declare Your  lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness in the night seasons", we must take heed of the second part of the verse. When the psalmist declares “and Your faithfulness in the night seasons” , he is talking about HaShem’s faithfulness to us.

HaShem has more faith in us than we have in ourselves.

Connect to that and you have connected to the Reb Shlomo’s torah of “Infinite possibilities”