Shlomo Carlebach was a world loved rabbi and musician who embraced everyone as an equal. He influenced Jewish soul expression in an unparalleled way, forever.
This past Shabbos was the 20th anniversary of his passing.
…. And he spoke to me from the other side.
On a bus this past Shabbos morning to New York to visit my daughter, next to me sat a lovely senior Jewish woman with a pungent malodor.
With much on my mind, including reconciling riding on the Sabbath, the scent of my next seat neighbor took me from judgment to mindfulness to my greatest good / higher self and back to non-acceptance …. Over and over and over ………
Hours later …..
Shlomo Carlebach’s New York synagogue was close enough to where I was in the city to go there for a weekend celebration of his life.
Many were in attendance. Those who knew Reb Carlebach shared their stories about him with us.
There was just a sliver of a splinter of time left for the last share … the most compelling one. The quietest mouse that made the loudest sound.
As it was told – a man came to this synagogue once who had so foul an unwashed odor that no one would sit near him.
Shlomo Carlebach, seeing how isolated he was, went over to hug him.
At that moment Shlomo spoke to me from the other side of the uncrossable veil that separates the living from eternity.
I resolved that as challenging as it may be, in a future condition like the bus ride, I can consider speaking to the beautiful person near me, overlooking what I once perceived as an obstacle …
And then came this morning ….
A brother in healing that I know, poor, homeless and sanity starved, was released from a hospital yesterday to shuffle on frozen sidewalks through a city that had no clean mattress for him to lie on that was free of bedbugs, like those which provided him a nightly, burgeoning, infectious blanket the swarmed all over him before it was taken away by the authorities as he was left derelict on an urban concrete purgatory.
He babbled on for most the time in the small gathering of concerned friends around him, into downwardly spiraling unreason as I walked away.
What I wanted was a quiet time to sit among the softening oriental images and calligraphed passages on
the meditation center walls, nearby.
…And then … Would Shlomo have walked away from this suffering man?
I returned to where this bereft soul sat and hugged him as I saw the beautiful man beyond the palsied mind and soiled spirit …. as well as the kindly woman on the bus in all her beauty.
I knew Shlomo would have done the same and hopefully had one more hug left for me. too.