Even Shlomo - Parsha Bo
Featured Video - Reb Sholon Brodt z"l - Personal Exodus Book Launch
Reb Shlomo Carlebach
on Parsha Bo
Dreams I Don’t Dare To Dream
“It was on that very day that all the legions of Hashem left the land of Egypt” (Shmos 12:41)
The Maharal says (Netzach Yisrael 1) that anything that is unnatural cannot last.. Everyone wants to hopefully be natural. Even those who want to be super sophisticated and act unnatural, eventually they break down and are normal again. To be a slave is completely unnatural because G-d created us in his image, so it’s absolutely not normal for someone to be a slave.
When it comes to the redemption of us yiddelach from slavery, I could say that all we really wanted was to get out of Egypt and be normal human beings again. But how does that sound to you, is this all there was to us leaving Egypt? To stop being slaves? This whole big operation with the ten plagues, everything coming on so hard was just in order to stop the slavery? It’s got to be more than that. And here I want you to know something so deep. War is unnatural and peace is normal. Do you think that all the world needs is to stop fighting with each other and be normal again? Do you really think that G-d has been preparing the world for thousands of years for the coming of the messiah just so that we could be natural again? It’s got to be more than that. Nature means that If I’m good I’m good, if I’m bad I’m bad. If I love you, I hug you, and when I hate you, I hit you. This is so to speak normal. Do you know what it means to be in G-d’s image? To be in G-d’s image means I’m beyond nature.
When I meet someone who I love very much and want to marry, what am I thinking about? Do I just want to live like a normal human being? Do I want to be married since everyone else is getting married? Do I want to build a house with you because that’s what all other couples do? Everyone has children, so I want to have children. Is this all I am capable of dreaming about? When I meet someone I love very much, I want something that never happened before. I don’t want marry them because everyone else is getting married.
And here I want you to open your hearts to the deepest depths. There’s a passage that says “Ba'asoscha Nora'os Lo Nekave” – Master of the World, I never dared to hope for the wonders you ended up doing for me (Yishayahu 64:2).
There are certain dreams I have which I hope will come true, but there is something even deeper. Deep down inside, I’m hoping for something to happen which I never even dreamt about. I simply don’t allow myself to dream it. Little me, what do I know what G-d wants to do? Do I know what kind of miracles G-d wants to perform?
So the Ishbitzer says that when G-d set us free, it does not only mean that I’m no longer a slave. Freedom means my relationship to G-d is on the level of freedom. If I have plans for that which G-d will do for me, it’s sweet but I’m making G-d a slave, I’m telling G-d what to do. To be on the level of freedom with G-d means that I never need to know what G-d will end up doing.
You see what it is, while we were in Egypt we hoped we would be free, but the night we got out of Egypt something happened which we never dreamt about, something we never dared to dream about.
So this is what Ishbitzer says. If I wake up in the morning and I say “today is going to be a good day,” its sweet but it has to be more than that. When was the last time you woke up in the morning and you were literally ready for unbelievable miracles which you never even dared to dream of
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Reb Shlomo while in Russia in 1989 was interviewed by Russian Television and they asked him "In a world with so much violence, persecution, hunger and death, do you still dream? And Shlomo said , "Yes". Then the Russian asked if he believed that G-d answers his dreams, and Reb Shlomo thought and said "I used to think so." The surprised interviewer asked "Rabbi Carlebach, are you saying G-d doesn't answer your dreams? Reb Shlomo answered "You don't understand. We pray that G-d should answer our dreams. This morning I had the honor of playing for the steelworkers of Leningrad; and I promise, in my wildest dreams I never dreamed I would play for them! If G-d only answered our dreams, how boring our lives would be! But the truth is that G-d has even better dreams for us. G-d's dreams are so much deeper, so much more beautiful - we have to pray that G-d should fulfill His dreams for us because they are so much more awesome!
Even Shlomo - Reb Shlomo on Parshas Bo - Darkness
You know friends, the saddest thing is that during the plague of darkness in Egypt, for three days nobody saw one another. By us Yiddelach there was the same darkness, but the Torah says 'for Israel it was light'. So, the ordinary meaning is that for Egypt it was dark and for the Yidden there was light. But the real deeper meaning is that in Egypt it was dark; they didn't see anybody else. What do us Yiddelach do when it is dark? We look for somebody else.
I'll tell you something so deep. When there is light, you don't feel so lonesome. When it's dark, you mamesh need someone. What do we Yiddelach do when it's dark? We walk around looking for people who are also lonesome. The holiest thing before Mashiach is coming is that it's getting a little bit dark, but suddenly we're aware, who knows, maybe somebody else is in even more darkness than I am?
Here we are reading about the first mitzvah, sanctifying the new moon (Rosh Chodesh). The Talmud says that when G-d told Moshe Rabbeinu 'You have to sanctify the new month', Moshe Rabbeinu asked G-d 'Promise me to see the new moon. Please G-d, tell me what you mean'.
So the Talmud says G-d said to Moshe 'Kazeh Re'eh Vekadesh'. G-d showed him 'You see, this is the moon, this is one ray, this is it. Re'eh, look, Vekadesh, make it holy'.
You know my beautiful friends, what is the most glorious, most holiest way of serving G-d? It's very easy to sit down and tell another human everything which is wrong with them, and if you really concentrate I'm sure you could write a book on how wrong every human being is, doesn't take much.
But 'Kazeh Re'eh VaVekadesh.'
I met this person and I saw this one good thing about them, one good thing, one ray of light, blew my mind. 'Re'eh Vekadesh', if you have the eyes of the Messiah, eyes of King David, if you see one good thing about another human being then we say 'Gevalt, is that person holy, gevalt are they holy.'
These are the eyes of King David, these are G-dly eyes.
It is possible to know another human being for two thousand years and not know anything about them, you know why? Because maybe that one second when you weren't looking, maybe they did something so holy, they shook up heaven and earth. Maybe for one minute in their life the whole world was on fire because of them
An Ishbitzer Accompaniment into Galus
“And these are the names of the children of Israel
who were coming to Egypt” (Sh’mos 1:1)
The story of our exile in Exodus is called Sh’mos, “names.” This isn’t just a sweet
concept; it’s so much deeper than that. In order to go into exile and come out alive, you
have to hold onto your name.
The Beis Ya’akov of Ishbitz says like this: There are two kinds of holiness in the world. One kind depends on what I do, and if I can build this holiness, I can also destroy it. But then there is another kind of holiness, which has nothing to do with my actions. It’s something I have in me. But the thing is, it’s a holiness that is hidden. Each time I do something good, I reconnect myself to that holiness and make it shine more strongly. But each time I do something wrong, I cover it up a little more so it doesn’t shine.You know something?
We each have so many questions. What is our story as Am Yisrael? What’s going on in the world today? What makes me part of the Jewish people?
And most of all, why am I still in exile?
None of these things have much to do with any of my actions. Yes, I’m responsible for my actions. But what really connects me – and connects one Jew to another – is not what I’m doing or what you’re doing in the world.
It’s this holiness which we all have, this second type of holiness. You see, I was born
with the same inner holiness as the Ba’al Shem Tov. Basically, the lowest Yiddele has thesame fire inside him as Moshe Rabbeinu. How is it that Moshe Rabbeinu and the Ba’al Shem were so much higher? Because they worked so hard on their own to make their inner holiness shine more and more.
So when it comes to my personal story, it all really depends both on what I don’t do – and on what I do. A title is something I get later in life, and it depends on what I do. Doctor, psychiatrist, or shlepper – these are all names I get later on. But let’s say that when I was born I received the name Miriam or Chaim. This
has nothing to do with my actions – it’s much deeper than that. The name I am given
when I am born comes from a totally different place.
Someone once came to the Kotzker Rebbe and asked, “Rebbe, tell me…what name
should I give to my son?” And the Kotzker said to him, “Once in your life G-d gives you
prophesy. Why should I take it away from you?” You see what it is, to give somebody a
name borders on prophecy, because my name is what connects me to my roots. I don’t
receive a name just so people will know what to call me. That’s what the world thinks.
The fact is if, G-d forbid, somebody is fainting and you call him by his name, you are
able to revive him. One of the great Rebbes once said that if a person is, G-d forbid,
about to die, the most important thing is for someone to keep calling his name. Then he
will live, because calling out his name brings together his soul and his body. So my name
can’t be just a mechanical thing, something for identification, because it really is the
connection between my body and my soul.
When someone is ill, G-d forbid, and a name is added on, it connects that person to a new
root. He must have used up all his old batteries; as far as his old roots are concerned,
obviously, his time is up. So, you connect his soul to new roots by giving him a new
name. Maybe, maybe that will help. But again, it borders on prophecy to know what
name to add for him. You can’t just pick any name; you can’t look in the phone book and
find something new to call him. It doesn’t work that way. You have to ask someone very
holy what name will connect him to new roots.
Let me explain on another level. Imagine I’m walking on the street and I feel a bit low.
Suddenly someone comes and says, “Hey, Shlomo! How are you?” And suddenly I feel
very happy. At that moment this person really filled my needs. I needed someone to talk
to me; I needed someone to smile at me. It’s very beautiful. Then I say goodbye and I do
something else. Now imagine that somebody calls my name and it reaches me in the
deepest depths. It’s not because at that moment I needed that person. It has nothing to do
with this moment or another one. It’s that the way this person said my name was mamesh
“And these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt.” The Beis
Ya’akov says (Beis Ya’akov, Sh’mos 6): When the Yidden went down to Egypt, suddenly
G-d gave them a strong name. What does it mean that G-d gave them a strong name? It
means that G-d gave them this great holiness – but not because of their actions. G-d gave
them such a powerful holiness; they simply weren’t able to tear themselves away from
The craziest thing in the world is [that] when we were in Egypt, we never
did anything wrong. But right after we stood on Mount Sinai, we did wrong all the time.
Isn’t that crazy? Before Mount Sinai we didn’t know anything, and yet we never went
against G-d’s will – without even knowing what G-d’s will was. And after G-d told us
what we were supposed to do, we kept making mistakes. But the reason for this is very
simple. After Mount Sinai we were operating on the level of our own actions. Maybe we
had this holiness inside of us, but it was up to us to bring it out. While in Egypt, the
holiness was completely beyond; it was as if we were high on holiness.
How could we exist in exile? Take the Russian Jews. In America there is complete free
choice; in Israel we have free choice – and yet our Yiddishkeit is not so strong. The
lowest Yiddele in Russia didn’t even know what Eretz Yisrael means; he didn’t know
anything about Yerushalayim. And yet he was willing to sit in Siberia because he wanted
so much to go to Jerusalem. This comes from a higher level – G-d is filling him with this
There are times when I really want to do wrong, but I can’t. I know it’s not my own
doing. It’s not because I don’t want to. I really want to, but I just can’t. This doesn’t come
from my head, so where is it coming from? From the roots of my soul….
Everyone knows, there were two covenants. There was the covenant of our forefathers,
and there was the covenant on Mount Sinai. What’s the difference between them? It’s
really very simple.
Do you know what a covenant means? It means to be tied together. When I take two
things and I tie them together like mad so that they can’t be separated anymore, that is a
covenant. So the Beis Ya’akov says: the first thing about the covenant of our Fathers,
Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov, is that a Yiddele has a holiness which comes from a
deeper place than the level of learning and knowing. Mount Sinai was about learning,
knowledge. We stood before G-d and Moshe Rabbeinu told us everything. But the
covenant of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov was much higher and much deeper than
Therefore, the Beis Ya’akov says: when we were in Egypt, the roots of our holiness
became so strong because the exile was so strong. In other words, if the exile had reached
only as deep as our minds, then our own holiness would have been enough to get us
through it. But in Egypt we had no Torah. We had nothing mind-wise; we hadn’t learned
anything yet. So, our survival had to come from a higher place than our minds, from the
roots of our souls.
Now listen to this. What is a name? My name is the root of my life; everything is
included in my name. It’s who I really am. I may be a person who is split in ten thousand
directions. But when someone calls my name, it hits that one spot inside me which is one,
that is all of me.
The Beis Ya’akov says that a person has so many different needs. I need a house, I need
food – apples, coffee. I need clothes, and boots when it’s raining. But then I need
something which is deeper than all that. I need to be connected to the core of my life.
And this need is beyond everything else. It’s the same thing when it comes to learning
Torah. There are all kinds of divrei Torah; every day, every split second there is new
Torah coming down. Sometimes I learn something and I like it. It turns me on.
This is the level of when I’m hungry and someone gives me food. I take the food, and it satisfies
my need. But then ther