Shlomo Carlebach
Shlomo CarlebachArutz Sheva

Days are coming, says God.
There will be a great hunger in the world,
but the hunger will not be for bread
and the thirst will not be for water…”
(Days Are Coming, R’ Shlomo Carlebach z’l)

Was it only last week, that I heard again those words? In a concert hall in Jerusalem, Shlomo was singing. (Ishay Ribo and Shlomo Katz, benefit concert for Yad L’Olim) Surrounded by the palpable energy and hopefulness of youth. Music was surging, lights were dancing, filling the hall with pure joy.

In the haze of a dream, the lights begin to dim, swirling pyrotechnics fade, the scene drifts. White fluffy clouds in a hazy sky float off to a different era, to another realm. I can almost hear Shlomo begin to whistle.

The present blends into the past as the mist of another time fills the room with its presence, and a different image takes its place. My sister and I are on a stage (was it this one?) with other dancing teens. Reb Shlomo is singing, and the hall is lit with an incandescent radiance, a light which could almost be touched, glowing also within each of us.

“Return to who you are, return to what you are, return to where you were born and reborn again” (Return Again, R’ Shlomo Carlebach z’l)

The scene dissolves, as smoke drifts away to reveal a clearer image. My grandchild and son are by my side, swept up by the enchantment of music into a different realm where all is possible, where the future is blessed by the sacredness of Life in its rhythm and joy. A chain of hope, of destiny. As we, our
Nation, in Israel today. Born and reborn again. It was night when we left. Quite dark and cold. A light drizzle was falling. (Were the angels already then weeping?) The rain did not wash away the joy, the beauty, the hope.

But the darkness remained all week, as we became aware of one catastrophe after the next. The magnitude of suffering incomprehensible.

Until when…until when…

We have just exited a period of existential threat to our lives. A worldwide health crisis which seemed to unite the world in mutual concern .

And yet, rather than gratitude, that period has now been followed by one of rage, of war, of destruction. Even the very ground we stand upon seems to be angry.

Our minds cannot grasp, our hearts do not accept the reality we are living in. The appalling tragedies of our human condition.

It is morning. An island of time, an island of preparation, of tranquility, of peace. Sun is about to rise on an otherwise gray, cloudy day. I am watering the plants. Various shades of green, almost sparkling in their expectant hopefulness, the buds hiding their color, waiting for the full brightness of morning light when they will open and reveal their beauty. Before adding water to each, I check the ground. Dry or moist?

Does the plant want to drink, is it thirsty?

From somewhere within, or perhaps above, I hear a melodious whistling. From afar, I hear a voice singing, and the chords of a guitar.

Pain has a unique power to unite us. We forget our own selves, and are overwhelmed by the suffering of our brothers, in this land and abroad. United in our horror, united in our desire to do good, to save. Within the tragedy, we are witness to the nobleness of the human spirit, in giving, in caring.

One day, the world will be One. United in peace, in friendship, in knowledge of our common destiny as Mankind. What will life be like, then?

And until that day…until that day? When? Why? For how long?

“…This is our generation
these are our children
crying in their sleep,
begging when they are awake.
Waiting, waiting, waiting,
holding out with their last strength
to hear the word of God.”
(Days Are Coming, R’ Shlomo Carlebach z’l)