Archive for the ‘Davenology’ Category

Shema Yisrael: Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Excerpt from CD recorded at Makom Ohr Shalom called “Reb Zalman Prays” © 2008 ShareWonder Media, transcribed and edited by Gabbai Seth Fishman.

Reb Zalman, a’h:

One of the things that makes parenting a joy is to put children to bed at night and they don’t want to fall asleep. At that time they come up with wonderful questions to engage you in such a way that you can’t say no. For instance, five-year-old Yotam asked me:

Abba, what happens to people when they die?”

“What do YOU think,” I asked and he says:

“Well we sort of have  two lives: There’s an awake life and a dream life. And I think the awake life stops and the dream life continues.”

And how wonderful an answer that was.

And Shalvi one time said:

Abba, when you’re asleep you can wake up. When you’re awake can you wake up even more?”

These are the kinds of questions that come when you sit next to a child on the bed and you sing:

B’shem Hashem B’shem Hashem Elokei Yisrael. And then you say the Shema with them.

Or imagine a different scene: You are visiting someone in hospice.

This past erev Rosh HaShannah, one of our friends, who had been suffering from ALS, died. We had visited her in hospice and, we sang to her. And then, we said the Shema with her; that was a very important thing.

So the Shema is when you start out. And the Shema is when you leave. There’s something remarkable about this.

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The Act Of Prayer

Monday, February 15th, 2016

The following text is from Yishmru Daat, p. 30, by Reb Zalman ah. (Translation by Gabbai Seth Fishman and click here for Hebrew text.)

The Act of Prayer

The one who prays to Hashem Yitbarach should hold the belief that, from the start, there was a cause brought about by the everlasting One, and that S/He is the source of all completions, and S/He created all the worlds at the time when it arose in Hir will.

Also, after S/He created them and S/He brought them into existence, creatio ex nihilo and the absolute void, S/He didn’t turn over the leading to any angel or planet. Instead, S/He is the One who is the bringer of life, and S/He guides all the creatures, including those residing in the highest of heights all the way to those residing in the depths of below, the One without measure or compare.

And with Hir awareness, S/He completes all of the causes that S/He began at the start.

And S/He is the only One, alone.

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Thanksgiving Greetings

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

I am quite certain Reb Zalman (a’h) would like me to share something that he would share without fail at this time every year, asking me to get the word out:

Thanksgiving, a time for gratitude, is a time for giving thanks! After we partake in our Thanksgiving celebration, let’s take a moment for birkat hamazon / grace after meals, (however that comes up for you and your company in your particular ways of “Jew”-ing), and to reflect on those things for which you are thankful this year, including the meal.

Here are links for two Thanksgiving resources provided by Reb Zalman (a’h) for download or printing:

Thanksgiving insert 1

Thanksgiving insert 2

Reb Zalman’s innovative inserts teach us a core teaching of Jewish Renewal that for all times, we have been empowered to make the tradition our own. The chachamim / the sages of yore and the Men of the Great Assembly who helped codify our liturgy as it has come down to us even in this time would agree!

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Hattarat Nedarim, 5776

Monday, September 7th, 2015

Please use the following as part of your Rosh HaShanah preparations. The court session to annul vows is typically done on erev Rosh HaShanah which is Sunday, Sept 13th, 2015 before sunset.

Hattarat Nedarim / The Release Of Vows
Based upon the Traditional Formula
Shared with us by Reb Zalman (ztzvk’l)
(Edited for 5776 by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

Petitioner:

My friends, please serve as judges of a court you convene with the authority to release me from vows. Will you please serve for me in this capacity?

The Judges:

We will now convene and we are ready to hear you.

Petitioner:

First, let me state that I have no intention in the declaration that now follows to cancel any promises I have made to individuals, for only the ones to whom I have made those promises can release me from them.

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Why Theologians Have Trouble with Prayer

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

In the final public lecture of his life which you can read here, Reb Zalman, (a’h) said:

You will see: The more you do it, there will be a moment of the breakthrough that you will have the sense that ‘Ah! Today, not only did I talk to God; today I knew that I was heard by God and I was given back an answer!’, though not necessarily in words. So keep trying that. I wrote a piece called ‘Why Theologians Have Trouble with Prayer,’ and if you write to me, I’ll send it to you so you’ll see it’s all laid out there.

Here is the referenced piece so that your Pesach will bring some mamash DavvenenGabbai Seth Fishman

~~~

Why Theologians Have Such Trouble With Prayer
By Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
of Blessed Memory

The more conceptually correct and abstract the notion of God is for the theologian, the harder it is for him/her to pray.

It has been my good fortune to meet and share with great theologians; with philosophers of religion. When we spoke about the conceptual, the intellectual realms, we were in great harmony. And with those who were in touch with the spirit of the times and had, within themselves, made the paradigm shift away from triumphalism and the mechanical reality map and onto a Gaian perspective, having a sense of the quantum realities, the zero point field, string theory or even developmental theologies such as Teilhard DeChardin’s evolution of creation growing toward God, or with those people who had traced the evolution of God ideas over time, when it came to discussing prayer beyond its psychological benefit for the individual, they could not meet me in a place where there was ontic facticity to the One who hears the prayer; nor could we connect on the real/empirical efficacy of prayer.

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Reb Zalman’s Thanksgiving Prayer 5775

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Reb Zalman, alav hashalom, was reminding us every year about his Thanksgiving insert to Birkhat Hamazon.

For those of us who are ambivalent about Thanksgiving because it is a secular Yom Tov pulling us toward secularism on this day and away from Yiddishkeit, it feels nice and gives us a little stikkele something geshmak.

And this year, we have the extra blessing of being able to use a beautiful side-by-side formatting of Reb Zalman’s singable translation of Birkhat Hamazon which you can find on the Open Siddur Project, by clicking here.

When you get to the section where you would give thanks for the Yom Tovim, please add the following insert (in Hebrew or English below) for Thanksgiving. Good Yom Tov! (Gabbai Seth Fishman)

בִּימֵי הַמְהַגְרִים נְקִיֵי הַדַעַת,
כְּשֶׁהִגִיעוּ לְאֶרֶץ מִקְלָטָם,
וְסָבְלוּ רָעָב וָקוֹר,
וְנָשְׂאוּ רִנָה וּתְפִילָה
לְצוּר יְשׁוּעָתָם,
עָמַדְתָ לָהֶם בְּעֵת צָרָתָם
וְעוֹרַרְתָּ חֶמְלַת הַתּוֹשָׁבִים
הָאִינְדִיָנִים עֲלֵיהֶם,
וְהֶאֱכִילוּם מָזוֹן, בַּרְבּוּרִים וְתִירָס
וְכָל מַעֲדָנִים.
הִצַלְתָּם מֵרָעָב וְיָגוֹן,
וְהֶרְאֵתָ לָהֶם דַרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם
עִם תּוֹשָׁבֵי־הָאָרֶץ.
עַל כֵּן בְּרִגְשֵׁי תוֹדָה קָבְעוּ
יוֹם תּוֹדָה כָּל שָׁנָה וְשָׁנָה
לְזֵכֶר לְדוֹרוֹת,
וּמַאֲכִילִים סְעוּדוֹת
הוֹדָיָה לְאוּמְלָלִים.
לָכֵן גַם אָנוּ מוֹדִים לְךָ
עַל הַטוֹבוֹת בְּחַיֵינוּ.
אֵל הָהוֹדָאוֹת, אֲדוֹן הַשָׁלוֹם,
מוֹדִים אֲנַחְנוּ לָךְ.

In the days of the Puritan pilgrims,
When they arrived in the land of their haven,
And suffered from hunger and cold,
And sang and prayed
To the Rock of their Salvation,
You stood by them in their time of trouble
And aroused the compassion
Of the native Indians,
Who gave them food, fowl and corn
And many other delicacies.
You saved them from starving and suffering,
And You showed them ways of peace
With the inhabitants of the land.
Feeling gratitude, they established therefore
A day of Thanksgiving every year
For future generations to remember,
And they feed the unfortunate
With feasts of Thanksgiving.
Therefore do we also thank You
For all the goodness in our lives.
God of kindness, Lord of peace,
We thank You.

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].

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Auschwitzion

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Auschwitzion
(To the melody Eli Tzion)
by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

May HaMakom console the whole world
Auschwitz-tzion
(Scroll down for Hebrew version)

Alas, how poor are words to state our pain
In remembering the millions slain,
While yet upon our souls the stain
Of standing by while brothers called in vain.

Unshriven here we are depressed
As long as somewhere someone is oppressed
As long as the murderers the meek suppressed,
And grieving mothers wail distressed.

Shalt Thou, O G-d, not bear Thy guilt this day
For standing by while multitudes in blood did lay,
And silent Thou unmoved didst stay,
Thy covenant to help us didst betray.

While millions’ lives to ash were turned,
To their last breath Thine intervention yearned,
Still hoping day and night, while all the ovens burned.
Why were our prayers of desperation spurned?

If Thine own we are, O Lord, then Thou art King
If only by Thy leave occurs each thing,
Then butcher Thou, and we the offering.
Yet who, but Thou, can heal our suffering?

The help Thou sendest must renew
All of mankind, not just the Jew
The Arabs and the Russians too
Must be freed, ere peace is true.

Send Thine annointed Savior Lord,
To turn to plowshare atom’s sword.
May each in Him see One adored
And prophesied by prophet’s word.

המקום ינחם את העולם כולו
אושביציון
מאת משלם זלמן הכהן שחטר-שלומי

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For Hanukkah / Thanksgiving from Reb Zalman

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Dear Friends: The following is transcribed from Reb Zalman’s talk last week at Nevei Kodesh, which was also broadcast on the internet (and is still available for download). In it, Reb Zalman references the updating of liturgy which has happened as part of Jewish Renewal in our time:

“Very soon we are going to have Thanksgiving and when you sit after you eat a wonderful meal, you really need to do THANKS-giving and do birkhat hamazon and bentsch afterwards.

“In Birkat Hamazon, we include on special holidays Yaaleh v’yavo to say, ‘And we thank you,’ for Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot, for Rosh Chodesh; sometimes we say we thank you for Hanukkah, for Purim.

“So, I wrote one, ‘I thank You’ for Thanksgiving and it would be good to have it when you have a Thanksgiving dinner so you can really do the bentschen including that which has become for us a source of THANKSgiving.”

And here are links to the updates Reb Zalman has provided:

For Hanukkah: על הניסים / Al Hanissim and מעוז צור / Maoz Tzur

For Thanksgiving: a Birkhat Hamazon insert and an Amidah Insert

In addition, here is a transcription of a portion of Reb Zalman’s talk from last week, (good yom tov!):

Thank you, Nevei Kodesh! You give me an opportunity to witness:

It was last week that I was able to give you the witness of how I understand where we came from. At the end of the time I didn’t have a chance to speak enough about where we are today so I need to begin with where we are today, what is our achievement and what do we look forward to.

So many of the things that we have engendered are already being emulated, copied, redone, (as it were), by other people.

I have to begin with a witness about davenology:

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HaShir for High Holydays

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Reb Zalman sends these singable texts in English for liturgy of this time of year. Use them when you davenn during this season. Click here to download a word document with all the texts for yourself.

KI HINEH KAHOMER
DIRGE ON AUSCHWITZ
AVINU MALKENU
T’SHUVAH
A SONG FOR RAISING CONSCIOUSNESS PSALM 130
AVOT
MALKHUYOT
SHOFAR
ZIKHRONOT
SHOFROT
ABBA, ABBA HAVE PITY!
VIDDUI
Kavvanah for KOL NIDRE
YOU HOLD OUT A HAND

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