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December 2007

8 posts from November 2007

Bat Ayin with Guy Tzvi


Guy Tzvi Mintz and Lazer, earlier this week at Bat Ayin

This post is a special thanks to our wonderful supporters of Emuna Outreach, who so generously sponsored our evening of song and inspiration earlier this week at Bat Ayin in Gush Etzion, a beautiful settlement with the most beautiful people - inside and out - one would ever want to meet. Bat Ayin is the home of Erez Levanon of blessed and martyred memory, who was brutally murdered by terrorists 9 months ago. Not only did our supporters cover all the costs of the evening, but they also contributed over $1000 of books and CDs to establish the new Emuna lending library in Erez's memory.

G-d willing, we hope to have some video clips of the evening at Bat Ayin posted here on the Beams in the near future. Just being with Guy Tzvi is an inspiration. His music penetrates the heart and goes straight to the soul.

Today, we received a lovely letter from Mrs. Kerem Perlman, the general secretary of Bat Ayin:

Dear Rabbi Brody,

The Shiur you gave this past Sunday at Bat Ayin, along with Gay Tzvi Minz, was exceptional. The "holy lights"  of Bat Ayin were uplifted. Lessons in Emunah and Simcha, Singing and Dancing, and much laughter ignited the shul.  Many of the attendees came up to me after the shiur with glowing smiles on their faces, expressing grattitude. Thank you for bringing "spiritual chizuk" to our Yishuv.  Also, thank you for the donation of books and CDs for the "Keren Erez" lending library, in memory of Erez Levanon z"l.  It is already in great use.


Kerem Perlman 

Emuna, joy, and chizuk (spiritual reinforcement) are the name of the game. I never cease to express my gratitude to Hashem for enabling me to devote my life to spreading emuna and joy wherever I can. Thank you, Hashem, and thanks once again to our cherished friends and supporters of Emuna Outreach. May Hashem bless you always.

Lazer with Guy Tzvi Mintz, Sunday night at Bat Ayin

You're cordially invited to a very special evening of "Emuna and Simcha, A Preparation For Chanukah", at the main synangogue of Bat Ayin in Gush Etzion , Sunday night, 25 November / 15 Kislev 5768 at 8 PM, with Rav Lazer and one of Breslev Israel's most talented singers & composers Guy Tzvi Mintz , whom you all know from his beautiful arrangement and performance of the Tikkun HaKlali. Here in Israel, we call Guy Tzvi, "The Interior Decorator," because of the way he decorates our souls with his his beautiful music. The evening is also in honor of "Keren Erez," a new lending library of books and CDs donated by Emuna Outreach in memory of Rav Erez Levanon, of saintly and blessed memory. We hope to see you all there!

Guy Tzvi Mintz sings Psalm 41

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You can hear Lazer weekly, every Sunday live on Israel National Radio's Tamar Yonah Show, at 3:15 PM Israel time, which is 8:15 AM EST.

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Mark this coming Motzei Shabbat, December 1, 2007 / 21 Kislev, 5768 (Saturday night) on your calendar: Moshav Yad Binyamin, Yeshivat Torat HaChaim, and Emuna Outreach are pleased to announce a very special MelaveMalka (Saturday night "escorting the Shabbat Queen" festive gathering), which with Hashem's loving grace will take place in the main auditorium of Yeshivat Torat HaChaim in Moshav Yad Binyamin at 8 pm, featuring Breslev's sweet singer Yosef Karduner and yours truly. G-d willing, this will be a spiritually-uplifting evening, a good preparation for Chanuka, and a wonderful place to take your wife, so if you're in Israel, don't miss it!

Yad Binyamin is conveniently located halfway between Ashdod and Bet Shemesh , and less than an hour's drive from either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Hope to see you there!

Reb Shlomo Carlebach of blessed memory.

Dear Rabbi Brody,

My 17 year old son learns in a chassidishe Yeshiva. When he came home for last week for Shabbos, I was playing a Reb Shlomo Carlebach CD in the kitchen while cooking. My son immediately closed his ears in a big show of protest, ran to the CD, and switched it off. He told me that his Rebbe forbids listening to Reb Shlomo's music, and then said all kinds of nasty things about him that I don't want to repeat. I always thought that Reb Shlomo was a wonderful man, who brought loads of people closer to Yiddishkeit. Who's right, me or my son and his Rebbe? This matter really upsets me, Rabbi Brody, so please answer me as soon as you possibly can. With my appreciation and best wishes, BG from NY State

Dear BG,

You are absolutely right - Rav Shlomo Carlebach of blessed memory was a phenominal human being with a huge heart and a shining, magnetic soul that brought thousands of people closer to G-d. We have an expression over here that says, "Stam mishna Rebbe Meir, stam niggun Rebbe Shlomo". Rav Shlomo's influence on Jewish music is more than any of us realize.

Let me tell you a moving story. When my unit was on the way to a very dangerous antiterrorist raid deep inside Lebanon in 1978, we were transported on a bus from our home base to our jump-off point in Northern Israel. The 24 of us were looking at each other with fake smiles on our face, wondering who's not going to make it home. You could have cut the tension in the air with a challa knife. At the time, I wasn't religious yet, but I had always loved Rav Shlomo and his music ever since I heard him performing at the University of Maryland, when I was a senior in 1970. The niggun "Yisrael b'tach B'Hashem" came into my mind. I started singing it. All the other guys - none of whom were religious - joined in. Can you imagine 2 squads of Israeli Special Forces commandos, most of whom came from kibbutzim and moshavim, singing "Israel, trust in Hashem?!"

Anyway, the mission was perfect, a PLO HQ was levelled to the ground, and all 24 of us came home without a scratch. To this day, I believe that our singing penetrated the heavens, and Rav Shlomo's niggun simply invoked the protection of guardian angels. My hands are trembling as I'm typing this, since your letter has reminded me of something I hadn't thought of for 29 years.

I've heard such evil slander like the type your son brought home. In my humble opinion, his zealously frum rebbe, while trying to protect the souls of his pupils, has violated some very serious Torah prohibitions, such as slander, evil speech, and casting a bad name. In addition, a very serious rabbinical ordinance forbids speaking unfavorably about the dead, on penalty of cherem, or excommunication. Your son, in continuing his rebbe's zealotry, violated the commandment of honoring his mother - he didn't have the right to sanctimoniously yank the CD player plug out of the while. Do you see where "frumkite" zealotry takes trampling the Torah itself, heaven forbid!

In 1989, I was invited to a Torah scroll dedication at the Amshinov shul in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood of Jerusalem. The Amshinover Rebbe Shlita, who is well known and considered to be one of the most prodigious righteous and holy men alive - maybe even Tzaddik of this generation - personally invited Rav Shlomo ob"m to sing. The Amshinover's gabbai told me that the Rebbe adores Rav Shlomo. Then, with my own eyes, I saw the Amshinover hug Shlomo Carlebach!

Rav Shlomo never forget a face. 22 years after Maryland U, and with the addition of beard and payis to my face, he still remembered me. "Aren't you the fella from Maryland with the black motorcycle jacket with the big Magen David on it (that was me!)?" I was floored. You couldn't help but loving Rav Shlomo Carlebach of blessed memory.

It could be that the sparks of his music kindled the fire of faith within me. Rav Shlomo brought Yiddishkeit to the American campuses and shlepped the American campuses to Yiddishkeit. Only The Almighty knows how many thousands of people Rav Shlomo's musical outreach influenced. Before people dare to say a word about Rav Shlomo Carlebach, they should ask themselves how many lost children they've brought home to Hashem.

May Rav Shlomo's soul be in the upper chambers of Heichal Haniggun, the Heavenly Halls of Music in Gan Eden, amen. I'll bet he's teaching new tunes to the archangels this very minute. Blessings always, LB

Rivka's Story

These are the reflections of a formerly bourgeois modern-orthodox wife and mother who made Aliya several years ago, and became an idealistic pioneer of emuna on a settlement in the Judean Hills.

When I lived in the UK, I loved visiting Eretz Yisrael, but I definitely didn’t think about it on a daily basis. I was far too busy working, shopping, worrying – all the many things far too many of us waste far too much of our time on. But then, a couple of years ago we made the move to Eretz Yisrael and slowly, things began to change. Initially, we picked a ‘safe’ neighbourhood, with nice, big, new houses, on the ‘right’ side of the green line.

Initially, we felt very at home in this neighbourhood. It had the same obsession with careers and buying stuff that we’d just left behind abroad. But after a few months, instead of feeling more at home, we started to feel more out of place.

Hashem, in his wisdom, had sent us some very challenging circumstances to deal with, and all the old ways we had of solving our problems abroad – trying more, working more, arguing more, using more of our connections, using more of our intelligence, etc – just weren’t working at all in Eretz Yisrael.

By chance (although nothing ever happens by chance) we stumbled across the ‘LazerBeams’ website, and over the course of many long months, we realised that Hashem was sending us our difficulties to teach us about emuna. The more we learned about emuna, the more we changed as people and the more our relationship to Eretz Yisrael and the people who live here was transformed. We noticed it in small ways at first; like a willingness to drive on ‘dangerous’ roads like the 443; or into ‘dangerous’ areas like Gush Etzion. Or to take on ‘dangerous’ subjects, like the ongoing plight of the evacuees from Gush Katif, which many of our acquaintances simply weren’t interested in.

Increasingly, when we started to look at the world with emuna, we realised that we simply weren’t seeing the same things that our acquaintances, and many of our friends and family overseas were seeing.

Time went on, and Hashem sent us some very clear signs that we’d outgrown that first Anglo yuppie-style neighbourhood. We started looking around for something more suitable and initially, we settled on a settlement outside of Jerusalem. Today, we are living in the heart of Gush Etzion.

In all honesty, I was still scared of all the question marks hanging over the settlements in Judea and scared of what could happen on the roads in the Gush if another intifada kicked off, G-d forbid. But, my fears evaporated as I discovered that Gush Etzion is home to some of the most emuna-filled Jews you could hope to meet.

Some people talk a lot about having emuna. The people here live it on a daily basis, and it’s the sort of emuna that you simply can’t fake. A storm raged in our head. On the one hand, Hashem had brought us to a community that was perfect for us and our kids in almost every way. On the other hand, how crazy would you have to be to try and set down roots in one of the most politically unstable areas of Eretz Yisrael?

Before we moved here, we’d been so mindful of staying on the ‘right’ side of the green line – but that was before we started trying to live our lives with Emuna. I was still uncertain, though, that we really had what it takes to live here. So I asked Hashem to give me a sign that we were really up to the challenge and privilege of living in Gush Etzion. He did:

We sold our old house in one day, a miracle in itself, which enabled us to by our lovely home here in Gush Etzion.

But what sort of crazy moves their family to the ‘dangerous West Bank’, and tries to buy a house on land slated to be ‘given back’ to the Arabs?

Over the past few months, we’ve had different versions of these questions posed to us by many of our friends and family, both abroad and in the ‘safe’ neighbourhood of Eretz Yisrael.

I understand where they are coming from. But as I try to explain to them, there are no guarantees anywhere in the world. With the rise of Islamo-terrorism and tension with the West; increasingly unpredictable and destructive weather patterns; and the looming spectre of a global recession that will dwarf anything we’ve seen so far, where is ‘safe’ today?

When I look at the world with emuna, I can see that Eretz Yisrael is the safest possible place for a religious Jew. There is nothing in our Tanach saying that Israel will be destroyed, G-d forbid, or that the Jews will be exiled for a third time. But there is plenty in there talking about the war between Persia and Edom and predicting the complete destruction of Western civilisations.

Why am I here, in the Gush? Because Hashem put me here. I tried plenty of other places and options, but He kept bringing me back to this one place. So I have emuna that whatever happens in the future, it’s for my best. If G-d forbid, we get kicked out and we lose all the money tied up in the house – it’s for the best.

In the meantime, every week I drive round the corner and visit Kever Rochel; every month, we go to Hevron to visit the Maarat Hamachpeila; and every day, I live in an area that is so rich with our culture and history.

For us, the question now is not ‘why are we living here’, but ‘why isn’t everyone else?’

Pre-Chanuka Melave Malka with Yosef Karduner

Moshav Yad Binyamin, Yeshivat Torat HaChaim, and Emuna Outreach are pleased to announce a very special Melave Malka (Saturday night "escorting the Shabbat Queen" festive gathering), which with Hashem's loving grace will take place on Motzaei Shabbat (Saturday night), December 1st, 2007 in the main auditorium of Yeshivat Torat HaChaim in Moshav Yad Binyamin at 8 pm, featuring Breslev's sweet singer Yosef Karduner and yours truly. G-d willing, this will be a spiritually-uplifting evening, a good preparation for Chanuka, and a wonderful place to take your wife, so mark it down on your calendar.

Yad Binyamin is conveniently located halfway between Ashdod and Bet Shemesh , and less than an hour's drive from either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Hope to see you there!