We left the motel with Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach in our car and drove onto the Los Angeles Freeway towards the Reform Temple where we were going to have a Shabbaton. Five minutes on the freeway we realized we were in the midst of a huge traffic jam. We later found out that a gasoline truck had overturned, spilling gasoline all over the freeway. We sat there, barely crawling along, for an hour. It was ten minutes till Shabbos and we were twenty miles from the Temple. We all looked at Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach who sat in the front with his head back on the seat humming a melody. Five minutes went by. Suddenly Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach yells out, “Let’s go, we’re walking.” We jumped out of the car, locked up our valuables inside, Shlomo's Stories: Selected Tales and started walking.
We walked for about an hour, and it became dark. To top it off, it began to rain. Suddenly a car pulled up next to us. It’s a car full of Jews from the Reform Temple. Since we were so late, they had come looking for us. Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach said to them, “My friends, why don’t you walk with us? Walking for Shabbos is the greatest mitzva [good deed]!” To our surprise, they pulled their car over to the side, got out, and started waking with us.
Now it seems that one of the people at the Temple had connections with a radio station. It was mentioned on the radio that Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was “walking for Shabbos.” More cars pulled up and people jumped out until we had a group of at least fifty people walking with us in the pouring rain. Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach began to sing, “The whole world is Lamed Vav: A Collection of the Favorite Stories of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach waiting to sing the song of Shabbos.” We all joined in clapping and singing as we walked.
Many songs, stories, teachings, and twenty miles, later, we arrived at our destination. When we arrived, we found that people had set up cots, hot coffee and food. Even the Red Cross was there with blankets and medicine. They had anticipated a weary, exhausted crowd, but they saw something much different. Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach asked everybody to get in a circle and hold hands, which we did. Then he began to sing Lecha Dodi [Come my Sabbath Bride]. As we swayed back and forth, we forgot the aches in our bodies and the pains in our feet. We could only feel the rapture of our souls as Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach carried us away into Heaven singing and dancing with all the Angels.
Immersing for Shabbos
One disciple remembers: I once spent Shabbos together with Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach in a Jewish hotel in Switzerland. On Friday afternoon, Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach arrived and asked the reception clerk where he could find the local mikva [ritual bath]. The clerk was surprised, “The what? There is no mikva here.”
“What? No mikva? There must be some place in this sweet village where I can immerse.” responded Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach.
“Well, there is a lake, but it is covered with ice.”
The Swiss winter didn’t prevent Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach from immersing in honor of the Holy Shabbos.
A Great Shabbos hug
Another disciple of Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach tells this great Shabbos story: I was walking to Synagogue right before Shabbos HaGadol, the Great Shabbos of Passover. Suddenly I saw a man coming towards me walking two huge, scary dogs. The sidewalk was narrow, and I remember thinking, “I’d better cross the street.” I was about to do that, when I heard a little voice telling me, “Only fear G-d. Keep walking.” I held my breath, and walked fast. “Whew, I made it.”
“Good Shabbos,” I heard. I spun around.
“This is not a good Shabbos, this is the Great Shabbos,” I replied to the shining face between those two dogs. “The Sfat Emet says that it is one thing to be a slave six days of the week and then to have a day of rest. It is quite another thing to be a king all week long and then to have Shabbos. This is the first Shabbos that the Jewish people kept as a free people, as kings. That’s why it is called the Great Shabbos.”
The man had tears in his eyes, and he asked me, “Please, can I have a hug?”
I looked at the man and at the huge dogs, and I thought, “I am a disciple of Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach. How can I refuse?” I walked past the dogs, like walking through fire, and gave him the biggest hug I could. And the biggest miracle happened; the dogs jumped up, one on my back, and one on his back, and the four of us were hugging in the middle of the street. That was really a Great Shabbos