Archive for 2022

A Wonderful Tribute

Thursday, July 14th, 2022

At the recent ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal event commemorating the eighth Yorzeit of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (a’h), Rabbi Yitz Greenberg delivered the following words regarding Reb Zalman’s legacy. I sent him an email asking if he would share the text and he sent the text below along with this reply:

Dear friend,
Thank you for asking for the text of my words about Reb Zalman. I wanted to honor his memory as I believe that he was one of the religious greats in my/his generation. Therefore, I am grateful that you will distribute these words more widely. Yitz Greenberg

Here’s what he said:

The Talmud says:

Tzaddikim – great religious figures – loom greater after death than in their lifetime.

[NOTE: cf., Talmud Bavli Chullin 7b:10]

I think the Talmud means that with the death of the great ones, all the trivia falls away – the personal limitations, the competitors, the confusion around their most original approaches which people did not understand, the failures. What remains and stands out is the light they shed, their originality and greatness.

That is how I feel about Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.

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On Halachah / Jewish Practice

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

At a recent Aleph (Alliance for Jewish Renewal) gathering in commemoration of Reb Zalman’s eighth Yorzeit, I shared a few words based on a public talk Reb Zalman gave titled: Reb Zalman on Psycho-Halakhah (March 13, 2005). Barukh Hashem, the talk and many more of his shmoozes were recorded by Michael Kosakoff, (a’h) and are available on the Yesod Foundation’s Youtube site. Gabbai Seth Fishman

Halachah refers to Jewish law and it has been something to guide the day-to-day life of a Jew.

The Halachic basis that we inherit from the past took its underpinnings from the book of Deuteronomy. Moses gave us the law the second time, sending, at the same time, a message:

You shmegegs! You backsliders! I’ve had tsures for so many years shlepping you around! I’m telling you: Don’t you move to the right; don’t move to the left; it has to be exactly as I tell you. Don’t mess with it.

But just a little bit later, with King Solomon we find something more dynamic:

A time for everything! A time to do! A time to not do! A time to do this! A time to not do that!

Things shift and change, no longer absolute.

So we were dealing with one kind of a frame in the book of Deuteronomy and, later on, a different frame when King Solomon said in Proverbs 1:8:

שְׁמַע בְּנִי מוּסַר אָבִיךָ וְאַל־תִּטֹּשׁ תּוֹרַת אִמֶּֽךָ / Listen, my child to the reproof of your father and do not forsake the Torah (teaching) of your mother.

So the same Torah will appear to some people as mussar avicha / reproof of your father, (i.e., you must always do like Deuteronomy says), but sometimes, it will appear like Torat imecha / teaching of your mother which wants,  (again, Solomon speaking in Proverbs 3:17), dracheha darchey no’am / the Torah’s ways are ways of pleasantness. E.g., so many things in the Torah have to do with Shalom Ba’yit / peace of the home and all the books in the Bible speak about taking care of the poor. So one gets a different attitude from looking at mussar avicha than looking at Torat imecha, the mother teaching.

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