Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Keys to the Wisdom of Truth

Sunday, January 27th, 2013


ספר מפתחי חכמת האמת
Keys to the Wisdom of Truth
Rabbi Saul Baumann
Introduction and Commentaries by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
Editor: Rabbi Shaya Isenberg!/Reb-Zalman-Writings/c/5437258/offset=0&sort=normal

This book contains Reb Zalman’s lectures on a small Sefer written by a twenty-three year old genius named Saul Baumann.

Baumann was a Chabad Chossid who lived in Warsaw, Poland and was killed in the Holocaust.  He was educated at both Chabad and Slobodka (a mitnagdishe Yeshivah).  Through the lens of Kabbalah, Baumann brings harmony to the opposing traditions of the two communities in which he was trained, i.e. the spiritual heirs to the Vilna Gaon and Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi.

In his lectures, Reb Zalman shares his thoughts on Paradigm Shift and required updates for spiritual connection to remain alive and relevant within the context of traditional Judaism.  Kabbalah is a framework we can build upon to take us into a renewed Judaism.

Zalman shows us how the tradition can help us to reach to the places of discovering Judaism’s path into the future and how we can integrate from those places of shifted paradigms.  The updates can connect us in new ways to traditional understandings of Jewish Mysticism.

Gabbai Seth


A Journey For Those Who Wish to Take It

Monday, February 8th, 2010

From Haaretz, here’s a review of A Heart Afire, a wonderful book published last year by Reb Zalman and Netanel M. Miles-Yepez.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

(From the February 8, 2010 issue of

A journey for those who wish to take it

  By Yael Unterman  

A Heart Afire: Stories and Teachings of the Early Hasidic Masters, by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Netanel Miles-Yepez
Jewish Publication Society of America, 406 pages, $45

A friend interested in Hasidism, who saw me reading “A Heart Afire,” commented lukewarmly: “Do we really need another book about the Hasidic masters?”

It’s a question worth taking seriously. Indeed, a previous collaboration by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the grand old man of the Jewish Renewal movement, and his student, Netanel Miles-Yepez, a comparative religion scholar and spiritual counselor, already covered the topic, seemingly. In this case the overlap is not major, for the earlier work, “Wrapped in a Holy Flame: Teachings and Tales of the Hasidic Masters” (2003 ), is wide-ranging, whereas this one is limited to examining three specific 18th-century masters and their circles: the Baal Shem Tov (Israel Ben Eliezer, the “Besht,” founder of the Hasidic movement ); Dov Ber (the Maggid ) of Mezritch; and Elimelech of Lizhensk.

There is, however, no lack of illustrious predecessors writing in the same genre as “A Heart Afire,” namely not from an academic-critical perspective but from an insider one. They too charted the tales, and in some cases the teachings, of the major players in the early Hasidic movement. To name just a few: Elie Wiesel (“Souls on Fire” ); Martin Buber (“Tales of the Hasidim” ); and more recently, Abraham J. Twerski, scion of the Hasidic Chernobyl dynasty (“Four Chassidic Masters” ), and Rami Shapiro, whose “Hasidic Tales: Annotated and Explained,” was dedicated to Schachter-Shalomi, his rebbe. So my friend’s question, even if meant rhetorically, appears to be a legitimate one.


Reb Zalman Book Review

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

From the The Jewish Daily Forward, here’s a review of two books recently published by Reb Zalman.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

Reb Zalman’s Ah-ha Hasidism

A Heart Sutra for Pashute Yidden

By Alan Brill

Published June 17, 2009, issue of June 26, 2009

Ahron’s Heart: The Prayers, Teachings and Letters of Ahrele Roth, a Hasidic Reformer
By Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Yair Hillel Goelman
Ben Yehudah Press, 150 pages, $14.95.

A Heart Afire: Stories and Teachings of the Early Hasidic Masters
By Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Netanel Miles-Yepez
The Jewish Publication Society, 384 pages, $45.00.

The future looks Bright: Zalman Schachter-Shalomi making Hasidism more widely relevant to the Jewish community.

Contemporary American religion is filled with quests for inner happiness, a direct sense of presence and charismatic gifts. The quest ranges from spontaneous drum circles to the Dalai Lama’s Westernized talks on happiness, and from Eckhart Tolle’s New Age wisdom to Sarah Palin’s Pentecostal exorcisms. In this landscape of emotive spirituality, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi serves as one of the major guides for contemporary Jews who seek the path of the heart.

Schachter-Shalomi, called Reb Zalman by most, is the cherished teacher of the Jewish Renewal movement, which seeks to create a trans-denominational neo-Hasidic spirituality.