Archive for the ‘Meditation’ Category

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:


Yesod Week

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Only two weeks left.  Thank you Chaplain Gloria!  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor



Lag BaOmer, A Day of Hod / Splendor

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Here’s a translation of Reb Zalman’s writings on Lag BaOmer from his Sefer Yishmiru Da-at.  The original text in Hebrew and English plus some background are provided below.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

Lag BaOmer
excerpt from Yishmiru Daat
by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Lag baOmer – is Hod sheb’Hod / splendor of splendor (in the accounting of Sefirah).

(Genesis 32:25) “And he touched the hollow of his thigh and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was sprained, etc.,” which was [the thigh of] the left leg, Hod / splendor, (cf., Pardes Rimonim Shaar 17 ch. 1).

And the one who wrestled, i.e., Esau’s guardian angel, had not wanted Jacob, (who is Tiferet / majestic beauty, presence, mercy), to feel his own beauty (yafyo), and his attack was intended to diminish his esteem, as though he had no Hod / splendor whatsoever.  And one who is smitten like this may think that s/he has no chen  / grace, Hod  / splendor or yofi / beauty, but rather, s/he may think s/he is ugly.

However, when a perceived external reality appears to indicate some turn for the worse in one’s grace, one may nonetheless feel, at core, that one is in Hod sheb’Hod  / splendor of splendors; one may yet feel this at a time when one’s inside, innermost places cannot access a shemen sasson / oil of gladness meant to revitalize oneself when one loses one’s sense of chen / grace.  For this reason, we pray when we count the Omer on Lag BaOmer:  “May it be Your will… that in the merit of the Omer count that I have counted today, that there be corrected whatever blemish I have caused in the Sefirah Hod she-b’Hod,” i.e. those times when within one’s innermost places one feels a sense of ugliness.


Netzach: Persistence, Determination, Focus

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Many thanks to Chaplain Gloria Krasno for sending another week of her wonderful meditations.  Enjoy



The Afikoman

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

In this article, originally published in “New Menorah,” Reb Zalman takes us from that moment in our Seders when we will eat the Afikoman, to the opening of the door for Elijah the prophet, and beyond.  Please consider these suggestions for your Pesach celebrations.  (Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

When we read through the section of the Hagadah that deals with the Wise Child, the way the response is written implies that one is to give the Wise one all kinds of instructions in Halakhah because of hir having asked an excellent and intelligent question.  And one such Halakhah, singled out in the text is the laws of Afikoman.  Specifically, it states:  After having finished eating the Afikoman, one may not follow this with any dessert.  This seemingly trivial law must be taught to the one who is wise.

In the time of the Holy Temple, the afikoman rule meant that after having eaten the Paschal Lamb, one was not to refresh one’s palate with anything else; the taste of the Paschal Lamb was to linger. 

In our day, too, although we are no longer able to offer the sacrifice in animal form, the commentators say that we are to have the taste of the matzah, the Afikoman food of our time, linger with us for the rest of the night. The only other taste in which we can still partake at that point of the Seder is the wine in the cups that are to follow; and especially that of the cup of Elijah.

Now I want to talk about these two points in the Passover Seder, (afikoman; Elijah’s cup), and I want to first draw upon something we have learned from Reb Arthur Waskow.  Reb Arthur points out a way we can understand the image of the fringes at the corners, the tzitzit, which occur in many laws in the Torah.  There are subtle extensions as a mitzvah injects itself into the fabric of our lives and Reb Arthur has described this as the tzitzit.  So, I’d like to bring to mind this image, as we continue to look at the way that the  lingering taste of the mitzvah of the afikoman extends.


Sefiras HaBinyan / Counting for Building God’s Realm

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

A message from Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor:

Shalom, U’vracha:

Reb Zalman wrote:

“People who have worked on their awareness have pointed out that there are 49 days from the end of Tish’ah b-Av / the fast of the 9th of Av, to the day before Rosh HaShannah.  In counting S’feerah between Pesach and Shavu’ot, we make our way downward from Chesed of Chesed to Malchut of MalchutDuring the Elul  season, we make our way upward from Malchut of Malchut to Chesed of Chesed.”  (A Guide for Starting Your New Incarnation, 2001, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, p. 1)

So here’s a suggestion for how to do the counting at this time of year, (for example, as I write this it is Motzei Shabbat, 16 Av, 5768 / August 16, 2008):

Ribbono shel Olam:  I hereby prepare myself for Sefiras HaBinyan / a counting for building God’s realm during the  time between Tisha B’av and erev Rosh HaShannah. 

Today there are 43 days left until erev Rosh HaShannah, which is 1 day and 6 weeks, Chesed Sheb’Malchut

Dear God: Please let me be a vessel for Your light and help to align me with Your will.  May this period of Sefirat HaBinyan and the New Year be for good, for peace and for blessing for all of Israel [Substitute here your particular identification] and let us say Amen.


El Mistater

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Dear Friends:  Here is Reb Zalman’s translation of this beautiful prayer from Shalosh Se’udos formatted along with the Hebrew.  Happy ShavuotGabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor



Day 33 Hod-Hod

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008


Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

From Reb Zalman’s 1994 Elat Chayim shiur, “The Next Rung,” Reb Zalman discusses the Patah Eliyahu which you will find below along with Reb Zalman’s translation. Happy Lag B’Omer! Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor.

“The Patah Eliyahu is taken from the Tikuney Zohar and is the first point in that book which references the ten S’firot. The Sefer Y’tzirah talks of ten S’firot, but they are a different set than the one here in Patah Eliyahu. So this is the first source of the ten S’firot to which Kabbalah makes reference.

“The author of the Zohar has heard the secrets from the prophet Elijah of how God emanated ten S’firot. The implication is that if one hears it from the prophet then it is a transmission of truth. 

“In any Siddur which has been influenced by Kabbalah, the Patah Eliyahu may be found in a T’filah Kodem Hat’filah / a preparation for prayer in the beginning of the book, and/or before the Minha service on Friday afternoon.

“Once the S’firot are seen in the body, one understands them. As an idea alone, there’s no understanding. In the body, it becomes clear how a thing is held.”