Archive for the ‘Reb Zalman says’ Category

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 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

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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

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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.

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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:

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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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For Thanksgiving from Reb Zalman

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Thanksgiving is just about here. Many of us will have a festive meal.

But the important part is that at this dinner we should invite some needy people so that we might feed them.

It is also important before Birkhat Hamazon, the grace after meals, to count our blessings and to give thanks to God.

Based on the model that we have for Hanukkah and Purim I have written an insert prayer to include both in the Amidah (click here to download) as well as in the Birkhat Hamazon (click here to download) and I offer this as a suggestion for your Thanksgiving celebration.

Blessings for health, peace of mind and prosperity,

Reb Zalman

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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