By Dov Shurin
I have a deadline, and I need to be ‘Purimdik.’ So I have 3 stories: a Shlomo story, a Shurin story, and a Lubavicher Rebbe story.
I was in New York for two weeks to distribute the album “Shurin Presents Purim with Shlomo Carlebach,” and B’H I gave more than 1,500 out to the public. In Benny’s Famous Pizza on 13th Avenue, I saw the famous artist Raphael Nouril and I gave him the Shlomo disc. The artist said that he would tell me a story about Shlomo that no one knows.
He said, “After a Purim concert in England, Shlomo asked my son, Ronen, to accompany him to an important meeting. Shlomo told Ronen that he was asked to play guitar for the Crown Prince of Ethiopia, who had fled for his life from a rebellion and was now living in exile in England. And Shlomo didn’t know exactly what the Prince wanted. When he got to the fancy hotel room of the Prince and strummed a quick ‘Borchi Nafshi,’ the Crown Prince began to cry and said, ‘Two thousand years ago your king, Solomon, blessed the land of the Queen of Sheba, my grandmother, and this was followed by years of great prosperity. I have been exiled from that very land, and all my royal family have been imprisoned.
I have been told that you are a grandson of King Solomon, that you are a holy man, and that you are called by his name, Shlomo. So I am asking you to please bless me that my royal family should be released from prison.’
Shlomo gave a cry out to Above, strummed his tune ‘Motsi Asirim,’ and kissed the Prince on his head just below his crown. He gave him a blessing and left England that night.
Two weeks later, Ronen, the famous artist’s son, received word that in fact the royal family members were released from prison!”
Next, the Shurin story:
I’m a Chasid of the Noam Elimelech, who teaches us in B’shalach, Parshas Ha’mon, that no Jew should ever have to work, if we have proper faith. We would all be zoche to ‘lechem min hashamayim’ - dollars from heaven.
So since the 21st of Adar is the Rebbe’s yartzeit, I decided to ask Hashem for a million dollars, work-free. That day I was in Crown Heights and went to daven in 770, quietly begging Hashem, “Please, Tatty, give me 1 million dollars!”
I finished Shmona Esrei and suddenly a young man approached me, saying, “Your music is amazing! It’s mamash like Hashem is speaking through you. It’s like nevuah!” Suddenly, he pulled out three $20 bills and said, “Here, I want you to have this, because I love your music.”
I said to him, “Come to my car and I’ll give you an album. It’s too hard for me to take without giving.”
At the car he said, “Drive me to the ATM machine, I want to give you another hundred.” I told him that just today I started praying for a million dollars, work-free. “So,” I asked myself, “is this how Hashem is gonna give it to me?”
I drove him to the ATM machine and I prepared a bag of discs for him. He gave me the money. He really didn’t want anything in return, and he added, “I just gave you $200.”
Right there, I said to Hashem, “Ribono Shel Olom, I can’t do this. This is too hard. If this is the way I have to get the whole million, I just can’t take it! Please, give me the million without having to take from ANYONE, just from YOU, Tatte, only from You!”
And now the Lubavicher Rebbe story:
On my last day in New York I stopped over to Maggio Music on 18th Avenue and 84th street in Bensonhurst. He always treats his Jewish customers right, and here’s why:
I saw Mr. Maggio in his office and he was eating spaghetti and shrimp. And behind him on the wall was a painting of the Lubavicher Rebbe which, he told me, he painted.
“But you’re Italian!” I said.
“That’s what I told this Rabbi when he hugged me!”
“He hugged you?”
“Yeah, so help me G-d!” he said. “It was way back even before I started my business. I was delivering a keyboard to Crown Heights, and there were all these ‘hasids’ on the street, with the hats and black jackets. Some of them were even dressed like clowns, and some were drunk. Like a Jewish Halloween or somt’n. And all of a sudden this Rabbi in my painting came walking by me, and he said, “You are not Jewish.”
“No, I’m Italian,” I said.
“And then he hugged me and said, ‘I love all people!’ Then he pulled this card out of his vest pocket and gave it to me, saying, ‘Hold this card with you always. It’ll bring you good luck.’”
Mr. Maggio showed me that card the Rebbe gave him with the 7 mitzvos bnei Noach on it, along with the Rebbe’s picture. Then he added, “And I’ve had good luck ever since. I keep this card with me always.”
L’Chaim… and Baruch Haman. A freilicher Purim to all.
P.S. The “Shurin Presents Purim with Shlomo Carlebach” disc is still available, for a small charge, at Eichler’s of Boro Park, Hecht’s of Flatbush, and Judaica Plus on Central Avenue in Cederhurst (Five Towns).