Three things. 1. Thank you for your part in making the Tent amazing. Thank you for your time, energy, truth, love and courage. I appreciate you all, both as individuals and as a whole. To those of you who just joined the Tent but have not come to a gathering yet - I can't wait to meet you! To those of you who came to a gathering once or twice, recently or a long while ago - we miss you! To those of you who joined the Tent awhile ago but have not come to a gathering yet - please know that you are never forgotten. Please let this be a year of connection. The Tent is truly always open.
2. Let the time of the New Year be a time for vision. What would you like to see in the Tent in the upcoming year? 3. May we all be blessed this year - with health, clarity, a strongly G-d centered approach to living, and sweet physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual sustenance.
L'Shana Tova! I look forward to seeing you on Rosh Hashanah and at Tashlich! Let us bless and usher in 5771 together!Second Night Rosh Hashanah DinnerTashlich @ Kiwanis Lake
'I Believe We Can Rise Up' -- Rosh Hashanah Thoughts by Reb Zalman
With blessings that
during this coming year
our burdens be light
our guidance sure
and our relationships warm.
Reprinted from First Steps to a New Jewish Spirit: Reb Zalman?s Guide to Recapturing the Intimacy & Ecstasy in Your Relationship With God
It has been the struggle of my life to overcome my doubts, my limited comprehension, my ignorance. In my youth I was filled with bitterness at what was happening to me and all the other Jews of Europe. My first experiences with Hasidic mysticism opened the door to the living God, and my bitterness began to drain away, to diminish. I understood and felt it in a different way. But I would not be honest if I did not reveal the mighty awe I feel whenever I think of the six million Jews and the millions of non-Jews who perished in the Holocaust. It was the death of a world. It has not been my intention to attempt an apology, to try to explain God?s ways to man. What I have tried to do is transmit some of the spiritual legacy of that world as it applies to ourvown.
As these last pages are being written, the radio has announced the death of the Dutchman Victor Kugler at the age of eighty-one. Kugler was the man who hid Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis. In the time of Satan, it was an act of God. In the midst of destruction and madness came an act of courage and love. But in the end, the Franks were discovered, and shared the fate of European Jewry. After the Holocaust, many survivors lost their faith: if God exists, how could this have happened! Others didn?t deny God?s existence; they became filled with anger instead. Some persist in raging against a God who let it occur. I cannot argue with this rage. But I will repeat the words spoken by Rebbe Barukh of Medzebozh to one of his disciples: ?I know there are questions that have no answers; there is a suffering that has no name; there is injustice in God?s creation --- and there are reasons enough for man to explode with rage. I know there are reasons for you to be angry. Good. Let us be angry. Together.?
The questions remain. What do we believe? Do we believe at all? And how do our beliefs bring us together and help us live in greater harmony and do a better job with our lives? For those of you who do not believe, I have no answers. As part of my believing, I pray for you. And I ask that you do one thing in return. Now. As you read these words.
Sit where you are. Sit there as if. As if you believe that God exists, that He or She is as real as a rock, a tree, a bird, your hand, your heart; as if She is as real as the inner you, where your most secret feelings are, your pain and fear and wonder and hope and longing and love and strength and weakness.
Sit there as if you and God are both naked, hiding nothing of your need, your want. And say it: ?I want. I need. I don?t deserve. All I can do is say I am here. I am open to the universe, of which I am a natural part. I accept the universe. I ask the universe to accept me. Please.?
Have you ever made a private vow, a secret promise in a tense moment of stress or fear? If only I get out of this, I will . . . If she survives the operation, I will . . . If only the baby is born healthy, I will . . .
The thing you promise to do is important, it is a sacrifice. But the Being or Presence in front of whom you make your promise, your vow, is more important. It is your God. When you make this kind of inner vow, you are turning to God as He exists within you. It is a deeply instinctive and visceral move, an action whose roots extend so far into your past that it is beyond your capacity for rational comprehension. This inner vow is based on the preverbal, precognitive knowledge we carry in the marrow of our bones; it is encoded in the DNA in every cell in our bodies. The vow can also be seen as magical because it is based on the assumption (often unarticulated) that our thoughts and feelings can have an effect on the workings of the world. Reb Nachman stated the case directly: ?Know that there are great powers in man. By thought alone one can achieve a great deal.?
This process, which fuses and aims the energies of our thoughts, feelings, and our very physical beings, is prayer in one of its highest forms. It can be said that the object of prayer is the well-being of the universe. Prayer is the energy feedback God gets from us, His creation. Prayer completes the circuit of God?s energy and helps to keep it flowing. Praying for ourselves or our loved ones contributes energy to the entire system, for we are integral parts of the universe. Praying for our well-being, and ultimately for our own perfection, is equal to praying for the universe, since it is composed of its parts, of us.
We all know that prayer can be difficult. Many of us have been put off, dissociated from our natural place in the order of things, disconnected from our own sense that we belong and that we matter. Prayer unifies, it unites us with our fellow human beings and all the other beings in God?s universe. Taken in our totality --- gentile and Jew; woman and man; child and adult; animal and plant; the earth below and the heavens above --- we are the likeness of God. Our task is clear. We are here to fulfill our potential for Godliness. Even with all our weaknesses and faults, we strive toward that great and sustaining goal. And if perfection seems remote, beyond the possibilities of our limitations, all we have to do is work toward improvement.
We work to follow God?s will, which we understand to be the natural laws of the universe as they are encoded in our tradition. We place ourselves before God and open ourselves to Him --- fully disclose our tears and laughter; weaknesses and strengths, certainties and doubts; the parts of ourselves we love and the parts we despise; our prides and shames. In doing this, we open ourselves to the world, to our fellow humans. We take down the barriers, drop our masks, and join with the rest of creation in the unending effort to live the good life and attain perfection. Even if we can manage only one step at a time, this journey must be made. In the end, it is the only journey worth making.
When we hold hands with all creation and sing praises to God, the Lord of the Cosmos, we are fulfilling our role in the universe. Judaism, like life itself, is organic. Neither is perfect; both are evolving. Each generation learns what it can. Every incarnation brings a soul to more light. We are all on our way to the messianic finale, when the total consciousness of all the inhabitants of this planet is moved to one great at-one-ment. We look forward to this event with the hope that it will be peaceful and organic. But the shadow of planetary self-destruction hovers over us. There is a real fear that the finale will be fire and destruction, that the earth?s apotheosis will start with a nuclear flash and end with a dead planet circling through space. For our part, we must strive to prevent destruction and bring about salvation, for ourselves and our planet. The finale can also be a quantum leap in our awareness of how the universe works, the beginning of a new and higher way of life rather than the fiery end of an old one.
One of the strongest teachings I?ve yet received on reincarnation came from the present Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson Shlit?a, who once said, ?The teachings on gilgul --- reincarnation --- are true, AND, it is also true that you don?t have to wait to die to start a new life. In turning to God (teshuvah) you can start the next reincarnation right now.? That being or sum of beings that we call Messiah is held prisoner in the surface tensions existing between person and person, men and women, older and younger, richer and poorer, group and group, nation and nation. Wherever tensions and resistances are reduced, so that energy can be shared, the quantum leap is made to the Messianic era.
The Messianic future, with its blessings, awaits us at the other side of our awakening, so let us light the candles of our souls and welcome the Sabbath.
Light & Love,