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Rockland County, NY - Rapping Rabbi Lights Up The Crowd At 'Kinus Hashluchim'

Published on: November 5, 2018 05:33 PM
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Rabbi Motti Flikshtein, program director at Chabad of Wilmington, Delaware at the podium in Rockland Community College on Nov 4, 2018 (Chabad.org)Rabbi Motti Flikshtein, program director at Chabad of Wilmington, Delaware at the podium in Rockland Community College on Nov 4, 2018 (Chabad.org)

Rockland County, NY - It was a rapt audience at the Kinus Hashluchim on Sunday night in Monsey as a Wilmington shaliach took to the microphone and shared his personal journey to religious observance in a rap song.

Rabbi Motti Flikshtein, program director at Chabad of Wilmington, Delaware, told the spellbound audience of 5,000 men how it was a single hug from Rabbi Aryeh Weinstein of Chabad of Bucks County, Pennsylvania that transformed him from an wayward teenager into a practicing Orthodox Jew.

Rabbi Flikshtein, who started rapping when he was in high school, launched into the first verse and the chorus of a single titled Coming Home that he released in 2010 as the “Rapping Rabbi” under the name Mor-To-Life.

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His nearly one and a half minute long rap focused on how he realized that his life was devoid of meaning until he discovered his faith.

Despite the unconventional style of his music, Rabbi Flikshtein’s delivery was greeted with thunderous applause.

“The feedback has been amazing,” Rabbi Flikshtein told VIN News.  “My phone has been going non-stop.  One shaliach told me he has been going to the kinus for 14 years and this was the most powerful moment he has ever seen.”

It was Rabbi Weinstein who encouraged Rabbi Flikshtein to channel his gift for rap in a positive direction.

“Everything we have is a tool, it just depends how we use it,” explained Rabbi Flikshtein.  “Any talent, any skill, can be used for the positive or the negative and Rabbi Weinstein encouraged me to do a rap album with Jewish content and to take it on tour, telling my story through music.  He told me ‘What you can accomplish through one song can probably do more than I can in 1,000 sermons.’”

Having been raised in a secular home, Rabbi Flikshtein said that he has a unique ability to connect with kids from non-observant homes.

“We have a disconnect with a lot of teens,” said Rabbi Flikshtein.  “They see me, a Chasidic looking rabbi and there is a huge gap in their minds between their worlds and mine.  But as soon as I start rapping or I give them an album, it breaks down the barriers and creates a really nice point for connection, especially when they know that I was on their side of the spectrum. I know the challenges of being a secular teen so they can relate to me that way.”

After being joined onstage at the kinus by Rabbi Weinstein, Rabbi Flikshtein said that he paid the warm hug all those years ago forward, calling yet one more person to join him on the podium in front of the crowd.

Zach Horowitz shared how he too had grown up in a religiously unaffiliated family, describing himself as a “pop culture worshipping, party loving, protest coordinating, religious resisting, atheist teenager in Wilmington Delaware” who believed that Jews fell into two categories: “crazies with the black hats and the open minded ones like me.”

Rabbi Motti Flikshtein in his younger years.Rabbi Motti Flikshtein in his younger years.

But after being invited to join the board of a fledgling Jewish teen group headed by his former hip hop dance counselor from the local JCC camp, Horowitz found his life taking an unplanned detour.

“Hip hop Rachel had become super religious,” said Horowitz. “She had joined the crazies with the black hats.”

She had also become Rabbi Flikshtein’s wife and co-program director of Chabad of Wilmington.

Together the Flikshteins became Horowitz’s spiritual guides, answering questions he didn’t even know he had.

“Today I am a full student at the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, New Jersey all because of two very special shluchim, hip hop Rachel and her husband, Rabbi Motti, whose love and care brought me home,” said Horowitz.

The three men embraced on stage with Rabbi Flikshtein extending his gratitude both to his mentor and his protégé, for allowing him “to receive chesed and to pass on that kindness to others.”

Rabbi Flikshtein said that he is often asked if he feels that he is at a disadvantage as a shaliach because he came from an irreligious home, but that nothing can be farther from the truth.

“I feel that it is exactly the opposite,” said Rabbi Flikshtein.  “The past that I have has allowed me to make that connection with the teens that we work with.”

Rabbi Aryeh Weinstein (L) Rabbi Motti Flikshtein (C) Zach Horowitz (R)Rabbi Aryeh Weinstein (L) Rabbi Motti Flikshtein (C) Zach Horowitz (R)


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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Nov 05, 2018 at 07:01 PM OurLoss Says:

To think that Rabbi Aryeh Weinstien, growing up in Monsey, was almost one of "ours"! He could have been a star in Aish, Ohr Somayach, Lakewood or anywhere; but Chabad got him. I hope we learn to hold on to and cherish the special talent that we have!!

2

 Nov 05, 2018 at 07:46 PM Anonymous Says:

How did he become a rabbi? Was it his voice always hit the music he writes? How many of the 5000 rabbis are really rabbis?

3

 Nov 05, 2018 at 08:50 PM Normal Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

How did he become a rabbi? Was it his voice always hit the music he writes? How many of the 5000 rabbis are really rabbis?

Wow. I wish you a Refuah Shelaimah.

4

 Nov 05, 2018 at 09:19 PM Anonymous Says:

Unlike many other Jewish streams, semicha is obtained by the bulk of Chabad yeshiva students. This trend began in the 1950s when the Lubavitcher Rebbe instructed yeshiva students to obtain ordination before getting married and starting families of their own.

5

 Nov 05, 2018 at 09:54 PM jsjcbs Says:

Reply to #1  
OurLoss Says:

To think that Rabbi Aryeh Weinstien, growing up in Monsey, was almost one of "ours"! He could have been a star in Aish, Ohr Somayach, Lakewood or anywhere; but Chabad got him. I hope we learn to hold on to and cherish the special talent that we have!!

We're all in this together. No such thing as ours or yours.One God. One team.

6

 Nov 05, 2018 at 10:21 PM You asked, I'll answer Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

How did he become a rabbi? Was it his voice always hit the music he writes? How many of the 5000 rabbis are really rabbis?

99.8% of Shluchim after yeshiva went through a rigorous Smicha in all of the following: basar bchalav, taaruvos, melicha, shabbos, maacholei akum, and more, and are Musmach from world class Rabbonim.
Thanks for asking.

7

 Nov 05, 2018 at 11:21 PM Anonymous Says:

The reason why the lubavitcher rebbe wanted everyone to learn semicha was not so that they can all be called rabbis. The reason is because most of semicha is practical halacha so if you learn it and no the halachos then even if you're not called rabbi you won't have to call a rabbi for every little thing because you'll know the answer

8

 Nov 06, 2018 at 01:03 AM To #1 Says:

This is the problem. You say "Chabad got him", "he could have been one of ours" etc. Isn't he "one of ours"? A frum Jew helping other Jews find their way back?

As long as people like you continue to despise the work done by "the opposition", there will never be the geula, or peace between Jews. Isn't it about time you all started working together to inspire the unaffiliated? I know of one small city where the Chabad Rabbi, the Aish representative & the Hillel director work hand-in-glove & they and their families are good friends outside "the office."

I find your post very upsetting. G-d knows, there is enough work to be done in helping our fellow Jews - it's not a contest & if one gravitates towards another frum group, it's reason to celebrate, not cry over a "loss."

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