Archive for the ‘Deep Ecumenism’ Category

For Leonard Bernstein’s 100th Birthday

Sunday, August 26th, 2018

As yesterday would have been the 100th birthday of the great Leonard Bernstein (a’h), I am sharing this link to his December 1989 performance of Candide:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMIzHnyuiNY

Bernstein was a “Hasid” in the sense that he helped many of us through his art and his genius and his struggles with Emunah / Faith. Please read his opening remarks, transcribed below, from this wonderful performance:

Surprise!

My dear friends, I hear you thinking, “Here comes the old professor to lecture us again!” But I promise to be brief and only [speak] by way of introduction.

The reason I feel I should say a few words… , that I ought to say something, is that for more than thirty years, (thirty-five years to be exact), people have asked me, “Why Candide; whither and whence Candide?” And I thought I might answer a little more clearly by speaking not only as the composer of this work, but as an every-day observer of history – like anyone here – and particularly of that period of history known as “The Age of Enlightenment”, roughly the eighteenth century, which was the century in which Voltaire lived, wrote, and in which he had extraordinary influence.

His masterpiece was a tough, skinny little novella, called “Candide” which inspired the playwright Lilian Helman and me to have a bash at it musically.

Voltaire’s book was actually entitled, “Candide or Optimism,” it being a viciously satirical attack on a prevalent philosophical system known as “Optimism” which was based on the rather indigestible writings of a certain Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz and popularized by our own beloved Alexander Pope.

For example, in this great line from his “Essay on Man”:

“One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right.”

Now according to Leibniz, whose ideas Pope was lyricizing, if we believe in a Creator, then He must be a GOOD Creator, and the greatest of all possible Creators and therefore could have created only the best of all possible worlds; in other words, everything that is, is right.

Granted that in this world the innocent are mindlessly slaughtered and that crime mostly goes unpunished, and that there is disease and death and poverty but, if we could only see the whole picture, the divine, universal plan, then we would understand that whatever happens is for the best!

Thus spake Leibniz.

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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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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.

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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.

Tamid Echad

Monday, August 18th, 2014

As Reb Zalman (ztzvkl) would sing, (click here): Tamid Echad / Always and Forever One!

~~~

Reb Zalman (olav hashalom) was our very heart.
He made it seem easy to make us a whole
       between Jews, across divides, a message of echad.

If we’re so universalist, so why be Jewish?

Every religion is a vital organ — including ours.
Could a body become all liver? Absurd!
Moshiach, Christ, the Mahdi, the Avatar and Maitreya
       will all come to an eco-kosher sudenyu. Oy, what a sudenyu!

When we’ve receded to a place where we seem insignificant to God,
       it’s a heresy greater than thinking God is small.

You are not an “oops” of God!
In God’s present your lifetime has significance!

Oh! Secularist’s nascent spirituality!
Oh! Popular believer: Become “shiviti Hashem l’negdi tamid”!

So whether:

Religious or Secular,
Hasid or Mitnaged,
Mystic or Atheist,
Panentheist or Pantheist,
       (“Kinderlachen, geh gesunderheit!”)
Renewal, Frum, Liberal, Ultra-Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Secular Humanist, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Native, Mammal, Bird, Reptile, Micro-organism, Charm, Rock, Planet, Galaxy, Black hole:

How can we get it together? Together!

Tamid Echad! Always and Forever One!

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.)

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For Tisha B’av

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Click here for Hebrew text. Please consider this prayer composed by Reb Zalman for your Tisha B’av (freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman).

[During the time before there was a State of Israel, those ideals in our hearts which we tried to practice and which we wanted others to practice seemed not achievable where we were because, we felt we had no influence over our world where we were. And so, the longing for our homeland was tied into the longing for our dreams and our vision.

Now that the state of Israel is with us, our dreams and our visions still remain distant from our lives and therefore when we say the Tisha B’av prayers we need to remind ourselves of the distance between that which we would have in this world and that which we do have.]

May the One who knows of our wishes for a better world, and Who sees the longing and sadness that we hold in our hearts and the brokenness that we encounter in our lives, dear Yah our God, please comfort us. We are in mourning for the loss of Your chosen House, special place. We grieve the holiness that once could reach to us from without and which held us up as we lived our lives. Dear Yah, comfort especially those who are so broken by the world that they’ve become bitter and alienated from the holiness they could love, but have lost touch with because of its remoteness from them. And comfort those who reside in Yerushalayim because they feel these things more acutely and basically than we; residents of Yerushalayim, the capital of the state of Israel which is the place from where the first signs of our redemption begin; the city also called Al Quds, the holy place for Palestinians. Please may there be quiet and ease. Please assuage their anger and reduce their terror of being attacked. Please pour down to them a spirit of wisdom and the wherewithal to support one another, that one reaches out one to another with words of respect and honor. Please establish in support of them the bringing about of a government of ease and calm in which the representatives of the people treat one another with honesty and integrity.

Please comfort us Yah, haEl haGadol haGibor v’haNora, with that holy vision of a House of prayer for all peoples. Place into our hearts, feelings of respect and kinship for one another, one Law, one nation with everyone joining and being aware that they are Your creation, oh Yah, and that You are their Creator and, may Your glory be entreated, may it come about that we are all entreating and praying and hoping through the various hymns which will be united into a psalm, a song for a time that is completely Shabbos / full of peace and calm. May it be Your will, dear God, that the souls of all who enter the gates of the Holy city may be refreshed with complete ease, doubly consoled. Baruch atah yah, who comforts Zion and builds Yerushalayim, Ir Hashalom, Yerushat haolom / Jerusalem, city of peace, world’s legacy.

Amen

Balak: Alienation and Curses

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Click here to read original Hebrew text.

The Israelites had recently destroyed the two Amorite kingdoms of Sichon and Og and were coming to the Land. The Torah says,

(‘ויגר מואב מפני העם מאד כי רב הוא ויקץ מפני בני ישראל, (במדבר כ”ב ג  / And the king of Moab felt like he had become an alien in his own land as Israel advanced and, he was stressed and felt that the end of his culture and traditions was imminent because Israel, that nation which had recently received the Torah, was nearby (Numbers 22:3). They had some new and powerful energy they were bringing with them.

The word used to describe how he felt, ויגר, is typically translated as “he became terrified“, but in terms of its root, it is also connected to the feeling of an outsider. One who experiences himself as an outsider is apt to feel paranoid or disoriented. One feels excluded from an inner circle. This is the feeling that Balak may have had.

כי רב הוא  / For they were numerous. Another interpretation is that their energy was powerful, that Israel was on its way and its culture and traditions were so great that those of Balak would be overrun. Balak was afraid of being invaded on many levels and he was concerned that he would feel as a marginalized non-Jew might feel in a Jewish land.

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Paying Teshuvah Forward

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

The following is based on a Hebrew Text from Reb Zalman’s Sefer, Yishmiru Daat.  Click here for Reb Zalman’s text in Hebrew.  Rebuking a person can help him onto a path of Teshuvah, which begins to effect repair for the sin.  (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

The Torah states: “Be sure to rebuke et amitecha / your fellow group member and don’t bear a sin through him.” (Leviticus 19:17)

When a person does something wrong and we witness it, then the person is to be rebuked.  When we close our eyes to the sins of others and avoid dealing with the anxiety or stress we may feel in taking a stand, then we are being passive to the situation.  The rebuking can be a very important thing to the person, the group and the world. Let’s look more closely at how it can help.

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