Archive for the ‘Reb Zalman says’ 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.

(more…)

For Rosh Hashanah

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

From Yishmru Daat, page 102, (Hebrew text here), this is a paraphrase and translation of Reb Zalman’s text:

This day is the anniversary of the start of God’s handiwork” (i.e. the creation of the universe), “a remembrance of the first day.” (The above is a text from the Rosh Hashanah Mussaf prayer called Zichronot / Remembrances.)

Since our time is one of Paradigm Shift-ing, i.e., radical change is happening on our planet and in our religion on a scale as powerful as the time of Reb Yochanan Ben Zakai, the time when the second Temple was destroyed, we can no longer only rely on our ancestors who sent deep wisdom our way in the liturgy and traditions of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. In addition to this, each of us must accept upon ourselves that we will be the agents for change. We each bring divine sparks. We are empowered to “roll up our sleeves” and take action to bring about the change and establish “God’s kingdom.”

This is Rosh Hashanah‘s theme said in the prayers with this language:

“Dear God: Reign over the whole world in Your dignity.”

This text may be interpreted differently by different people. But despite our differences, every way of understanding brings an important piece of the puzzle.

When we hear the Shofar we may be thinking, “Papa, Papa, I’m not perfect, have mercy on me for my inadequacies!” Nonetheless, we can’t just rely on help from On High as a powerless one passively waits for a response. You are empowered to tap into a yearning for a better world through establishing a connection with the Source of blessing and to send your yearning upward. We are in an intimate relationship with Hashem. At this time, we should take the first step in that relationship to improve its quality and closeness.

At the time of Rosh Hashanah, we affirm our intention to work on this relationship, and to remain committed to it. Toward this end, here are three themes of the day:

(more…)

Moshiach Zeit, Moving from Moshe to Shlomo Hamelekh

Sunday, July 29th, 2018
  • Reb Zalman’s original Hebrew is here (Excerpt, Yishmru Daat, pp 74-75.) [NOTE English translation below. Both translations by Gabbai Seth Fishman, rebzgabbai@verizon.net].

The Mei HaShiloach text Reb Zalman references is here

Reb Zalman’s text:

And in truth, Moshe Rabbeinu (a’h) taught us until the coming of the Moshiach in an aspect of Sefer Devarim the torah’s principles. And according to the Mei HaShiloach (z’l) (cf Sefer Mei Hashiloach part 1, Masechet Menachot page 53) he says that for the present age the practice is according to Moshe Rabbeinu (Deuteronomy 17:11) “you shall not divert” (ibid 13:1) “You shall neither add to it, nor subtract from it,” but in the days of the Moshiach the practice will be according to Shlomo HaMelech according to the details of reality in an aspect of (Ecclesiastes 3:1) “Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter.”

Mei HaShiloach (from Mei HaShiloach I Menachos 53)

Gemara:
The rabbinic students said to R’ Preida: “R’ Ezra, the grandson of R’ Avtolas, who is a tenth-generation descendant of R’ Elazar ben Azaryah, who was a tenth-generation descendant of Ezra the Scribe, is standing at the door.” R’ Preida said to them: “What is all this? Why do you give his lineage? … If he is a scholar and of distinguished ancestry fine. But if he is of distinguished ancestry and is not a scholar, [may fire consume him!]” They answered him: “He is a scholar.” [R’ Preida] said to them: “Let him enter and come before us.” When R’ Ezra entered [R’Preida] saw that his mind was unsettled. [R’ Preida] therefore began saying,

[NOTE: Translated in accord with the Izhbitzer’s explanation below]:

“‘I said to God,” etc., ‘My good is in other than you.'”

[NOTE: The above is from the Gemara. The Izhbitzer’s commentary begins here:]

(more…)

A Lifebelt for Doubt in Faith

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Excerpts taken from interview with Reb Zalman z’l by Daniel Epstein. You can see the whole interview by clicking here. (The video appears as part of a YouTube Channel called, “Portraits in Faith“) [NOTE: Edited by Seth Fishman]

D: What is your earliest memory of faith or this idea that there is a God?

Reb Zalman: This is so hard to get to because there is a level in which it is so deep. I am reminded of the well-known story of the child who is around two years old when they brought home his newborn brother. And the parents overhear in the intercom as he is saying, “Please tell me about God. I’m beginning to forget!”

So this is a very deep thing because whenever you get to trying to describe a place of deep insight… There used to be a television program with a big wheel that’s a door and you entered into another world through it, [“the Time Tunnel”], and I could sort of see the center of the Mandala through which I have to walk [to access this place], and there are memories that are not quite up in sharp relief.

So I can’t tell you about that earliest memory because that’s what stumped me. But if you say an early memory:

  • To be with my Papa under the Tallis when he is davening and he would sort of hug me – that was such a moment, a recognition that the universe is a good universe; that I’m at home.
  • Seeing my mother light candles as a child; knowing that she was talking to someone who really was there – that was an important thing; it made me feel that I could also talk to God.

And sometimes, when my aunt didn’t let me play with my cousin, I would get back on the staircase and talk to God saying how unfair it is; but it was a very real thing.

As a child I would walk by a little side-chapel in a big church and the ladies would be lighting candles and standing like my Mama did on Shabbos. And Papa would take me to shul with the men. So I had this notion that women were Catholic and men were Jewish.

This is childish but there was something very special about that, that when people are praying, this thing, i.e. to be able to talk to God, is important.

Once I looked under the tallis when Papa had just finished leading a Rosh HashannahYom Kippur service and I saw tears in his eyes and said:

Papa warum weinst du” / why are you crying?

(more…)

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.

(more…)

The Fourth Turning

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

This is Reb Zalman, a’h, speaking at Naropa University on April 9th, 2014, just before his passing, sharing thoughts on updating of traditions. Whether Jewish, Buddhist, or JUBU, his words are very powerful. The “Town Hall conversation” video can be watched here on Naropa’s Youtube page. [Transcribed and Edited by Gabbai Seth Fishman]

The Fourth Turning

Table of Contents:

Welcome!

Making a Space
Remembering Rinpoche
A Fourth Turning of Buddhism
Re-Programming Tradition
Words/Experience
The Four Noble Truths
Source of Compassion
Awakening Awareness
Organismic Reality Map
Collaboration
World-Enchantment
Art, Music, Celebration
L-Chayyim!
From a Conversation with Reggie Ray
Inner Part
Imagine!
Innovate!
Tune In Subtle Vibrations
Body Types
Stories
Patience
Hothousing Spirituality
Blessings

(more…)

A Connection with the Rebbe z’l

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Here’s the first part of a precious sharing from Reb Zalman, alav hashalom, and his first encounter with the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Reb Menachem Mendel Schneerson, alav hashalom. The teaching came on 3 Tammuz 5766, the Rebbe’s 12th Yortzeit, (June 29, 2006). The source is the DVD, “What’s New in Jewish Renewal, 2006”, disk 3, Copyright © Spirit of the Desert Productions. (Edited by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

I want to make a connection with the Rebbe, with Reb Menachem Mendel, (it’s his Yorzeit today), and I’d like to urge you to do the following:

If you have, anywhere, a hope, a concern, something for which you would go to a Rebbe with a qvittel so that he would pray for you, keep that in mind and, during the second half today, we are going to chant the ana b’choach and send off, in a sense, sort of like hitting the enter button to send off your request.

And so, in all the things that I want to do today, I want to do it really logged on to that website, to what I learned from the Rebbe and some of the things that happened to me in encountering with him.

[To begin, I’ll tell you when I first saw him:] In the beginning, I thought of him [as the Moroccan]. I was living in Marseilles, France; the year was 1940 and 41.

Reb Menachem Mendel Schneerson
MM_Young_man2

(more…)

Spiritual, and Other Intimacies

Friday, January 1st, 2016

I’ve been reminded this week of words of Reb Zalman, (a’h), from 2004. On day 3 of his course “Inner Space” and after an exercise in which he had asked participants to pair up under a tallis to share meaningful root metaphors for God, he gave the following caution:

It is clear to me from the vibe that happened here in this space now – some of you were laughing; some of you were crying; it was a deep place for you to be at – and somehow you can’t help but fall in love with the person with whom you do that kind of sharing. (General nervous laughter) And I just want to say that I want to help you with this thing.

Because, it’s important to recognize that the person with whom you have had spiritual intimacy you don’t need to have genital intimacy with. (More general laughter)

It turns out that in the times of the sixties/seventies, people were so eager in their looking for intimacy that they were ready to offer genital intimacy so that they could get the spiritual intimacy. That created all kinds of karmic problems.

But when you say:

הריני מקבל עלי מצות ואהבת לרעך כמוך / hareni mikabel alay mitzvat v’ahavta l’rayeacha kamocha / I accept upon myself loving my neighbor as myself

this is where I’m trying to get you with the work we’ve been doing.

And the important thing has to be the discrimination not to con-fuse it, not to fuse it together with other levels. All of us are starving for spiritual intimacy today. If I were to say where we are most anemic today, it is in this area of spiritual intimacy.

Reb Zalman (Transcribed from the 4 DVD Set “The Space Within”, Spirit of the Desert Production (c) 2007, disk 3)

Paradigm Shift and The New “Orthodoxy”

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

A precious teaching from Reb Zalman alav hashalom on Paradigm Shift. (It has been transcribed from the Spirit of the Desert Production DVD, “What’s New in Jewish Renewal, 2006”, disk 2.)

The Talmudic heritage says that we can make changes, but the changes have to be done in a very specific way.

For example: In the scriptural statement about Shabbos it says:

לא תבערו אש בכֹל משבתיכם ביום השבת / Do not burn any fires on the Shabbos in all your dwelling places.

which means that before Shabbos, you’d have to go around and douse all the fires that are there. “Lo tivaru aish b’chol moshvoteichem b’yom hashabat” it means that all fires are out.

Now, you are an agrarian people, you are a shepherd people and Shabbos comes, bah shabbat, bah menuchah, you settle down, you go to sleep when it gets dark.

By the time we are with the Rabbis after Yochanan ben Zakkai, we have a different milieu.

(more…)

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:

(more…)