Friends, as the sin of the generation of the Bayit Sheni (Second Temple) was Sinat Chinam, Causeless Hatred, which the sages teach led to the Destruction and exile, here is a story that points the way to our redemption...
as related by Ilan Meister...
"This is my own Holy Hunchback story. It may have been a simple coincidence, but I like to think it was my encounter with Eliyahu Hanavi (the Prophet Elijah). I was at a vulnerable time in my life when this story happened. Driving home one day in Toronto, I was listening to Reb Shlomo's story "The HolyHunchback" on the tape deck in my car. Here's what happened. As only Reb Shlomo could tell, I listened with a smile on my face to his beautiful words as follows:
In the Warsaw ghetto there was a Rebbe, the heiliger Reb Kalonimus Kalman (Schapiro). He wrote a book, Aish Kodesh, and knowing prophetically that he would not survive, he put the manuscript under one of the stones in the ghetto where it was found after the war. He had a yeshiva not of young people but of children. He was accustomed to say, "My followers eat on Yom Kippur. You know why-they are not bar mitzvah yet." A great Rabbi would come to him, or an old man and a little girl of four or five. He would say to the older man, "You'll make it without me. This child needs me." With older people he would spend five minutes; with children all night. He had thousands of kids. He was their father, their mother, their best friend. After the war, there was nobody left. My whole life I was hoping and dreaming to see one of these people. A few years ago I was walking on the Yarkon in Tel Aviv and I saw a hunchback - a street cleaner.
Do you know that sometimes we are all little prophets? Our heart tells us something. I had a feeling this person was special. He was a real hunchback. His face was very handsome, but every part of his body was disfigured. And I said to him. "Hey, shalom aleichem my friend."And he answered me in a very heavy Polish-Yiddish Hebrew, "Aleichem shoolum." I said to him in Yiddish, "Mein zeisse yid, my sweet yiddele, where are you from?" He said, "I'm from Peshineschte." I said "Peshineschte. Gevalt! Did you ever see Reb Klonimus Kalman?" "What do you mean, did I ever see him? I was a student in his yeshiva from the age of five to eleven. I was in Auschwitz for five years. I was eleven when I got there. They thought I was seventeen; I was so strong. They beat me up so much I never healed. That's why I look this way. I have nobody in the whole world, really nobody," I said to him, "You know something- my whole life I have been waiting to meet one of the students of Reb KIonimus Kalman. Would you be so kind as to give me over one of his teachings?" He kept on sweeping the street, "You really think that after five years in Auschwitz, I remember the teachings?" I said, "Yes-the words of the heileger Rebbe penetrate you forever." He stopped sweeping. He looked at me and said, "Do you really want to know?" He touched me so deeply and although you shouldn't swear, I said to him "I swear to you, and I mean it with all my heart, that whatever you tell me I shall tell all over the world." You know he was a real chasidisher Yid, so he put the broom against a wall and went to wash his hands.
And this is what he said: "There will never be a Shabbos as by my holy master, my heiliger Rebbe. Can you imagine -hundreds, sometimes thousands of young people dancing with the holy rebbe in the middle. What a sightl Not until Meshiach is coming. Can you imagine the Rebbe making kiddush sitting with hundreds of children with so much holiness! He gave over teachings between the fish and the soup, between the soup and the meat, between the meat and the dessert and after every teaching, he would always say, "Kinderlach, taire kindertach, my most precious children, gedenkst shon, remember, die greste sach in die velt ist, tun emetzin a tova."
~Now, as Shlomo is telling over this beautiful story, as I'm listening intently to it, driving down a street in Toronto that was as familiar to me as the back of my hand, I noticed out of the corner of my eye none otherthan a hunchback! I'm not talking about an old man with bad posture. I'm talking about an old man so bent over that he is crossing the street and his back is so arched that he can't lift his head up enough to see in front of him. He is completely looking at the ground and he is crossing a street. He is on the other side of the road, walking the other way. So, without thinking I pull into the first street, turn around and follow him into a small plaza and I park the car. In my mind, I'm thinking that this is not something I would normally do, but this is too strange to be a coincidence.There must be some kind of message. G-d is sending me a messenger of some sort and I need to find out what its all about. Again, I'm not the type that would normally jump at something like this. Maybe it was Shlomo's influence. Maybe it was just one of those things. I believe that G-d sends us messages all the time. He is looking out for us. The question is: Are our eyes open? Are our ears open? Are our hearts open? Are we ready to see, hear and feel what G-d is trying to tell us?
Now at this point, I had no plan. I figured that it would all become clear if I just go and talk to this old man. So, I park the car, just as Reb Shlomo quotes the hunchback, who quotes Reb Klonimus: "Kinderlach, taire kindertach, my most precious children, gedenkst shon, remember, die greste sach in die velt ist, tun emetzin a tova."I don't speak or understand Yiddish, so I have no clue what is being said at this point. Anyways, I get out of the car and approach the man who is standing now in front of a Dry Cleaners. It's Sunday, so the store is closed. I said Hello to the man and asked him if there is anything I can help him with."Is this store open," he asks, in a thick Jewish accent."No, I'm sorry, it's not. It says here that they are closed on Sunday. They open tomorrow at 7:00." "Thank you young man," he says. "I'll come back then." And he begins to walk away."Can I offer you a ride home? It's cold out." I call after him, thinking that there must be more to this." No," he says. "Thank G-d, I still have the use of my legs. I'd prefer to walk while I still can." And he continues on his way. I am getting discouraged that this could be the end of our encounter. But, as I'm thinking of what else I can say to keep the conversation going, the old man turns around and asks me if I know where he can find a restroom. I point out that the only place open is a small deli in the plaza and I offer to walk him in. I bring him in to the restaurant and ask the waitress if there is a bathroom that this elderly man could use. She looks at him and tells me that there is a customers' restroom but that it is down a very steep and narrow staircase and that it might be dangerous for him. I told her that its okay - I will help him down the stairs and wait for him to help him back up again and that is what I did. Afterwards, as the man is thanking me, I'm still thinking that I have to keep this going as I have yet to understand why I saw a hunchback at this particular time and why I stopped to find him. He refuses my ride home again, continuing to thank me for my time and my help. Unfulfilled, I say "Shalom Aeichem" and, as G-d is my witness, he replies "Aleichem Shulom" in his thick Yiddish accent. That puts a smile on my face as I head back to my car, trying to figure out what to make of this whole encounter.
As I'm thinking that maybe it was just a coincidence, I start the car and the tape continues where I left off, with Reb Shlomo about to translate the words of the Warsaw Rebbe from Yiddish:~ "Children, precious children," he sings. "Just remember the greatest thing in the world is to do somebody else a favor."And with that, the message was clear as day! I had just helped this man by doing a favor for him. A small favor, but a favor none-the-less. Something I would not have been able to do had I not stopped the car and followed him. Yes, it was simple, so simple yet so important.
As the Holy Hunchback continues to explain...
~ When I came to Auschwitz, I knew my whole family had been killed and I wanted to kill myself. Each time I was about to, I suddenly heard the Rebbe's voice saying to me, "Gedenkst shon, the greatest thing in the worldis to do somebody else a favor." Do you know how many favors you do inAuschwitz late at night? People dying, people crying; nobody had the strength even to listen to their stories anymore. I would be up all night. A few weeks later I wanted to kill myself again but always at the last moment I'd hear my Rebbe's voice. Now I'm here in Tel Aviv, but believe me, I'm all alone. There are moments when I decide to commit suicide. I go into the sea until the water reaches my nose. Then suddenly I hear my Rebbe's voice again and I just can't permit myself to do it and I run back to the streets. Do you know how many favors you can do on the street?" My friends, this was before Rosh Hashana. After Succos I came back to Israel and the first morning I went to the Yarkon and I asked the people on that street corner where the hunchback was. They said he died on the second day of Succos. Listen to me, my beautiful friends, when the Meshiach comes, when all the holy people will come back to the world and the holy hunchback, the holy street cleaner will come back. He will clean the streets of the world. Do you know how he will clean the world? He will go from one corner of theworld to the other and he will say, "Yiddelach, gedenkst shon, the greatest thing in the world is to do somebody else a favor."
~And the story ends. I stopped the tape, and thought about it the rest of the way home. Then I parked in my driveway, rewound the tape and listened to the story again. I realized a few things:
1. Reb Shlomo said "Do you know that sometimes we are all little prophets? Our heart tells us something. I had a feeling this person was special." How true this was in my short encounter with My Holy Hunchback.
2. Reb Shlomo swore to the Holy Hunchback in his story that if he would just tell him something from the teachings of Reb Klonimus Kalman, "thatwhatever you tell me I shall tell all over the world." And this he did in his concerts and to everyone he met and in his tapes and CDs that are distributed all across the globe.
3. Well, the simple message got to me and straightened my whole life up. Ipromised myself that this would become my mantra. To do favors for others,without expecting anything in return. We're all in this crazy world together, with the sole purpose of serving G-d. Although that purpose isn't clear to most of us most of the time, a small act of kindness that could mean just a few minutes of your time could mean the world to a friend or a stranger and certainly means the world to G-d.
** Believe it or not, there's more! A couple of years after my meeting with My Holy Hunchback, My Personal Eliyahu Hanavi, a terrible thing happened inIsrael, that I never would have connected to my story, were it not for myfriendship with Reb Shlomo's daughter, Neshama. My wife and I were planning a trip to be in New York and Neshama invited usfor Friday night dinner. A few days before our trip, Neshama called us to cancel. She was very distraught and in no mood to entertain guests. The reason for her mood was the horrible murder of Aish Kodesh Gilmore, a childhood acquaintance of hers from Moshav Modiin in Israel. We gave her our condolences and asked her if anyone would be with her for Shabbos. She said she would be alone. I told her that it was not time to be alone and that we want to be her shoulders to cry on. I took the liberty of inviting her to join us at a friend's place nearby instead and she agreed. After dinner, we had some time to talk and she told us a little about Aish Kodesh. She explained how he got his name...
Aish Kodesh is the name of a sefer, a book written by none other than Rav Klonimus Kalman of Piasezna. It was then that I remembered from the beginning of the Holy Hunchback Story, that Reb Shlomo recommended that very book. Reb Shlomo studied the book together with a chavrusa (a learning partner). When that man had a son, he named him Aish Kodesh and this was the young man who was killed by an Arab terrorist in Israel. Neshama also told us how he was killed. It turns out that he was posted as a guard at a certain government building in Jerusalem. When another guard from the main entrance needed to go to the bathroom, he asked Aish Kodesh to man his post. Aish Kodesh left his spot upstairs to take his friend's spot at the main entrance, and it was while this soldier was in the bathroom that the terrorist walked in and shot Aish Kodesh and another guard in the head.It was a grievous loss for all of Israel, and a shock that this could happen.
The next day, we went to The Carlebach Shul in Manhattan. There was a sense of simcha of joy there as on every Shabbos, but something was missing as the whole Carlebach community especially mourned this horrible loss. When the Rabbi got up to speak, he did something unusual. He pulled from his pocket a letter of gratitude from the family of Aish Kodesh for all the wishes of condolences and kindness that they received from New York. The family set an incredible example with this letter, mourning their loss but at the same time putting life into perspective with their strength in their belief in Hashem and that Aish Kodesh died "Al Kidush Hashem" sanctifying G-d's (name). I realized then that it all came together. Aish Kodesh not only died protecting his country as so many soldiers have done for our G-d given land. He also died doing what his name sake called "the greatest thing in the world" - doing somebody else a favor. Good Shabbos!" Ilan Meister
What mind is it?
"Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people."
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people."
ON FIXING AND HEALING...
"If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix..... If you believe that you can harm, then believe that you can heal..........." Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
Mariane Paradise and The Gan Eden Project sings of the Unity of All Creation from Jerusalem
IVDU ET HASHEM B'SIMCHA- SERVE THE LORD WITH JOY DANCING AND SINGING FROM INSIDE A BOMB SHELTER
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From Haight Street to Love Street
the last hoshana rabba with reb shlomo and me playing together the week before he took off in '94
THE HAPPY MINYAN - GREAT VIDEO
Alpha blondy from cote d'ivoire sings his love of Jerusalem in Hebrew and French all over the world
When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.- Abraham Joshua Heschel
The whole world is a very narrow bridge. And the most important thing is to not be afraid.
-Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
-Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
"As you want G*d to give you a chance, give everyone else a chance to also begin again." - Shlomo Carlebach
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- I played violin with Reb Shlomo and studied under him for over nine years at hundreds of concerts and learnings. Shlomo wanted to give me smicha before he passed. Deepest influences: My father,obm, who was a great scientist and human being, and my grandfather, obm, who was a great Torah scholar who was a musmach of the Mir Yeshiva and taught in Slobodka in Russia before WW1, and was also personal friends with the Chafetz Chaim and came to America in 1914. He knew the Talmud by heart! You could stick a pin in a word and he could tell you what word was on the other side! And my mother, Esther bat Baruch, z"l, who was a scholar of classical Hebrew and Tanach and who gave me a love for the language. And her mother, Anna (Sucher) Deutsch, who was born in Horodenka, spoke six languages, and shared her aged wisdom and eternal sweetness with me. I studied at Brandeis, Hebrew College, Pardes as well as seven years at The Metivta/ITJ earning my Advanced Semicha (yoreh yoreh)under Rav Halivni. What's truly amazing is that Shlomo and Rav Halivni each received semicha from Rav Hutner! But my deepest influences of them all are my sweetest sweetest girls who have taught me the most!
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