Archive for the ‘Melech Haolam (Gaia)’ Category

Shemesh: The Servant of God who Feeds us All

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

This week, Reb Zalman and Rabbi Debra Orenstein conducted a WebCast about Passover and ways to deepen Seder.  During the event, a listener asked Reb Zalman about the Birkat Hachamah / Blessing on the Sun, which occurs this year on erev Pesach, 14th of Nissan in the morning.  Here’s Reb Zalman’s response.  (Intro by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor)

“Oh how wonderful. 

“The last time this happened was 1981 and, we went up to the Empire State Building in New York City to watch the sunrise.  

“We had a service there and, we read the Torah right at the parapet on top of the building. 

“Then we released seventy balloons as a kind of sacrifice for the seventy nations of the Earth. 

“That was a time when we made a great deal of fuss about solar energy. 

“It is a ‘Saturn Return’ for the sun

[NOTE:  The ‘Saturn Return’ is an astrological phenomenon that roughly corresponds to the frequency of this blessing.  A year for Saturn is about 29 1/2 earth years.  The term is used to identify major stages in a person’s life, i.e. 0 to 28, 29 to 56, 57 to 84 and beyond.  As Saturn returns to the position it occupied at the time of each person’s birth, approximately every 29.5 years, a person crosses over a major threshold and into the next stage of life.  With the first ‘Saturn Return,’ a person leaves youth behind and enters adulthood; with the second return, maturity; and the third and sometimes final Return, a person enters old age.  Gabbai Seth]

“and it happens to be that every twenty-eight years, the sun is in the same place, (as the Rabbis have figured it), where it was at the time of creation. 


Tu Bishvat: Our Gaian Yom Tov

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Tu Bishvat / the fifteenth day of the month of Shevat is The New Year of the Trees.  This year, the holiday begins tonight, Sunday, February 8, 2009.  Here are some thoughts from Reb Zalman, on this holiday, “Our Gaian Yom Tov.” 

Tu Bishvat: Our Gaian Yom Tov
by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

I thought that I was glad to see
a beautiful Midrash in a tree…

When we sing the Torah back to the aron hakodesh / the holy ark, the sentence we use in our song talks of a tree:

Etz Hayim Hi / she is a tree of life,
lamahaziqim bah / to those who hold onto her

The “Tree of life” is generally thought to refer to the Torah. However, the context of this sentence from its source in the Book of Proverbs, [Proverbs 3:18], refers it to Hokhmah / Wisdom, Sophia.

If Torah and Hokhmah are synonymous, then it doesn’t matter which of them one has in mind.  But our Sages, of blessed memory, did not see Hokhmah and Torah synonymously:  They saw Hokhmah as something universal, something in common and shared by non-Jew and Jew alike; in contrast, Torah was seen as something only for Jews.  So first, for Tu Bishvat, I want to talk about Etz Hayyim, i.e., Hokhmah.


Renewal is not Judaism-Lite

Friday, January 30th, 2009

This wonderful and inspiring talk of Reb Zalman’s, originally given in the late 1990’s, can be found on the  Yishmiru Daat dvd, available from Aleph Resources.  It paints a picture of Reb Zalman’s role in the shaping of Jewish Renewal in our time.  Enjoy!  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor.

Renewal Is Not Judaism-Lite
by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi


Tamid Echad / Always and Forever One
Not Judaism-Lite
Holocaust Losses
Kumran USA
Religious Environmentalist
The Havurah Movement and the Jewish Catalogue
Jewish Renewal Gains Momentum
My Teachers
Focus: Restoration or Renewal?
Internalizing the Renewal of Judaism
A Renewal Mashal / Analogy
Renewal Is Not Heresy
Building a Future
Loving Jews and Loving All
From Empathy to Compassion
Investing in Shaping the God-field
The lamed-vavniker‘s Curriculum
Paradigm Shift
Moral/Faith Development
Soul and Mind Development
Ger Tzedek, Ger Toshav
Recharging our Souls in Israel
Internationlization of Renewal
A Renewed Halachah
In Conclusion


Maoz Tzur, Healing the planet

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Dear Friends:

This version of Maoz Tzur includes Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s recommendations and revisions.   Blessings for a freilach HanukkahGabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor



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:


Aquarian Birth Pangs

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

In 1991, Reb Zalman taught a class at the Kallah entitled, “Renewal Is Not Heresy:  Where we differ from the Sabbatians.”  A revised version of the original transcript is still available from Aleph as, “Renewal Is Judaism Now.” 

 Here’s the introduction to the shiur:

“Jewish Renewal speaks of paradigm shifts and reformatting our tradition.  We are rooted in Hassidism; we are influenced by the tradition; and at the same time, we participate in consciously reinterpreting our relationship to it. 

“Hassidism was not understood at its inception.  It was lumped with the movement that had been associated with Shabbetai Zvi. 

“In these sessions, we will compare and contrast the theological, psychological and cosmological foundations of our current self-understanding.”

It was an amazing class.  It was as if God had hired Reb Zalman to faciliate at a summit strategy session for Judaism.  The CEO, (HaShem, Yitbarach), invited us to participate in the creation of an updated vision statement for Moshiach.  All were invited, because God wants our input.  

There was something in the air in 1991 still left over from the sixties; a sense that infrastructure of religions, governments and institutions was up for reshaping. 



Sunday, October 19th, 2008

A question answered during Reb Zalman’s Ohalah talk shows a way for us to think of mashiach-zeit / world redemption.  On Hoshanah Rabbah / the Great Please Save day (today), we will pray in our Sukkah-s asking God to bring about that which we all need, which the world needs.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

“The whole mythic element of where the third Temple is and how it’s going to be dealt with…  I know there are some people who are kohanim / descendants of Aaron who are preparing to offer animal sacrifices, and after what we’ve been through with the plant in Iowa, I just don’t feel that I want to talk about a third Temple in this way.

“And if there’s a third Temple in which ki beisi beis t’fillah lichol ha-amim / For my House is a House of prayer for all people, so I would want to say, mi-mizrach shemesh ad mivo’o m’hullal shem hashem / From the dawn’s,  sun’s rising unto his homecoming past the dusk, Yah’s repute is constantly celebrated. 

The third temple is the planet sanctified and healed!  That’s the way I’d want to say it.

“And if there is that planet sanctified and healed somewhere in the future, I want to be mamshiv, I want to draw down to us right now that vibe that comes from that. 

“And when on Yom Kippur we’re going to go into the kodshe kodoshim / holy of holies it should feel like not a limited place but makom ha’aron eyno min hamidah / place of the ark which has no measure, i.e. in a place that can’t even be measured [because we will feel the sense of expansiveness in our awarenesses, and a union with all creatures, with one another, with our mother the planet and with God].

The Global Dying: Please Save

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Dear friends:  The following prayer is good for Hoshana Rabba.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor.

by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
(tr: Gabbai Seth Fishman)


Hoshanot / Please Save!

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

The Hoshanot / Please Save! prayers are recited while walking with the Lulav and Etrog around the Torah desk, each day of Sukkot on its day as part of the morning service.  All seven are then also recited on Hosha’na Rabba / THE GREAT ‘PLEASE SAVE!’ DAY.  Traditionally, each set of prayers followed the Aleph Bet with a different theme running through the phrases (e.g. Save us as per Your divine attributes, Save as per qualities of the holy Jerusalem temple of yore, etc.)  As we are dealing with the health of our mother, the planet, Reb Zalman has composed Hoshanot based upon the days of creation.   Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

Hoshanot Prayers
by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Yom Rishon / Sunday’s-turn (let there be light!)
Hosha’na / Please Save! For the sake of  the Aura of life, the Beams of Light, the Clearness of Light, the Dynamics of Light, the Effulgence of Light, the diFfraction of light, the Glory of light, the Haloes of light, the Illumination of light, the Joys of sight. 


Election Day / Judgment Day

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Four years ago, Reb Zalman sent a letter to Rabbis regarding his suggestions for Election Day preparations.  In it, he compares Election Day and Yom HaDin / the Day of Judgment and recommends that they be approached in similar ways, with Selichot / Prayers of humility and forgiveness, and fasting.  Here’s the core ideas from the original letter, updated to reflect Reb Zalman’s thoughts for the current climate, as I heard them in a talk he recently gave for OhalahGabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

“To my Fellow and Sister Rabbis:

Shalom.  This coming November 2008, we will undertake the mitzvah / obligation of voting. 

“Much depends on this election.  It is indeed a Yom Hadin / Judgment Day. 

“May God bless us with the wisdom to do what is right and to learn from what we have seen.

“May we, before entering the ballot chamber to vote, struggle with the questions of our time to the best of our abilities.  I want to do so with an open mind, and I urge you to do the same.

“A really important part of this process is to openly raise the kinds of questions with which we must wrestle if we are to learn anything from what has befallen us.