Archive for the ‘Deep Ecumenism’ Category

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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A More Historical and Universal “Al HaNissim”

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

For a copy of Reb Zalman’s Al HaNissim:  Click HERE.  For a copy of Reb Zalman’s Maoz Tzur: Click HERE.  

Reb Zalman explains:  “The way the story gets told, we Jews and the Helenists are implacable enemies even to this day. As we are to understand it, the Maccabees were the good guys and we must still pursue their path of unremitting warfare against the spirit of Helenist assimilation just as our ancestors. Had we not then resisted the pressures of the Helenists and the culture of the Greeks, we would surely by now have ceased to be a people and a religion. Those were the impure ones and we were the pure, those were the wicked ones and we the good.

“Therefore, consistent with the way this story has been told, we long ago set the following into our traditional Siddur and have recited thus for centuries:

לַחֲנֻכָּה:
בִּימֵי מַתִּתְיָֽהוּ בֶּן יוֹחָנָן כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל, חַשְׁמוֹנָאִי וּבָנָיו, כְּשֶׁעָמְדָה מַלְכוּת יָוָן הָרְשָׁעָה עַל עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְהַשְׁכִּיחָם תּוֹרָתֶֽךָ, וּלְהַעֲבִירָם מֵחֻקֵּי רְצוֹנֶֽךָ, וְאַתָּה בְּרַחֲמֶֽיךָ הָרַבִּים עָמַֽדְתָּ לָהֶם בְּעֵת צָרָתָם, רַֽבְתָּ אֶת רִיבָם, דַּֽנְתָּ אֶת דִּינָם, נָקַֽמְתָּ אֶת נִקְמָתָם, מָסַֽרְתָּ גִּבּוֹרִים בְּיַד חַלָּשִׁים, וְרַבִּים בְּיַד מְעַטִּים, וּטְמֵאִים בְּיַד טְהוֹרִים, וּרְשָׁעִים בְּיַד צַדִּיקִים, וְזֵדִים בְּיַד עוֹסְקֵי תוֹרָתֶֽךָ. וּלְךָ עָשִֽׂיתָ שֵׁם גָּדוֹל וְקָדוֹשׁ בְּעוֹלָמֶֽךָ, וּלְעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל עָשִֽׂיתָ תְּשׁוּעָה גְדוֹלָה וּפֻרְקָן כְּהַיּוֹם הַזֶּה. וְאַחַר כֵּן בָּֽאוּ בָנֶֽיךָ לִדְבִיר בֵּיתֶֽךָ, וּפִנּוּ אֶת הֵיכָלֶֽךָ, וְטִהֲרוּ אֶת מִקְדָּשֶֽׁךָ, וְהִדְלִֽיקוּ נֵרוֹת בְּחַצְרוֹת קָדְשֶֽׁךָ, וְקָבְעוּ שְׁמוֹנַת יְמֵי חֲנֻכָּה אֵֽלּוּ, לְהוֹדוֹת וּלְהַלֵּל לְשִׁמְךָ הַגָּדוֹל.

Traditional Translation: “In the days of Mattisyahu, the son of Yochanan, the High Priest, the Hasmonean, and his sons- when the wicked Greek kingdom rose up against Your people Israel to make them forget Your Torah and compel them to stray from the statutes of Your Will – You in Your great mercy stood up for them in the time of their distress. You took up their grievance, judged their claim, and avenged their wrong. You delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the wanton into the hands of the dilligent students of Your Torah. For Yourself You made a great and holy Name in Your world, and for Your people Israel you worked a great victory and salvation as this very day. Thereafter, Your children came to the Holy of Holies of Your House, cleansed Your Temple, purified the site of Your Holiness and kindled light in the Courtyards of Your Sanctuary; and they established these eight days of Chanukah to express thanks and praise to Your great Name.

Reb Zalman:  “This, then is the traditional text, but I can no longer recite them in this form and have revised the prayer as follows:

עַל הַנִיסִים וכו’
בִּימֵי מַתִּיתְיָהוּ כֹּהֵן גָדוֹל חַשְׁמוֹנָאִי וּבָנָיו כְּשְׁעָמְדָה עֲלֵיהֶם מַלְכוּת אַנְטִיוֹכוֹס הָרָשָׁע וּבִקֵשׁ לַעֲקוֹר אֶת אֱמוּנָתֵינוּ וְדָתֵינוּ וְהֵצֵרוּ לָנוּ וְכָבְשׁוּ אֶת הֵיכָלֵנוּ טִמְאוּ אֶת מִקְדָשֵׁנוּ: אָז קָמוּ נֶגְדָם הַסִידֶיךָ וְכֹהֲנֶיךָ וְאַתָּה בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים, עָמַדְתָּ לָהֶם בְּעֵת צָרָתָם, רַבְתָּ אֶת רִיבָם נָקַמְתָּ אֶת נִקְמָתָם וְהָיִיתָ בְּעֶזְרָתָם לְהִתְגַבֵּר עֲלֵיהֶם וּלְטַהֵר אֶת הַמִקְדָשׁ. מִּתוֹךְ גַעְגֲוּעִים לְהַשְׁרָאֲתְךָ רָצוּ לְהַדְלִיק אֶת הַמְנוֹרָה הַטְהוֹרָה וְלֹא מָצְאוּ שֶׁמֶן עַד שֶׁהוֹרֵתָ לָהֶם שֶׁמֶן טָהוֹר לְיוֹם אֶחָד. בְּבִטָחוֹן הִדְלִיקוּ אֶת הַמְנוֹרָה וְאַתָּה עָשִׂיתָ לָהֶם נֵס וָפֶלֶא וְהַשֶׁמֶן לֹא הִפְסִיק עַד שֶׁעָשׂוּ מֵחָדָשׁ. וקָבְעוּ שְׁמוֹנַת יְמֵי חֲנוּכָּה אֵלוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵרוֹת לְפִרְסוּם הַנֵס לְהוֹדוֹת בְּהַלֵל לְשִׁמְךָ הַגָדוֹל וְהַקָדוֹשׁ עַל נִיסֶיךָ וְעַל נִפְלְאוֹתֶיךָ וְעַל יְשׁוּעָתֶיךָ.

In the days of Matityahu, High priest, and his sons, when there arose against them the reign of wicked Antiochus who sought to uproot our faith and law, oppressing us, they conquered our Temple and desecrated our sanctuary: Then there arose, against them, Your devout priests, and You, in Your great compassion, stood by them, in their troubles, waging their wars, avenging their pain, helping them to overcome Antiochus’ forces and to purify the sanctuary. Amidst their longing for Your Presence among them, they sought to kindle the pure lamps and, not finding enough pure oil, You led them to find some, just enough for one day. In trust, they kindled the Lamp, and You miraculously made the oil last until they could make some afresh. Then did they set these days of Hanukkah to lighting candles, to chanting the Hallel, in gratitude to Your great reputation for Your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvation.

“In the meantime, we have learned some things that have committed us to a more historical and universal outlook. We realize that the Maccabean victors usurped the high priesthood of the Zaddokite priests, who then had to flee the Maccabees and retire into the Judean desert. The grandchildren of the Maccabean victors bore Greek names. During that time, a flourishing community existed in Alexandria and Greek words crept into the Midrash and much else into our Jewish consciousness.”

Or Chadash Siddur (1989): From the Preface

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Tamid Echad / Always and Forever one.  There is a unity that extends throughout creation.

Our teacher, Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi Shlita launched the Jewish Renewal Movement in line with this ancient principle of unity among creation.

Reb Zalman:

“Often, when people begin conversations and they want to say ‘Our community does Judaism like this,’ and others say, ‘Ours does it like that.  Ours is different,’ and I want to say, ‘No.  Tamid Echad / Always and forever one.’ …  This oneness goes through history and it goes through Klal Yisroel / all the God wrestlers with whom we feel we share. [It goes through our connection to other religions too,] and the commonality also extends beyond human beings:  We share with the birds, we share with the mammals, [with] the chimpanzees (who [have been shown to be able to] learn how to speak to each other in American Sign Language and then pass it on to the next generation).  And when I watch the geese and the little goslings down at the lake, they also connect me with the oneness of it all.”  [From Reb Zalman, “Renewal is not Judaism-lite“, 1998]

There is an attitude in many communities, (and into which, I’m sure, each of us may sometimes lapse), which says, “We think our way is better than others’ ways.  We prefer ours.  We do not agree with the others and the way they do things.”

In 1989, Reb Zalman took aim at this way of thinking and wrote a wonderful text to encourage detractors to the Or Chadash Siddur to look with a right kind of understanding and attitude.  It was included as a Preface in the Siddur which was first published that year by ALEPH–Alliance for Jewish Renewal, (then called P’nai Or.)

Here is a freely rendered English translation from Reb Zalman’s original Rabbinic-style Hebrew.  The text was targeted at Orthodox Rabbonim and skeptics everywhere.

(NOTE: A link to the original Hebrew text is included here.
Introduction and Translation by Gabbai Seth Fishman BLOG Editor):

For Intolerance Regarding New Practices In Prayer

It is the responsibility of leadership in every generation to remove stumbling blocks from paths provided for seekers of Hashem.  The needs of the faith community have dramatically changed.  In our generation, many of the paths to Heaven that used to work very well in the past, don’t work any more.  Why is that?  For several reasons:

  1. The holy souls who perished in the Holocaust didn’t have their prayers answered by God.  How can we expect that God will listen to our prayers, especially if those who were more observant than we were killed?
  2. Great changes have come about in life principles we hold dear, in our ways of thinking, in the ways we see reality and in the qualities of our existence.

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