Archive for 2011

Reb Zalman on YouTube

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

A quick survey of YouTube returns a long list of videos featuring Reb Zalman.  They are listed here in the following categories:

Jewish Renewal, Organismic Paradigm, Reb Zalman Davvenen, Inner Life, KavvanahCalendar/Lifecycle,  Intimacy and Spirit, From Age-ing to Sage-ing, Deep Ecumenism, Tshuvah,  Reminiscences, Psychedelics, Communities.

With gratitude to the many videographers, (most notably, Rabbi Sarah Leah).

Jewish Renewal

Hello Renewal
Reb Zalman reviews his legacy
What is Jewish Renewal?
Renewal Visions for future
Renewal Visions for future 2

Organismic Paradigm

We are just a cell
Shifting toward healing the planet


Tour of Reb Zalman’s davvenen space
Putting on the tallis
Praising with Heart and Flesh
Andalucian Zikr

Inner Life

In Your Blessed Hands
Covenant is unique to yiddishkeit
Rosh Hashanah inner work
Rosh Hashanah inner work 2
Freeze-dried Psalm 23 as Reb Zalman heats it up
Affirmations and Jew-ing
Interpersonal aspects of the inner life
Reb Zalman’s legacy of increasing attunement
Using the imagination, Baal Shem Tov and Star Trek
On relating to God during prayer and role of ego
On Avot 1:14
The Baal Shem‘s Spirit

  • Kiss of God, shmooze with Father Thomas Keating, descriptions of closeness with God that they share

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5


This Is About HANUKKAH

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

The Bible tells us several times that God wants to have a place “to make His name dwell therein.”

[NOTE:  A reference for a Temple where offerings are made.]

And it’s interesting that it does not say, ‘I will dwell there,’ but rather that, ‘my Name will dwell there.’

It is true that everything is God, that everything is in God, and that everything, i.e., the whole cosmos is not separate from God.  And yet, in all of creation, a Temple is a special case because, for those who enter therein, there is a concentrated, stronger focus of the quality of divinity.

[NOTE:  The primary setting of the Hanukkah story is the holy Temple.  Therefore, Reb Zalman begins by providing us with a sense of how a Temple functions to better equip us to hear what he later wants to tell us about Hanukkah.]

Although God is in everything there is and although everything, each thing that is, broadcasts its own quality, that which we call a Temple is a special case.  It was a broadcasting tower from which a signal went out to the world:

The carrier wave was a field of blessing.  The message stream was the way in which God would like to be able to see the world, i.e., a world in harmony, receptive of that field of blessing. In the broadcast, there was a certain kind of beacon of giving meaning to life and a sense of justice and compassion for the world.

And in each human being there is a receiver for that broadcast, (God’s divine compassion broadcasts on human wavelengths). So the beacon helps a person who is open to God, a person who wants to be open to receive it in this way and to recalibrate her/his moral and ethical life.



Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Reb Zalman sends the following reading for Yom Kippur.  It was written pre-1989, when Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal was known as B’nai Or.  [NOTES by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor.]

This age cries out for the need to create new God-Names and to make peace with the old ones.  We are doing binyan hamalchut, (i.e., “building the Kingdom”, establishing the God-field), not just for Rosh Hashanah, but an entire eon — to help God-Birth.  When people davven from a siddur in a thousand years time, Whom do we want the people to be addressing?  Which God-Name?

This agecf., Reb Zalman’s book, Paradigm Shift and elsewhere: Gaia, Holocaust, Moon Walk, etc., radical changes to the underpinnings of the Judaism rooted in older paradigms from other times.
create new God-Names:  God-names are created out of the idea of the holy and our holy experience, (see below).]

Rudolph Otto, who sought to understand the idea of the holy, found himself led to a traditional Yom Kippur service in a North African synagogue. Seeing the sincere prayer attitude of the worshippers, he was caught up in their fervor.  His book, The Idea of the Holy, was an outcome of his experience. He describes the attraction of the Mysterium Fascinans, something like the Burning Bush beckoning to approach God and the Mysterium Tremendum that overwhelms one, threatens to be fatal and demands that one remove one’s shoes from off one’s feet (Na’alekha – your lock that holds you captive to your regel – foot, – your habits – hergel)

Mysterium Fascinans and Mysterium Tremendum:  Different mysteries, one beckoning, the other frightening:  Aspects of holiness.
Remove shoes from feet:  From Exodus 3:5, שׁל נעליך מעל רגליך  / take your shoes off your feet, can be easily bent to match Reb Zalman’s interpretation of Kol Nidre:  “The sacred moment of Kol Nidre is our opportunity to delete habitual  programs, (מנעולך/ your lock, הרגל/ habit), those patterns and behaviors which we would do well to unleash.”]


Tshuvah: Lessons from the Computer

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

What we can learn about Tshuvah from the computer

You work on your computer and you are happy with the computer’s performance but, over time, you begin to notice that the response time has gotten worse. So, you wonder, what can you do to return the computer to its previous performance?

This has happened with its being used: You were constantly using it all year and, over that time, there was “junk” accumulating somewhere behind the desktop. You acquired several “temporary files” and “cookies”. When you were making one-time stops at certain sites, they left these files on your computer and, when you did lookups in Google, you got the answers but, you didn’t count on what else you would be getting; and when you looked at particular advertisements or, you bought something over the web, the company you dealt with also left something and, you don’t need these. Then, there were some spy-ware infestations. Some of what happened was observable; you could see some of it just looking at the sidebars your web browser presented, and perhaps even some content of your e-mail was viewed by someone other than the intended recipient: So, it is time to remove “infestations”.

And not to mention, your hard drive has become fragmented. A single file that stored something you had in your word processor has splintered. It is important to defragment the drive so that the computer will not have to keep looking all over to put your files back together: So another thing you will take care of is the optimization of your disk performance.

And there’s another reason why your computer no longer works as quickly: You’ve started using more programs and you are needing more memory to run them. So the programs have started swapping out memory and using more hard drive.  In addition, there are errors in the registry that have crept in over time.  So you want to correct these problems and defrag the registry. And filenames became corrupted, invalid and unused shortcuts should be removed.


Recalibration on Yom Kippur

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Historically, Yom Kippur is the day when we actually received the Torah, though many of us would think of Shavuot as the time. [NOTE:  cf, Rashi on Exodus 33:11.]

Forty days after the Shavuot of that first year of leaving Egypt, the first time Moshe brought down the tablets, we had already worshipped the golden calf.  So we did not receive the Torah then.  Because of our having worshipped the calf, Moshe had to intercede for forty days so we might be forgiven and then, another forty:  From the first day of Ellul to Yom Kippur, when he brought down the tablets with the words, I have forgiven salachti Kid’varecha.

So the Torah that we actually receive came with a willingness on the part of the divine attribute of justice to be lenient and to forgive.

This understanding is pivotal in our attitude to Torah and her Commandments.  [NOTE: I.e., although we have made mistakes, God will not abandon us.]

When many people think of Torah and mitzvot in terms of an unforgiving strictness here we are saying in our view of history that the Torah comes with forgiveness.

We’re dealing with two obstacles [to connection].  We think that:

  1. We will never be forgiven, [NOTE: Why try to be good because we will fail] or,
  2. we don’t need to do anything in order to be forgiven; Yom Kippur will do it all for us.

In both cases, the fact that we need to do teshuvah in order for forgiveness to work is overlooked.  So when we go this year to celebrate Yom Kippur we have to see in it:

  • The celebration of reconciliation with God.

And that reconciliation is the product of our recalibrating the course of our life to be in greater harmony with the purpose for which we were created as well as the divine willingness to receive our Tshuvah.


The Time Is Now For Rosh Hashanah Preparation

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Think of Rosh Hashanah like the stem cells of the year.  They can become anything organic as they develop and grow. 

[NOTE:  Stem cell:  “A biological cell that can divide and differentiate into diverse specialized cell types.”]

The possibility that we have been given by God in the establishment of Rosh Hashanah to impress upon the substance of time the shape and color that we wish it to have is both an opportunity and a challenge to consciousness.

[NOTE:  Opportunity:  We influence the possibilities.
Challenge:  Self-control, integrity, self-knowledge, beyond blame.]

The High Holiday Prayer Book has us pray for being inscribed in the book of life.

[NOTE: .אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ, כָּתְבֵנוּ בְּסֵפֶר חַיִּים טוֹבִים]

We have an entire shopping list when we say : ” our Father our King – – Avinu Malkenu, we need this, Avinu Malkenu, … that”.

[NOTE:  Take a moment now and jot down yours.] 


The Month Of Ellul

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

This year, we’re dealing with the need for intense preparation for the high holy days.  To overcome the many crises and obstacles to harmonious life on the planet, our Tshuvah and our prayers need to be very effective.

This year:”  As the year 5771 moves toward completion, we begin the annual period for consciousness maintenance (cf. Yom Kippur Katan pamphlet from Aleph.)
Tshuvah and our prayers:” U’Tefilah, U’Teshuvah, U’Tzedaka,(from Unetaneh tokef).
prayers… very effective“:  Kavvanah, to aim the prayer by envisioning what’s needed, or “The only way to get it together is ….  together.”
This year we have dealt with floods, earthquakes, wars, unrest, economy, Fukushima Daiichi contamination, to name a few.]

We have been told that the word Ellul can be read as – –Aniy L’dodiy V’Dodiy Liy / I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.

[NOTE:  Shir HaShirim 6:3.  In Hebrew, Ellul,  אלול Aleph-Lamed-vav-Lamed can be expanded as an acronym for this quote.]

This is the line for this season whereas the line Dodiy Liy VaAniy Lo “my beloved is mine and I am his” is the statement that fits the season of Passover.

[NOTE:  For a discussion on these two lines and seasons, please see:]

What this means is that the task of a reconciliation with the source begins with us and our initiative.


Three Weeks of Mourning and Tishah B’Av

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Dear Friends:

Reb Zalman called last week to remind us of some pieces he’s written for where we’re at at this time in the Jewish Calendar.

[NOTE:  These pieces were published previously, so please be aware that correct dates for this year are:  Rosh Chodesh Av, Sunday night July 31, 2011 and Tishah B’Av, Monday night, August 8, 2011]

For Tisha B’av:  After the Hard Drive Crashed

Reb Zalman’s extension of computer paradigms as a way of understanding Jewish history.

Prayers for the Ninth of Av

You will find here, Reb Zalman’s recasting of the Tishah B’Av insert from the Siddur, something you may want to add for your prayers of the day.

Ahron Hakohen, Alav HaShalom

We read in yesterday’s Parshah how Ahron the High Priest died on the first day of the fifth month which is Rosh Chodesh Av, which begins tonight, July 31, 2011.  Here, Reb Zalman gives us his view on Ahron’s legacy.

Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

Yesod Sheb’Yesod

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

This year, Yesod Sheb’Yesod falls on Sunday night, May 30th, 2011.

Schemuel writes: 

“I need to come up with a speech on 41st day of Omer, which is Yesod sheb’Yesod.  Could you give me some ideas/ thoughts for such a speech please?”

Gabbai Seth Fishman‘s reply:

The week of Yesod is associated with Yosef the tzadik and Tamar the tzadika.

Through Yesod, we funnel God’s kingdom into our plane.  It is about connecting the higher worlds to this one. 

Yesod is the last Sefirah of Ze’er Anpin ( זעיר אנפין)

 [NOTE:  Ze’er Anpin / little face, a shorthand for the Sefirot associated with the Vav of the divine name, viz. Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod.]

It is on the central pillar of Keter, Tiferet, Yesod, Malchut.  It is thus a vital connector for flows from above to below and below to above. 

Here’s a way to think about it:



Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Please read the following from Reb Zalman on Purim. The text is from his Sefer Yishmiru Daat (pp 64-66). Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor.

     זָכוֹר אֵת אֲשֶר־עָשָׂה לְךָ עֲמָלֵק וגו’ אֲשֶר קָרְךָ בַּדֶּרֶך וַיְזַנֵּב – וְהָיָה בְּהָנִיחַ וגו’ תּמְחֶה אֶת־זֵכֶר עֲמָלֵק — לֹא תִּשְׁכָּח, (דברים כ”ה י”ז-ח-ט). תמחה את זכר עמלק — היינו שלא ישאר אתך שום זכר של עמלק, ומ”מ לא תשכח – אתמהה, איך להסיר את זכרו ושוב לא תשכח. כי יש בזה תרתא דסתרי, פרדוקס, שאי אפשר להבינו בפשטות. ובזה עומדים על ספק בענין מצוה זו.