Archive for the ‘Davenology’ Category

Wrappings for God

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Reb Zalman, a’h was asked: “When you come before God. I wonder, what is that ‘God’ to you? Who is this that you come before? And what is that like?”

Here’s his reply:

Ok. It’s such a good question!

And I want to say that at another time I was describing how William James, the great psychologist who wrote about varieties of religious experience, one day made his way and came to a town in New England and, he asked one of the wardens of the church, “Who is God for you? What do you place yourself in front of?”

He answered: “An oblong blur.”

Now he was talking to a New England transcendentalist who was very much afraid to say anything of shape because that’s a “no-no.”

The mistake is that the head has to know there’s no shape. But the heart has to have a root-metaphor.

I can be in a monistic place in my head but I can’t be in a monistic place in my heart. In my heart I have to have the other whom I love. That’s where I’m in the I/Thou relationship.

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Levels of T’shuvah

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

A teaching from Reb Zalman, z’l, as Yom Kippur comes this Tuesday night. It is taken from a wonderful pamphlet called Yom Kippur Kattan and the Cycles of T’shuvah (pp. 22-23) which can be found and purchased through the ALEPH Canada Web Site clicking here. The pamphlet is based on a lecture Reb Zalman gave recorded April 1999 and edited by Rabbi Daniel Siegel.
Blessings to all for a meaningful fast and g’mar chatima tova!

~~~

Imagine I’m going shopping in a mall. In the middle of the shopping, I get this feeling I have to do t’shuvah. The likelihood is it’s not going to be a lot of deep stuff that’s going to happen but it’s going to be like an action directive: “Zalman, that you don’t do.”

That’s like doing t’shuvah on the level of nefesh.

Let’s say I go somewhere on Thursday night and I still am embarrassed about that stupid remark I made to that person that hurt that person. I apologized for it, but really I’ll be making the same stupid mistake again if I don’t really check it out: was I trying to be clever? Was s/he the person I was talking to or was I talking to an imaginary other in my mind at that time when I said that?

This is the kind of level of t’shuvah that you would do on Thursday night

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Publications, etc., by Reb Zalman (a’h)

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Rabbi Daniel Siegel sends the following: The ALEPH Canada Web Site, https://www.alephcanada.ca/catalogue, offers Reb Zalman’s books, CD’s and DVD’s as digital downloads. Prices are in Canadian dollars. Other items listed below are offered by Amazon.

Here is the current listing (updated 7/10/2018):

* Credo of a Modern Kabbalist (with Daniel Siegel) ($18)

* An English Siddur for Weekdays (temporarily unavailable)

* First Steps to a New Jewish Spirit (with Donald Gropman) (available from Amazon)

* Gate to the Heart: An Evolving Process (edited by Robert Esformes) (available from Amazon)

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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.

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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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