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Singing Rabbi Presents Chasidic Thought to the Masses

Yaakov Kaplan and Dovid Zaklikowski –

Rabbi Yair Kalev presides over his weekly class in Tel Aviv.

TEL AVIV, Israel — His guitar never straying far from his grip, Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Yair Kalev has been singing for 25 years, belting out soul-searching melodies while at the same time giving lectures to crowds of hundreds across Israel and the globe.

It’s a style he calls “speaking from the soul.”

“Please assist me here,” says Kalev recently to some 250 teenagers and 20-somethings who have gathered in the heart of Tel Aviv for his weekly class. “Let us sing a melody from Reb Hillel of Paritch,” otherwise known as Hillel of Malisov, who lived from 1795 to 1864 and was a disciple of the Third Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, of righteous memory.

“Every melody is a journey,” he tells them after 20 minutes of singing three of Reb Hillel’s compositions to the accompaniment of the humming crowd. “You could feel from the melody that this is an individual who spiritually refined himself to be a better person.”

Continuing with his lecture, Kalev asserts that “we are here to create light. There lives inside of us a constant contradiction between good and that part of ourselves that wants to do negative acts.”

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