Archive for 2007

Jerusalem And The Complete Redemption

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Referring to the recent move for dividing Jerusalem into two capitals, Reb Zalman writes:  “Today there seems to be a gathering momentum for various schemes to divide/share Jerusalem between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine. The current political vision is somehow awkward in comparison to what I wrote in 1967 and published in my Paradigm Shift. Had we acted then, so much bloodshed could have been prevented. It would pay to keep this vision in mind and to massage it to the current situation.”

When the 1967 article was published in 1993, Reb Zalman wrote the following introduction:  “This article, not accepted by several Jewish journals in May 1967, was written in response to the gathering clouds of the 1967 war. It was written about the same time as my response to Richard Rubenstein‘s “Homeland and Holocaust” that appeared in The Religious Situation, 1968. There I wrote, among other things, a proposal that we set aside one penny per gallon of gas to contribute to the United Jewish Appeal to be earmarked for the resettlement of Palestinian refugees.

“The United Nations is today not the instrument it could have become then. Perhaps in the current conflicts about the territories, we are approaching another nexus for rethinking these issues.”

What follows is a reprint of Reb Zalman’s 1967 article:


Jerusalem must be internationalized. This is the burden of these lines. The purpose of an internationalized Jerusalem is to make it possible for the Jews to keep Jerusalem, while at the same time opening the way for the complete redemption.

There are many intoxicants in humanity’s blood. Some of them are the result of the inhalation or ingestion of foreign substances; others are the result of experiences lived through. Pride, victory, and success create such intoxicants, and the voice that tries to speak a sobering word is shouted down.

This is an attempt to say a sobering word in the service of the same objectives that most Jews hold. Perhaps all we wish to do is to extend the aims and to make more feasible a long-range view of peace in the Middle East, along with the redemption of Israel and all nations.


On Prayer

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Reb Zalman says (from “The Space Within” and “Integral Halachah: Transcending and Including” both available from Aleph): 

“When I ask myself, ‘What should I do?  Should I write some more finesses in Kabbalah or should I translate another piece of Siddur / prayerbook that people will need?’ And the answer is, I want to translate the Siddur instead.  

“How many people have Jewish names, Jewish ancestry and have no current connection to their Jewish spirituality.  And if they could, they would like to do a something, but it’s not the something that’s connected with shul, or with the people with the black hats and so on and so forth. 

“Imagine for a moment a picture drawn by Norman Rockwell, (Saturday Evening Post, you know?),  a Jewish family at the breakfast table all with their kippahs on, not yet eating because papa is saying, ‘Avraham.  You read us this chapter from the Psalms, or from the Scriptures beforehand,’ and then, ‘A little bit of the sedra today we are reading from rivii of this sedra.  Read that little stickele.’  And people discuss it at the table.  And then they make those prayers that they want to do for the day.  ‘I’m going to be writing a quiz today.’  ‘Yes.  Dear God, help Johnny to be able to write the quiz well.’  They pray around the table.  Can you imagine that?  

“I feel that that sense of the American Judaism hasn’t quite yet gotten the tools and so I felt that you had to do something with the freeze-dried stuff.  But I tried to already give you not just freeze dried but canned.  But you still have to warm it up yourself.  So in this way, if you will take the material and look at those words that are there:  ‘Dear God:  Just like my parents – you helped them to live life so they could serve your purpose – please help me also.’

“When you say it in this way, you don’t need any more stuff; you just need to have the feeling.  That’s why we go back to the focusing part.  If I can say it from the place where I’m  hurting, I can say it from the place where it’s real for me, then I don’t need to put more hot water in there.


Tanksgiv All The Boona

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Thanks to Reb Zalman for composing this insert to birkat hamazon / Grace After Meals and thanks to blogger Tania Josefa for translating.  After your Thanksgiving day dinner, please insert it at the same point where you would add for Chanukah or Purim.  Gabbai Seth Fishman (BLOG Editor)


Sitting With Questions

Friday, October 26th, 2007

These questions are pulled from a Roundtable at a Vancouver, BC gathering in which Reb Zalman participated along with  Professor Shirin Ebadi, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr. Jo-ann Archibald.   You can see a description of the gathering by clicking here.  You can see the video by then clicking webcast, and then roundtable video.  To skip to Reb Zalman, Fast Forward to 01:06:15.

Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

Reb Zalman says:

We want to amplify an urge from above and from below that wants to birth itself, a push of our Earth’s need of healing and a pull of a vision of organismic health.  We want to wake up others and wake up ourselves to even more awareness.  We need to break the habit of only finding easy or immediate answers and instead, we need to learn to sit with the questions, to deal with the anxiety they may produce.  Easy, immediate answers won’t stave off the impending disaster of the ever accelerating global dying.

These are some of the questions with which we need to sit:

  • What ideas of cosmology do we have to have in order to approach the healing of the planet?
    • We need new blueprints of the mind, reality maps pointing to possible harmonious life-matrix points.  We must be creative in such a way that we do not repeat precedent, in ways that are daring, playing with the least probable possibilities, to be open to ways that are more weird and spiritual where we might find answers, a new way to understand the map of reality.  We need to co-create with the integral planetary mind, the cosmology we have to have in order to approach the healing of the planet.
  • What is the basic health ethic arising from that new cosmology?
    • The cosmology we seek to find should produce, first and foremost, an ethos that honors harmonious biological health in the individual and in the matrix of our environment.  In order to create this cosmology, we can no longer rely on an individual mind.  The complexity, and with it, the responsibility of what we have to mind in the world and in life is far too great to be left to one person.  The only way to get it together is together.
  • What are the uppaya the skillful means which are needed to lift the cultural trance and launch the awareness of this emerging cosmology?
    • We must do the miraculous work of altering the awareness of millions of people by going deeper and deeper into regions where we cannot use the effort of muscles or of logic, regions where only awareness can shift awareness.  We need to update the inner resources of our spiritual traditions that once worked well, but which were associated with flesh-rejecting monastic asceticism. We need to look for that which works of the old techniques and enhance their yield by learning to attune our consciousness to optimal transformational power.  We need to hear the choral symphonic music of a sacred common dream.  We must figure out how to access it, how we could empower it, how it can empower us.  We are not on the top of the chain of being.  We need to have a means as spiritual people for accessing the waiting helpers from higher planes.  We need to design the needed education of heart and spirit.
  • What advancements in psychology, anthropology, biology, physics, medicine, philosophy, political science, theology, spiritual technologies, economics, the arts, communications and most of all, the ethics that we need in order to heal the planet?
    • The current state of the disciplines of transpersonal psychology and transpersonal sociology are too primitive to handle our crisis.

For a complete transcript of Reb Zalman’s remarks, click the link to view the rest of this entry below.  You are invited to share your comments at the end.

Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor


A Renewed Jewish Credo

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

The following is from Reb Zalman’s 1991 shiur "Renewal is Not Heresy" during which participants worked on envisioning a Judaism of the future.  The shiur is now available from Aleph under the title "Renewal Is Judaism Now."  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor Reb Zalman says:

"We have a consensus that, by and large, is tacit, not explicit.  And there is a process which fuels the consensus of who we are.  "The consensus has energy that wants the tikkun / the repair of broken things and it wants to bring these things about, the new possibilities of integration, and it wants to use whatever tools and magic it has to bring these things about.   "The agreements are formed very often by something like gossip.  There is a power-with situation that is governed by the "gossip’s" flow in a community.  And that gossip determines, to a large extent, what the consensus of the pious will be.  "The conventional wisdom underlying that consensus is taken for granted by the participants who are shaping the consensus.  There is a certain kind of agreement that floats in the air.  The agreement is the template of society.  It is a conventional wisdom through which the consensus is sort of programmed.  "Mordechai Kaplan helped us see that we are no longer operating with unconscious re-interpretation.  We are aware of what we are doing when we are doing it.   "For example, we do not tell ourselves that what Albert Einstein said is what Moishe Rabbeinu really meant when he taught us the Torah.  When we say that what Einstein said is what Moishe really meant, we add that this is a a drosh / an interpretation.  And reinterpretations happen for everyone as cosmologies change and they give us pause.   Because if our institutions don’t reflect the new cosmologies, then we are faced with a gap between our beliefs and our institutions. "I want to find out the consensus of our committed so that I can help accelerate the closing of this gap.  Rather than being implicit, I want to make the consensus of our commitment explicit. 

(NOTE:  Please share something of your implicit conventional wisdoms at the end of the article.  Gabbai Seth)


Lead with the Heart

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

The following is an excerpt from “The Space Within” a four dvd set available from Aleph recorded at Elat Chayyim in 2004. Please respond with any comments.

Gabbai Seth Fishman (BLOG Editor)

Reb Zalman says:

“So the question now is, sometimes one hears it said that you need to lead with the mind, that the mind creates the emotions, and sometimes one hears that you need to lead with the heart, that the emotions create the awareness for the mind.

“And while, for instance in Chabad there has been the idea, ha-midos hen toldos chabad / the emotions descend from the mind, i.e. that you begin always with the mind first and then proceed into the feelings, that was from a time when the dream world of the hasidim was so rich. For example, one reads of those hasidim, ‘I dreamt it was pesach already.’ And, ‘I dreamt that on purim I dressed myself into such and such a costume,’ and the like.

“If you were to read some of the dreams that were recorded by Reb Nachman or by the grandson of the baal shem tov or by the komarner rebbe, you’d get a sense they had wonderful, wonderful dreams, because their dream world was alive.

“So if you had such a good dream world as they, such a good affect world, all you would need to do is to get started with the mind and then the rest of it follows. And that’s the context of ha-midos hen toldos chabad / the emotions descend from the mind. That’s the place from which to understand what they are saying with that phrase.

“However, we are not in that same situation. We have to do a lot of repair in our affect place.

“So for us it is better to go with Reb Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, the Apter Rebbe, who was teaching us, ‘v’hair lev v’sum sechel‘ / awaken the heart and then put your mind to it.

“And here’s how you can see that this is the better way to go. There is something buzzing in this area and it’s spilling over into all kinds of places.

“There is now a group in Boulder Creek, California called The Institute of HeartMath and they’re pointing out that if you have good memories, good images, that you can, at the moment when you have been upset, do ‘freeze-frame,’ (that is what they call it), and go into the heart place, and from there instead of coming up with a defensive notion, you will come up with something that is inclusive, that will work things out. It is so amazing.

“So today, it seems that what we need is to get into the feeling place and not rush from one level of feeling to another level of reactivity, that’s to say from pain to anger.

“And if you can imagine what it would be if we were to have a core of grandparents going to the West Bank, to Gaza and to Israel and sit with people who have lost grandchildren. And own the pain. And own the grief that’s going on.

“By not owning that, by not bringing it into the light, all the road maps to peace won’t work, because they are starting out in the cortex, they are starting out in the conceptual world, and they come onto a world that has been so activated not to own the grief, but to go into anger; on both sides.

“Can you understand why it’s going to be impossible to do it leading with the mind? The healing has to come by healing that feeling world. And the feeling world will also heal the physical body and it will also heal the politics.”

Reb Zalman, 2004, elat Chayyim

Share your Stories of Reb Zalman

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Shalom: Please share your favorite Reb Zalman stories by contributing a comment to this post. Over the years, Reb Zalman has given us a myriad of gifts, individually and collectively. We’ve both heard and experienced some of these gifts first hand. What did he tell you that was tailor-made for your neshama / soul? What amazing things do you recall? What pearls can you share that will teach us something about Reb Zalman’s legacy?

See below for some of my recollections. Looking forward to reading yours.

Gabbai Seth Fishman (BLOG Editor)