In the footsteps of his father – Mishpacha Magazine
He showed loving care for others combined with an unwavering insistence on kavod haTorah
ONo. 22 Tammuz, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach neshama returned to the Olam HaEmes. When Rav Yaakov Drillman praised him, he called him, “Tzaddik ben tzaddik, talmid chacham ben talmid chacham, aristocrat Well aristocrat.” It had been 80 years since Rav Shlomo had been separated from his father, the revered Rav of Hamburg, Rav Yosef Tzvi Carlebach, but his legacy inspired his son to his dying day.
Rav Yosef Tzvi began his term as rav in 1936, just a few years before Europe was set ablaze. He personally witnessed the crazed rioters dragging sifrei Torah from the aron kodesh of his shul and setting them afire. When he tried to challenge them, they beat him mercilessly. Fully understanding the danger that awaited, Rav Yosef Tsvi nevertheless chose to stay in Germany. The people needed a rav and he was determined to be there for his kehillah, even if it meant dying for the cause.
When the Nazis came for him, Rav Yosef turned to 16-year-old Shlomo and the two embraced. It was an expression of love that Rav Shlomo would carry forever.
Rav Shlomo survived the war and arrived in America in 1947 after enduring torture in several concentration camps. He was alone, orphaned and penniless, but all he wanted was to go to yeshiva. It had been six years since he had held a Gemara in his hands, but that hadn’t discouraged him. He met Rav Yitzchok Hutner, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, who asked him to recite any mishnah, and that would constitute his further away. an incredible masmidRav Shlomo quickly made up for lost time.
Rav Shlomo conducted himself with princely dignity, and in 1953 was introduced to Maude Katzenstein, a daughter of one of the most prominent families in Breuer’s kehillah of Washington Heights, Rav Yosef Breuer once noted the high level of tzniyus she observed at a young age and commented, “I see you are on your way to becoming a Bais Yaakov girl!”
Rav Shlomo’s in-laws, who followed the Frankfurt mesorah of Torah im derech eretz, wanted him to enter a profession. Rav Shlomo took an accounting course and practiced in the field for a year, until his wife redirected his path, insisting that he return to the kollel.
He would later become a rabbi in Chaim Berlin’s mesivta program, and also served for a number of years as a rebbi at Mesivta of Eastern Parkway until his rebbi, Rav Hutner, recalled him to serve as mashgiach rouchani in Chaim Berlin. One of his talmidim Starting from tekufaRav Reuven Schepansky, noted talmid chachamprolific mechaber seforimand shiur maggid at the Mirrer Yeshiva, spoke of the loving yet demanding relationship that Rav Shlomo had with his talmidim. He related that one year at the seudah of Purim, Rav Shlomo called him. Gestures towards seforim has shrunkhe said, “Reuven, everything you see here, all the seforim and the money too – I’m willing to give it all up for you to become the person you’re destined to become.”
It was Rav Shlomo who convinced Rav Hutner to allow the publication of his ma’amarei Torah on the Moadim, even agreeing to cover the publication costs. Today Pashad Yitzchak is a staple in virtually every beis medrash around the world. Years later Rav Shlomo wrote and published his own set of seforim, Maskil L’Shlomo, which quickly gained wide acclaim in the world of Torah. Later, in 2008, Reb Shlomo published a two-volume set titled Ish Yehudi, a biography of his father, expanding on an earlier biographical work that his uncle, Rabbi Naftali Carlebach, had published nearly 50 years earlier.
In his later years, Rav Carlebach settled in Lakewood. Until his last days he would give a Friday night shiur based on his sefer, and went around to talk to various Lakewood mesivtas. Visitors frequented his house in search of a brakha, a vortor simply the opportunity to be in the presence of a adam gadolwho showed loving care for others combined with an unwavering insistence on kavod haToraha vintage line from Chaim Berlin.
A memory he shares with Mishpacha early last year helps explain his relentless dedication to inspiring others. Rav Shlomo was once speaking with Rav Shmuel Berenbaum when the Rosh Yeshivah referred to Rav Shlomo as Mashgiach. When Rav Shlomo protested that he no longer held such a position, Rav Shmuel retorted, “You think being a mashgiach is a position? It’s a atzmiyous – it’s your essence!
But in truth, this dedication to klal was also a legacy, one that Rav Shlomo was determined to maintain. When his father was inaugurated as rav of Hamburg, he promised his new community that “my home and my heart will be wide open to all. I will cry and laugh with you and carry all the anguish of your soul with you. I will consider the honor of having been called to this rabbinical position only as an obligation to report to all with simple menschlichkeit.”
In this final embrace, Rav Yosef Tzvi Carlebach passed on this mission to his son. He too would spend his life relating to everyone with simple menschlichkeit — the type which only those who are far from simple are capable of transmitting.
—Stick Yehuda Esral and Mishpacha
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, issue 922)
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