Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Review - Holy Beggars (Guest Post)

Holy Beggars is an uneven book about uneven people – primarily the author, Arye Coopersmith, and Shlomo Carlebach – in a strange and unique place and time, Haight-Ashbury of the late ‘60s, specifically the House of Love and Prayer. The unevenness has the herky-jerky quality of a hand-held camera trying to track elusive characters and a fleeting zeitgeist. While there is credit given to editors, there is none of the polish of “as told to” a professional writer. The book awkardly shifts focus between past and present, different cities and stages of life, and many of the basic facts of Shlomo and the House are introduced along the way, in context, making it hard to plunge into.

Little is told of the author's background, but he winds up as the “go to guy” in the physical establishment and the spiritual teaching at the House. With little religious background, but with a lot of flower power, he embarks on this task, with Shlomo’s initial enthusiasm, but limited follow-through. Although the House has an energetics start and burns brightly, the experiment is bound to fail.The failures, both of the House and the personal lives of those drawn to it, are presented in a painfully honest way. AC is disappointed by Shlomo’s inability to commit, or more accurately his tendency to casually over-commit, and his inability to just show up on time. The marriages of Arye Coopersmith, Shlomo, and Zalman all fail, and their personal failures give a sense of their difficulty to partake of “Yeshuvo Shel Olom”, conventional settling of the world, and of unfulfilled spiritual seeking.Among the highlights of the book are Shlomo’s encounters with many other Eastern spiritual teachers. This was Shlomo BMochin DGadlin, without Tzimtzum of having to cover his Orthodox flank.

Also included is his long relationship with Zalman Schechter, including Shlomo’s assessment of their commonality and differences. There are especially poignant sections devoted to the author’s re-connecting with many Orthodox people in Jerusalem, who were initially drawn in and taught by the author, but left for Israel for destinations such as Breslov and Diaspora Yeshiva, and far surpassed the author in Orthodox commitment. There’s not much of Shlomo's Torah brought down, but that’s not what you want to know about; what you really want are details about Shlomo’s private life. Fear not, they are discussed in detail, objectively, fairly, and in context. Much is made of the schism in the Berkeley Aquarian New Age Minyan, as fallout from pro and anti-Shlomo factions. For those of us who did not directly participate in the magic of that time and place, and met Shlomo afterwards, this book serves as a taste, a ta’am, of wide-open possibilities and inevitable crashes. While we may think that going from Lakewood to Brisk, or from Spinka to Lubavitch, is a life-altering transition, these seekers went to the outer edge of the known universe and back in their spiritual journeys; and yes, there was sincerity and manipulation Be’Ir’Vuvyeh.

If not for Leibel Bronstein, there would be no Soviet Union,
Soviet Union was the nemesis Gashmi and Ruchani of Lubavtich
Lubavtich was the catalyst to the emergence of RaSHBaN (Reb Shlomo Ben Naftoli, Carlebach)

RaSHBaN was a big force in freeing Soviet Jewry
freeing Soviet Jewry was begining of the end of Soviet Union
end of Soviet Union engendered Lubavitch Messianic dreams
Lubavitch messianic dreams proved , well, how to say,  controversial for Lubavitch

HaYotze MiKol Zeh - If Lubavitch had chapped Leibel Bronstein early and made him into a Mashpia, history would have been a lot different...

מנאי - בעלז פון אמאל


Anon3 said...

Perhaps you should have enlightened those of us that are less knowledgeable of Soviet history that Lev Davidovich Bronshtein or "Leibel Bronstien" is non other then that wayward Jew,the infamous Leon Trotsky.

BelzFinAMool said...

since all the comments on this blog are clearly crafted by Navonim Ve'Chachomom, derHioibene mentschen , I felt that there was no need to insult with Dvorim Yaduaim La Kol

nu, nu said...

Stalin and Lenin would’ve done just fine without him. And the FR focused on TT which included kicking people like him out.

Carlebach had nothing to do with freedom (un bifrat the freedom he took away from little girls), and Soviet collapse had nothing to do with meshichisten.

Hamuram mikol hanal, der Belzer is a shvache denker.

Anonymous said...

nu, nu 10:17 said... "Hamuram mikol hanal, der Belzer is a shvache denker"

אבער אגיטער בעל חלומת, ואין קץ לדבריו

Der Shygetz said...

"uneven people"

You got it. All the rest is commentary.

BelzFinAMool said...

Since insults are piling up here, it causes my old Galiitziyaner inferiority complex to kick in.

Not as Lomdish as Litivikehs!
Not as intellectually derhoiben as White Russians!
Not as rich as Ingarishe!
Not as GeBildetet like Germans!
Ostjuden to the max!

We are the bottom of the heap. We refer to ourselves as "GeShtroofte", the punished ones.

John Lennon OBM said, "Women are the N's of this world? Galitziyaner are the N's of the Yiddishe Velt

Anonymous said...

What you're missing is that plenty of the Leibel Bronsteins came from nice Hassidic homes.You figure out the rest.

BelzFinAMool said...

Let me say this about Reb Leib.

First of all , you assume that he had a congenital defect like Moshe Dessauer, that he was born missing a Chelek Elokah MiMal.

As Ehud Barak said about the Palestinian youth, “If I had been born in their circumstances, I’d be a freedom fighter too”.

If you want to cry on Tisha B’Av, read Dubnow about the Russian cantonists , and other edicts. The Yidden were Tzi’riss’en and Tzi’Flickt. That was a Malchus HaRish’es, not when you fake inventories and bank loans, and they put you in jail when you decline a plea bargain, against the advice of your attorneys.

Comes a boy from a well-off Jewish Russian family, and wants to improve the lot of all Russishe Yidden. Reb Leib had the middah of our Teacher Moses, “and he saw in their affliction”.

If you took my entire historical overview very seriously, then you fell for it.

Richard said...

BelzFinAMool is completly right!

Anonymous said...

You only added the last sentence so that the Rabbis in the shvartze kapelushn wouldn't send you away af katerge for the rest of your life.One wrong word and your toast.What you wrote is in fact the truth even though our Jewish hero cared little for Jews or Judaism.

russian chusid said...

Leon did not care about yidden at all. He was a bloody comunist. He said himself that he has nothing to do with yidden or yidishkeit. His einikel is frim though- what a joke on him!

Der Shygetz said...

RaSHBaN was a big force in freeing Soviet Jewry...

in di levune iz gemacht fin farshimelt kokosh-cake.

Either that or you meant farce and not force.

Anonymous said...

Who is his einikel?

russian chusid said...

Yakov Bronshtein. Lives in EY
Another funny fact: Trotski's wife was not Jewish,but his son married a Jewish lady. That's where the einikel is from

BelzFinAMool said...

All I'm saying is If Reb Leibel would have been a Mashpia, All Yidden would be have to beChabadtzkers, B'Rotzoin or B'Oines

Also without R'Leibel, the Whites would have ousted the Reds in the early '20s, especially since the Whites had international help.

Gor a Militerish'e Yid, der Leib.
His version was , Ish HaYrei Ve'rach Leivov, gets a bullet in the back of the head

Anonymous said...

I am reading the book and I am conflicted.