|TSHUVA - THE MUSICAL
Copyright Akiva Lane, 2022, All Rights Reserved
apartment on the Upper West Side, setting up for his Sholom Zochor
Yossi – Barry and David, I really appreciate your helping me set up for my Shalom Zachor.
Barry – After a hard week in our big law firms, we usually have dinner and go partying Friday night – so you should be grateful.
David – And I had an especially hard week, with my boss putting so much pressure on me to do something that is, maybe unethical. But Jay, we’re almost finished setting up, and it hasn’t taken that long. Your brother and I still have time to have dinner out and go bar hopping. What is this Shalom Zachor all about, anyway?
Yossi – David, you can call me by my Hebrew name, Yossi. As you know, I’m now the proud father of a baby boy who was born yesterday. Members of the shul come over on the Friday evening after a baby boy is born to wish the father a mazel tov. Obviously, Sarah would have helped set up, but as you know, she and the baby are still in the hospital.
Barry – Jay, oh yeah Yossi, I can’t believe you became Orthodox. Of all our relatives, and all our friends from Great Neck, I think you’re the only one. I don’t understand why you’ve adopted these ancient, outdated rituals.
Yossi – I know two other guys from Great Neck who also become Baalei Tshuva, “returners to religion” – Saul Behr and Randy Jacobs.
Barry and David – Yeah, really, they did?
Yossi – Yeah. It’s the best thing I ever did. My life has more meaning, and I feel more connected - to my religion, my people, and G-d.
David – Yossi, we’ve been friends all our lives, and I must admit it doesn’t make too much sense to me either But, hey, if you like it, more power to you.
Barry – As your older brother, I have to give you my sagacious advice – you’ve put yourself in an ancient prison.
(Rabbi Goldberg walks in)
Yossi – Rabbi Goldberg, I’m so glad you came, good Shabbos.
Rabbi – Yossi, Mazel Tov, and M’Yirtz’Hahsem, I’ll be at the bris on Thursday. How’s Sarah and the baby?
Yossi – They’re doing fine, resting, though the hospital doesn’t have a great Shabbos atmosphere. Let me introduce you to my older brother Barry, and our friend David Kahn. We all grew up together on Long Island.
Rabbi – Barry, David, pleased to meet you, good Shabbos
David – Pleased to meet you Rabbi Goldberg.
Barry – Rabbi, actually I have a bone to pick with you. You’ve brainwashed my brother, and threw him back into the middle ages. He won’t even eat at our home anymore.
Yossi – Barry, do we have to do get into this now?
Rabbi – Oh, it’s OK Yossi, this is part of my job. Barry, you see, it’s hard to understand in our materialistic, consumer age, that there’s a spiritual side to life. That the real goal of life is to uplift our souls, not just to have fun and acquire expensive toys.
Barry – Rabbi, I believe it’s important to be a good person. But you’ve got to leave over time to have a good time. And science has never found a spiritual world. Religion, with all its ritual and praying seems like so much antiquated mumbo jumbo.
Rabbi – Barry, the bottom line is that we all have souls, and it’s crucial that we raise them up.
Barry – Rabbi, everyone has a personality, but science has never found evidence of a soul
Rabbi – Barry, let me explain what I mean.
THE SOUL (music)
THE SOUL (words)
Barry – That’s all unproven, Rabbi Goldberg.
Rabbi – Barry, I must admit that on the surface, this is not all self-evident. And to get even deeper, our soul is holy, a kind of reflection of Hashem.
David – What does the word Hashem mean?
Rabbi – Oh, that’s how we colloquially refer to G-d. We say that creation and history bear the imprint of the Yad Hashem, the hand of G-d.
David – But how can you be sure that G-d exists?
Rabbi – Frankly, I believe if you look closely enough, with enough sensitivity and an open mind, you can see evidence of the Yad Hashem, the hand of the Creator, everywhere.
YAD HASHEM (music)
YAD HASHEM (words)
Rabbi, you’re just trying to
brainwash me and David, just
like you brainwashed Jay, I mean Yossi.
I believe that as long as your heart is in the right
place, and you’re a
good and honest person, that’s good enough.
In today’s age, that’s plenty.
Rabbi – I agree that honesty is important and essential.
Barry – If you can be an honest man in today’s world, I think that’s accomplishing a lot. For me, that’s enough. No castles in the sky for me.
HONEST MAN (music)
HONEST MAN (words)
Hey guys, a Shalom Zachor is
supposed to be a time of
celebration, not argumentation.
Barry – When else do I get a chance to speak my mind about these topics?
David – Actually, I find the topic interesting. I’ve hardly had any contact with anything Jewish in my life.
Yossi – In truth, the main reason I started looking into my Jewish roots was that its lifestyle seemed a wholesome one for raising a family.
Barry – With having a kid at your young age, you got off to an early start. Maybe you’ll have 10 kids all crying at the same time.
Yossi – No really, it’s all more wholesome. And I feel more connected. I feel a greater sense of belonging to the Jewish people, and its long and profound tradition, that goes back over 3500 years.
ONE BIG FAMILY (music)
ONE BIG FAMILY (words)
Rabbi, I have a question that has
been bothering me all
week. Can I ask it
Rabbi – Sure, David.
David – My boss is kind of encouraging me to do something that doesn’t feel right, doesn’t feel ethical.
Rabbi – What’s that?
David – It turns out that an old flame of mine works for an opposing law firm on a big case. My boss wants me to just become friends with her again. Not to seek any information, but if she happens to say something that’s relevant, he thinks it might be helpful
Rabbi – I see. In Jewish law, there are several types of stealing. One is physical stealing, called Genava. That is where someone steals a physical thing, like a bicycle or a $100. But there’s also a less tangible kind of stealing, called Genevas Das. Literally it means stealing a person’s thoughts. In actually it means fooling or misleading someone. What your boss wants you to do is Genevas Das. By not telling this woman that your real intention is to get inside information from her, it’s a more subtle form of stealing. But it’s still stealing.
David – Rabbi, that’s really brilliant.
Barry – Rabbi, I think you’ve done a good job of Genevas Das on my brother. You’ve stolen his mind, and he’s become a robot.
Yossi – Barry, lay off!
Barry – I’m just feeling guilty I didn’t try to protect you sooner.
Rabbi – Frankly, David, I’m impressed that you’re sensitive to this kind of subtle issue of honesty. Most ambitious young lawyers would do anything to get ahead.
David – Rabbi, I actually grew up in a very ethical home. It may not have been religious, but my parents were very moral. For example, let me tell you about my wonderful father, who I’ve always looked up to as a paradigm of honesty.
MY FATHER’S WORDS (music)
MY FATHER'S WORDS (words)
Rabbi – By the way, as Yossi knows, next month there’s a shul trip to Israel. You’re all welcome to join us.
Yossi – I wish I could go, but I’ve got to stay home with Sarah and our new baby.
Barry – Rabbi, I’m not going to let you get any closer to me.
David – When is it?
Rabbi – The first week in May. Israel is beautiful then. Actually, Israel is beautiful all year long.
David – You know what, I’ve never even thought of going to Israel before. Maybe I should learn a little about Jewish history.
Barry – Oh, no, David, don’t get sucked into this trap.
David – Barry, I’m an intellectual, Summa Cum Laude, Law Review. I’m not the brain-washable type. Why shouldn’t I visit Israel?
Rabbi – It’s something our people couldn’t do for thousands of years. The rebirth of Israel has been an amazing phenomenon, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
David – And I’ve got some vacation days coming – why not?
Rabbi – Let me tell you just a little about how I feel about Israel.
OUR HEARTS ARE IN YISROEL (music)
OUR HEARTS ARE IN YISROEL (words)
2 – The Kotel.
Barry and Yossi are tour
guides who made Aliyah
from America 20 years ago. Barry is Ari, and Yossi is Mendy.
Rabbi – Well, David, I guess not many from our shul’s tour chose to come to the Kotel at 5AM - just you and me, and the two tour guides.
David – I’ve never been to the Kotel before. Look at those stones shine. It’s overwhelmingly awe inspiring.
Ari – It certainly is. This spot has been the center of religious life in the world ever since Avraham was ready to offer Yitzchak here 3700 years ago.
Mendy – The Kotel is all that remains of one wall of Herod’s temple that was destroyed by the Romans about 2000 years ago.
Ari – The Shechina, Hashem’s presence, rested here in the Holy Temples for a total of 830 years during the first and second temples. And you can still feel some of the Shechina that remains.
Mendy – We all hope that the Shechina returns completely, and soon, with the redemption, the Geula, with the rebuilding of the third temple, right here.
Rabbi – Amen.
(talking to the two guides) – How
long have you been in
Ari – I came 22 years ago from Chicago, and never looked back. I met my wife here, and have 8 wonderful children.
Mendy – I came right after I got married 19 years ago, from Los Angeles. Israel isn’t a startup anymore. You couldn’t even visit the Kotel before 1967. Israel has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. All of us Israelis feel a tremendous pride in what we’ve accomplished, rebuilding our homeland, after it lay desolate for 2000 years, while the whole Jewish people wandered around the four corners of the globe.
WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN (music)
WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN (words)
But it’s still better economically
in America. Why
would a person move here, when he
can do better financially in the US?
Rabbi – Because, David, there’s more to life that just money. Here you can be Jewish 100%. And you can feel the extra holiness here.
Ari – Rabbi, then how come you haven’t moved here?
Rabbi – I’ve thought about that question many times over the years. Every time I visit I feel a tremendous pull. But there are more than enough Rabbis here. And I’m kind of attached to my congregation, and feel I’m making a contribution in America.
Mendy – In the not too distant future, all the Jews in the world will be returning to the holy land of Israel.
Ari – It’s the process called Kibbutz Golius, the ingathering of the exiles, bringing the Jews from every part of the world back to their homeland.
Mendy – There are now more Jews here than in America. And soon the majority of the Jews in the world will be living in Israel.
Ari – All Jews should get their bags ready!
And you say that the third temple
is going to be build right
Rabbi – That’s something that all religious Jews fervently believe.
Ari – Moshiach and the Redemption are right around the corner.
David – Are all Jews going to become religious?
Mendy – We welcome all them with open arms to return to their roots.
HOUSE IN JERUSALEM (music)
HOUSE IN JERUSALEM (words)
Well, David, what do you think of
the Kotel at sunrise?
David – Maybe it’s my imagination, but I can actually feel the holiness.
Rabbi – I’m going to put on my talis and teffilin and join a minyan over there.
David – This is a real eye-opener for me. I never knew more about Judaism than gefilte fish. I sense there’s a wellspring of stuff to delve into. But Rabbi, I’m not ready to become religious. First of all, Barry would kill me. But the lifestyle is too much of a transition for me. It’s too restrictive, I like my freedom.
Rabbi – Hashem gives us free will to investigate and make choices.
David – Frankly, Rabbi, I’m a bit confused. My emotions are pulling me in different directions.
Rabbi – David, I have a confession to make. Whenever I visit Israel, I also get confused, because I can’t remember why I’m not living here. It’s true that my congregation and much of our family is back in the states. But the Rebetzen and I have a lot of family here too.
David – I wish things were clearer.
Rabbi – Hashem didn’t mean for life to be that unchallenging!
WINDSTORMS OF THE HEART (music)
WINDSTORMS OF THE HEART (words)
3 – Shavuous in Shul,
Back in New York
Barry – David, I can’t believe I let you drag me to Shul for an all night learning session!
David – Barry, you’re still my closest friend, and ever since my father passed away 4 weeks ago, I’ve felt an extra need for family and friends. I appreciate your coming with me tonight.
Barry – But staying up all night learning! What is this holiday called again?
David – It’s called Shavuous. Rabbi Goldberg mentioned it a few times in his talks tonight. He, and the other speakers, have been pretty interesting. You know, Barry, I just needed the feeling of community tonight, and I also needed you here.
Barry – David, I also need friends, family, and community. But don’t fall into the trap that my little brother Jay, I mean Yossi, did. The religious community doesn’t offer these things any more than anybody else.
David – Possibly you’re right. The people just seem a bit more accessible, a bit warmer.
Barry – That’s just an illusion. They just want to drag you into the same prison that they live in. Look, we’ve been good friends all our lives. That didn’t have anything to do with religion Religion has separated Jay from our family, he won’t even eat our Mom’s Thanksgiving turkey anymore. You don’t have to be religious to believe that friends and family are at the center of our lives. We’ve got to be with people we love, and who love us.
PEOPLE WE LOVE (music)
PEOPLE WE LOVE (words)
Boy, Yossi and Rabbi Goldberg are
really into this learning
Barry – What’s with this staying up all night learning, anyway?
David – From the way it’s been explained to me, Barry, Shavuous was when the Jews first got the Torah at Mount Sinai, 49 days after leaving Egypt.
Barry – But why stay up all night?
David – I think it’s got something to do with showing their love for the Torah that they received. Listen, Yossi and Rabbi Goldberg are talking about it now.
GONNA GET THE TORAH TONIGHT (music)
GONNA GET THE TORAH TONIGHT (words)
– You know Rabbi, Shavuous is one of
my favorite holidays. After
spending the whole night
learning, I feel so
Rabbi – Yossi, it has the same effect on me.
Yossi – And it makes me feel closer to Hashem.
Rabbi – I feel that, too.
YOU ARE ONE (music)
YOU ARE ONE (words)
David, Barry, you just about made
it through the night.
Barry – The only thing it makes me feel is tired.
Rabbi – David, how have you been feeling lately? It’s been just about a month, hasn’t it, since your father left us. Our sages say that it takes a year to deal with the passing away of a parent.
David – There’s an empty void inside me. I really miss my Dad.
Yossi – I remember your Dad well, I used to confide in him. He was a genuinely good person.
Rabbi – David, I know it’s not easy. There’s a lot in life that’s difficult. But one thing that helps me is to look at life as a series of tests that actually helps me grow. And during each test, it’s important to remember that we have the strength inside to find inner resources from the experience, and that we can do it if we try.
WE CAN DO IT IF WE TRY (music)
WE CAN DO IT IF WE TRY (words)
As you know, my Dad had the heart
attack right after I got
back from Israel. During
week, when he was in the hospital, I spent almost all my time with him. We talked a lot.
Yossi – David, it sounds like it was a special time with your Dad.
David – It was. And then the night he passed away, it was the strangest experience. You know, Rabbi, how you talk about people having a soul. I could almost see the soul of my father leaving his body.
Rabbi – The soul goes back to Heaven, to bask in the spiritual light of Hashem.
David – Let me try to explain how I felt that night, sitting next to my Dad. It was so strange. I actually had an image of life being a marriage between the soul and the body.
LIFE IS A HOLY AND WONDROUS THINGS (music)
LIFE IS A HOLY AND WONDROUS THING (words)
Well, it’s almost 5AM. It’s almost
time to start davening.
Barry – I’m totally pooped, David. I’m going home to get some sleep. It’s Sunday, and I think I’m going to get a good day’s sleep.
David – You know, Barry, I think I’m going to join you. I hope you’re not offended Rabbi if I don’t stay for the prayers.
Rabbi – Not at all. I think it’s marvelous that you stayed up all night learning.
David – I don’t want to push myself too much.
Barry – Well I feel like you pushing you – through the door and out of here.
Yossi – We all have to do Tshuva at whatever speed we can, isn’t that right Rabbi?
David – I’ve been meaning to ask you, what does the word Tshuva mean?
Rabbi – Tshuva means returning. Returning to the Jewish people, returning to the Torah, returning to the purest part of ourselves, returning to Hashem.
– David, I’m speaking from the heart
when I say that I really
feel honored to know you. I can sense that you have an uplifted and
David – I feel the same way about you Rabbi.
Barry – I think I hear violins in the background.
Yossi – Barry, you’re the perpetual cynic.
Barry – Yossi, I’m your older brother, show me some respect. I’m just trying to protect my best friend.
Yossi – Protect him from what?
Barry – Protect him from you, that’s who.
Yossi – But who’s going to protect David from you?
Barry – I’m sure you’ll do your best.
David – Hey siblings! I think I need all the protection I can get from all my friends. I’m treading slowly and deliberately.
Rabbi – David, my one message to you is that the key is learning. The more we learn, the more we can grow spiritually. And there’s always more to learn, there’s always more to grow.
LET US LEARN (music)
LET US LEARN (words)