Archive for the ‘Hasidus’ Category

1978 Panel: “Jewish Mysticism Today”

Monday, October 5th, 2020

This video was recently shared with me by Zevi Slavin. It was a 1978 Panel: “Jewish Mysticism Today” with Rabbi Zalman Schachter, Rabbi Arthur Green and Dr. Charles Rosen.

Zevi writes:

Moadim l’simcha! I thought you may be interested in sharing this beautiful exchange on your group.

I was raised in Chabad and after exposing myself to some of the other Mystical traditions of the world, I began a channel called Seekers of Unity to further my explorations of universal mysticism and find other ‘seekers’ to join.

Reb Zalman was a big inspiration for me and I was fortunate to be able to publish this historical gem of a dialogue.
I hope we can further this conversation with as many like-minded individuals as possible.

Wrappings for God

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Reb Zalman, a’h was asked: “When you come before God. I wonder, what is that ‘God’ to you? Who is this that you come before? And what is that like?”

Here’s his reply:

Ok. It’s such a good question!

And I want to say that at another time I was describing how William James, the great psychologist who wrote about varieties of religious experience, one day made his way and came to a town in New England and, he asked one of the wardens of the church, “Who is God for you? What do you place yourself in front of?”

He answered: “An oblong blur.”

Now he was talking to a New England transcendentalist who was very much afraid to say anything of shape because that’s a “no-no.”

The mistake is that the head has to know there’s no shape. But the heart has to have a root-metaphor.

I can be in a monistic place in my head but I can’t be in a monistic place in my heart. In my heart I have to have the other whom I love. That’s where I’m in the I/Thou relationship.


Publications, etc., by Reb Zalman (a’h)

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Rabbi Daniel Siegel sends the following: The ALEPH Canada Web Site,, offers Reb Zalman’s books, CD’s and DVD’s as digital downloads. Prices are in Canadian dollars. Other items listed below are offered by Amazon.

Here is the current listing (updated 7/10/2018):

* 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)


A Connection with the Rebbe z’l

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Here’s the first part of a precious sharing from Reb Zalman, alav hashalom, and his first encounter with the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Reb Menachem Mendel Schneerson, alav hashalom. The teaching came on 3 Tammuz 5766, the Rebbe’s 12th Yortzeit, (June 29, 2006). The source is the DVD, “What’s New in Jewish Renewal, 2006”, disk 3, Copyright © Spirit of the Desert Productions. (Edited by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

I want to make a connection with the Rebbe, with Reb Menachem Mendel, (it’s his Yorzeit today), and I’d like to urge you to do the following:

If you have, anywhere, a hope, a concern, something for which you would go to a Rebbe with a qvittel so that he would pray for you, keep that in mind and, during the second half today, we are going to chant the ana b’choach and send off, in a sense, sort of like hitting the enter button to send off your request.

And so, in all the things that I want to do today, I want to do it really logged on to that website, to what I learned from the Rebbe and some of the things that happened to me in encountering with him.

[To begin, I’ll tell you when I first saw him:] In the beginning, I thought of him [as the Moroccan]. I was living in Marseilles, France; the year was 1940 and 41.

Reb Menachem Mendel Schneerson


The Act Of Prayer

Monday, February 15th, 2016

The following text is from Yishmru Daat, p. 30, by Reb Zalman ah. (Translation by Gabbai Seth Fishman and click here for Hebrew text.)

The Act of Prayer

The one who prays to Hashem Yitbarach should hold the belief that, from the start, there was a cause brought about by the everlasting One, and that S/He is the source of all completions, and S/He created all the worlds at the time when it arose in Hir will.

Also, after S/He created them and S/He brought them into existence, creatio ex nihilo and the absolute void, S/He didn’t turn over the leading to any angel or planet. Instead, S/He is the One who is the bringer of life, and S/He guides all the creatures, including those residing in the highest of heights all the way to those residing in the depths of below, the One without measure or compare.

And with Hir awareness, S/He completes all of the causes that S/He began at the start.

And S/He is the only One, alone.


Why Theologians Have Trouble with Prayer

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

In the final public lecture of his life which you can read here, Reb Zalman, (a’h) said:

You will see: The more you do it, there will be a moment of the breakthrough that you will have the sense that ‘Ah! Today, not only did I talk to God; today I knew that I was heard by God and I was given back an answer!’, though not necessarily in words. So keep trying that. I wrote a piece called ‘Why Theologians Have Trouble with Prayer,’ and if you write to me, I’ll send it to you so you’ll see it’s all laid out there.

Here is the referenced piece so that your Pesach will bring some mamash DavvenenGabbai Seth Fishman


Why Theologians Have Such Trouble With Prayer
By Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
of Blessed Memory

The more conceptually correct and abstract the notion of God is for the theologian, the harder it is for him/her to pray.

It has been my good fortune to meet and share with great theologians; with philosophers of religion. When we spoke about the conceptual, the intellectual realms, we were in great harmony. And with those who were in touch with the spirit of the times and had, within themselves, made the paradigm shift away from triumphalism and the mechanical reality map and onto a Gaian perspective, having a sense of the quantum realities, the zero point field, string theory or even developmental theologies such as Teilhard DeChardin’s evolution of creation growing toward God, or with those people who had traced the evolution of God ideas over time, when it came to discussing prayer beyond its psychological benefit for the individual, they could not meet me in a place where there was ontic facticity to the One who hears the prayer; nor could we connect on the real/empirical efficacy of prayer.


Bezalel’s Calling

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Here is a teaching for Parashat Vayakhel from Reb Zalman’s Sefer Yishmiru Daat: (Click here to read the text in its original Hebrew, which is translated below by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

In Parashat Vayakhel, (cf., Exodus 35:30), Moshe tells the children of Israel that Hashem has called Bezalel by name.

When we think about this, we might feel disconnected from the experience of being the one who is called.  After all, which of us is a “Bezalel,” i.e., a master craftsman and leading artisan of our generation.  And how can we relate to the text’s stating that it is Hashem who called him to build the Mishkan?

We have an indication in the Aramaic translation of the text as to what constitutes Hashem calling somebody because the Hebrew word used, (קרא), is not translated with an Aramaic verb that means “to call” but rather, it’s translated by a verb  that means “to raise a person up,” (‘חזו דרבי ה) as when a person is promoted in his job.  So when Hashem calls a person the person is raised by it.

When we are young and in school, if we do what we’re asked we progress from grade to grade.  When we do something that causes us to be promoted at work, when we have shown what we can do and someone gives us something new, harder, of greater importance or impact — all of these are tied to the “calling”.

Along with the promotion or advancement comes healthy growth and a feeling of competence and accomplishment.


Keys to the Wisdom of Truth

Sunday, January 27th, 2013


ספר מפתחי חכמת האמת
Keys to the Wisdom of Truth
Rabbi Saul Baumann
Introduction and Commentaries by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
Editor: Rabbi Shaya Isenberg!/Reb-Zalman-Writings/c/5437258/offset=0&sort=normal

This book contains Reb Zalman’s lectures on a small Sefer written by a twenty-three year old genius named Saul Baumann.

Baumann was a Chabad Chossid who lived in Warsaw, Poland and was killed in the Holocaust.  He was educated at both Chabad and Slobodka (a mitnagdishe Yeshivah).  Through the lens of Kabbalah, Baumann brings harmony to the opposing traditions of the two communities in which he was trained, i.e. the spiritual heirs to the Vilna Gaon and Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi.

In his lectures, Reb Zalman shares his thoughts on Paradigm Shift and required updates for spiritual connection to remain alive and relevant within the context of traditional Judaism.  Kabbalah is a framework we can build upon to take us into a renewed Judaism.

Zalman shows us how the tradition can help us to reach to the places of discovering Judaism’s path into the future and how we can integrate from those places of shifted paradigms.  The updates can connect us in new ways to traditional understandings of Jewish Mysticism.

Gabbai Seth


Sefer ha-Hasidut Shvat Yahrzeiten

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

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 Shvat sections in Hebrew only. (Please click the Rebbe to see a section):
2 Shvat: Reb Zusha of Anipoli
4 Shvat: Rabbi Yisroel of Polotzk
4 Shvat: Rabbi Abraham Kalisker
4 Shvat: Rabbi Moshe Leib Erblich of Sassov
5 Shvat: Reb Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (“Sefat Emet”)
7 Shvat: Rabbi Dovid Biederman of Lelov
10 Shvat: Reb Shlomo Lutzker
21 Shvat: Reb Yitzchak of Neshchiz
22 Shvat: Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (“Kotzker”)
22 Shvat: Reb Leibele Eiger

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

שבט יאָהר-צייטען

ב’ שבט רבי זושה מהאניפולי
ד’ שבט רבי ישראל מפולוצק
ד’ שבט רבי אברהם מקאליסק
ד’ שבט רבי משה ליב מסאסוב
ה’ שבט רבי יהודה אריה ליב מגור
ז’ שבט רבי דוד מלילוב
י’ שבט רבי שלמה מלוצק
כ”א שבט רבי יצחק מנישכיז
כ”ב שבט רבי מנחם מנדל מקוצק
כ”ב שבט רבי יהודה ליב אייגר מלובלין

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