Archive for the ‘Meditation’ Category

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.


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.


Chesed / Lovingkindness

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Thanks again to Chaplain Gloria Krasno for graciously sharing her poetic and artful meditations between Tisha B’av and erev Rosh Hashannah.  Many blessings to her for her spiritual soul and her generosity in sharing them.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor



Holy Gevurah / Judgment

Monday, September 7th, 2009



Gal-Or-Ya’s Tiferet

Thursday, August 27th, 2009



Netzach / Persistence

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009



Welcome to Hod

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel, at the wonderful opening ceremony she hosted at this year’s Aleph Kallah said:  “When I first met Reb Zalman in 1972, he spoke about the unexplored Sefirah of Hod, the emanation of glory and beauty experienced through the senses.   He said, ‘That would be our work.’  Here’s Chaplain Gloria’s meditation for the week of HodGabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor



Building a Foundation

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Please join Chaplain Gloria Krasno as she continues to guide us upward toward Rosh Hashanna.  This week begins the ascent through the Sefirah of Yesod, beginning with Malchut sheb’Yesod and ending with Chesed sheb’YesodGabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor



For Tisha B’av: After the Hard Drive Crashed

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Dear Friends:
Every zeitgeist, every paradigm, has embedded a particular understanding of how things work.  We draw upon our paradigms and emerging technologies because they effectively express what’s happening from our perspectives at a point in time.  In the following piece, Reb Zalman uses the paradigm of the computer, to talk about The State of the Jewish Mythic World.  He sends this as a meditation for Tish’ah B’av, (“How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people” – Eicha 1:1), which occurs this year on the evening of Wednesday, July 29th, 2009.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

After the Hard Drive Crashed
Meditation:  On The State Of The Jewish Mythic World
“After the Hard Drive Crashed”
 by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

My hard drive and mother board crashed. If you ever experienced such a breakdown of this “extension of your memory,” the holder of your information, you will understand what I went through as my invisible, cyber, world support became inaccessible to me.  It is a kind of computer-related depression and a grieving for the files I failed to back up, now forever lost. And as I remembered what I had lost, I set out to do whatever it would take to restore everything to the status quo ante quem so that my life would continue uninterrupted. And in these cases, we try to do just that.

Now imagine it was old DOS, or system 6 Mac that crashed, and as you pursue the restoration, you are told that a Pentium motherboard, a faster netsurfing modem, and the latest of Windows or newer Mac OS are available; that in fact, you can improve your situation by building a new, broader platform for your information base. 

Before you upgrade, you will first have to satisfy concerns about whether the new system will be able to handle the old software applications you will need to re-establish and whether the back-ups and restores will be able to help you work your backed up information back in. In other words, while you are interested in using the best you can get together at this time, your new system has to be downward compatible.

Speaking of time:  In the time dimension, after a computer crash, I am tapping into the workaholic in me, and I am devastated because of time commitments. The frustration blocks everything but frantic casting around and my desire to get it all fixed and back to where it had been.

But now, Shabbat comes and, I realize I can’t do anything about it.  So for the next 48 hours, I must make a shift.  As I get in touch with dimensions of time and beyond the market-place, work-place mentality, I suddenly become aware of this as a gestalt of my weekday calamity, and I awaken to a perspective of this situation in a larger field.

I enter into the world of the Mashal Haqadmoni / the mythic world, the Primal Myth, (cf., Rashi on Exodus 21:13),  I begin musing on Jewish History and on mythic dimensions that hold our world together and allow the sparks of kabbalistic light to illumine the field. 

Here is what arose for me: