Lipa Schmeltzer Reaches For Broadway and Beyond

Controversial Hasidic Superstar Breaks Expectations

Superstar: After producing his Broadway show, Hasidic music sensation Lipa Schmeltzer is promoting his new album “Dus Pintele — The Hidden Spark” and attending college in the evenings.
Courtesy of Lipa Schmeltzer
Superstar: After producing his Broadway show, Hasidic music sensation Lipa Schmeltzer is promoting his new album “Dus Pintele — The Hidden Spark” and attending college in the evenings.

By Frimet Goldberger

Published January 23, 2014, issue of January 24, 2014.
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What’s that one controversial line in the song “Dus Pintele Yid — The Essence of a Jew”? And can you translate it for us?

I am taking poetry classes, and I like to write like a poet. I love when my songs have several meanings. I like when people tell me the different things they understood from my song, because that’s a poem — it’s not flat. So I wrote the song (in Yiddish), and I said: “Have understanding for everybody, even if it’s not what you would like to see on that person. Because everybody gets heaven today. The fire of hell is out, because if dus pintele Yid, the essence of a Jew, is always present and burning, Hashem would write all of us into good places for who we are.”

All I said was if in 2014, in this fast-paced world, people’s Jewish essence is still burning, then [hell] is not burning.

The bottom line is, who says that we have to be afraid of [hell]? They say the difference between religious and spiritual people is that religious people are afraid of [hell] and spiritual people are coming from there.

We need to be Jewish and spiritual and do our duties for the love of god. If we do it out of fear, there’s no point. Judaism is a loving way of life, and it has to be a way in which we love what we do. And if we don’t, there’s no point in doing it.

If there’s no pintele Yid, then it’s all garbage. There are people who go around with the whole get-up and there’s nothing inside. Yes, there are good people, but unfortunately the noisemakers are the haters.

For the amount of aggravation and embarrassment I went through, for me to still be loyal to my Judaism, it means I have a pintele Yid and I have a right to say the [hell] fires are stoked. When I close my eyes and finish my duty here, I believe hell will not be burning.

I pray even for the negative people — that they should come to a place where they realize their pintele Yid and love everybody.

So what’s the overall message of this album?

The overall message is to look at the hidden spark of everybody and try to find the good in a person. Could you imagine King David being a Satmar rebbe today, saying, “I fell last night; I went into a place in Manhattan and committed sins”? They’ll fire him. We live in a different world. We want to talk about King David and take inspiration from him, but we’re not that. So we have to look at the inner spark of people and give them the credit they deserve.

Ultimately, people need validation, not to feel negative when they walk into a shul. I think my shul serves this purpose. I went into a shul once in Monsey before I had my own shul. Someone wanted me to lead part of the morning services, and one guy said, “A guy that 70 rabbonim signed against him, you’re giving him this honor?” I never stepped into that shul again. Now I get flak for allowing a guy who supposedly doesn’t observe Shabbos to get an aliyah. I don’t have to answer to anybody; it’s between me and God. I didn’t see if he observes Shabbos or not. I have to believe everybody what they say about others? I see a good Jew, wanting to come daven on Shabbos, I give him an aliyah.

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