Archive for the ‘Chabad’ Category

A Connection with the Rebbe z’l

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Here’s the first part of a precious sharing from Reb Zalman, alav hashalom, and his first encounter with the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Reb Menachem Mendel Schneerson, alav hashalom. The teaching came on 3 Tammuz 5766, the Rebbe’s 12th Yortzeit, (June 29, 2006). The source is the DVD, “What’s New in Jewish Renewal, 2006”, disk 3, Copyright © Spirit of the Desert Productions. (Edited by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

I want to make a connection with the Rebbe, with Reb Menachem Mendel, (it’s his Yorzeit today), and I’d like to urge you to do the following:

If you have, anywhere, a hope, a concern, something for which you would go to a Rebbe with a qvittel so that he would pray for you, keep that in mind and, during the second half today, we are going to chant the ana b’choach and send off, in a sense, sort of like hitting the enter button to send off your request.

And so, in all the things that I want to do today, I want to do it really logged on to that website, to what I learned from the Rebbe and some of the things that happened to me in encountering with him.

[To begin, I’ll tell you when I first saw him:] In the beginning, I thought of him [as the Moroccan]. I was living in Marseilles, France; the year was 1940 and 41.

Reb Menachem Mendel Schneerson
MM_Young_man2

(more…)

A Trip To Brooklyn

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Dear Friends:

Here is the article, written by me in the summer of ’91, and describing my trip with Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a’h, together with his youngest son, Yotam, and our encounter with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Reb Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a’h. [NOTE: If you scroll down to the end, you will see the video of the Rebbe’s words to Reb Zalman.] Gabbai Seth Fishman

A TRIP TO BROOKLYN

Reb Zalman wanted Yotam to meet the Rebbe and also wanted to give the Rebbe a copy of Spiritual Intimacy: A Study of Counseling in Hasidism, a book Zalman wrote about the holy love that exists between a Rebbe and his students. I was to come along to help in the trip, and to ask the Rebbe for a blessing for myself and my wife Anna on our then, upcoming wedding.

On Sunday, August 18th, 1991, at 8AM, I met Reb Zalman and Yotam, and we set out on the drive to Brooklyn. I was curious to learn about Zalman’s time spent in the Lubavitch community and asked many questions as we drove.

“When did you first meet the Lubavitcher Rebbe?,” I asked Reb Zalman.

RZ060604_trip_to_brooklyn

(more…)

Yahrzeit For Reb Zalman z’l

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

B’H

לעילוי נשמת ר’ משולם זלמן חייא בן שלמה הכהן

Today, 5 Tammuz 5775 is the Yahrzeit of Reb Zalman (z’l).

This past Shabbos afternoon we gathered at P’nai Or Philadelphia to remember Reb Zalman. Click here to download and listen to an audio recording of that shmooze (WMA format).

Table of Contents

Tobie’s new niggun (2:00)
Welcome to Gabbai Seth (4:25)
Meeting Reb Zalman (z’l) in 1989 (4:58)
Kavvanah for this talk (5:38)
Spiritual birth here (6:50)
First meeting with RZ (7:52)
He reached and deeply touched many (8:50)
Reb Zalman and the Lubavitcher Rebbe (10:07)
Meeting R’ Menachem Mendel (1991) (11:39)
A Yechidus with RZ (13:39)
“Always and Forever One” Niggun (15:01)
Klal Yisrael, Yoshvei Teyveyl (17:00)
Deep Ecumenism (17:23)
Sylvia Boorstein’s Teaching (“Jew In the Lotus Conference” (1995)) (17:49)
We are all “Hybrid Jews” (18:47)
“I’m like the Head of R&D” (19:45)
Differences between RZ and the Lubavitcher Rebbe (20:01)
Dharamsala Kabbalat Shabbat (22:08)
RZ’s Letter, the Rebbe’s censure (23:20)
RZ’s Yahrzeit, Yishmru Daat (24:25)
My Charismatic Rebbe (25:44)
He was a Simple Yid too (28:19)
Year of Mourning (29:22)
Audio Siddur Niggun (30:10)
I and Thou (36:03)
Dr. Simcha Raphael’s comments from Shloshim (36:50)
Geula and the Environment (37:30)
Avodah Zara (38:47)
Patanjali and Moshe  (39:05)
When Non-Jewish Worship is Kosher (40:29)
From “Psycho-Halakha” (41:47)
Paradigm Shifts (43:30)
Pre-Patriarchal Jews (46:45)
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai (48:53)
From Word to Consciousness (49:13)
Aquarian Jerusalem (50:20)
Olam-Shana-Nefesh, Place-Time-Soul (50:40)
Pnai Or and Jerusalem (51:40)
Community Sharing (52:10)
Shalvi: Raising his soul (1:20:04)
Kaddish for RZ (1:21:40)

 

“I’m Still Orthodox”

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

On June 12, 2011, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin led a conversation with Reb Zalman, (a’h), and Rabbi David Ingber at New York’s Romemu. Here’s a transcription of Rabbi Telushkin’s first question and Reb Zalman’s answer:

Rabbi Telushkin:
I want to start out with a question that’s something that’s interesting to me about the two of you and which is well-known: Both of you come from Orthodox backgrounds. And both of you lived many years of your life as Orthodox Jews in the community.

What do you carry with it; what are the lessons that have continued to affect you in a positive way that you carry with it from the Orthodox world, what does it have, in your perspectives, to still teach you? And yet, what were also reasons that you chose, ultimately, to live your lives outside of that world?

I’ll start with you Reb Zalman.

Reb Zalman:
First I want to say I’m so glad, Reb Dovid, that I see the junge meluchah / young work, to see the shul where you do it and to hear Reb Shir Yaakov and the music and the enthusiasm that’s here!

Because so many synagogue and churches have become mere life-cycle-celebration places and no longer is there real prayer going on; no longer is there real celebration going on.

And to see just how easy it was to get everybody to sing into joy was fabulous.

So if you ever were to do a Skype geschaeft so that I could watch you on a Friday, I’d like that. Because it is really wonderful. And wherever there is light, wherever there is energy, people come to it. And when people say what are we going to do if we want to revitalize our synagogue, our church, the answer is make sure there is light, that there is energy there. Having said that, I’m going to go and give you a response:

I still think I’m Orthodox, but I’m Orthodox as you have to be in the year 2011. A lot of people are Orthodox as if they had to be like in 1835. And that distinction is very important.

(more…)

Oh Davvener, Adieu!

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

At 8AM, Friday, June 6, 2014, motzei Atzeret 5774 / after the Shavuot retreat at Hazon’s Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center  in New Falls, CT, Reb Zalman (z’l) led participants in Chol Davvenen / the weekday prayer service and taught us all powerful lessons of dvekus / cleaving to God. It turned out to be the last service and shiur / study session Reb Zalman would lead before being niftar / deceased.

~~~

Reb Zalman (z’l):
Besides the book that’s called “Davening, A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Practice” which has been published and which I co-wrote with Joel Segal, (and it is a wonderful book; it won the National Jewish Book Award, and all that other stuff. But look! What’s more important is it guides you, it shows you how to do it, what to do so you Davven), now, if you also see another book on Davennen called “The Gates of Prayer, Twelve Talks on Davvenology,” [you’ll see that] it has twelve lectures that I gave on various subjects of Davennen and then it was transcribed. And there you will find a chapter that’s called “Blue Jeans Spirituality”. (That [whole] series is wonderful because we have it in DVD [form] so you can show it [to a group]. We [also] have it on MP3 so you can play it and listen to it and of course in print. And if you get a chance to work with a group and you would play one of those DVD’s, then any time a person wants to ask a question, etc., you can always easily stop the recording and go and have a conversation about it.) It is a wonderful series; you can learn a lot from it. Also, “Gate to the Heart” which was an earlier form, is also out again in a much nicer form because Reb Netanel Miles-Yepez did such a beautiful job with it.

And in either case, you have ways of making your davvenen work [so I want to let you know of these resources].

(more…)

Out of the Mouth Of Babes

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Click here for Hebrew text.

The Yahrzeit of Reb Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (“Tzemach Tzedek”) (1789-1866) is commemorated on the 13th of Nissan. The following meise / hasidic tale appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

The Sharp-Witted Youngster

When he was still in the season of his youth, around five or six, his grandfather, our great Rabbi, (whose soul is in Eden), asked him before Purim:

“Did you study the Megillah?”

The boy answered him:

“Yes, I’ve studied it.”

And so, Reb Shneur Zalman asked:

“Do you understand it?”

He answered him:

“No.  I have a question:

“Why was it necessary for Haman to make the gallows fifty cubits high? Is it that Mordechai was nearly that tall?

And our great teacher didn’t reply. But…

Subsequently, on Purim, he did answer the child’s question with his famous teaching on the verse, ‘Let them make a gallows fifty cubits high,’ (a wonderful, precious teaching):

Haman wanted to exert power through raising himself to the fiftieth gate and thereby gain power over Israel, etc.

But, from that place of the fiftieth gate of Binah which transcends time and space, the limitation of a finite body was his downfall.

(Beit Rabbi, section 3, page 3.)

Rabbi Elimelech’s True Nature

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Click here for Hebrew text.

The Yahrzeit of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk (1717-1787) is commemorated on the 21st of Adar. The following meise / hasidic tale appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

Rabbi Elimelech’s True Nature

Once, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the “Tanya“, happened to find himself in the house of one of the Rabbis who were Mitnagdim (those opposed to the Hasidic movement). The Rav Mitnaged asked him about the book, “Noam  Elimelech“, and about its author, Rebbe Elimelech and, Rabbi Shneur Zalman noticed that in this Rabbi’s great scorn, the said book had been left lying under the bench upon which the Rav Mitnaged sat.

The author of the “Tanya” answered and said:

“I will paint a picture before the one who asks this question of the true nature of the author: If you Rabbis were to leave the body of the author lying under the bench, then just as this book lies there in silence, so would he be silent and not say a thing, since he is very humble and unassuming.”

(My Teacher’s House)

Baal Tanya Meise

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Click here for Hebrew text.

The Yahrzeit of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (“Alter Rebbe” / “HaRav” / “Baal Tanya”) (1745-1812) is commemorated on the 24th of Tevet. The following meise / hasidic tale appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

Bountiful Torah in Wispy Body

Once, in the middle of the night, the students were already fast asleep in the great hall of their teacher’s house, and the Rav, the young one of the group, had found his spot to lie underneath the table. Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk was the only one still awake. All of a sudden, he heard the tapping of the stick of the Maggid, Rabbi Ber as he was entering the hall. Rabbi Menachem Mendel stood at the side and watched his teacher’s movements.

Grasping a lit candle in his hand, he walked from student to student perusing their faces.

As he approached Rabbi Schneur Zalman, he lingered a long while, perused his face and silently muttered with his lips:

“So amazing that into such a spare and wispy body as this, the Holy Blessed One will bring in such a bounty of Torah and wisdom!”

(Beit Rabbi)

The Alter Rebbe Saw It Coming

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Click here for Hebrew text.

The Yahrzeit of Reb DovBer of Lubavitch (“Mittler”) zl (1773-1827) is commemorated on the 9th of Kislev. The following meise / hasidic tale appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

He Saw It Coming From the Start

Rabbeinu Hagadol, Rabbi Schneur Zalman was yet alive and, it was the time when his son Rabbi Dov Ber was still great friends with Rabbi Aaron HaLevi, each one appreciating the other. They once came walking tightly bonded, hugging, pressed together on the other side of a window with Rabbeinu and one of the hasidim standing in a room where they could witness this affection, and the Hasid said to Rabbeinu: “Like Chochmah and Binah, they are two lovers who will not be separated.”  Rabbeinu said to him, “Halevay that they will not be separated, would it were so that they will not.”

(Beit Rabbi section 2.)

Zalman: “Be a shtickel Rebbe!”

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Reb Zalman sends this mamash / amazing Wort / talk he had with Boulder Chabad‘s Rabbi Yisroel and Rochel Rosencrantz in which he speaks beyond just them to all of us. [Edited by Gabbai Seth Fishman]

Zalman:

I want to say that all this is done l’shem yichud kud’sha brich hu ush’chintey / with an intention of uniting the Holy One Blessed be He and His Sh’khinnah. We really want to help the Sh’khinnah to be connected with Hakadosh Baruch Hu, and the world needs to heal. So that’s the motivation. I’m glad to do this for you because in some ways there’s a kind of Tzava’ah, a last will and testament to say something about what I think things are about for me.

I believe that our task is to look at reality and see it most clearly from a perspective of being a Jewish cell in the body of the world. If we can do that, that’s what I call taking on ‘ol malchut shamayim / a yoke of obedience to heaven’s kingship, [a committed practitioner of Yiddishkeit], in a sense — that whatever the Ribbono shel Olam / Master of worlds has implanted in me when I stood there and they were making me swear: t’hei tzadik v’al t’hei rasha‘ / ‘Be righteous and be not wicked’ .

[NOTE: “It has been taught (Niddah, 30b): An oath is administered to him [before birth warning him]: ‘Be righteous and be not wicked'” (beginning of Sefer Tanya, Chapter 1)]

When I heard, et mi eshlach umi yelech lanu / “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”, I said hineni, I’m here. At that point the Ribbono shelOlam burnt an EPROM in me.

[NOTE: Computer memory chip. Reb Zalman is saying that he was then given his marching orders on how to be the Zalman God wanted him to be in this incarnation.]

Every time I have to go and get to a place and ask, mah Hashem Elokecha shoel meimach / what does Hashem Your God ask of you, I have to do a reset on my whole system because it picks up a lot of shmutz. (This is computer language.)

(more…)