“You should know that every type of wisdom in the world has a unique song. In fact, it’s from that particular song, where we draw the wisdom…Faith also has a song. The song of faith is the highest of all songs. It’s from that lofty song of pure faith where all the world’s songs are drawn down” (Torah 64).
Last night we sang and danced in the streets of Jerusalem to celebrate the life of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach z”l, on the day of his yahrtzeit.
I can’t describe in words the euphoric feeling of singing and dancing together with all my ‘brothers and sisters’ last night. The energy there was other worldy. I’ve been singing publicly my entire life and from a very young age my mother wisely told me that the power of song will unlock doors for me. Shlomo was a master of song. That’s why he was so deep. His torah and his stories left you yearning. He wouldn’t finish his thoughts. It was more about what he didn’t say. Similarly, music connects us to something way above us. When we sing, we actually draw down that holiness and experience it.
Nothing in this world is higher than song. It inspires prophesy and it’s the back drop of our Holy Temple. “So this is my deepest prayer, in the name of all of us, ושם נשיר, ‘Master of the world, put a new song into our hearts'”. So we can parade together back to the Holy City, “my children, your children ושם נשיר שיר חדש”!
לעילוי נשמת הרב שלמה בן הרב נפתלי קרליבך ז״ל
I love you Shlomo! Thank you!
We had a baby girl this week who we named Rena, which means to sing in Joy!
I’d like to slightly move away from the ordinary format of this blog today and discuss why we named her Rena. Although, in truth, most of Rebbe Nachman’s lessons were inspired by current events and personal affairs in his life. He never sat down to write a book. So it makes sense to have this discussion now.
One of the most famous lessons the Rebbe taught is entitled אזמרה. He encouraged the chassidim to review it over and over because he felt it to be a monumental foundation in coming close to Hashem. Although we will discuss the idea more in depth at a later time in this blog, the short of it is that we must search for the good points in ourselves and in others. By finding the good points in everyone, even a totally corrupt person, we can actually bring them back to Hashem. There is no Jew who is too far away and too full of sin to be brought back. Everybody has good points. Everybody!
Later on in the lesson he teaches that the craft of finding the good points in ourselves and in others creates a beautiful song. The Tzaddik sings this song. His whole essence is singing this song all the time. A true Tzaddik only sees the good points in others, because in reality the good points are the real person. All the other pronounced parts of the person that are screaming ‘bad dude’ are not the real them. The authentic person is his good points. And no matter how small or covered up those beautiful points are, the Tzaddik gathers them together and sings a song. (In fact, all insight and faith is nourished from this supreme song of creation [Torah 64]).
King David also sang this song and he urged all the Tzaddikim to sing it too:
“רננו צדיקים ביהו-ה”
Righteous one! Sing joyously out loud in Hashem!
This is the song we hope our new daughter will sing! The song of our own beauty and spirituality! The pure song of seeing the good in all of creation. And, in fact, this is the song we will all sing when Moshiach comes, as David sings “אז ימלא שחוק פינו ולשונינו רנה“, (our mouths will be filled with laughter and our tongues will sing out of joy!) Because when Moshiach arrives we will finally know the truth. And we will see clearly that every Jew is so precious and beautiful. May that day come soon and in our time! Amen!
When I was a Junior in high school someone I loved criticized me that I wasn’t a good listener. I decided to seek advice from a wise man who was visiting from Jerusalem. He asked me the following question: Why does the mishna (אבות ג) say that “The gate to wisdom is silence”? I said, “I don’t know”. So he answered, because there’s another mishna (אבות ד): “Who is wise? One who learns from all people”. He didn’t explain, but I knew what he meant. If I want to learn how to listen (and be wise), I need to learn how to be quiet.
Over the years I’ve participated in many classes and meetings. I find it annoying how people love to hear the sound of their own voice, always chiming in on something ‘brilliant‘ that they were thinking of, instead of listening to the previous speaker. If a person doesn’t learn to be quiet, he won’t gain wisdom, because he doesn’t allow other people to teach him.
Rebbe Nachman says two amazing things about silence:
In Torah 234 he teaches that saying over stories of great people purifies the mind of the storyteller and the listener. But it’s not that easy to do. We need to know how to say the story. Most of the time the mind’s refinement comes from what’s not said, leaving the listener to imagine the details on his own and connect to that greatness.
In Torah 64 he teaches that by examining the deepest heresy and silencing the questions in his great mind, the true tzaddik saves other Jews from the clutches of such heresy and brings them closer to God.
It’s usually the ignorant people who are always talking. The greatest of all people measure their words very carefully. Their silence grants them and others wisdom and development.