Archive for 2008

Maoz Tzur, Healing the planet

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Dear Friends:

This version of Maoz Tzur includes Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s recommendations and revisions.   Blessings for a freilach HanukkahGabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor



A Hanukkah Kavannah

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Hanukkah is associated with the Sefirah of Hod as follows:  Keter: Yom Kippur, Chochmah-Binah: Rosh Hashanah 1 & 2, Chesed: Pesach, Gevurah: Shavuot, Tiferet: Sukkot, Netzach: Purim, Hod: Hanukkah, Yesod: Rosh Chodesh, Malchut: Shabbat.  Reb Zalman’s thinking on this is explained in his Etz Chayim Shel HaMoadim/ Tree of Life of Holidays, which text may be found in Yishmiru Da-at or The Ten Sefirot in Sacred Time, both available from Aleph).

Here is a translation of his section for Hanukkah which will serve as a wonderful preparation for this wonderful holiday.  (Hebrew and English together may be found below.)    Wishing you and yours a Happy Hanukkah!  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor.

On Hanukkah, during which time the miraculous light shines on us, with candles from which we are not allowed to derive any benefit other than the enjoyment of watching them burn, for which enjoyment we give thanks (hod-ot) to God and praise God’s Hod aspects, and tap the presence of  Aaron the priest and the Hasmoneans the priests:  At this time, we publicize, one to another and to the world, the care and oversight with which we light, showing and espousing through this action, in turn, a publicizing of the miracle of the oil.



Wednesday, December 17th, 2008


Music for Sefirot

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Dear Friends:

Reb Zalman:  “I would love it if someone were to write these themes into a symphony in seven movements that we could use for the Simchat Torah dances.”   (From “Simchat Torah Processions”.)

The themes Reb Zalman references in this quote are those associated with each of the seven days of Sukkot and also with the seven processions of Simchas torah.  Each day and procession are associated with one of the seven sefirot / divine attributes:  Chesed / LovingKindness, Gevurah / Strict Justice and Discernment, Tiferet / Balance, Mercy and Harmony, Netzach / Persistence, Focus, Hod / Beauty and Aesthetics, Yesod / Foundation, Malchut / Kingship, Shechinah / divine in-dwelling, tikkun / repair and a healed planet.

When I first read Reb Zalman’s statement, I envisioned a ballet with seven movements based upon the composition.  Halevay / God-willing such a piece and such a production will come to fruition so we can all hear and see it!

Zalman has sometimes spoken of particular pieces of music that evoke associations in us of specific sefirot.  In this post, I have put together various recordings of classical music with such associations.  I brainstormed the list based upon my own understanding of Sefirot;  the list is a current snapshot of a subjective understanding and association with each Sefirah.

I hope you will find this useful in your connections to Sefirot and God.   Enjoy (click a composer’s name below to hear the music)!  Please place suggestions for music that you associate with Sefirot in the comments section, below.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

Music for Sefirot, 5769

Chesed:  Ravel: Pavanne, Barber: Adagio for strings, Tchaikovsky: Symphony 6, mvt 2Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue (please ff to section from 5:34 to 7:42), DvorakSymphony 5Wolf:  “Schlafendes Jesuskind, Massenet: Meditation from ThaisTchaikovsky: Symphony 6, mvt 1 (please ff to section from 8:27 to end), Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Tallis, Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on Greensleeves, Brahms: “Wiegenlied, Wolf: “der Genesene an die Hoffnung.


Reb Zalman’s Thanksgiving Prayer

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Dear Friends:

Here’s a copy of Reb Zalman’s wonderful insert to birkat hamazon / grace after meals, for your Thanksgiving celebrations:

Tanksgiv All The Boona

It’s a beautiful prayer that will add a Jewish touch to your Thanksgiving celebration this year.  

At the same time, we need to also reinforce the notion that it would be unkosher for us to behave as some say the Europeans did as they settled in America.  

Here’s an excerpt from Reb Zalman’s book, Integral Halachah where he lists the non-negotiables, the anchors of a Halachah for our time:


Aquarian Birth Pangs

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

In 1991, Reb Zalman taught a class at the Kallah entitled, “Renewal Is Not Heresy:  Where we differ from the Sabbatians.”  A revised version of the original transcript is still available from Aleph as, “Renewal Is Judaism Now.” 

 Here’s the introduction to the shiur:

“Jewish Renewal speaks of paradigm shifts and reformatting our tradition.  We are rooted in Hassidism; we are influenced by the tradition; and at the same time, we participate in consciously reinterpreting our relationship to it. 

“Hassidism was not understood at its inception.  It was lumped with the movement that had been associated with Shabbetai Zvi. 

“In these sessions, we will compare and contrast the theological, psychological and cosmological foundations of our current self-understanding.”

It was an amazing class.  It was as if God had hired Reb Zalman to faciliate at a summit strategy session for Judaism.  The CEO, (HaShem, Yitbarach), invited us to participate in the creation of an updated vision statement for Moshiach.  All were invited, because God wants our input.  

There was something in the air in 1991 still left over from the sixties; a sense that infrastructure of religions, governments and institutions was up for reshaping. 


Simchat Torah Processions

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Dear Friends:

Oy!  The joy of Simchas Torah as we did it at P’nai Or!  

It was 1992, led by Rabbi Jeff Roth and held in Saxe Lodge in Saugerties, NY.   The attendees included a sprinkling of Musicians and Choreographers among the sixty or so attendees.  We were to create a Simchas Torah / rejoicing in the torah service reflecting Reb Zalman’s innovative work in which the kahal / community moves to each Sefirah / Divine Attribute in succession; we were to explore and create the sacred ritual dances of Simchat Torah

I was assigned, (along with a dozen others, including Tsurah August and Efraim Eisen), to the Sefirah of Tiferet / Harmony.  Five other groups were assigned to the other Sefirot from Chesed / Lovingkindness to Yesod / Foundation. 



Sunday, October 19th, 2008

A question answered during Reb Zalman’s Ohalah talk shows a way for us to think of mashiach-zeit / world redemption.  On Hoshanah Rabbah / the Great Please Save day (today), we will pray in our Sukkah-s asking God to bring about that which we all need, which the world needs.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

“The whole mythic element of where the third Temple is and how it’s going to be dealt with…  I know there are some people who are kohanim / descendants of Aaron who are preparing to offer animal sacrifices, and after what we’ve been through with the plant in Iowa, I just don’t feel that I want to talk about a third Temple in this way.

“And if there’s a third Temple in which ki beisi beis t’fillah lichol ha-amim / For my House is a House of prayer for all people, so I would want to say, mi-mizrach shemesh ad mivo’o m’hullal shem hashem / From the dawn’s,  sun’s rising unto his homecoming past the dusk, Yah’s repute is constantly celebrated. 

The third temple is the planet sanctified and healed!  That’s the way I’d want to say it.

“And if there is that planet sanctified and healed somewhere in the future, I want to be mamshiv, I want to draw down to us right now that vibe that comes from that. 

“And when on Yom Kippur we’re going to go into the kodshe kodoshim / holy of holies it should feel like not a limited place but makom ha’aron eyno min hamidah / place of the ark which has no measure, i.e. in a place that can’t even be measured [because we will feel the sense of expansiveness in our awarenesses, and a union with all creatures, with one another, with our mother the planet and with God].

The Global Dying: Please Save

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Dear friends:  The following prayer is good for Hoshana Rabba.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor.

by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
(tr: Gabbai Seth Fishman)


Hoshanot / Please Save!

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

The Hoshanot / Please Save! prayers are recited while walking with the Lulav and Etrog around the Torah desk, each day of Sukkot on its day as part of the morning service.  All seven are then also recited on Hosha’na Rabba / THE GREAT ‘PLEASE SAVE!’ DAY.  Traditionally, each set of prayers followed the Aleph Bet with a different theme running through the phrases (e.g. Save us as per Your divine attributes, Save as per qualities of the holy Jerusalem temple of yore, etc.)  As we are dealing with the health of our mother, the planet, Reb Zalman has composed Hoshanot based upon the days of creation.   Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

Hoshanot Prayers
by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Yom Rishon / Sunday’s-turn (let there be light!)
Hosha’na / Please Save! For the sake of  the Aura of life, the Beams of Light, the Clearness of Light, the Dynamics of Light, the Effulgence of Light, the diFfraction of light, the Glory of light, the Haloes of light, the Illumination of light, the Joys of sight.