Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why Religious Renewal is Necessary? | Reb Zalman Scachter-Shalomi

Father of the Neo-Hasidic Jewish Renewal movement, Reb Zalman Scachter-Shalomi is widely considered one of the world's foremost authorities on Hasidism and Jewish mysticism, a leading spiritual elder of our time and recognized as a pioneer in ecumenical dialogue. This interview with Reb Zalman was conducted in early August 2008.

[>] Read the first part of this interview if you haven't

1.
As part of the Interview I asked Reb Zalman to illuminate the question, Why Religious Renewal is Necessary?

Following is what came through Reb Zalman, may G-d always bless him:

'There is a teaching of a religion, the teaching of a tradition, of a silsila, there always is the core of the teaching, which has to do with the relationship of the divine and the human. In order to bring the teaching down, our sages have said, "Dibrah Torah d'sham b'nei Adam", "The Torah speaks in the language of human being".

So if the language of human being was early and primitive, and engraved on stone, then its simple. The Ten commandments are very short: don't do this, don't do that. And its not done very much for contemplative, its short, laconic. Then people get to write on parchment and so and so forth.

Today when knowledge is instantaneous and so and so forth, the matrix in which the divine speaks is so much wider and bigger, because the Divine is Infinite. So the more vehicle you have for the Divine to express ITself the wider is the expression.

So now what happens is that the people who are in charge of religion want to make sure that you will not change it. Because in the writing of Moses: 'You will do not go to the right, do not go to the left, as I tell you so will you do it'.

And thats understandable, because if it was not for that, it wouldn't have lasted for so long. It wouldn't have the transmission. But on the other hand, there are paradigms. And the paradigm in which much of the spiritual materials that have come to us, that was written was during Ptolemy, the Ptolemian world.

The earth is at the center and the sun goes around, and later on the sun will rise in the west. You have all these things but they still don't talk about the solar system, that the earth goes around the sun. This mean that the reality map is an outmoded reality map, an obsolete reality map. In order to be able to keep the religion, the religion and the reality map is so stuck to one another, when I thrown away the reality map, I thrown away the religion.

That happened to many people who become secular, because they didn't separate the teachings of the religion from the reality map. Ijtihad was trying to do that, but there were some people who are saying, no no that is going to be bidat. Don't trust ijtihad.

Why don't they trust them? Because of the mistaken understanding of the khatam of the prophet. But if you allow to say that God still reveals, that it's still happening. The people of ijtihad don't do it because they wanna make it easy for them, but because they want more of God coming into the world. The renewalists are always asking for that, and the traditionalists are always against it.

I don't think any religion will survive without renewal, which means they have to take into consideration what comes from the earth, and what comes from above and what comes from women, and what comes from nature.

One of my teacher wrote beautifully, he says, 'When the Torah was given and each year it was given at the same time, it is not only given to Jews but it is given to all human beings and not only to human beings but also to animals and the plants and the minerals'. So the saying is really saying, God energizes the nature every moment, and this energizing of nature is also the revelation. The People of the past in the medieval period would say nature and revelation are two separate things. If you want go with nature you are going to be kafir (apostate).

The revelation was hooked to a reality map that doesn't fit anymore. So everybody needs to have a depth understanding, thats one element.

The second element is: In the past each religion would say, I am the only Truth, Way and the Path; and nobody come to Father except through me and so on and so forth.

Now the model is not a machine model any more, like Descartes, but the model is a model of organism. It would be stupid to say that the human being should be all liver. We need to to have bone, we need to have heart, we need have kidney, we need to have brain and so on and so forth. All religions, each one of them is like a vital organ of the planet.

If Muslims will be health Muslim, Jews will be healthy Jews, together we will be make each other healthy that way. So the liver will be healthier, the kidney will be healthier.'

2.
Reb Zalman Scachter-Shalomi and Jewish Renewal Movement

The term Jewish Renewal describes "a set of practices within Judaism that attempt to reinvigorate what it views as a moribund and uninspiring Judaism with mystical, Hasidic, musical and meditative practices drawn from a variety of traditional and untraditional, Jewish and other, sources. It also refers to an emerging Jewish movement, the Jewish Renewal movement, which describes itself as "a worldwide, transdenominational movement grounded in Judaism’s prophetic and mystical traditions." The Jewish Renewal movement incorporates social views such as feminism, environmentalism and pacifism.

The movement's most prominent leader is Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Rabbi Zalman, a Hasidic-trained rabbi ordained in the Lubavitch movement, broke with Orthodox Judaism beginning in the 1960s, and founded his own organization, The B'nai Or Religious Fellowship, which he described in an article entitled "Toward an Order of B'nai Or." The name "B'nai Or" means "sons" or "children" of light, and was taken from the Dead Sea Scrolls material, where the "sons of light" battle the "sons of darkness." B'nai Or produced a number of important leaders in the Renewal movement.

3.
The deep wisdom and experience of Reb Zalman around Jewish renewal movement is a wonderful resource for not only Judaism but can be applied to other religions as well. As he talks in this interview and other places so eloquently about how over the years the reality map has become outdated and has little to do with the core teachings of the religious traditions originally. So in order for the spiritual tradition and essence of such valuable wisdom of humanity to be alive, renewal has to come in all religious tradition of the world. In that regard the contribution that comes through rice experience and wisdom from Reb Zalman is invaluable to all of humanity of today and tomorrow.

Further Resources:
. an Youtube video of Reb Zalman talking about Jewish Renewal
. Vision of Jewish Renewal 75 years from now, youtube
. Jewish Renewal via Wiki
. Vid: Reb Zalman on Authentic Judaism & Renewal Pin It Now!

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