Archive for the ‘Participatory Epistemology’ Category

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

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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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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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Aleph Kallah 2013: Opening Remarks

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Here is a transcript of Reb Zalman’s opening remarks delivered this past Monday night at the ALEPH: Alliance For Jewish Renewal Kallah 2013. His words are reflective of the theme for this Kallah which is כל אחד  Kol Echad : Connecting With the Divine, Within & Around Us [NOTE: Kol Echad means all one, it’s all one, everyone together]:

“Welcome. Welcome. Shalom Aleichem / greetings to you. It’s so good. Boachem l-shalom / Come in peace. I’m so glad you have faith to participate in this Kallah.

“What a wonderful theme: Kol echad and connecting with the Divine within and around.

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Accessing Bnot Zelophehad Energy

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Click here for text in Hebrew.

It’s been a long journey getting to the Land. On the way, we received the Torah and along with it, lots of laws and rules. But were those rules and the guidance they provided really sufficient for all our future needs? Was it given complete to Moses for all time with us now simply using it as our guide for every situation going forward?

The following texts will give us clues for some answers:

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Keys to the Wisdom of Truth

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

 

ספר מפתחי חכמת האמת
Keys to the Wisdom of Truth
Rabbi Saul Baumann
Introduction and Commentaries by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
Editor: Rabbi Shaya Isenberg

http://www.alephcanada.ca/store/#!/Reb-Zalman-Writings/c/5437258/offset=0&sort=normal

This book contains Reb Zalman’s lectures on a small Sefer written by a twenty-three year old genius named Saul Baumann.

Baumann was a Chabad Chossid who lived in Warsaw, Poland and was killed in the Holocaust.  He was educated at both Chabad and Slobodka (a mitnagdishe Yeshivah).  Through the lens of Kabbalah, Baumann brings harmony to the opposing traditions of the two communities in which he was trained, i.e. the spiritual heirs to the Vilna Gaon and Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi.

In his lectures, Reb Zalman shares his thoughts on Paradigm Shift and required updates for spiritual connection to remain alive and relevant within the context of traditional Judaism.  Kabbalah is a framework we can build upon to take us into a renewed Judaism.

Zalman shows us how the tradition can help us to reach to the places of discovering Judaism’s path into the future and how we can integrate from those places of shifted paradigms.  The updates can connect us in new ways to traditional understandings of Jewish Mysticism.

Gabbai Seth

 

Yom Kippur Blessings

Friday, September 21st, 2012

[NOTE:  This piece is based on a Hebrew text of Reb Zalman’s which you can read here.] 

For through the agency of this day, I will atone for you – – before YHVH you will be purified from all your sins.

This is the sentence that invites us to the work of Yom Kippur.

For through the agency of this day: There are teachings in the Kabbalah that point to God investing Him/Herself into the time of the 26 hours of Yom Kippur to effect the atonement for us.  How 26 hours?  Because we add an hour before and an hour after.  Why 26?  It is the numerical value of the divine name, YHVH.  It is love begetting a response of love, 13 + 13 = 26, (13 is the numerical value of love, Ahavah).

before YHVH: I.e., Keter.  In Leviticus, the Bible tells us that we had to take two goats of equally high quality and cast lots to decide which of them was to be offered to God and which was to be sent to Azazel.  It is a puzzling passage because, while most everything that was to be put as a sacrifice to God was very precisely prescribed, in this situation, it was undetermined; by bringing in the casting of lots, the decision was left to the very last moment.  Why this uncertainty? It seems that we wanted to reach into a place beyond any polarity of good and evil, that our esoteric visionaries realized that in order to radically transform a difficult situation it was necessary to reach so high into the infinite that the transformation would be brought about.  In the Kabbalah, such a rung is called Keter, the Crown.  The accumulation of the sins of an entire year would create a heavy burden for us were it not for our pleading with God to draw down for us an at-one-ment from a source that transcends all polarities so it could act as a source of grace.  Such a source is implied by the phrase before YHVH, i.e. a source before/beyond YHVH.  Your transgressions will be atoned for you from this source.

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For Rosh Hashanah (Zeh Hayom)

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Here is a translation of Reb Zalman’s Rosh Hashanah piece, published before in its original Hebrew here.

“This day is [the anniversary of] the start of Your handiwork, a remembrance of the first day.”

Much is written on these verses and to this, behold, I add, from what Hashem has graced me about this current age, as it is written, “You are all standing this day,” in our era at which time even we, who are on the level of “your water drawers” or “your woodcutters”, the entire leadership of Israel during the days of ikvata d’mashicha relies on us holding it up.

And as is put forward in sefarim, the point of Rosh Hashanah is binyan hamalchut as we pray, “reign over the whole world in Your dignity.” And besides what one needs to be in shofar blowing, (simple strain of “Father, merciful father”), there is much else that is cast our way from the level of itaruta d’l’tata / arousal from below, that is begun for us in the month of Elul which begins with [Aleph Lamed] Ani Ldodi V‘dodi Li / I am my beloved’s – in arousal from below, – and so too the month of Tishrei, i.e. they begin from the end of the alphabet – going upwards — TavShinReishKuf and after, V’dodi Li / my beloved is mine.

And what is our role? To raise Binyan hamalchut! “Pronounce before me verses of malchuyot, etc” (in order to make me your Sovereign) and through this we arouse the Divine will to be our king for another year. And some particular efforts on our part are needed to make us worthy of this service.

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An Organismic Way to Reality

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

A different and organismic way to understand the Sparks and other Kabbalistic Ideas

In order to have a better reality map, I look at the terminology of the Kabbalah and then I ask – “Do its teachings relate to the quantum field?”

A [key] question [of one’s reality map] is, “What is it that the soul intuited and came to [see as] knowledge?”

The soul’s intuition (and Kabbalah’s) is of a spiritual totality which happens in the right hemisphere of the brain where representation is not done through words.  However, in order to remember what I have experienced I have to tell it to myself in the verbal/conceptual language of the left hemisphere.  For this, I have to find some words.

If I try to teach anything of Kabbalah to you,  I know that I have to use words to make myself understood.  On your part, I need to invite you to stretch from the words into what the words contained in their inner meaning. My challenge in the communication is in trying to describe something for which there is not a good vocabulary.

Therefore, to explain Kabbalah we borrow vocabulary from left-brain philosophy. Unless we learn how to hear what is behind these words and to find and attune the reality in the words to the vibratory regions of consciousness to which they refer, the words will not convey the reality that lies behind them.

Remember that  all descriptions from mysticism are translations from the experienced reality. The reality was experienced and made conscious by the right brain sensors in a simultaneous way with all the inherent paradoxes occurring to  one in that consciousness in a parallel fashion. However, the only way that theophany is forwarded to the left brain is in serial fashion – one word at a time.

Unless you, the recipient, are able to somewhat restructure the information — by emulating the parallel manner of the original intuitive experience and by making way for incorporating the paradoxes through disconnecting the censor who waylays the information with its protestations of “contradiction!”  — then the communication of the right brain will seem worthless and ridiculous.

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Reb Zalman on YouTube

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

A quick survey of YouTube returns a long list of videos featuring Reb Zalman.  They are listed here in the following categories:

Jewish Renewal, Organismic Paradigm, Reb Zalman Davvenen, Inner Life, KavvanahCalendar/Lifecycle,  Intimacy and Spirit, From Age-ing to Sage-ing, Deep Ecumenism, Tshuvah,  Reminiscences, Psychedelics, Communities.

With gratitude to the many videographers, (most notably, Rabbi Sarah Leah).

Jewish Renewal

Hello Renewal
Reb Zalman reviews his legacy
What is Jewish Renewal?
Renewal Visions for future
Renewal Visions for future 2

Organismic Paradigm

We are just a cell
Shifting toward healing the planet

Davvenen

Tour of Reb Zalman’s davvenen space
Putting on the tallis
Praising with Heart and Flesh
Andalucian Zikr

Inner Life

In Your Blessed Hands
Covenant is unique to yiddishkeit
Rosh Hashanah inner work
Rosh Hashanah inner work 2
Freeze-dried Psalm 23 as Reb Zalman heats it up
Affirmations and Jew-ing
Interpersonal aspects of the inner life
Reb Zalman’s legacy of increasing attunement
Using the imagination, Baal Shem Tov and Star Trek
On relating to God during prayer and role of ego
On Avot 1:14
The Baal Shem‘s Spirit

  • Kiss of God, shmooze with Father Thomas Keating, descriptions of closeness with God that they share

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

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This Is About HANUKKAH

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

The Bible tells us several times that God wants to have a place “to make His name dwell therein.”

[NOTE:  A reference for a Temple where offerings are made.]

And it’s interesting that it does not say, ‘I will dwell there,’ but rather that, ‘my Name will dwell there.’

It is true that everything is God, that everything is in God, and that everything, i.e., the whole cosmos is not separate from God.  And yet, in all of creation, a Temple is a special case because, for those who enter therein, there is a concentrated, stronger focus of the quality of divinity.

[NOTE:  The primary setting of the Hanukkah story is the holy Temple.  Therefore, Reb Zalman begins by providing us with a sense of how a Temple functions to better equip us to hear what he later wants to tell us about Hanukkah.]

Although God is in everything there is and although everything, each thing that is, broadcasts its own quality, that which we call a Temple is a special case.  It was a broadcasting tower from which a signal went out to the world:

The carrier wave was a field of blessing.  The message stream was the way in which God would like to be able to see the world, i.e., a world in harmony, receptive of that field of blessing. In the broadcast, there was a certain kind of beacon of giving meaning to life and a sense of justice and compassion for the world.

And in each human being there is a receiver for that broadcast, (God’s divine compassion broadcasts on human wavelengths). So the beacon helps a person who is open to God, a person who wants to be open to receive it in this way and to recalibrate her/his moral and ethical life.

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