MYTH BUSTED: Reb Shlomo Carlebach Was Never Kicked Out Of BMG [WATCH THE VIDEO]

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In an interview conducted with the president of Lakewood’s BMG, Rabbi Aharon Kotler, a myth and legend that has been well-entrenched in the chareidi world about famous Jewish composer and singer, Shlomo Carlebach Z”L being expelled from the Lakewood Yeshiva, was shattered. After the supposed expulsion, Shlomo Carlebach is said to have then immediately composed the song, “Lulaei Torascha” while sitting on the steps outside the yeshiva. Kotler, who is named after his grandfather, HaGaon HaRav Aharon Kotler ZT”L, who founded the Yeshiva, stressed that in fact “Shlomo Carlebach was never kicked out of Lakewood. Rav Aharon loved him. He was, as we all know, exceptionally musically inclined… I can imagine that at some point in his life, his musical interests and drive exceeded his desire to learn in yeshiva.”

In the interview, Rabbi Kotler reveals the special connection that existed between his grandfather and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, and also explains the difference in norms between the yeshiva world in the United States and the yeshiva world in Israel. “He played guitar in my parents’ Sheva Brochos. They made a kumzitz. They closed the lights in the room, he sat on the floor. I do not know how studious he was. I was not there back then… Also, one of the important things to remember is that Lakewood is not a life system. Neither is kollel a life system for everybody, and certainly in Rav Aharon’s days, people were in yeshiva for a number of years and then they eventually left. That was the norm. So, I have never checked the enrollment records of Shlomo Carlebach, whether he stayed longer than the norm or shorter than the norm, but he certainly was not kicked out of Lakewood.”

The Lakewood Yeshiva, also formerly known as “Beish Medrash Govoha (BMG),” is an accredited institution of Higher Education in the US state of New Jersey. The academy has approximately 7,000 talmidim and 13,000 alumni, many of whom are leaders and builders of Jewish communities all over the world. The yeshiva is the engine for growth in the local Jewish community. As Lakewood has grown, Rabbi Kotler has been active in matters of public policy, serving on various membership boards devoted to the expansion of regional health care, transportation, housing, education and economic development.

The interview with Rabbi Kotler was conducted by Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt, assistant Rabbi of Park East Synagogue in Manhattan and as a part of the “Kikar Global” a project of Kikar Shabbos News.

Kikar News explained: “This project was established with the aim of introducing the Jewish diaspora to the Israeli chareidi sector. Religious Jews are symbols of mutual responsibility and of a desire to help each other, which is wonderful. However, Diaspora Jewry has been stigmatized as not really being Jewish. Of course, the truth is that Diaspora Jewry is a part of us. They are our brothers and sisters, and we have to know the challenges they are facing.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem/Photo Credit: Kikar Global project)




16 COMMENTS

  1. a great innovator who brought secular folk music into the walls of the beit hakenneset. he wasalso an original shaliaxch of the Lubavitcher rebbe ztl to college campuses. unfortunately his desires overcame him.

  2. Reb Shlomo was a trmendous Talmid chochem and iluy! He left the yeshiva world to be mekarev thousands of Jews who knew nothing about yiddishkeit! He pulled them out from the lowest places, from the ashrams in India, from communist Russia, from the American hippies and he succeeded to bring thousands back to a life of Torah and mitzvos! That is the reason he left the love of his life: the yeshiva world! He was moiser nefesh for klal yisrael!

  3. I never heard this myth of being kicked out of Lakewood. The story I heard was that at one point (while he was still a young man) he started to make a connection to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, z”tl and the Rebbe convinced him to go out and do kiruv. At one point an event happened that caused him to corrupt his ways a bit. Rav Kotler, z”tl, who gave him smicha, revoked his smicha as a result. Those gedolim who knew him well understood his potentials and mourned over what had happened to him. It is a shame because he could have attain very great spiritual heights if he would have remained with Rav Kotler. It’s sad when people exchange gold for silver, chochma for guitars. 🙁

  4. According to the Wikipedia article about R’ Shlomo he spent his first ten years in America in Lakewood and during those years never felt a need to learn English, so engrossed was he in his learning. There is another rumor that during his time in Lakewood he shared a room with R’ Meir Kahana and R’ Moshe Hirsch who later became a pillar of Naturei Karta in Meah Shearim. Is anyone out there able to confirm or refute that rumor? Another rumor is that at the end of his life he approached a distinguished Rav at LaGuardia airport and the Rav wanted nothing to do with him because of the reputation that had attached itself to him by then. To this R’ Shlomo said, “I’ll do teshuva shleima” and went through the whole seder of teshuva — vidui, charata and azivas ha-chait — after which the Rav agreed to talk to him. Then he boarded a flight to Toronto and during the flight had a heart attack and was niftar, having just done teshuva. Again, can anyone confirm or refute that rumor?

  5. Rav Moshe Eisemann, z”l, Rosh Yeshiva of Vineland,NJ, contempary and close friend of Shlomo Carlebach, related he was a brilliant mechadaish in Gemora and this song Lulai Soroscho was Rav Ahron’s favorite that he often requested shlomo to sing in his presence.

  6. Reb Shlomo, Z’tL was no talmid chacham, was not a tazdik in the classical sense and had many personal flaws (who doesn’t) BUT I personally cannot think of another yid who has done more to bring OTD boys and girls back to yiddeshkeit and bring others closer to torah and ahavas hashem through his words and music. Even today, his music inspires new generations. Thank you Rav Kotler for dispelling another myth about Rav Shlomo and providing a candid profile of one of the more significant members of the tzibur in the past 50 years without being judgemental.

  7. whats the point of interviewing a ceo who admits didnt know him wasnt really around… bringing up old issues shlome is in olam haemes a unique soul we can enjoy his music and follow shulchan aruch… as rav wolfson shlita explained that now that R’ shlome is in shomayim even rav moshes kepeida would apply only bechaim.. shema yimshach…

  8. Softwords and anyone else misinformed, let me tell you that never did he corrupt his ways. Totally false infomation! I repeat he was moiser nefesh to bring yidden back to Torah and mitzvos! No event occurred to corrupt him. He was the most amazing person. He loved every yid whoever he was and saved many many people spiritually and physically!

  9. No point trying to defend as it just creates more mud throwing .
    This attitude has always been ongoing specially with pioneers .
    It takes generations until the truth is known ( and we see it happening )
    Take the Rambam – Reb Chaim lutsato – the Baal shem Reb Reb yisroel salanter and the list is endless .
    So no point in getting involved .
    We know the truth Baruch Hashem

  10. Added comment .
    I hate to say it .but both from the right and the left his unbelievable success and on going popularity is a thorn in thier eyes .
    This is a known fact

  11. If there was a “top-ten” of all-time favorite yiddeshe nigunim,(not including chazanus) I suspect 4 or 5 would likely be Reb Sholomo’s nigunim.

  12. His middle initial is M (for MENUVAL). Just Google him and you’ll read all #ME TOO stories. Don’t the woman that he attacked deserve as much empathy as SMK?

  13. In response to netzhachamah libel.
    Anyone who followed that filthy site which by the way has been ongoing even during his life time knows beyond doubt that its 100% a libel
    With not a shred of evidence .not even enough to ever get the police involved.
    I cant elaborate further .
    Reb Shlomo told all concerned to totally ignore it .

  14. netzhachamah, are you not ashamed to be moitzi shem ra a tzaddik like Reb Shlomo ztl! How can you ask forgiveness from Hashem when you besmirch another yid like that?! You have to go to his kever with 10 men to ask mechila!