Archive for 2012

Sefer ha-Hasidut Tevet Yahrzeiten

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Sefer ha-Hasidut (Rafael, Yitzhak, ed., Tel Aviv: Avraham Zioni, 1972), with around one hundred Rebbes, is arranged according to Yahrzeit. Now the material has been scanned with OCR.

Here are the Tevet sections in Hebrew only. (Please click the Rebbe to see a section):
4 Tevet: Rabbi Gershon Henoch Leiner of Radzin
12 Tevet: Rabbi Moshe of Pshevorsk
18 Tevet: Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Shapiro of Dinov
21 Tevet: Rabbi Yehudah Leib “Mochiach” of Polonnoye
24 Tevet: Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi

ספר החסידות
הרב משולם זלמן חייא הכהן
שחטר-שלומי שליט”א

טבת יאָהר-צייטען

ד’ טבת רבי גרשון העניך מראדזין
י”ב טבת רבי משה מפשבורסק
י”ח טבת רבי צבי אלימלך שפירא מדינוב
כ”א טבת רבי יהודה לייב המוכיח מפולנאה
כ”ד טבת רבי שניאור זלמן מלאדי

A More Historical and Universal “Al HaNissim”

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

For a copy of Reb Zalman’s Al HaNissim:  Click HERE.  For a copy of Reb Zalman’s Maoz Tzur: Click HERE.  

Reb Zalman explains:  “The way the story gets told, we Jews and the Helenists are implacable enemies even to this day. As we are to understand it, the Maccabees were the good guys and we must still pursue their path of unremitting warfare against the spirit of Helenist assimilation just as our ancestors. Had we not then resisted the pressures of the Helenists and the culture of the Greeks, we would surely by now have ceased to be a people and a religion. Those were the impure ones and we were the pure, those were the wicked ones and we the good.

“Therefore, consistent with the way this story has been told, we long ago set the following into our traditional Siddur and have recited thus for centuries:

בִּימֵי מַתִּתְיָֽהוּ בֶּן יוֹחָנָן כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל, חַשְׁמוֹנָאִי וּבָנָיו, כְּשֶׁעָמְדָה מַלְכוּת יָוָן הָרְשָׁעָה עַל עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְהַשְׁכִּיחָם תּוֹרָתֶֽךָ, וּלְהַעֲבִירָם מֵחֻקֵּי רְצוֹנֶֽךָ, וְאַתָּה בְּרַחֲמֶֽיךָ הָרַבִּים עָמַֽדְתָּ לָהֶם בְּעֵת צָרָתָם, רַֽבְתָּ אֶת רִיבָם, דַּֽנְתָּ אֶת דִּינָם, נָקַֽמְתָּ אֶת נִקְמָתָם, מָסַֽרְתָּ גִּבּוֹרִים בְּיַד חַלָּשִׁים, וְרַבִּים בְּיַד מְעַטִּים, וּטְמֵאִים בְּיַד טְהוֹרִים, וּרְשָׁעִים בְּיַד צַדִּיקִים, וְזֵדִים בְּיַד עוֹסְקֵי תוֹרָתֶֽךָ. וּלְךָ עָשִֽׂיתָ שֵׁם גָּדוֹל וְקָדוֹשׁ בְּעוֹלָמֶֽךָ, וּלְעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל עָשִֽׂיתָ תְּשׁוּעָה גְדוֹלָה וּפֻרְקָן כְּהַיּוֹם הַזֶּה. וְאַחַר כֵּן בָּֽאוּ בָנֶֽיךָ לִדְבִיר בֵּיתֶֽךָ, וּפִנּוּ אֶת הֵיכָלֶֽךָ, וְטִהֲרוּ אֶת מִקְדָּשֶֽׁךָ, וְהִדְלִֽיקוּ נֵרוֹת בְּחַצְרוֹת קָדְשֶֽׁךָ, וְקָבְעוּ שְׁמוֹנַת יְמֵי חֲנֻכָּה אֵֽלּוּ, לְהוֹדוֹת וּלְהַלֵּל לְשִׁמְךָ הַגָּדוֹל.

Traditional Translation: “In the days of Mattisyahu, the son of Yochanan, the High Priest, the Hasmonean, and his sons- when the wicked Greek kingdom rose up against Your people Israel to make them forget Your Torah and compel them to stray from the statutes of Your Will – You in Your great mercy stood up for them in the time of their distress. You took up their grievance, judged their claim, and avenged their wrong. You delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the wanton into the hands of the dilligent students of Your Torah. For Yourself You made a great and holy Name in Your world, and for Your people Israel you worked a great victory and salvation as this very day. Thereafter, Your children came to the Holy of Holies of Your House, cleansed Your Temple, purified the site of Your Holiness and kindled light in the Courtyards of Your Sanctuary; and they established these eight days of Chanukah to express thanks and praise to Your great Name.

Reb Zalman:  “This, then is the traditional text, but I can no longer recite them in this form and have revised the prayer as follows:

עַל הַנִיסִים וכו’
בִּימֵי מַתִּיתְיָהוּ כֹּהֵן גָדוֹל חַשְׁמוֹנָאִי וּבָנָיו כְּשְׁעָמְדָה עֲלֵיהֶם מַלְכוּת אַנְטִיוֹכוֹס הָרָשָׁע וּבִקֵשׁ לַעֲקוֹר אֶת אֱמוּנָתֵינוּ וְדָתֵינוּ וְהֵצֵרוּ לָנוּ וְכָבְשׁוּ אֶת הֵיכָלֵנוּ טִמְאוּ אֶת מִקְדָשֵׁנוּ: אָז קָמוּ נֶגְדָם הַסִידֶיךָ וְכֹהֲנֶיךָ וְאַתָּה בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים, עָמַדְתָּ לָהֶם בְּעֵת צָרָתָם, רַבְתָּ אֶת רִיבָם נָקַמְתָּ אֶת נִקְמָתָם וְהָיִיתָ בְּעֶזְרָתָם לְהִתְגַבֵּר עֲלֵיהֶם וּלְטַהֵר אֶת הַמִקְדָשׁ. מִּתוֹךְ גַעְגֲוּעִים לְהַשְׁרָאֲתְךָ רָצוּ לְהַדְלִיק אֶת הַמְנוֹרָה הַטְהוֹרָה וְלֹא מָצְאוּ שֶׁמֶן עַד שֶׁהוֹרֵתָ לָהֶם שֶׁמֶן טָהוֹר לְיוֹם אֶחָד. בְּבִטָחוֹן הִדְלִיקוּ אֶת הַמְנוֹרָה וְאַתָּה עָשִׂיתָ לָהֶם נֵס וָפֶלֶא וְהַשֶׁמֶן לֹא הִפְסִיק עַד שֶׁעָשׂוּ מֵחָדָשׁ. וקָבְעוּ שְׁמוֹנַת יְמֵי חֲנוּכָּה אֵלוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵרוֹת לְפִרְסוּם הַנֵס לְהוֹדוֹת בְּהַלֵל לְשִׁמְךָ הַגָדוֹל וְהַקָדוֹשׁ עַל נִיסֶיךָ וְעַל נִפְלְאוֹתֶיךָ וְעַל יְשׁוּעָתֶיךָ.

In the days of Matityahu, High priest, and his sons, when there arose against them the reign of wicked Antiochus who sought to uproot our faith and law, oppressing us, they conquered our Temple and desecrated our sanctuary: Then there arose, against them, Your devout priests, and You, in Your great compassion, stood by them, in their troubles, waging their wars, avenging their pain, helping them to overcome Antiochus’ forces and to purify the sanctuary. Amidst their longing for Your Presence among them, they sought to kindle the pure lamps and, not finding enough pure oil, You led them to find some, just enough for one day. In trust, they kindled the Lamp, and You miraculously made the oil last until they could make some afresh. Then did they set these days of Hanukkah to lighting candles, to chanting the Hallel, in gratitude to Your great reputation for Your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvation.

“In the meantime, we have learned some things that have committed us to a more historical and universal outlook. We realize that the Maccabean victors usurped the high priesthood of the Zaddokite priests, who then had to flee the Maccabees and retire into the Judean desert. The grandchildren of the Maccabean victors bore Greek names. During that time, a flourishing community existed in Alexandria and Greek words crept into the Midrash and much else into our Jewish consciousness.”

From Judeo-Arabic to Arabic

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Reb Zalman has come up with an idea for a Judeo-Arabic emulation software program and in conjunction with the program, a Web Site to host Judeo-Arabic documents.  This vision might Im Yirtz Hashem / God willing one day help to reduce friction between Jew and Arab.

The content will consist of texts originally written in Judeo-Arabic to be presented in a transliterated format using the Arabic letters.

Muslims who will find this site will be able to read Jewish texts originally written in Judeo-Arabic after it has been transliterated to their vernacular.  E.g., the phrase  שער היחוד / Shaar Ha-Yichud / the gate to oneness will come out as  باب الـ توحيد‎  / Bab al-Tawhid.

In this way, it will help to emphasize the common ground that exists between our religions.

Reb Zalman was already been in touch with some Arabic scholars about this idea and he can get them in touch with us to look at what we do as we progress.

The hope is to assemble a team to accomplish the task.  If you feel you could assist on this project, please contact me at


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.


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

Sefer ha-Hasidut Kislev Yahrzeiten

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Sefer ha-Hasidut (Rafael, Yitzhak, ed., Tel Aviv: Avraham Zioni, 1972), with around one hundred Rebbes, is arranged according to Yahrzeit. Now the material has been scanned with OCR.

Here are the Kislev sections in Hebrew only. (Please click the Rebbe to see a section):
9 Kislev: Reb DovBer of Lubavitch (“Mittler”)
12 Kislev: Rabbi Avraham Dov of Avrutch
18 Kislev: Reb Rabbi Baruch of Medzhibozh
19 Kislev: Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezeritch – (“Magid”)
20 Kislev: Reb Meshullam Feivish Heller of Zbarazh
27 Kislev: Rabbi Chaim Tirar of Chernowitz
29 Kislev: Rabbi Gedalia of Linitz

ספר החסידות
הרב משולם זלמן חייא הכהן
שחטר-שלומי שליט”א

כסלו יאָהר-צייטען

ט’ כסלו רבי דב בר מליובאוויטש
י”ב כסלו רבי אברהם דוב מאברוטש
י”ח כסלו רבי ברוך ממזבוז
י”ט כסלו רבי דוב בער המגיד ממזריטש
כ’ כסלו רבי משולם פייבוש העלער מזבאראזש
כ”ז כסלו רבי חיים מטשרנוביץ
כ”ט כסלו רבי גדליה מלוניץ

Sefer ha-Hasidut Cheshvan Yahrzeiten

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Sefer ha-Hasidut (Rafael, Yitzhak, ed., Tel Aviv: Avraham Zioni, 1972), with around one hundred Rebbes, is arranged according to Yahrzeit. Now the material has been scanned with OCR.

Here are the Cheshvan sections in Hebrew only. (Please click the Rebbe to see a section):
3 Cheshvan: Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn
7 Cheshvan: Rabbi Yehuda Tzvi Eichenstein of Rozlo
11 Cheshvan: Rabbi Avraham Weinberg of Slonim (“Yesod HaAvodah”)
11 Cheshvan: Rabbi Menachem Nachum Twersky of Chernobyl
13 Cheshvan: Reb Baruch of Kosov
17 Cheshvan: Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager of Kosov
22 Cheshvan: Reb David Shlomo Ibshitz of Sirocco
30 Cheshvan: Rebbe Zvi Hirsh of Riminov

ספר החסידות
הרב משולם זלמן חייא הכהן
שחטר-שלומי שליט”א

חשון יאָהר-צייטען

ג’ חשון רבי ישראל מרוז’ין
ז’ חשון רבי יהודה צבי אייכנשטיין מרוזלו
י”א חשון רבי אברהם מסלונים
י”א חשון רבי נחום מטשרנוביל
י”ג חשון רבי ברוך מקוסוב
י”ז חשון רבי מנחם מענדיל מקוסוב
כ”ב חשון דוד שלמה אייבשיץ מסורוקה
ל’ חשון רבי צבי הירש מרימאנוב

Sefer ha-Hasidut Tishrei Yahrzeiten

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Sefer ha-Hasidut (Rafael, Yitzhak, ed., Tel Aviv: Avraham Zioni, 1972), with around one hundred Rebbes, is arranged according to Yahrzeit. Now the material has been scanned with OCR.

Here are the Tishrei sections in Hebrew only. (Please click the Rebbe to see a section):
6 Tishrei: Rabbi Aryeh Leib of Shpola (“Shpoler Zeide”)
12 Tishrei: Reb Avrohom HaMalach
14 Tishrei: Reb Yisrael of Kozhinitz
18 Tishrei: Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
19 Tishrei: Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak of Peshischah (“Yehudi Hakadosh”)
20 Tishrei: Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Ostra (“Rav Yivi”)
21 Tishrei: Reb Dovid Moshe of Tchortkov
24 Tishrei: Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polonoye (“Toldot”)
24 Tishrei: Rabbi Moshe Shoham of Dolina (“Doliner”)
25 Tishrei: Reb Binyamin of Zalozitz
25 Tishrei: Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev
26 Tishrei: Reb Aharon of Zhitomir
29 Tishrei: Reb Avraham Dovid of Butchach (“Aishel Avraham”)
29 Tishrei: Reb Mendele of Vizhnitz

ספר החסידות
הרב משולם זלמן חייא הכהן
שחטר-שלומי שליט”א

תשרי יאָהר-צייטען

ו’ תשרי רבי אריה לייב משפולה
י”ב תשרי רבי אברהם המלאך
י”ד תשרי רבי ישראל מקוזניץ
י”ח תשרי רבי נחמן מברצלב
י”ט תשרי רבי יעקב יצחק מפשיסחה
כ’ תשרי רבי יעקב יוסף מאוסטראה
כ”א תשרי רבי דוד משה מטשורטקוב
כ”ד תשרי רבי יעקב יוסף מפולנאה
כ”ד תשרי רבי משה שהם מדולינא
כ”ה תשרי רבי בנימין מזאלוזיץ
כ”ה תשרי רבי לוי יצחק מברדיטשוב
כ”ו תשרי רבי אהרן מז’יטומיר
כ”ט תשרי רבי אברהם דוד מבוטשאטש
כ”ט תשרי רבי מנחם מנדיל מוויז’ניץ

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.


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.