6 Shvat 5781 / Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | Torah Reading: Bo
 
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HomeIsrael and SocietyJewish Music and ArtsThe Kosher Musician - Guy Tzvi Mintz
 
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The Kosher Musician - Guy Tzvi Mintz    

The Kosher Musician - Guy Tzvi Mintz



If Guy Tzvi were a cake, he’d be made of a cup of teshuva, a cup of Breslever thought, a tablespoon of mischief, two teaspoons of sharp wit, and a cup of wildflower honey...

 



The Gemara tells us that the Land of Israel yields the sweetest fruits of anywhere on earth. The sweetest fruits of the Land of Israel are her sons. And, one of her sweetest sons is singer, composer, author, and teacher Guy Tzvi Mintz from the settlement of Bat Ayin in Gush Etzion. Just listen to Guy Tzvi’s music for two minutes, and you’ll already taste his sweetness, like a spoonful of honey on your soul.
 
How can one explain the phenomena of a Guy Tzvi Mintz? If he were a cake, then the ingredients would be a cup and a half of dedication, a cup of teshuva, a cup of Breslever thought, a tablespoon of mischief, two teaspoons of sharp wit, and of course a cup of wildflower honey, taken from the bees that hear Guy Tzvi singing during hitbodedut in the woods.
 
BreslevIsrael: Tell us about Guy Tzvi.
 
Guy Tzvi: I grew up as a dormant believer.
 
BreslevIsrael: What a special description!
 
Guy Tzvi: There’s no such thing as religious or secular, because all of us are believers and sons of believers. It’s just that meanwhile, our emuna is dormant. Anyway, I grew up in the North of Israel, spent almost 4 years in a secret intel unit of the IDF, which I’d rather not go into because it reflects nothing of my current direction.
 
BreslevIsrael: What happened after the army?
 
Guy Tzvi: I worked for Israel TV as a news reporter and later as a sports-event producer, chasing the glitter of Tel Aviv night life that led me to be a bartender. Thank G-d my midnights in bars have become midnights of Torah, hitbodedut, and Tikkun Chatzot.
 
BreslevIsrael:Hold on, Guy Tzvi – you didn’t go straight from broadcasting soccer games to singing to Hashem in the forest. What happened in the middle?
 
Guy Tzvi: I became a Wandering Jew, strumming my guitar on European sidewalks, living with the Indians for more than a year in South America, and then working for a while in Spain.
 
BreslevIsrael: Hablas Espanol?
 
Guy Tzvi: Muy bien.
 
BreslevIsrael: And what was it like to be outside of Israel?
 
Guy Tzvi: Super emptiness. I had the feeling that I won’t find what I’m looking for anywhere outside of Eretz Yisrael. I came home in the midst of my own internal war – the good inclination that wanted to search for meaning in life against the evil inclination that was in the self-destruct mode of having a good time. I was backpacking around our lovely holy homeland with a guitar in hand, and Hashem’s loving hand led me to Ephrat in Gush Etzion, where I started to learn about my Judaism. I was becoming casually traditional and then the ax fell.
 
BreslevIsrael: What ax?
 
Guy Tzvi: On Friday night, 17 Cheshvan 5762 – six and a half years ago at one in the morning, military representatives knocked on my door and told me that my younger brother Raz Moshe, then 19 and a half, was killed in a point-blank-range gun battle with terrorists right outside of Ophra during Kabbalat Shabbat…Oh my G-d, emuna…
 
BreslevIsrael: How did you handle the bitter news?
 
Guy Tzvi: Until the tragedy, I was trying to burn my candle on both ends – I was learning Torah, but my emuna was still in deep sleep. But, from that fateful night on, during the funeral and the mourning period, I was doing nonstop hitbodedut, soul-searching, and self-evaluation. When death gets in your face, you start asking yourself the real questions, not just what I need from The Creator but what The Creator wants from me. What does the world need me for?
 
BreslevIsrael: So you were looking for answers. But meanwhile, how did you express your pain?
 
Guy Tzvi: Hashem helped me channel it into my first CD, “To Sing from the Heart,” a memorial for Raz. I’m not particularly proud of that CD since I was a taker back then. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that a kosher musician must be a giver.
 
BreslevIsrael: How did you get close to Rabbenu Nachman?
 
Guy Tzvi: I didn’t get close, Rabbenu brought me close. Once my heart was broken enough, it was as if Rabbenu was saying, “OK, now you’re with me!”
 
BreslevIsrael: When was that?
 
Guy Tzvi: During the mourning year when I needed consolation big-time. Some friends gave me cassette tapes of Rav Shalom Arush to listen to. What a comfort and consolation they were! Other friends saw that I was spiritually thirsty, so they took me to some Rav Bezenson Torah lessons in Tel Aviv.
 
BreslevIsrael: How did you get to Bat Ayin?
 
Guy Tzvi: After Raz got killed, I started hanging around with the Breslevers in Bat Ayin. Erez Levanon (may Hashem avenge his blood) and I became close friends. He was a role model for me – the way he and the other Breslevers prayed, their fervor, their fire, and their joy. I wanted what they had - real prayer, a real relationship with Hashem. One day during hitbodedut, I asked myself out loud, “Hey, could it be that you’re a Breslever?”
 
BreslevIsrael:The answer was surely yes. So, did you think about making a trip to Uman?
 
Guy Tzvi: Not so simple. After all the not-so-holy things I did outside of Israel, I made a vow never to leave Israel. My rabbi and spiritual guide, Rav Stavsky shlit’a, made a special rabbinical court to cancel my vow so I could go to Uman. I then went on Rabbenu’s birthday, Rosh Chodesh Nissan, which is also the inauguration of the Holy Tabernacle and the New Year for monarchies. When I arrived in Uman at Rebbe Nachman’s holy gravesite, I realized that I had come home.
 
BreslevIsrael: Tell me about your book, Menagen Kasher (kosher musician).
 
Guy Tzvi: As I grew in Judaism, my musical goals changed. Instead of performing and taking, I wanted to play music that gives and influences, especially emuna and longing for Hashem. Music is a superb mode of spiritual uplifting that arouses less resistance than direct ways of spiritual strengthening. I decided to research everything our sages had to say about kosher music and musicians, and with Rav Stavsky’s guidance, I put it all down in a book that was originally my thesis for my degree in education. Rav Stavsky said for me to go public with the book, and I’ve just printed it for the fourth time.
 
BreslevIsrael: Does the music a person listen to reflect his or her personality?
 
Guy Tzvi: Definitely; it indicates what a person needs to correct and where his or her fantasies are.
 
BreslevIsrael: What’s the definition of a kosher musician?
 
Guy Tzvi: I wish I knew…
 
BreslevIsrael: Cut out the modesty, Guy Tzvi…
 
Guy Tzvi: OK, the goal we have to strive for is to be like the Levites in the Holy Temple. Our music must be the product of a soul that’s purified from any foreign influences. The Levites not only reached lofty spiritual levels themselves, but their music purified the souls of the millions of Jews that visited the Holy Temple every year. Their music corrected souls; my goodness, where are we compared to them? But…
 
BreslevIsrael: But what?
 
Guy Tzvi: Rabbenu Nachman told us not to compromise our aspirations, and that we should always yearn to get closer to Hashem. Rebbe Nathan said that dedication is what counts, for if the walls of the Yetzer are scratched from our fingernails, they’ll eventually crumble. That’s our job, to do what we can.
 
BreslevIsrael:Tell us about your other CDs.
 
Guy Tzvi: Since I made the first in memory of Raz, 5 others have come out. If you hear them in order, you can identify my spiritual growth process. I owe thanks to Rebbe Nachman and to my spiritual guide in this world, Rav Stavsky, for my music, which is really the expression of my inner yearnings for Hashem and for the Third Temple – we need redemption so badly.
 
BreslevIsrael: What are your plans for the future, Guy Tzvi?
 
Guy Tzvi: First of all, I’d like to be “baked on Rabbenu’s heart,” a true Brelsever chassid. Second, I want my music to be a vehicle for Jewish outreach. Third, I want to spread the light of Rebbe Nachman in the world.
 
BreslevIsrael: Hashem will undoubtedly help you to succeed. We really appreciate your time with us, Guy Tzvi. Thanks and G-d bless always.
 




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