Archive for 2009

Light on Hanukkah

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Hanukkah video talk for Santa Barbara, November 2009
by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi


Sacred Time Consciousness
Hanukkah: Not Just for Kids
Lost Sanctity: A Crisis
Sanctuary: Alive and Conscious
Waning Daylight
Elu V’Elu
Miracles and Habits
One’s Own Perspective
The Aesthetic Dimension
Gaian Awareness


Patheos Interview

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Reb Zalman talks about his journey of faith and exploration of other religious traditions in this interview with Patheos CEO and Founder, Leo Brunnick.

Don’t miss this sweet and wonderful talk.

Report From Windsor

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Dear Friends:

Reb Zalman and Rebbitzin Eve recently returned from the trip to the UK. 


Before the trip, Reb Zalman wrote in the Rosh Hashanah Yesod Foundation Newsletter: 

“God willing, this November, Eve and I will be participating in a meeting convened by Prince Philip at Windsor Castle in the United Kingdom. It is to be a summit of religious leaders proposing ways in which the power and wisdom of our traditions can blend with the needs of the hour. Please keep this in mind during your High Holy Day prayers this year, and also pray for the grace to be able to shift our shared consciousness in the direction of our most harmonious integration, for the good of the life we share. All this can sweeten the good that is in store for us this coming year.” 

And here’s Eve’s report on the trip:

Report from Windsor
by Eve Ilsen

“For the first three days of November, Reb Zalman and I were privileged to participate in an event in the UK, hosted by ARC, the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, aptly called “Many Heavens, One Earth”.


A Note from Reb Zalman

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Dear Friends:

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 as well as in the Birkhat Hamazon and I offer this as a suggestion for your Thanksgiving celebration.  (CLICK HERE FOR A COPY)


Reb Zalman Hiyyah Schachter-Shalomi

The Rebbe’s Prescription for Anxiety

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

In the following article, Reb Zalman makes accessible some of the core practical teachings of the Alter RebbeRabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad-Lubavitch.  With Reb Zalman’s help, the Baal Tanya‘s teachings extend to universal applicability.  You will find at the end prescriptions for Anxiety.  The message from the Sefer Beinonim is pertinent to all, regardless of identifications or level of observance.  Please feel free to leave comments at the end with any thoughts or reactions.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Ladi on

by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi


Anxiety And the Beinoni
The Psychology of Beinoni
The Rational Soul
Habad and Affect
The Vicissitudes of the Beinoni
The Remedy
Inner and Outer Reality


How the Prayer Word Bestirs

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

The following text by Reb Zalman is for this week’s Torah portion, Shabbos Chaye Sarah. (Click here for Hebrew/English version).   Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

And before I had finished lidaber / speaking to my heart, behold, Rebecca came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder.” (Genesis 24:45).

The “speaking to my heart” refers to the previous line, where Eliezer, the servant of Abraham said, (ibid, 42), “And I came this day unto the well and said, havaye God of my lord Abraham, etc.’”  And the prayer there was described here as a dibbur / speaking to the heart, i.e. that havaye dwells within the inside of the heart. 

As explained by the holy Rabbi, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel of Apt, on the section of Leviticus 26:12,”And I will walk among you,” in the holy book, Ohev Yisrael, on section bechukotai, expounding on the text, “v’hit-halachti / and I will walk,” here’s what he says: 


The Shechinah can be Seen in the Wayfarer

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

The following text by Reb Zalman is for this week’s Torah portion, Shabbos Vayera. (Click here for Hebrew/English version). [Notes by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor]:

And He appeared unto him” (Genesis 18:1).

(Shabbos 127a) “Hospitality to wayfarers is more important than an encounter with the Shechinah / in-dwelling of God.”  

[NOTE:  Avraham interrupted his union with Hashem, (Genesis, 18:1, “Vayera / and God appeared), so that he could take care of the visitors who showed up in the meantime (ibid 18:3, “Adonay please pass not from thy servant.”)  The Rabbis took the word Adonay in this context as referring to God.  (It is also sometimes translated as referring to the visitors.)  The Talmud makes the above conclusion, that one should give precedence, as Avraham did, to an opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim / hospitality to the wayfarers, over a union with God.]

For Abraham came to be a host to the wayfarers amidst that sense of cleaving during the encounter with the Shechinah, for there was a sense that he would see the holy Shechinah in the wayfarers.

[NOTE:  As Reb Zalman has spoken in lectures, even greater than the heresy of making God too small is the heresy of making ourselves too small vis-a-vis God.  In addition to the good feeling we will have when we perform the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim, we should also remember that the Shechinah is accessible when we do so; in fact she is there in our guests and in all of us.]

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
from Yishmiru Daat (2009 revision),
Parashat Vayera Eilav,” pp. 30-31

How to Develop Your God-Connections

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

The following text by Reb Zalman is for this week’s Torah portion, Shabbos Lech Lecha.  (Click here for Hebrew/English version).  [Notes by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor]:

Go out … to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). 

And, indeed, there is, at times, some influence that will make some faint impression upon us.

[Note:  An impression, or an inspiration.  We are being asked to relate this text to those experiences we have had as interactions with the divine, or God-connections.  Gabbai Seth]

Just as when someone snaps a picture, and until the film is developed, the picture can’t be seen, and not even if the camera is opened to the light at which time the faint impression is destroyed. 

For this reason, Hashem Yisborach said to him:  “Leave your land,” and this is like the developer, “your birthplace” stop bath, “your father’s house” – fixer, “to the land that I will show you,” and later (ibid 18:1) “and Havaye appeared to him in Elone Mamre,” i.e., Hashem became visible.

[Note:  For photos, the developer converts the latent image to metallic silver, the stop bath is a solution to set the proper contrast and the fixer makes the image permanent. 

In order to take hold of the inspiration, to get it clear, to internalize it, we must sort through our root metaphors so that our connection to the source of all being will become clear and strong.  Like Abraham, the root metaphors which we have when we enter adulthood come from influences of country (artzecha), an indigenous culture (moladiticha) or religion (beis avicha).]


Creation: Something We Can Work With

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

The following text by Reb Zalman is for this week’s Torah portion, Shabbos Bereishis.  (Click here for Hebrew/English version):

Asher bara elokim laasot / Which God, in creating, had made,” (Genesis 2:3).

Hashem Yisbarach / God, may S/He be blessed, deals with the level of Beriah / creation (creatio ex nihilo / creation out of nothing), and we deal with the level of Assiyah, making something out of what was already created.

And since the world of Assiyah is for our use,

[Assiyah is the name for the world of action.  The others are the worlds of feeling-Yetzirah, mind-Beriyah and spirit-AtzilutGabbai Seth]

and since it was designated as such, God, Yisborach / may S/He be blessed, is both surprised and  delighted from the new things that we bring about.


On Sukkot: Surrounded and Filled with Faith

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

The following is a translation of Reb Zalman’s text “On Sukkot” from his Sefer, Yishmiru Daat.  The Hebrew/English version is at the bottom.  Chag Sameach, Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

And on Sukkot, the Sefirah of Tiferet lights up.  Tiferet is associated with Yaakov, olav hashalom.

[The following is the scriptural basis for this association.  Gabbai Seth]

(Genesis 33:17) “And for his cattle, he made Sukkot / booths.” 

And the Supernal Guests visit us each of the seven days the Sukkah structure stands,

[Every night, a different guest as follows.  Male:  1- Avraham (Chesed), 2- Yitzchak (Gevurah), 3- Yaakov (Tiferet), 4- Moshe (Netzach), 5- Aharon (Hod), 6- Yosef (Yesod), 7- David (Malchut).  Female:  1- Miriam (Chesed), 2- Leah (Gevurah), 3- Hannah (Tiferet), 4- Rivka (Netzach), 5- Sarah (Hod), 6- Tamar (Yesod) and 7- Rachel (Malchut).]

as Yaakov grows up into Yisrael Saba, (Zohar I, 236).

[Yaakov was renamed to Yisrael.  The term, Yisrael Saba / grandfather Israel, refers to that aspect of Chochmah which we can access.  Chochmah is way at the top of the tree and has another aspect that is beyond our access.  From the Baumann text:  “Each and every partzuf / interface to God is divided into two levels…  Partzuf Abba / father is divided into Chochmah and Yisrael Saba.”  Think of Yisrael Saba as the exterior of the Sefirah of Chochmah.]