Monday, February 27, 2006

Getting Jewlicious With Rav Shmuel

A few impressions of the recent Jewlicious @ the Beach convention in Long Beach have already been posted on the JewniProj, but I thought I would share my thoughts on the particularly enlightening experience that I had with the intriguing Rav Shmuel, a self-proclaimed "beer drinking songwriting Rabbi."

Looks can often be very deceiving, and Rav Shmuel is someone who helps prove that maxim. Often when someone meets an Hasidic Rabbi, assumptions are made about them based on some preconceptions that one might have about Orthodox Judaism. This goes for most first encounters between two people, but the outward appearance of an Hasidic Jew easily leads to false impressions about that person's character. Rav Shmuel, I think, shatters those assumptions. His songwriting is decidedly "unorthodox" and his approach to Torah learning is invigoratingly intellectual and dynamic.

My first encounter with the Rav was during a Torah study class that he held
at 1:30 a.m. to the accompaniment of much l'chaim, which he said was necessary if we were going to continue with our learning at such a late hour. Fortunately there were no protests, because the session lasted until after 4:00 a.m. Rav Shmuel's stories and insight really made the portion (which netmessiah spoke about below) seem brand new to me and his ability to explain Rashi's commentary in a way that I could easily understand made me want to delve into areas of the Torah that I have yet to study.

Rav Shmuel is someone that I will never forget for one additional reason: his music. He performed just before SoCalled and Beyond the Pale (who were also amazingly unique) at the Jewbilation concert, which featured some of the best musicians in Jewish music. Rav Shmuel put on a great set, longer than anyone else, and his songs were filled with wit and were an indication of his spiritual worldliness. His musicianship is of the highest caliber, especially when he jams on his ukelele that he bought in Santa Cruz. One of those songs, which I believe is titled "Melancholy Love Song", was beautiful; it had layers of meaning and the lyrics were just what I needed to hear at the time.

After Jewlicious, I had to wind down from all of the intense experiences that I shared with everyone else there. It is a conference that seems poised to take the Jewish world by storm in the coming years and I plan on making a return trip to volume 3. I just hope Rav Shmuel is going to be there. I came away from his class and performance feeling holy and spiritually uplifted, determined to continue the process on my own.


Blogger G-D SQUAD said...

Wow, great reflections, JewSlug! I just want to remind anyone interested that one of Rav Shmuel's mp3s is available for download by clicking here. Let's hope that his CD will come out sometime before Moshiach comes.

Tue Feb 28, 12:14:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous dl said...

I know the beard thing is going on-----next those peyos? (JK)

Wed Mar 01, 09:54:00 AM 2006  
Blogger JewSlug said...

haha. When I look closely in the mirror, I can see that my peyos are already coming in...might as well let 'em flow just like the beard!

Wed Mar 01, 12:02:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Fedora Black said...

Was he a talmid of Reb Shlomo? He strikes me as a mix between Reb Shlomo and George Thorogood. Very interesting...

I look forward to seeing him one day.

Wed Mar 01, 12:39:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

I'm glad he made such an impression...I was actually pleasantly surprised, because he was not what I was expecting. Which is precisely the point, I think...

Wed Mar 01, 10:09:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

Hey Jewslug, I'm going to use sections of this post in the Beach Hillel newsletter, if you don't mind. Drop me a line to let me know it's okay, okay?

Tue Apr 04, 05:22:00 PM 2006  
Blogger JewSlug said...

hey Esther, I would be happy to allow you to use my post for whatever reason you need it. Considering how incredibly famous you are, I am honored that you have even acknowledged it:)

Thu Apr 06, 12:33:00 AM 2006  

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