“Reb Shlomo, Why Are you So Happy?”

October 26, 2015

A review of “Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission and LegacycarlebachbioWeb1by Rabbi Natan Ofir

By Izabella Tabarovsky for The Times of Israel

When asked about Rabbi Carlebach’s music, Timothy Leary, that dedicated explorer of mystical experiences and expanded states of consciousness, is reported to have said: “If I had ever had a chance to listen to Shlomo’s music before I ever took drugs, I would have never needed to take them in the first place, that’s how powerful his music was!”

This testimonial is one of many filling the pages Natan Ofir’s meticulously researched and documented book, “Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission and Legacy.” For the devoted followers of Carlebach, the book is a wonderful opportunity to re-encounter the man they knew and loved in a rich new context. For those who are just discovering his music, the book offers a wonderful starting point for a journey that can lead as far as the reader wishes to go. Read the rest of this entry »

Hearing Text Speak to You Personally

May 24, 2012

by Batya Yaniger 

What I’m about to describe is a learning experience that I believe is different from typical analytical study but also different from using the text in the service of my own agenda. It has something to do with hearing the text speak to me personally, in the same sense that logotherapy posits that reality is speaking to us personally – challenging us, evoking our will to meaning, eliciting our strengths and calling us out of hiding to become who we are meant to be. Similarly the text is one such reality. Study is an intimate encounter.

In fact for a Jewish person reading Jewish texts God’s personal call should come through even more strongly than the call coming through the reality of life. By being so intent on analyzing the text I believe we are missing that call! This is why it’s so important to me to formulate this process.

Here’s what one such learning experience was like:

A new book has just come out titled Stages of Spiritual Growth: Resolving the Tension Between Self-expression and Submission to Divine Will, by Batya Gallant. Although I know I always say this about every book, I feel this book is particularly suited to chevruta(study partner) study.

One day I was reading and contemplating the chapter on gevurah (to predominate/prevail) with a friend. The author describes the spiritual process towards a healthy relationship towards authority and how our preconceived ideas about submitting to authority can make us feel diminished and disempowered…

As we studied the book we went through a process of Read the rest of this entry »

Journey to Heaven, Is it The Next World?

April 17, 2012
by Batya Medad

It has taken me a long time to read Leila Leah Bronner’s Journey to Heaven, but that’s my fault, not hers.  Most of my weekday reading is either on the computer or for my Bible studies.

I was very anxious to get started on Bronner’s book, because I’m very curious about The Next World,  our “life” after death.  It’s not my specialty.  From my limited knowledge I’ve been under the impression that the next world is when we pay the real price for our sins and get proper rewards for our good.  I was looking for some confirmation.

Journey to Heaven isn’t that sort of book.  Bronner’s book is more academic than spiritual or emotional.  She brings all sorts of texts, not all are Jewish, to explain what happens after death according to Judaism.  I suggest watching these two youtube videos to hear what Bronner has to say.  She really is fascinating.

Bronner’s book is very Read the rest of this entry »

Review of Kedushat Levi

September 1, 2010

by S. Vale, rabbi and storyteller

Kedushat Levi

Kedushat Levi

I first much mention a bias here (of mine) in the spirit of full disclosure: Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, Z”L (to remember him is a blessing), the original 19th century author of this great commentary on the Torah (Five Books of Moses), Kedushat Levi (aka “Kedushas Levi”), is an important teacher and master for me. I love his teachings, the stories about him (some of which the editor includes at the back of this 3 volume commentary! That alone makes sure, for me, of giving it an extra star, regardless of what my base rating would be!). In common parlance, I guess you could say, I am a fan. But much more than that, I feel like I am a student of this teacher who died more than two hundred years before I was born.

And I and many others have been waiting for a complete translation of this work into English for years (there have been excerpts of it in works such as the superb, God at the Center by Rabbi David Blumenthal and The Life of a Hasidic Master by my beloved teacher, Rabbi Samuel Dressner, may he rest in shalom and always remembered for a blessing. But until now no complete translation).
Read the rest of this entry »