Surfing into Elul

Yosef Karduner: One afternoon, I was rehearsing with my rock band. Half way through the rehearsal, I was disgusted with the emptiness of the heavy metal – lots of noise with no message. Tears started streaming down my face. I wanted to be somewhere else – I couldn’t go on as a rock & roller for another minute. The band thought that I was out of my mind.

BreslevIsrael: So you put your guitar in the closet?

Yosef Karduner: Yes – it collected dust for nearly five months. I was immersed in Torah learning and personal prayer. Then, all of a sudden, I was doing hitbodedut in a citrus grove not far from Pardess Katz, and while I was taking to Hashem, this wonderful melody came into my mind. I was so inspired and excited that I ran home, grabbed my guitar, and started playing. I then wrote down the music....
BreslevIsrael: What was that first special melody that you received during hitbodedut?

Yosef Karduner: Shir Lamaalot, Psalm 121.

BreslevIsrael: From that song, everything else is history…

Yosef Karduner: There’s no question that Shir LaMaalot brought me into the public eye, but something even more special happened to me because of that song.

BreslevIsrael: What was that?

Yosef Karduner: Rabbi Yaakov Meir Schechter summoned me to come see him. Not only is he a leading Breslever, he’s one of the leading Ashkenazi Kabbalists of this generation. It’s virtually impossible to gain an audience with him. He asked me to sing Shir LaMaalot for him. I sand and strummed on my guitar, and he sat back in his chair, closed his eyes, and rocked his head gently from side to side. He was “riding” on the melody like a surfer rides on a wave. I wish I knew where the melody took him....

A Wet Noodle, in Scottsdale, Arizona

"Being loving and kind is wonderful, but if we’re only loving and kind, we’re like a wet noodle. We also need strength, giving us the ability to say “No” when we need to, without getting angry. We don’t need to drop an atomic bomb to destroy an outhouse; just a firm “No” will do. To do this, we must first be able to firmly say “No” to ourselves. It can simply be, “No, not today, thank you.” No matter how many times it comes up, we say “No”."
Our teacher, Rabbi Michael Shapiro, is a life-long student of sacred Jewish texts, Hebrew, Aramaic, the Kabbalah, and other ancient spiritual practices. He is a meditation teacher, musician, and storyteller.