On Becoming Light
Excerpt from “Only the Light of the Moon…” with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
We are delighted to be able to offer an excerpt from this rare recording with the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach from a talk titled “Only the Light of the Moon Can Create a New World.”
When God created the world, the sun and the moon had the same light, according to our tradition. Then the moon came before God and says to God, “It just isn’t fair — two kings have the same power.” So God says to the moon, “OK. Make yourself smaller.” So in the way of the world, the Sun people, they say God is punishing the moon for the chutzpah, for the audacity; God created you this way so stick to it, forget it. But the real people know the moon is right, you know there cannot be two cooks in the kitchen. No matter how much there is always the same light is the world? I want you to open your hearts. You know what the moon was saying to God: “Is this all you can give the world, the light of the sun, where you see only the outside? Isn’t there a deeper light available — something so much deeper?” All God says is, “You are the one who will do it.”
What is the first sign of the real inside person? You know outside people — they are always the same. Either they love you or they hate you. When they love you they are always like, “Hi. Are you God?” So stupid, so meaningless. The moon people change all the time. One day I love you, one day I can’t stand you. One day I am full, one day I am not shining at all. You see, the more real it is, the more I have to say it every second. I want you to know I had a great Rabbi, my teacher, he says to me, “If you ever want to be anything in the world, then it has to be clear to you. Whatever you knew yesterday is meaningless today.” You know friends, I am sure it’s clear to you, God is not a yenta — you know what a yenta is, someone who says the same thing a hundred times and the way the yenta is saying it could be a he or a she, the way they say it like it’s the first time they are saying it. God cannot stand the same thing twice.
The sun is always the same, the moon. You know every day, every day a different light is coming down from heaven. Every day God needs different things from us. You know one of the great Rabbis passed away. And his children came to the holy visionary (I am just throwing names at you), and he says to them, “What was the most important thing for your father?” so they said, “For our father, the most important thing is what you do right now.” You know most people have those general ideas — they know what to do forever — but when it comes to the moment they have no idea what to do with it.
I know every week is Shabbos; I know every year is Rosh Hashanah; I know every year is Yom Kippur, good; but what are you doing right now? And usually they always do the wrong thing because they are not in tune with the moment, special privilege. You know something? You can be the greatest scholar in the world and not know. You know sometimes a person asks you a question and what they need right now you will never know. You know it’s so deep to know. What are you supposed to do right this minute?
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