THE BLIND CHAZAN- Told by R’ Shlomo Carlebach Z”L- Shlomo’s Greatest Stories, Part 4

You know, my beautiful friends
We soooo misjudge others…
We don’t know, we don’t know
What’s going on in the heart of another human being.
Unless you love them the most
You’ll never know.
You know – in the 60’s, in the summer, on the way to Israel
I would always stop in Europe.
Without mentioning names of the city…
There was one chassidishe beis medrash
Gimme a little taste how Europe was before the second world war
Especially on Shabbos morning, the davening was so good.
I’m walking in Shabbos morning to the synagogue
And the chazan has no voice at all.
Not only he doesn’t have a good voice
His songs make no sense!
And he can’t even read; he’s skipping words!
I was so disgusted.
It was clear to me
Most probably a rich man that he wants to be the cantor
He wants to be the chazan
Gives a few rubles to the synagogue and they let him pray.
And I say, uhhh how disgusting.
I decided I am not gonna daven with them
I go into a corner and daven by myself.
But you know, when they take out the Torah
You wanna kiss the Torah.
I walk up to the Bimah, and open your hearts, friends.
I saw the chazan holding the torah
And two people are holding the chazan.
I asked somebody, “Why are they holding him”?
They said to me, don’t you know?
He’s the blind chazan.
He was one of the greatest tenors in Europe before the war
He was the chazan in Lemburg
He was in Auschwitz – he lost his voice – he lost his eyes.
I looked at him
I saw scars all over his face
They whipped him of his face.
I was so ashamed of myself.
He kept on telling them he didn’t wanna daven anymore
He says, I don’t know the words.
People said no – we remember your davening from Lemburg
Please honor us one more time!
I mean friends – can you imagine
How he was praying?
I never davened like this on Yom Kippur!
I was so ashamed of myself
So when he passed by with the Torah
Instead of kissing the Torah, I kissed his hands.
And you know my sweetest friends, when sometimes you’re at the end
G-d has compassion upon you.
I absolutely didn’t have a place in myself anymore
When I kissed his hand
He turned to the people who was with him and he says,
“Who kissed my hand?”
They said, Shlomo Carlebach.
He stopped and he says,
“Shloimele… I like your melodies”
He gave me back my soul.
I stayed an extra week and I took long walks with him
But you know what happened after that?
Four weeks later I was told
The blind chazan has a new position –
He’s the chazan
In Gan Eden.

(Vehareinu sung without words)