• Jeffrey Levine

Reb Shlomo Hashanah Digest

In this Digest, we share some Gems from Reb Shlomo.

A Rosh Hashanah Blessing from Reb Shlomo ztz"l

Dearest Friends,

I just returned from Israel last night. My lungs still full of the air of the Holy Land, my tongue is still covered with the taste of the stones of the Holy Wall and my heart is still bursting with the infinite love and longing for every Jew and every human being. The last few days before Rosh Hashana are like twilight. Every afternoon when the sun sets, out holy rabbis teach us, the sun is red, red with shame that another day passed without Mashiach coming. So, we all are a little bit red and ashamed, that, with all the miracles Hashem showed us this year, I guess we still don't have our act together. On the other hand, we are so proud of Israel, we are so proud of every Jew. Is there a country like ours, are there people like us - the holy ones, the chosen ones, the blessed ones? So, our deepest hope for next year is that we should finally learn how really holy the land is, how really holy every Jew is, and how absolutely holy the whole world is.

Our holy rabbis teach us that when we blow the shofar, G-d is blowing a new soul into us. And aren't we all longing to become new people? How much would we pay to remove our perverseness? To take out all the negativity, the pettiness and the selfishness from our heart? We can make it happen on Rosh Hashana. But still we have a choice. We can tell Hashem, I don't like my new soul, give me back my old kvetchy soul. One can tell Hashem that his greatest joy is telling bad things to people. And the Master of the World says, "Is that what you want? Please do so but write your name in the other book." Woe, woe, woe! Who wants to be in "that" book? I bless you and me to inscribe our names in the Book of Life. It's so good to be alive, so good to be full of joy. It's so important only to say good things to each other.

So, we pray Rosh Hashana night, make me into the head, not a tail. There is a definite need for a tail, but I'd like to be the head. I bless you and me to lift our heads, to lift our spirits, to lift up each other, and to lift up the world. And do you know, my beautiful friends, that physically the higher you fly, the further you get from the earth. But spiritually the higher you are, the closer you are to the earth, the closer you are to every human being, the closer you are to every one of Hashem's creatures.

On Rosh Hashana every second counts. Every person has one moment when they are judged in heaven. Let heaven not catch us faltering at that moment. Is there anything unimportant and unholy at this awesome moment?

I can't wait for us to daven together with tears; a little bit of sadness, but mostly with joy that we have such a great Father in Heaven who will give us hopefully the best year ever.

The first thing we are doing on Rosh Hashanah night is eating apples with honey. The apples, the fruit, these are our children, the next generation. We pray just for their sake that the world be filled with honey. Let the Yiddishkeit that we are teaching them taste as sweet in their mouths.

Much love, Shlomo

Please Help the Carlebach Moshav

In 15 minutes, 40 years of Jewish history on our beloved Moshav Mevo Modiim were destroyed in a raging fire, caused by malicious arson.

This tragedy extends far beyond the residents of our tight-knit community, and the outpouring of love has shown us that the ripples of loss are felt around the globe. Over the years, we have been privileged to welcome into our homes and hearts tens of thousands of people seeking Jewish growth and spirituality.

Our special community of artists, musicians, practitioners of alternative healing and health, and creatives built a true pilgrimage destination where guests are treated to unique and impactful Shabbat and holiday experiences. It has been a tremendous gift to be able to serve the Jewish people in this way, and one for which we remain deeply grateful.

Sadly, today, the majority of our 70 homes are burnt to ashes and the few that remain are damaged and uninhabitable. Parts of the Moshav have been isolated due to toxic gases that remain in the air and much of the infrastructure has been destroyed.

In a matter of minutes, we became three generations (nearly 250 people) displaced and in need of significant support services. Our temporary shelter in a nearby high-school dormitory houses community members aged 2 months to 91 years old.


We can’t say enough about the generosity that has been shown to us during this painful time, and we are grateful to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews who assisted us in creating a pipeline for donations for immediate disaster relief and the distribution of collected funds.

As we work side by side with the Israeli government to develop a strategic plan to restore our beloved Moshav and care for the victims of this fire, we humbly turn to you today for a different type of support.While the government debates our fate, we need to raise money to pay for a range of social services, public relations assistance, logistical support, other infrastructure and even a political strategy to ensure that we are both well-coordinated in the short-term and smart advocates for the best possible long-term solution. DONATE TODAY to the Moshav Mevo Modi’im Fire Relief Fund - click here

ALSO give to individual Moshav family funds - click here

Please consider contributing to the Official Moshav Mevo Modi’im Fire Relief Fund that has been set up to provide the support necessary to begin rebuilding our community. All donations are tax-deductible and carefully supervised by the Binder Dijker Otte (BDO) global accounting firm. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and look forward to sharing a beautiful future together in our rebuilt Moshav. Amen.


Ellul– Opening the Gates

Every time I do a mitzva every time I do something good, G-d opens the gates for me to do another mitzva. Why don’t’ I go in? I never do. The Tanakh writes that wicked people are always walking around, always circling, never going in. On the first Shabbos of Elul we always read Shoftim. "Appoint judges and officers in all your gates." What is Elul all about? Doing good. G-d is opening all of the gates.

I want you to know that the Teshuva of Elul is not Teshuva for sins. That is for the ten days between Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur. In Elul the important thing is, I am doing Teshuva for all the gates that were open to me and that I didn’t enter.

Let me say something very deep. Can you image what kind of gate G-d opened to us on Mt Sinai? The deepest gate in the world. The gate was so wide open, the Gemora says, that there was no longer any death in the world. We could have gone straight into Eretz Yisroel. We could have fixed the entire world. But instead what did we do? We made the Golden Calf. We said to G-d, we are not interested in Your gates. Gevald! How could we do that? How could we do that to G-d? So Moshe had to go again to Mt Sinai to re-open all the gates.

In former good days, every city was closed with gates. When they were opened, they blew the shofar. In Elul we blow the shofar to let the world know, to let ourselves know, G-d is opening all the gates, G-d is re-opening all the gates. And we are saying "Appoint judges and officers in all your gates which G-d gave you.



The following is quoted from one of Reb Shlomo’s teachings, which was delivered in Ellul 5745, 17 years ago:

"I want you to know something very deep. What was the downfall of the world? How did the downfall begin? The first person who did something wrong was our mother Eve. The Kotsker Rebbe said that he wished that one time in his life he would stand before G-d in so much holiness, on Yom Kippur, like Eve did when she stood before G-d after eating from the Tree of Knowledge. The downfall of the world was when G-d said to Adam: "Why did you eat the fruit?" and he answered, "It is Chava’s fault." Is this how he loved his wife? We are created in the image of G-d! Is this what you think G-d is all about? He should have said: "It's all my fault." He should have covered up for her.

If G-d forbid, my child would do something wrong and someone will come and ask: "Who did that?" I will say, "I did." When I love somebody, I cover for them.

We see the influence of the Tree of Knowledge. We are not permitted to lie. We have to tell the truth. So, when G-d asked Adam what happened, he blamed it all on Eve. He didn’t cover for his wife. He did not act like a mensch. That’s why G-d said to him: “Get out of my Paradise.

I want you to know the deepest depths of Rosh Hashanah is that we cover for each other. We each say to G-d, "It's all my fault."... According to the Tree of Knowledge there is no such thing as covering for someone. If somebody did something wrong, let them fix it themselves.

Why is 'lashon harah' [evil talk] such a sin? According to the Tree of Knowledge, 'lashon harah' is not a sin. If you saw somebody do something why not tell? You are telling the truth. The moment Adam and Chava ate from the Tree of Knowledge, they didn't cover for each other.

Why is the Temple the deepest fixing? Because Aharon Hacohen is coming again...

We have a Gomorrah [Talmud] on almost everything. But we have no 'masechta' [volume] for loving each other, none for doing 'Teshuva'. Why not? Because this is the Torah of Mashiach, the Torah of the Third Temple, the Torah of Aharon, of covering for each other.

How does Aharon cure the one who speaks 'lashon harah'? Aharon comes and says, "Ribbono Shel Olam, it’s all my fault." The person who speaks lashon hara can only be cured when it is clear to him that there is only one way to live in this world--to cover for each other...

I want to wish everyone of us a Good Year, a year in which we shall cover for each other, and we shall all be forgiven.





Reb Shlomo zt"l would often say to us "open your heart"; when he wanted us to hear something deep when he wanted us to open up to receive holy teachings that reach our hearts before our minds.

he would sing with us

to open our hearts to Hashem and to one another

for such holy words can be received only

with open and loving hearts

and so he would say again and again

'chevre- let's open our hearts

to the deepest and sweetest Torah'

I imagine that this is how the holy Baal Shem Tov taught Torah

let us open our hearts to Hashem's love and compassion

let us open our hearts to truthfully know אבינו אב הרחמן

that our Father, is the most compassionate Father

Reb Shlomo taught in the names of all the holy Rebbes that the ‘tzaddikim gemurim’- the completely righteous ones who are immediately signed into the “Book of Life” (Bavli, Rosh Hashanah 16b) are those who believe with complete faith that though they don’t deserve anything, nevertheless they sincerely trust that Hashem will give them a good year because He is our compassionate loving Father. Reb Shlomo said that we must meditate on this until we come to know it deep in our hearts.

Is my relationship with Hashem only transactional – earning and losing points? Is the G-d we believe in just a score-keeping game master? Reb Shlomo once said, “Don’t kid yourself, the way you think about yourself is the way you think about Hashem.”

If you keep a 'score card' in all of your relationships, if you don’t believe in altruism, if you can’t step out from the prison of your worldly mind, then all of your relationships, including your relationship with Hashem, all of them are limited and dependent. They don’t even come close to the Light of the Infinite One.

In honestly believing that they don’t deserve anything, no matter how many mitzvot they may have done; in honestly believing in Hashem’s compassion, that He wants to, and is ready to give us a good year, the completely-righteous relate with Hashem on the deepest level – the level of love and compassionate bond between father and son – and whoever is not yet at that level…Reb Shlomo would shout at his concerts, “get up and dance!”

Often, he told us the story about the students and Chasidim of the holy Chozeh of Lublin and the Misnaged who came to see for himself if it was really true that the Chassidim were desecrating the holiness of Rosh Hashana by dancing on this holy, awesome day. Sure enough, right after the davening was over, the Chassidim started to dance, whereupon the Misnaged ran up to the Chozeh, “I really didn’t want to believe the Lashon hara, but I see with my own eyes that it’s true. How can you allow this holy day to be so desecrated?!”

The holy Chozeh passed his hand over the Misnaged’s face and suddenly he saw that all the dancing Chassidim were already inscribed in the Book of Life. Then he noticed that there was one Chassid who wasn’t dancing. Again the Chozeh passed his hand over the Misnaged’s face and he saw that this man was not yet inscribed in the Book of Life. Suddenly, the Misnaged realized his own predicament – “I’m not dancing, maybe I’m not in the Book of Life. What should I do?” He looked at the Chozeh – ‘what should I do?’ and the Chozeh said, “What are you waiting for, get up and dance!”

So ,let’s get up and dance joyously! Dance out from your ‘brilliant’ ‘shell-fish’ self. Dance into the joy of your deepest relationship with Hashem, with your true Self, with all of Israel. Dance with joy until the joy dances you!

So, let’s get up to dance and bring our ‘first fruits’ to the Beit Hamikdash! Let’s dance Gratitude, let’s dance Faith! Let the mitzvah of Bikkurim, with the reading and expressing true gratitude to Hashem for taking us out of slavery from Egypt and bringing us to His Land, the land of flowing milk and honey, the most difficult to redeem holy sparks of speech of Malchus can be redeemed and elevated out of their enslavement to your slavery.

Don’t limit yourself to being conditional. Don’t limit Hashem to your conditional mindset. Meditate on the truth of your soul, meditate on the truth of Hashem, your Compassionate Father. Dance with joy and gratitude, speak with gratitude. You are no longer a slave, no longer a victim. You are free to manifest and to be your highest self.

And yes, though I don’t ‘deserve’ anything, we ask for chessed chinam – ‘free kindness.” And we trust that Hashem is ready and wants to give it to us with compassion and love. Get up and dance! Have the best Shabbos!

Our blessing to all of us is that we should be enlightened to know what Hashem wants of us to bring about the complete גאולה redemption NOW. What are the positive and joyful things that we can and must do to draw all of עם ישראל – ‘Am Yisrael’ together, to inspire all our brothers and sisters to come home? Let’s do it! בשמחה!

As Reb Shlomo always would say, ‘Bless me and I bless you back’ that this holy parsha and that this holy Shabbos should permeate us deeply and bring us all close to one another, to Hashem, to His Torah and mitzvot, and to Eretz Yisrael.



New York, Elul 5748 - Reprinted from Cong Kehilath Jacob News

So, how long ago was last Rosh Hashana? How long ago were we together for 24 hours and at the end heard the trumpet of the Messiah? How long ago did we kindle the lights of Chanukah? How many minutes ago were we drunk on Purim and ate matza on Pesach? The truth is, it was a second ago; and the truth of the truth is, all the holidays are with us all year long. A Jew always blows a shofar, a Jew fasts all year, a Jew sits in the Sukkah all his life, a Jew dances with the Torah into all eternities.

So, we are inviting each other again for an even deeper Rosh Hashana / Yom Kippur, a more heavenly Sukkot, and a more beyond heaven Simchas Torah. When I was a little boy, I always asked my father, "Where are the songs of the Holy Temple?" And I never got a good answer because I could not believe that Jews can live without at least our- song from the Holy Temple, a song of King David, a song of beyond time and space, a song that reminds us that we are part of G-d.

A few years ago, late at night, I saw a frail Jew by the Holy Wall who drew my attention. He really prayed. I waited until he finished and he began telling me he had arrived that day from Russia after ten years in Siberia. I asked him, "How did you survive Siberia?" He said, "I was singing all the time."

Suddenly I had this flash and I asked, "Did you sing the songs of the Holy Temple?" And he was quiet for a long time. Tears of ten years of Siberia and maybe two thousand years of exile came out from his holy eyes. And he said, "My whole family are Chassidim from the time of the Baal Shem Tov, and my holy grandfather told me in the name of the holy Baal Shem Toy, that the way we chant prayers on the High Holidays is the way they were singing them in the Holy Temple - the way King David composed them."

That evening changed my life. Whenever I give a concert, I always include the prayers of the High Holidays. The melodies reach, like the Shofar, to the deepest chambers of our souls.

Just imagine Baron Rothschild, suffering from amnesia, standing on it street corner, dirty and filthy, begging for dimes. The first thing he needs is to remember is that he is Rothschild and then to wash up and change his clothes, and then to go back to his home.

All year long everyone in his own way is suffering from amnesia. We forgot what a Jew is, we forgot what a human being is, and we forgot who G-d is. Rosh Hashana when we blow the Shofar, we remember everything. On Yom Kippur, we wash up and on Sukkot we move back into our heavenly abode -- to the palace we are meant to live in.

There is war in the world and hatred because the world has amnesia and his forgotten what it is to be human. There is so much trouble in Israel because the whole world refuses to remember that G-d gave us the land. Let this Rosh Hashana wake up the world. Let this Yom Kippur clean us and the whole world. Let this Sukkot, when we bring sacrifices for all the seventy nations in the Holy Temple, restore dignity all the nations of the world.

There were never so many homeless people in New York as today and this phenomenon is actually all over the world. It is as if G-d is reminding us that if true humanity, true belief in G-d has no home in the world yet. Sukkot we are building a new home for G-d, for all of Israel and via Israel for the whole world. Let the New Year be the year we have been waiting for.

Love, Shlomo


A ROSH HASHANAH LETTER from Reb Shlomo ztz"l:

"So friends in these few days we still have left before Rosh Hashanah & on Rosh Hashanah itself, I bless you and me, I'm begging you and I'm begging myself -- let's get all the anger out of our hearts... all the jealousy...all the pettiness. You know if I'm petty with other people, G-d forbid, then G-d is petty with me.

But if I'm big enough, the more I open my heart for other people, the more I open the gates for myself. Friends, the blessing people give each other on Rosh Hashanah is so deep, so forceful, so very awesome. On Rosh Hashanah every person can open gates for another person if you really mean it. I want to bless you & me that we should open gates for our husbands, wives, children & the entire world this Rosh Hashanah.

Friends, I'm begging you, I'm begging you, don't be angry, not even with yourself. Just lets cleanse our hearts, lets cleanse our thoughts... our holy rabbis tell us, the greatest joy in the world is when you "forging", you rejoice when something good happens for another person. On Rosh Hashanah, the acid test is, how much are you praying for someone else? In the Rosh Hashanah prayers, it's never singular, always plural. Because I'm standing before G-d & I'm saying unless you give life to the entire world, please don't give it to me. Unless you make everyone rich, please I don't want to be the only rich man. Unless you give peace to the whole world, don't give me anything, unless you give it to my husband, my wife, my children, unless you give it to Yerushalayim.

Friends! Let this year be a real beginning not the same beginning we go through every year. Let's not begin the old record over again -- let there be a new record. New teachings. New words. New thoughts. Let every breath we take feel like we never breathed before. The holy Sochachover says when we blow shofar, G-d absolutely blows a new soul into us. Lets keep this new soul so holy & so beautiful & let's inscribe each other into the book of life. GOOD YOM TOV!!!




Rosh Hashanah – The most important prayer

You know my beautiful friends, just to make 100% sure, I'm sure you do know. This is the nusach of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This is the way we are chanting our prayers on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Let me tell you the story. You know the prayer says, "Let the whole world know that there is one G-d. Let the whole world know that He created them. And let the whole world know that the G-d of Israel is the King of the World." So, I need mamash the softest harmony, just hold onto my last note all the time.

It's a beautiful story. The Chiddushe HaRim, the old Gerer Rebbe, before Rosh Hashanah, received a letter from one of the Chassidim, and this is what he said, "Heilage Zeisa Rebbe, my Holy Master, please let me know... please tell me... please enlighten me... Which is the most important prayer of Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur, the High Holidays? The Chiddushe HaRim answered him back and this is what he said, "I want you to know, I want you to know, I receive so many letters that I could never answer them. But I hasten to answer your letter, because your letter was wet with tears, when I received it. So I hasten to answer you." And he says, "Please know that every prayer, every prayer is important. Every prayer reaches heaven. And the heavens are open. But I want you to know, I want you to know, when it comes to this prayer, I want you to concentrate, with the deepest, deepest depths of your heart, of your soul, of everything you have. Because this is all there is to Rosh Hoshana. This is what we are praying for on the first day of the year, and the last day of the last year. ...' "'... "'... "Vayaydah kal pa-ule kee Atah p'alto. And every creation will know that God created you. To know that there is one G-d. Let the whole world know. Let the whole world know.

Reb Nachman says, the Heilage Reb Nachman says, you know why people hate each other? Because deep, deep, deep down they don't really believe that God created them. And they hate each other. If it would be clear to them that there is only one G-d, and G-d created them, they'd love each other.


Rosh Hashanah …

All year long I'm doing teshuva without hearing the shofar. If I do something wrong, I say to myself, "G-d I'm sorry, I won’t do it again" & that’s enough. After I made the golden calf I realized that I sinned because I wasn’t connected enough. So Rosh Hashanah is a Day of Remembrance, the day I say every word in the Torah touches me deeply. The service of Rosh Hashanah is not for fixing mistakes, for atoning for sins. That is on Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah is when I re-establish my connection with G-d.

Why is it that Rivka was tested before marrying Yitzhak, but Rochel was not tested before marrying Yaakov? Because Yaakov & Rochel were so connected. Rochel re-establishes our connection with G-d. The haftorah of Rosh Hashanah is "Rochel cries for her children". Yosef, Rochel's son came out of prison on Rosh Hashanah. Leah is even deeper. I don’t have any words to describe Leah's connection to G-d because Mashiach hasn’t come yet. Yaakov & Leah didn’t have a

personal connection --it went even deeper. Leah is the mother of Mashiach. Mashiach will come even to those who are not connected.

In Psalms it is written "aromimka haShem ki dilisani"--I will praise G-d because he has "dilis" with me". The Pshischa says the word "dilis" has two meanings: one to lift up, the second to make into a door --"deles". I am a door through whom people come to You. I want to add to what the Pshischa is saying: "Ozeir dalim". G-d helps those who open the door.

How does a person know how much he is connected to someone? Everything depends on how one hears. When someone tells me that someone else is sick, I feel sorrow. If he is my best friend & I hear he is sick, gevald, it breaks my heart. When we heard the Torah on Mt Sinai, our problem was that we didn’t hear it deeply enough. Blowing the shofar on Elul is to help us to hear better. Basically the shofar was blown at Mt Sinai. So why do we blow it on Rosh Hashona? We blow the shofar in Elul because it is connected with Torah. On Rosh Hashona we are saying now I can hear the shofar, now I can hear the voices on Mt Sinai.

The deepest depth of connection is not only what you hear. It’s also what you see. You can tell how much you love someone from the way look at them. The question is how much you understand the Torah when you look at it. The question is, when you take the Torah out of the aron what do you see?

Rosh Hashona is all about hearing. Rochel is hearing. From its haftorah: "Kol b'rama nishma" A voice is heard in Rama, Rachel is crying for her children.

Succoth is like seeing through a veil. On Simchat Torah we really look at the Torah. Not only at what’s written in it. We look at the whole Torah.

Shavuot, we looked at G-d. Head knowledge. We still made the golden calf.

On Simchat Torah we don’t learn a word. We know nothing in head knowledge.

We look at the Torah & it connects us with our deepest depths. A so called secular woman once told me that she sends her little boy to Sunday School & one day he tells her, "Do you know that we Jews have a Torahle & our teacher tells us we can buy it in a bookstore?" So she goes & buys him a little Torahle. Now he won’t go to sleep without holding this Torahle in his arms. Can you imagine what holy soul this little boy has? Can you imagine what this little boy, who sleeps every night with the Torah in his arms sees in the Torah? There are two types of gates that G-d opens for us. The gemora says, "if one comes to be purified, he is helped. If he comes not to be pure, they open for him". Does G-d help someone to be bad? The truth is that one split second before you do wrong, G-d opens all the gates for you to let you know how beautiful it is to do good. G-d says to you, "You know why you are doing bad? Maybe it’s all My fault. Maybe I didn’t teach you well enough how it is to do good?" So one split second before you do wrong, G-d opens all the gates for you. He gives you a taste how good you can be. Before, you ignored all the gates. This month Elul, you should remember these gates.

The Holy Ropshitzer says that whatever you do, they call it out in heaven. But we know that in heaven you don’t say anything bad. So what do they say in heaven when someone makes a mistake. They call out, "Someone is paving a new way to G-d". Teshuva is always new. Whatever the simple meaning of "he who comes to purify" is, the deepest meaning is that when one wants to do teshuva, he is helped. One second before he can do wrong, all the gates are opened for him.

Aharon Hacohen is the master of Inside. Aharon Hacohen is teaching us that when we built the Golden Calf it’s not that G-d opened gates for us & we didn’t go in. No. We were already inside and we walked out. What does Aharon bring about? We sit inside the Succah. The Succah has no gates. We sit inside with G-d. Until Neila we do teshuva for the gates. Rosh Hashona is the gate of the year. We open the aron & then we close it. Then Neila comes. We open the aron & leave it open. We have arrived inside. From there to the succah.

Rosh Hashona & Yom Kippur we ask G-d to forgive us for not going through the gates. Neila, G-d tells us, "Nvo'a sharekha" Come inside, Stop standing at the gates asking for forgiveness. Come Inside". Moshe Rabbenu is the opener of all gates. But Aharon brings us Inside. Succos we live Inside. Simchat Torah we can go out into the world again. After being Inside we can go anywhere in the world because we shall always remain Inside.

Blessing our Children

Everyone knows the highest blessing is Rosh Hashona night, when we bless our children. I bless those of us who don’t have children yet, to have them fast, and that we bless our children with prophetic eyes, "in the eyes of all Israel", "and G-d saw the light that it was good". In the coming year may we all see a glimmer of the Light.

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