Sefiras HaBinyan Calendar 5775

July 29th, 2015

Here is the Calendar for Sefiras HaBinyan, 5775

binyan1_5775

Read the rest of this entry »

Gravesite of Reb Zalman (z’l)

June 25th, 2015

Reb Zalman’s Tombstone
מצבה של ר’ זלמן זצוק”ל

RZ_Gravesite_orig

RZ_Gravesite_rev2

Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi kever / grave and tombstone

Yahrzeit For Reb Zalman z’l

June 22nd, 2015

B’H

לעילוי נשמת ר’ משולם זלמן חייא בן שלמה הכהן

Today, 5 Tammuz 5775 is the Yahrzeit of Reb Zalman (z’l).

This past Shabbos afternoon we gathered at P’nai Or Philadelphia to remember Reb Zalman. Click here to download and listen to an audio recording of that shmooze (WMA format).

Table of Contents

Tobie’s new niggun (2:00)
Welcome to Gabbai Seth (4:25)
Meeting Reb Zalman (z’l) in 1989 (4:58)
Kavvanah for this talk (5:38)
Spiritual birth here (6:50)
First meeting with RZ (7:52)
He reached and deeply touched many (8:50)
Reb Zalman and the Lubavitcher Rebbe (10:07)
Meeting R’ Menachem Mendel (1991) (11:39)
A Yechidus with RZ (13:39)
“Always and Forever One” Niggun (15:01)
Klal Yisrael, Yoshvei Teyveyl (17:00)
Deep Ecumenism (17:23)
Sylvia Boorstein’s Teaching (“Jew In the Lotus Conference” (1995)) (17:49)
We are all “Hybrid Jews” (18:47)
“I’m like the Head of R&D” (19:45)
Differences between RZ and the Lubavitcher Rebbe (20:01)
Dharamsala Kabbalat Shabbat (22:08)
RZ’s Letter, the Rebbe’s censure (23:20)
RZ’s Yahrzeit, Yishmru Daat (24:25)
My Charismatic Rebbe (25:44)
He was a Simple Yid too (28:19)
Year of Mourning (29:22)
Audio Siddur Niggun (30:10)
I and Thou (36:03)
Dr. Simcha Raphael’s comments from Shloshim (36:50)
Geula and the Environment (37:30)
Avodah Zara (38:47)
Patanjali and Moshe  (39:05)
When Non-Jewish Worship is Kosher (40:29)
From “Psycho-Halakha” (41:47)
Paradigm Shifts (43:30)
Pre-Patriarchal Jews (46:45)
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai (48:53)
From Word to Consciousness (49:13)
Aquarian Jerusalem (50:20)
Olam-Shana-Nefesh, Place-Time-Soul (50:40)
Pnai Or and Jerusalem (51:40)
Community Sharing (52:10)
Shalvi: Raising his soul (1:20:04)
Kaddish for RZ (1:21:40)

 

Why Theologians Have Trouble with Prayer

April 1st, 2015

In the final public lecture of his life which you can read here, Reb Zalman, (a’h) said:

You will see: The more you do it, there will be a moment of the breakthrough that you will have the sense that ‘Ah! Today, not only did I talk to God; today I knew that I was heard by God and I was given back an answer!’, though not necessarily in words. So keep trying that. I wrote a piece called ‘Why Theologians Have Trouble with Prayer,’ and if you write to me, I’ll send it to you so you’ll see it’s all laid out there.

Here is the referenced piece so that your Pesach will bring some mamash DavvenenGabbai Seth Fishman

~~~

Why Theologians Have Such Trouble With Prayer
By Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
of Blessed Memory

The more conceptually correct and abstract the notion of God is for the theologian, the harder it is for him/her to pray.

It has been my good fortune to meet and share with great theologians; with philosophers of religion. When we spoke about the conceptual, the intellectual realms, we were in great harmony. And with those who were in touch with the spirit of the times and had, within themselves, made the paradigm shift away from triumphalism and the mechanical reality map and onto a Gaian perspective, having a sense of the quantum realities, the zero point field, string theory or even developmental theologies such as Teilhard DeChardin’s evolution of creation growing toward God, or with those people who had traced the evolution of God ideas over time, when it came to discussing prayer beyond its psychological benefit for the individual, they could not meet me in a place where there was ontic facticity to the One who hears the prayer; nor could we connect on the real/empirical efficacy of prayer.

Read the rest of this entry »

“I’m Still Orthodox”

March 1st, 2015

On June 12, 2011, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin led a conversation with Reb Zalman, (a’h), and Rabbi David Ingber at New York’s Romemu. Here’s a transcription of Rabbi Telushkin’s first question and Reb Zalman’s answer:

Rabbi Telushkin:
I want to start out with a question that’s something that’s interesting to me about the two of you and which is well-known: Both of you come from Orthodox backgrounds. And both of you lived many years of your life as Orthodox Jews in the community.

What do you carry with it; what are the lessons that have continued to affect you in a positive way that you carry with it from the Orthodox world, what does it have, in your perspectives, to still teach you? And yet, what were also reasons that you chose, ultimately, to live your lives outside of that world?

I’ll start with you Reb Zalman.

Reb Zalman:
First I want to say I’m so glad, Reb Dovid, that I see the junge meluchah / young work, to see the shul where you do it and to hear Reb Shir Yaakov and the music and the enthusiasm that’s here!

Because so many synagogue and churches have become mere life-cycle-celebration places and no longer is there real prayer going on; no longer is there real celebration going on.

And to see just how easy it was to get everybody to sing into joy was fabulous.

So if you ever were to do a Skype geschaeft so that I could watch you on a Friday, I’d like that. Because it is really wonderful. And wherever there is light, wherever there is energy, people come to it. And when people say what are we going to do if we want to revitalize our synagogue, our church, the answer is make sure there is light, that there is energy there. Having said that, I’m going to go and give you a response:

I still think I’m Orthodox, but I’m Orthodox as you have to be in the year 2011. A lot of people are Orthodox as if they had to be like in 1835. And that distinction is very important.

Read the rest of this entry »

Paradigm Shift and The New “Orthodoxy”

January 17th, 2015

A precious teaching from Reb Zalman alav hashalom on Paradigm Shift. (It has been transcribed from the Spirit of the Desert Production DVD, “What’s New in Jewish Renewal, 2006”, disk 2.)

The Talmudic heritage says that we can make changes, but the changes have to be done in a very specific way.

For example: In the scriptural statement about Shabbos it says:

לא תבערו אש בכֹל משבתיכם ביום השבת / Do not burn any fires on the Shabbos in all your dwelling places.

which means that before Shabbos, you’d have to go around and douse all the fires that are there. “Lo tivaru aish b’chol moshvoteichem b’yom hashabat” it means that all fires are out.

Now, you are an agrarian people, you are a shepherd people and Shabbos comes, bah shabbat, bah menuchah, you settle down, you go to sleep when it gets dark.

By the time we are with the Rabbis after Yochanan ben Zakkai, we have a different milieu.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reb Zalman’s Thanksgiving Prayer 5775

November 27th, 2014

Reb Zalman, alav hashalom, was reminding us every year about his Thanksgiving insert to Birkhat Hamazon.

For those of us who are ambivalent about Thanksgiving because it is a secular Yom Tov pulling us toward secularism on this day and away from Yiddishkeit, it feels nice and gives us a little stikkele something geshmak.

And this year, we have the extra blessing of being able to use a beautiful side-by-side formatting of Reb Zalman’s singable translation of Birkhat Hamazon which you can find on the Open Siddur Project, by clicking here.

When you get to the section where you would give thanks for the Yom Tovim, please add the following insert (in Hebrew or English below) for Thanksgiving. Good Yom Tov! (Gabbai Seth Fishman)

בִּימֵי הַמְהַגְרִים נְקִיֵי הַדַעַת,
כְּשֶׁהִגִיעוּ לְאֶרֶץ מִקְלָטָם,
וְסָבְלוּ רָעָב וָקוֹר,
וְנָשְׂאוּ רִנָה וּתְפִילָה
לְצוּר יְשׁוּעָתָם,
עָמַדְתָ לָהֶם בְּעֵת צָרָתָם
וְעוֹרַרְתָּ חֶמְלַת הַתּוֹשָׁבִים
הָאִינְדִיָנִים עֲלֵיהֶם,
וְהֶאֱכִילוּם מָזוֹן, בַּרְבּוּרִים וְתִירָס
וְכָל מַעֲדָנִים.
הִצַלְתָּם מֵרָעָב וְיָגוֹן,
וְהֶרְאֵתָ לָהֶם דַרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם
עִם תּוֹשָׁבֵי־הָאָרֶץ.
עַל כֵּן בְּרִגְשֵׁי תוֹדָה קָבְעוּ
יוֹם תּוֹדָה כָּל שָׁנָה וְשָׁנָה
לְזֵכֶר לְדוֹרוֹת,
וּמַאֲכִילִים סְעוּדוֹת
הוֹדָיָה לְאוּמְלָלִים.
לָכֵן גַם אָנוּ מוֹדִים לְךָ
עַל הַטוֹבוֹת בְּחַיֵינוּ.
אֵל הָהוֹדָאוֹת, אֲדוֹן הַשָׁלוֹם,
מוֹדִים אֲנַחְנוּ לָךְ.

In the days of the Puritan pilgrims,
When they arrived in the land of their haven,
And suffered from hunger and cold,
And sang and prayed
To the Rock of their Salvation,
You stood by them in their time of trouble
And aroused the compassion
Of the native Indians,
Who gave them food, fowl and corn
And many other delicacies.
You saved them from starving and suffering,
And You showed them ways of peace
With the inhabitants of the land.
Feeling gratitude, they established therefore
A day of Thanksgiving every year
For future generations to remember,
And they feed the unfortunate
With feasts of Thanksgiving.
Therefore do we also thank You
For all the goodness in our lives.
God of kindness, Lord of peace,
We thank You.

Oh Davvener, Adieu!

November 22nd, 2014

At 8AM, Friday, June 6, 2014, motzei Atzeret 5774 / after the Shavuot retreat at Hazon’s Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center  in New Falls, CT, Reb Zalman (z’l) led participants in Chol Davvenen / the weekday prayer service and taught us all powerful lessons of dvekus / cleaving to God. It turned out to be the last service and shiur / study session Reb Zalman would lead before being niftar / deceased.

~~~

Reb Zalman (z’l):
Besides the book that’s called “Davening, A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Practice” which has been published and which I co-wrote with Joel Segal, (and it is a wonderful book; it won the National Jewish Book Award, and all that other stuff. But look! What’s more important is it guides you, it shows you how to do it, what to do so you Davven), now, if you also see another book on Davennen called “The Gates of Prayer, Twelve Talks on Davvenology,” [you’ll see that] it has twelve lectures that I gave on various subjects of Davennen and then it was transcribed. And there you will find a chapter that’s called “Blue Jeans Spirituality”. (That [whole] series is wonderful because we have it in DVD [form] so you can show it [to a group]. We [also] have it on MP3 so you can play it and listen to it and of course in print. And if you get a chance to work with a group and you would play one of those DVD’s, then any time a person wants to ask a question, etc., you can always easily stop the recording and go and have a conversation about it.) It is a wonderful series; you can learn a lot from it. Also, “Gate to the Heart” which was an earlier form, is also out again in a much nicer form because Reb Netanel Miles-Yepez did such a beautiful job with it.

And in either case, you have ways of making your davvenen work [so I want to let you know of these resources].

Read the rest of this entry »

Tamid Echad

August 18th, 2014

As Reb Zalman (ztzvkl) would sing, (click here): Tamid Echad / Always and Forever One!

~~~

Reb Zalman (olav hashalom) was our very heart.
He made it seem easy to make us a whole
       between Jews, across divides, a message of echad.

If we’re so universalist, so why be Jewish?

Every religion is a vital organ — including ours.
Could a body become all liver? Absurd!
Moshiach, Christ, the Mahdi, the Avatar and Maitreya
       will all come to an eco-kosher sudenyu. Oy, what a sudenyu!

When we’ve receded to a place where we seem insignificant to God,
       it’s a heresy greater than thinking God is small.

You are not an “oops” of God!
In God’s present your lifetime has significance!

Oh! Secularist’s nascent spirituality!
Oh! Popular believer: Become “shiviti Hashem l’negdi tamid”!

So whether:

Religious or Secular,
Hasid or Mitnaged,
Mystic or Atheist,
Panentheist or Pantheist,
       (“Kinderlachen, geh gesunderheit!”)
Renewal, Frum, Liberal, Ultra-Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Secular Humanist, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Native, Mammal, Bird, Reptile, Micro-organism, Charm, Rock, Planet, Galaxy, Black hole:

How can we get it together? Together!

Tamid Echad! Always and Forever One!

Food For Healing the Soul

August 10th, 2014

Click here for Hebrew text.

The Yahrzeit of the Rav Tzvi Hersh of Liska (1798-1874) is commemorated on the 14th of Menachem Av. The following praise of his works appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

His Writings

This is the background: I am very excited to share that I have now taken his innovations of the Torah and had them set down for posterity. In addition, I also have a bundle containing his Torah innovations which were never before available covering all the Holidays and Festivals, and also his writings regarding several issues in the Mishnah. All the writings stem from later in his life and the topics that inspired him at that same time.

We don’t have his work from earlier times because all the brilliant teachings and writings which he had set down when he was younger in a book were burned in a fire of this world when he was in the provinces of Poland. None of it remained for him except for that knowledge that was in his head, which has always been the basis of his teaching.

As he put it:

“As I teach from what’s in my head, I don’t need anything more.

“On a certain level, the fire was God’s will. I accept it.”

The day of the fire, he was able to sense that the books in his house were burning and he dashed home, and they asked him why he was leaving them in a hurry and he said:

“In my minds eye, I’m seeing that my books were burned in a fire!”

And so it was.

In these words of Torah are found all food for healing the soul and all drink for getting to the essence of reverence for Hashem and meditating on His name.

For, as the waters cover the sea, so does fear of heaven and love of God fill a person, and so we wait for the world to be filled with God’s presence.

For there are many who go out in search of acquiring wisdom and understanding, seeking to hear words said in truth from the mouth of a true preacher. And we, too, should merit to bring an overflow of books in a basket of books that will fill us within and give our souls their coins. People should seek out these treasures.

And now please take this book, a blessing from me that I have brought before you.

(From the Introduction by his grandson, Rabbi Zev Wolf, on the book “True Sustenance”)