Archive for the ‘Post-Triumphalism’ Category

This Is About HANUKKAH

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

The Bible tells us several times that God wants to have a place “to make His name dwell therein.”

[NOTE:  A reference for a Temple where offerings are made.]

And it’s interesting that it does not say, ‘I will dwell there,’ but rather that, ‘my Name will dwell there.’

It is true that everything is God, that everything is in God, and that everything, i.e., the whole cosmos is not separate from God.  And yet, in all of creation, a Temple is a special case because, for those who enter therein, there is a concentrated, stronger focus of the quality of divinity.

[NOTE:  The primary setting of the Hanukkah story is the holy Temple.  Therefore, Reb Zalman begins by providing us with a sense of how a Temple functions to better equip us to hear what he later wants to tell us about Hanukkah.]

Although God is in everything there is and although everything, each thing that is, broadcasts its own quality, that which we call a Temple is a special case.  It was a broadcasting tower from which a signal went out to the world:

The carrier wave was a field of blessing.  The message stream was the way in which God would like to be able to see the world, i.e., a world in harmony, receptive of that field of blessing. In the broadcast, there was a certain kind of beacon of giving meaning to life and a sense of justice and compassion for the world.

And in each human being there is a receiver for that broadcast, (God’s divine compassion broadcasts on human wavelengths). So the beacon helps a person who is open to God, a person who wants to be open to receive it in this way and to recalibrate her/his moral and ethical life.


A Whole-Hearted Retreat

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Dear Friends:

I want to let you know about a wonderful four-day event that will be coming to Boulder, Colorado this October, 2010.

Reb Zalman Schachter, Rev Matthew Fox and Reggie Ray “will engage us in in-depth conversations and practices that offer new life to the spiritual journey.”

Referring to the upcoming event, Rev Matthew Fox writes,

“I look forward to this experience to plant real seeds for the future evolution of humanity and spirituality and the gathering of deep wisdom from three of the world’s great spiritual wells.”

To learn more, and to register, please visit

Here’s the brochure:


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)


For Passover: “Of Four Children” Revised

Friday, March 20th, 2009

[Intro by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor:]  In the traditional Haggadah, the Four Children are presented as One Wise, One Wicked, One Simple and One who Does Not Know How to Ask. 

Growing up, it didn’t really feel like four choices.  I knew which one I wanted. 

And I daresay, for those of us who did not feel we could attain to a “Wise child,” we may have sometimes felt discouraged and asked, “Why bother being Jewish?”

In Reb Zalman’s seferYishmiru Da-at, he has given a text which can be substituted for the traditional one.  It presents a four-dimensional kind of enneagram which is both universal and useful for teaching children. 

The original Hebrew is at the end of this post for inclusion in your Passover Seders.  Here’s my translation:

The Torah speaks of Four Children, (to be sung to the same nusach used for reading of the Passover Haggadah): 

One a lamden Sharp Student, one a chossid / high Emotional Quotient, one a tamim / Good One and one she-ayn lo shum s’fekut u’b’eyot Without Doubts or Problems.

The Sharp Student, [what does s/he say?]: (Deut 6:20) “[What are the testimonies, the statutes and the laws] which havaya our God has commanded you” and so you shall answer hir according to the capacity of hir sharpness of wit.

The High EQ one, [what does s/he say?]: (Exodus 12: 26) “[What is] this service to you?”  So you will make an effort to reign in hir longings,  for s/he also wants to be a part of the integrity and perfection that comes with meaningful rituals.  If you are loving, then s/he will understand devekut / cleaving, and s/he will get a taste of what it means to feel close to God.

The Good one, [what does s/he say?]:  (Exodus 13:14) “What is this?” and so you shall bear witness to hir from your own experience, that hashem yitbarach is assisting you with ‘a strong hand’, to take you out and to take hir out of Mitzrayim.

The One who is carefree, you will feed hir some maror / horse radish, so s/he will feel hir friends’ troubles and so that compassion will be instilled in hir heart.


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


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].

Prayers for the Ninth of Av

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Dear Friends:  The three weeks of mourning are coming and the 9th of Av.  For the 9th of Av, we read Eicha and we add a paragraph to the Mincha Amidah Bonay Yerushalayim that tugs at our heart-strings and puts us in a  mindset of a bygone era when Jerusalem lay in ruins and we were victimized.  Reb Zalman offers an alternative to this paragraph you will find below in Hebrew and English and he explains: 

“Jerusalem is not the tragic heap of rubble strewn with corpses described in the Nachem prayer of the Minchah Amidah of Tishah b’av. I also do not think that it is yet the time to recite the Hallel that would befit the Mashiach‘s birthday celebration.” 

He has found a middle place.  Stay open to the possibility of common ground.  Use this period as a time for inner work of repair and moving our world upward toward redemption, ken y’hi ratzon bimhera v’yameinu, amein.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor.

Comfort, Yah our God, those who mourn Your sacred House; those who feel their own losses and the lost lives of their loved ones; those who live in Jerusalem, promised to be the City of Peace, the beginning of the total redemption. Although the Holy City is now in the hands of Israel, there is fear of violent attack in the hearts of her inhabitants. While other nations have yet to consent to her integrity, we Jews have yet to learn to live in peace with each other, with our neighbors and with other religions and peoples who claim their share in her.

Comfort us, Yah, Great God, awesome One, with that holy vision of the House of Prayer for all Peoples. Place into our hearts, feelings of respect and kinship of each people and creed for its counterpart. May we all become aware that we are Your creation and that Your Glory is exalted through diverse hymns which form harmonies to the Anthem of the Sabbath. May it be granted us that anyone entering the gates of the Holy City be fully comforted, doubly consoled!

We praise You Yah, Who, while consoling Zion, builds Jerusalem!  AMEN!

“I vividly remember the Ninth of Av after Jerusalem was reunited (5727/1967). I was at an Orthodox  synagogue.  The Rabbi was a friend and colleague.  After leading the congregation in the Ma’ariv / evening prayer, and after the reading of Eychah / Book of Lamentations, he announced he was now going home to celebrate with a festive dinner in honor of the shift that had taken place.


For Shavuot: The Sinai Gathering

Friday, June 6th, 2008

The following article appeared in Reb Zalman’s book, Paradigm Shift, (Jason Aronson Inc., 1993, pp. 3-11).   I have taken the liberty to make some minor changes for enhanced accessibility.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG editor

Prayers of Peace

by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

This report to the P’nai Or community appeared in the B’nai Or Newsletter, June 1984 issue. The content speaks for only one part of me.  All I can say is that there are other levels that are beyond what I describe below.  What happened on the deeper and the higher levels is not accessible to verbal description.  And yet, as you follow in your imagination, I ask that you think of it as though you were there.  Better still, think of it as tied to when in fact you were there, when you stood at Sinai. 

While the impact on me is beyond my fully capturing, I want to mention that we weren’t able to follow up then with the kind of political and social action that this meeting would have required to bring the vision to fruition.  Our hands were tied through an agreement with the Egyptian authorities that we could not publicize this meeting in the media for fear of repercussions from religious and political hard-liners.

Many months of constant work on the part of many individuals, in particular, Ms. Maurine Kushner, (click here, to see an article about Ms. Kushner’s works), had made this meeting possible.

To this day I am warmed by the memories.


Psychic Cleaning for Tzoris

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Here’s another piece from Reb Zalman’s Yishmru Da’at work, from the section on Purim.  Blessings to you and yours, Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

“Blot out the memory of Amalek” (Deut: 25:19),
meaning that from the memory of Amalek [having hurt you], you must be purified from all unclean pain, [i.e., pain plus lost confidence, or pain plus self-blame, or pain plus irrational fear, etc.], so that you can stay in touch with your real situation at present.  [Being more in touch] will, in turn, enable you to understand choices for further action in your struggles with the enemy.  And if there has been no introspection and examination  regarding the enemy, you must purify from complex, past pain.  It may have come from an enemy other [than your present one], or it may have come from conditions of other times or places which may not be directly connected to the present [attacks].  Since our having been attacked [means] we were in proximity with oppressors, blot out their names, and we should regard them as the Inquisition that came to remove us from society and to extinguish our spirit, (as in the example of Hanukkah), or the oppressors who came to annihilate our bodies, (as Haman on Purim).