Archive for the ‘Davenology’ Category

Beauty’s Joyful Excitement

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Here is a link to the Hebrew text:

When we count the Omer starting with Chesed of Chesed and ending with Malchut of Malchut, then Lag B’Omer, the thirty-third day, is Hod Sheb’Hod. Hod represents “beauty“, “a sense of perfection“, “balance“, “symmetry” and “aesthetic“. For an entire week this is our theme and, as we go through the days of the week we arrive at Hod sheb’Hod on the fifth day of our Hod-focused work. It is that part of the work in which we are remembering that we need to be sensitive to the level of “affect” in the way that we present the Hod on which we are working. Hod is to be presented in a way that is respectful of its non-verbal impact on the receiver, of how it is felt, and of the sense of beauty one feels when it is handed over. So Hod Sheb’Hod is “the beauty of the beauty”.

In Genesis 32:26, after the angel wrestles with Jacob and Jacob prevails, the angel injures Jacob’s left leg, (when the Sefirot are mapped to the parts of the body, Netzach and Hod are associated with the right and left legs respectively), and his left leg is dislocated from its socket. Here is the interpretation on a symbolic level (cf Pardes Rimmonim Shaar 17:1):


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.


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



Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Reb Zalman writes: 

“The following love poem is one of the S’lihot recited between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  Ibn Gayat (b. 1038 – 1089) was not timid about using the most intimate symbols in asking God to become reconciled with us.” 

The translation by Reb Zalman may be used for heartful prayer in English.  Click here for Hebrew/English Version.

S’lihah by Isaac b”r Judah Ibn Gayyat. (b. 1038 – 1089)
Davvenen Translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi 

I must return to my very first lover,
Like an eye’s pupil He kept me safe,
Tall is my beloved like a cedar,
I can’t sleep when I think of Him.

How He rescued me from vile hands,
How He wed me in all new robes,
Speaking to me in holy words,
Honoring me with sacred pact.

Endowering me with ample boon,
Amidst many joys, delights supreme,
Our tryst He stocked for intimacy,
Countless lasses in waiting He set to serve me.

The choicest foods to fulfill His pledge,
In His inner chambers He cleaved to me,
While in the courtyards they spiced the air,
My Royal Lover took me into His chambers.

And I, bathed,
To purity my scent arousing,
He mounted our couch and between my breasts,
He laid, embraced me and held me…

And in the wink of an eye it happened,
All broken – betrayed –
As I went off with attitude defiant,
Mocking, and dazed, My Lover, now disengaged, was gone.


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

Reb Zalman’s Offerings Through Aleph Store

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

The ALEPH Canada Web Site,, offers Reb Zalman’s books, CD’s and DVD’s as digital downloads. Prices are in Canadian dollars.

Here is the current listing:

* Credo of a Modern Kabbalist (with Daniel Siegel) ($18)

* An English Siddur for Weekdays (temporarily unavailable)

* First Steps to a New Jewish Spirit (with Donald Gropman) (available from Amazon)

* Gate to the Heart: An Evolving Process (edited by Robert Esformes) (available from Amazon)


Shalosh Seudos Time and Weekday Davvenen

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

The following is a transcription of Reb Zalman speaking at the recent Shavuot retreat.  Please scroll to the bottom for a copy of Reb Zalman’s singing translation of Yedid Nefesh.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

“The last few years, I’ve felt that it is important to draw back from leadership so that I can really put my energy in highlighting what’s most critical: 

“In terms of the innovations we’ve made in the Jewish services, we are doing good Friday nights.  ‘We give good Friday night.’  People come and they dance and it’s freilach and they love each other and ‘v’ahavta l’rayacha kamocha’ / love thy neighbor as thyself and Shema Yisroel / Hear Oh Israel.  And we did pretty good with Shabbos morning, because everywhere, little by little, the notion of not calling up the ‘Mr. Goldberg-s,’ i.e., the ones who would give a big donation to the shul, (he gets this aliyah and this one gets that aliyah), has been replaced by saying to people, ‘We’re going to read in the torah about such and such a thing.  Do you feel this deep?  Then you come up to the torah here.’   So we’ve done something remarkable with shabbos morning too. 

“What we haven’t yet done well is shalosh seudos.  This means the Shabbos afternoon time.  Also, I’m still worried about us not doing enough weekday davvenen.


Diversity and Ahavat Yisrael

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Last week, I was one of the hundred plus participants at the wonderful Shavuot retreat at Isabella Freedman (Elat Chayyim).  At the closing circle, a question was posed by another attendee: 

  • For those of us who came here from a place of more traditional observance, do you have any advice for how we can integrate what we’ve experienced and learned here with those traditional places of worship?” 

I’ve transcribed Reb Zalman’s response below.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

In the booklet called “Gate to the Heart,” I make the following point (cf., Stages of the Path, pp 6-8): 

When a person first gets caught in “Oy! How wonderful it is to be a Jew,” they are in the land of “Milk and Honey.”  This is like the Oral Phase in Freud’s Psychosexual Stages of Development, (NOTE:  Referred to as the Rung of Love in “Gate to the Heart”).  “Oy is it good, geshmak / delicious, it’s beautiful.”  

And after a while, following the Freudian model, the progression has their Judaism moving to the Anal Phase, which is to say, “Now I need to learn some discipline,” (NOTE:  Referred to as the Rung of Power in “Gate to the Heart”).

But if someone doesn’t want to move on, saying, “I don’t want to go for a practice with discipline, I want to go back to the original belief that I had,” then they are like one fixated on the Oral Phase.  And if they get fixated on the Oral Phase, they will go from guru to guru and from system to system and say, “Because I love to be ‘love-bombed’ by the people to whom I come and bring my soul and they love me and I feel good, I will stay here.” And so, they will be going in this kind of incestuous way from one place to another trying to recapture the good feelings of the Oral Phase. 


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: