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November 2005
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2 posts from December 2005

Love Story, Ashdod style

When's the last time you attended a livingroom wedding?

The story goes like this: Radna, a non-Jewish tourist from Bulgaria, fell in love with Barak from Israel. They moved in together, about to be another tragic statistic of assimilation. Radna took an interest in Judaism, and began to pressure Barak - completely nonreligious at the time - to find a rabbi to instruct her. Barak asked one of his old army buddies if he knew a rabbi, and was given my phone number. With the Melitzer Rebbe's blessing, I agreed to tutor Radna on one condition - that Barak attend all the lessons. To make a long story short, 13 months later - with Barak observing Shabbos, eating strictly kosher food, wearing tefillin, and praying every day in a minyan - Radna made history and became the first convert ever to be converted in Ashdod's chassidic "Badatz", or high religious court. The dayanim (religious court judges) were amazed at the breadth of her knowledge. "She's another Ruth," said the Melitzer Rebbe.

Radna became Rivka, but with no family in Israel and with very limited means, she began to despair. "How can Barak and I ever get married?", she sobbed to my wife. "We can barely afford food and the rent!" Barak had lost nearly everything from a messy divorce several years ago and is doing his best to start afresh in a small welding business.

My unbelievable wife Yehudit, may Hashem bless her always and fill her life with joy, told Rivka not to worry. "Lazer and I will make you a wedding right here in our livingroom, and it won't cost you a cent!" Yehudit cooked and baked everything from scratch, and the Melitzer agreed to be "mesader kiddushin", performing the wedding a mere hour before taking off to Jerusalem to seal his own engagement.

Allow me to share with you some photographic records of one of the most special weddings I ever attended, and in my own living room. Also, I'd like to express heartfelt gratitude to our wonderful Outreach Program donors, whose generous contributions covered the cost of the musician and the food. Special blessings go to the Leners of New Jersey, the Shiplets of Texas, and the Davis family of Manchester, UK. May Hashem fill your lives with endless happiness, in virtue of the happiness you have granted others.

Grooms_table Signing the ketuba (marital writ), from left: The Chosson (groom), Rabbi Haggai Moshe Tzin (Dean of the Vishnitzer Kollel in Ashdod), the Melitzer Rebbe, Lazer

Explaining_ketuba Melitzer Rebbe explains the ketuba to the groom

Bride_circling_groom Bride circles the groom seven times, under a chuppa (canopy) formed by four men holding a tallis

Ceremonial_blessings Melitzer Rebbe performing the marriage ceremony

Reading_ketuba Melitzer Rebbe reads the ketuba

Workout_for_chosson  Mazal Tov! Now the chosson gets his workout...

Dancing_for_the_kalla Keitzad Merakdim lifnei HaKalla! Behold how they dance before the bride!

Mesameach_chosson_vkalla Sheikh Lazer and next-door neighbor Yankele Shapira making merry for the chosson and kalla

May the voice of joy reverberate across the hills of Judea to our rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, soon and in our time, amen!


Musicians and Moshiach: The Robbie Ludwick story

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that music comes from one of the upper portals of heaven. Musicians therefore tend to be highly spiritual individuals. It seems that quite a few musically-talented people are a step ahead of everyone else in preparing for the full redemption of our people, the coming of Moshiach, and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash, our holy temple in Jerusalem. One of those very special people is Robbie (Zeev Zalman) Ludwick, of Silver Spring, Maryland.

HeavyRzl-metal Robbie of the 1980's 

Robbie at 42 has gone through quite a metamorphosis over the years. A musician since his teens, he was one of the top heavy-metal bass players in the Washington Metro Area. He starred in the movie "Heavy Metal Parking Lot", and in addition to being a talented performer, Robbie has also composed many of his own songs, as evident in his CD "Sea Thru Me".

A survivor of the Drugs-and-Groupies heavy metal culture, Robbie has mellowed through Tshuva. He now plays a really sweet form of bluegrass and country-western, his music bearing the obvious influence of his mentor and close friend, the grammy award winning, father of Bluegrass Banjo, Dr. Ralph Stanley. Instead of firing up a joint, Robbie now he fires up the fireplace, opens his Tehillim, and strums the praise of Hashem on any one of his custom-crafted string instruments - guitar, banjo, or mandolin.

Robbie says that the big change happened for him after dipping in the Ari's Mikvah in Tsfat and visiting the graves of the Tzadikim such as Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai seven years ago. In his words, "The yoke of Slavery left me and so did my earrings and long hair, symbols of my old lifestyle!"

Luthier_robbie_ludwick Robbie Ludwick, luthier - fortunate is the violin that merits his tender-loving care

The combination of Robbie's golden hands, sensitivity, and love of music have evolved into a worthy profession - a "luthier", a craftsman that builds string instruments. Today Robbie repairs violins for one the the the premier Violin shops in the country. Soon, G-d willing, he'll be repairing string instruments in the Beis HaMikdash. "Every rabbi I meet tells he how fortunate I am," says Robbie. "They say that my skills will be in demand when Moshiach comes." That's an understatement.

Robbie believes that Hashem listens to prayer, even when it's in your own words, for he tries to speak to Hashem the way King David used to, through his stringed instruments! Robbie is truly fortunate, for as soon as the Beis HaMikdash will be rebuilt, G-d willing, the Levites will need master craftsmen to care for, maintain, and repair all their string instruments. According to Halacha (religious law), no sacrifice in the Holy temple is complete without the accompanying singing and music of the Levites. The Jewish people certainly need such special individuals as Robbie "Zeev Zalman" Ludwick.

Robbie_ludwick_luthier Robbie handles a violin as if it had a soul; by the time he's finished with it, it does! If you have an old violin in the closet that needs to have life breathed back into it, contact Robbie at ROBBIEZEV(at)aol.com