Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s Genesis comprises an edited collection of his comments on the Torah as originally taught in private homes, synagogues, and concert halls. It exemplifies an oral transmission of the Torah, since the tone is warm, conversational, down-to-earth and, unique to Carlebach, the spoken commentary is interspersed with song. His words, he believed, were comparable to the body, while his melodies represented the soul: both he blended together to teach and impart a love of Torah.
Carlebach expresses his belief that God welcomes every human being, high or low, rich or poor and that prayer is simply talking to God. Through music and speech he moves anyone earnestly searching for meaning in life not to give up the search. This book contains many profound thoughts, and the reader needs to take time to absorb them. Readers familiar with the biblical text will derive new and useful ways to view the familiar stories and characters. Admirers of Carlebach’s music will welcome this insight into his explications. The editor does not state whether he plans to continue publishing additional volumes of Carlebach’s Torah exegesis, but it is surely to be expected.
This review originally appeared in the AJL newsletter.