Archive for the ‘Psycho-Halachah’ Category

Tallit of Rainbow Light

Monday, January 22nd, 2024

I have met many Jews in many kinds of shuls who wear a Tallit which was designed by Reb Zalman in the 1950’s. When I pointed this out, most of them didn’t know its background and history and so, I’ve decided to share it here. Much of what I wrote below is taken directly from an interview of Reb Zalman by Rabbi Yonassan Gershom from around forty years ago. Gabbai Seth Fishman

The B’nai Or Tallit Design


On Halachah / Jewish Practice

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

At a recent Aleph (Alliance for Jewish Renewal) gathering in commemoration of Reb Zalman’s eighth Yorzeit, I shared a few words based on a public talk Reb Zalman gave titled: Reb Zalman on Psycho-Halakhah (March 13, 2005). Barukh Hashem, the talk and many more of his shmoozes were recorded by Michael Kosakoff, (a’h) and are available on the Yesod Foundation’s Youtube site. Gabbai Seth Fishman

Halachah refers to Jewish law and it has been something to guide the day-to-day life of a Jew.

The Halachic basis that we inherit from the past took its underpinnings from the book of Deuteronomy. Moses gave us the law the second time, sending, at the same time, a message:

You shmegegs! You backsliders! I’ve had tsures for so many years shlepping you around! I’m telling you: Don’t you move to the right; don’t move to the left; it has to be exactly as I tell you. Don’t mess with it.

But just a little bit later, with King Solomon we find something more dynamic:

A time for everything! A time to do! A time to not do! A time to do this! A time to not do that!

Things shift and change, no longer absolute.

So we were dealing with one kind of a frame in the book of Deuteronomy and, later on, a different frame when King Solomon said in Proverbs 1:8:

שְׁמַע בְּנִי מוּסַר אָבִיךָ וְאַל־תִּטֹּשׁ תּוֹרַת אִמֶּֽךָ / Listen, my child to the reproof of your father and do not forsake the Torah (teaching) of your mother.

So the same Torah will appear to some people as mussar avicha / reproof of your father, (i.e., you must always do like Deuteronomy says), but sometimes, it will appear like Torat imecha / teaching of your mother which wants,  (again, Solomon speaking in Proverbs 3:17), dracheha darchey no’am / the Torah’s ways are ways of pleasantness. E.g., so many things in the Torah have to do with Shalom Ba’yit / peace of the home and all the books in the Bible speak about taking care of the poor. So one gets a different attitude from looking at mussar avicha than looking at Torat imecha, the mother teaching.


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)


Reb Zalman on YouTube

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

A quick survey of YouTube returns a long list of videos featuring Reb Zalman.  They are listed here in the following categories:

Jewish Renewal, Organismic Paradigm, Reb Zalman Davvenen, Inner Life, KavvanahCalendar/Lifecycle,  Intimacy and Spirit, From Age-ing to Sage-ing, Deep Ecumenism, Tshuvah,  Reminiscences, Psychedelics, Communities.

With gratitude to the many videographers, (most notably, Rabbi Sarah Leah).

Jewish Renewal

Hello Renewal
Reb Zalman reviews his legacy
What is Jewish Renewal?
Renewal Visions for future
Renewal Visions for future 2

Organismic Paradigm

We are just a cell
Shifting toward healing the planet


Tour of Reb Zalman’s davvenen space
Putting on the tallis
Praising with Heart and Flesh
Andalucian Zikr

Inner Life

In Your Blessed Hands
Covenant is unique to yiddishkeit
Rosh Hashanah inner work
Rosh Hashanah inner work 2
Freeze-dried Psalm 23 as Reb Zalman heats it up
Affirmations and Jew-ing
Interpersonal aspects of the inner life
Reb Zalman’s legacy of increasing attunement
Using the imagination, Baal Shem Tov and Star Trek
On relating to God during prayer and role of ego
On Avot 1:14
The Baal Shem‘s Spirit

  • Kiss of God, shmooze with Father Thomas Keating, descriptions of closeness with God that they share

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5


Reminder: Hattarat Nedarim

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

I was asked by Reb Zalman to send along a reminder to you for Hattarat Nedarim / The Release of Vows service, (best done before Rosh Hashanah which begins this year on Wednesday Night, September 8th, 2010).

My first thought was, “Dear Reb Zalman.  But I put this out there already!”  (cf., Hattarat Nedarim / The Release Of Vows,  

But then I thought:  This is not a thing to just read and file.  It matters not if we did this last year, or the year before, or we did not. 

What matters is that here we are again.  Rosh Hashanah will soon be here and we will be faced with the opportunity to do personal work as we enter Ha-Aseret Y’mei Teshuvah / the Ten Days of Repentance.  We will do the Hattarat Nedarim each year before Rosh HaShanah.  Then, in subsequent years, we will do it again, and again, (and God-willing, each time from a higher level). 

So what is involved?


Malaise and Selichot

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

The predominant theme for this time of year, the days of the month of Elul is in the word, S’lichah:  “I’m sorry for the wrongs I did.”  Please read Reb Zalman’s message.  It is a message for everyone, and especially for people who may find this time of year a challenge as the light begins to wane.  [Edited and with Notes by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor]

It is also important to know that not everybody has to begin with the intellectual side of one’s inner malaise. 

[NOTE:  “Not everybody.”  While some will still begin the process of S’lichot drawing upon their malaise, and going to an intellectual place (i.e. staying in the head), others may begin in another way (i.e. tapping into emotions).]  

S’lihot happens in the Fall season and that means that we see the colorful beauty of the impending ending of the summer and it brings a melancholic sense to one’s physical being.

And then, too, if there are some other reasons and feelings of inferiority, guilt, spiritual dirtiness, it tends toward depression.

There’s an intuitive sense [of malaise] we become aware of — not so much in the emotional thing but an intuition that wanders off the track.

[NOTE:  Perhaps Reb Zalman has in mind a Seasonal Affective Disorder that some of us have at this time of year.] 

All these conspire to create that kind of ambience of sadness at that time.


Vows and A Gate of Regret

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

The following comes from Reb Zalman on this week’s Torah portion, MattotMassei. [NOTES by Gabbai Seth Fishman]

In Mattot / tribes, the Torah speaks about people who make vows,  (Numbers 30:2, ff):

Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the children of Israel, saying: This is the thing the Lord has commanded:  If a man makes a vow, etc.

The way in which the Torah has Moses addressing this to the heads of the tribes is unusual, and it makes us wonder why this law alone was to be addressed to the heads rather than directly to the children of Israel. 

Speech is something to be taken seriously and vows are a form of speech. 

(Psalms 33:6) “By the words of God heavens were made.” 

Words are powerful when they are not made hollow. If they are made hollow, there is a sense of desecration. As the Torah says, (Numbers 30:3),

When a person makes a vow let hir not desecrate it: According to all that comes forth from hir lips, s/he shall activate.

Then, the text goes on to say something of the circumstances in which a vow cannot be kept, as when an underage woman is still in the house of her father and her father disagrees and nullifies; or a  married woman with a husband or father who disagrees and nullifies.

So a possible explanation for this law having been addressed to the heads of the tribes is the following: 

In order to release a person who makes a vow from the vow, the head of the tribe helps the person find a “gate of regret.”


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)


The Four Worlds and the Economy

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Reb Zalman writes: 

The Four Worlds and the Economy was transcribed from talks I gave on two occasions covering how the Four Worlds impacts on the Physical Plane and, by extension, the economy.

“We are eager to find solutions for the current financial breakdown of society and the marketplace.  While we are giving our support to President Obama and giving him credit for his efforts to solve a global financial crisis, there is another perspective which comes from an awareness we can garner from our mystical tradition.  From the Four Worlds, we learn that changes in the Physical World, (i.e., financial), are energized from other planes of existence.  

“We must activate the repair across the board: Physical; Affective / Emotional; Mental / Intellectual; and Intuitive / Spiritual.  If we can successfully integrate with all the levels and access those other worlds, then we will nurture ourselves on higher planes along with our physical (financial) needs.  

“I hope these thoughts will help show ways we can do our part and this will thereby help with the president’s efforts so that they will bear fruit.  May you gain insights you need to steer through the difficulties of these times and may our efforts heal the markets of labor and goods, and of employment and housing.”

The Four Levels

by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

The union of male and female needs some explanation. 

[Note:  “The union of male and female” is employed frequently in traditional liturgy and chassidut representing redemption.  A world out-of-balance is like a husband and wife in separation, or the Shechina / Feminine God-aspect (literally, “Indwelling Presence”) exiled from the Kadosh Baruch Hu / Masculine God-aspect (literally “Holy One Blessed be He”).  Another usage is from the way of interpreting Shir haShirim / Song of Songs as an alegory of love between God (here considered masculine) and Israel (here considered feminine).  While traditional symbolism portrays this as a heterosexual union, this image may not work for all Jews.  Nonetheless, Reb Zalman’s point here is related to the physical and and the higher worlds and this message transcends orientation.  gabbai Seth.]


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