Reb Zalman Gathers Figs

A study of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi's
reading of Biblical text
to re-vision Judaism for the present day

by Dana Densmore

 

What Else They are Saying about
Reb Zalman Gathers Figs:


Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi's Wisdom School was a grand and wild experiment of entering through the primal myths of the Hebrew Bible in order to gather Wisdom for our time. With this important book, Dana Densmore harvests that wisdom for all of us. She invites us to join Reb Zalman and encounter our sacred text as a living, generous Tree of Life that continues to bear fruit when we come to Her as bold, hungry passionate seekers of Wisdom. With Reb Zalman Gathers Figs, Ms. Densmore brilliantly conveys and interprets both the method and the substance of Schachter-Shalomi's unique contribution.
Rabbi Shefa Gold,
author of The Magic of Hebrew Chant: Healing the Spirit, Transforming the Mind, Deepening Love


Reb Zalman Gathers Figs is a treasure trove of chiddushim—new insights—from a master of Jewish thought and practice, a master of renewing the Jewish world, that should grace every lover of Torah's bookshelf. Densmore has given us access to heretofore unreleased material that will inform and illuminate for decades to come. We owe her a significant debt of gratitude for publishing these teachings along with her own remarkable scholarly commentary. Now we can all drink deeply from the well of this neo-Hassidic, deeply ecumenical, psycholigically astute master, held beautifully in the historical and theological container that Densmore so effectively creates, allowing us to study as if we are talmidim/students of the rebbe ourselves.
Rabbi Debra Kolodny
Rabbi of P'nai Or of Portland
Executive Director of Nehirim
Former Executive Director of
ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal



Many jewels of beauty and profound wisdom lie glittering on the surface and hidden beneath it in Jewish text and practice. Scripture, initially given at a moment in time yet relevant for eternity, must always contain both the hidden and the revealed. The particulars of the Hebrew language have given rise to systems of "unpacking the text" that illuminate levels of implied understandings imbedded in the words. For millennia our teachers have inspired us to "turn it, turn it" to discover the intention beneath the intention, offering the practitioner a devotional interactive process with the text so that in every era new light is shown on the workings of the Ancient One. Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi is one such inspirer of our era.
In this very important work on Reb Zalman's teachings, Dana Densmore shows through careful scholarship and documentation, and with delicious examples of content how Reb Zalman engages the very traditional practice of continual re-visioning that has kept Judaism vibrantly alive, relevant, and evolving. It is a practice that perhaps reflects the Holy Name ehyeh asher ehyeh, I am what I am becoming.
Maggid Andrew Gold



Zalman Schachter Shalomi is a genius at bringing the Bible to life, exploring its sometimes hidden mystical and spiritual messages, and showing us a depth of wisdom in the ancient teachings that can enlighten our lives. He is without a doubt the most profound Jewish spiritual teacher alive today.
Rabbi Michael Lerner,
editor, Tikkun Magazine
chair of the interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives
author of Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation



Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi is the father of the Jewish Renewal movement of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Dana Densmore's book, based on unpublished audio tapes, never before transcribed, originates in the seven retreat sessions of the Wisdom School led by Reb Zalman, and his life-partner Eve Ilsen, in 1988-89. Densmore's work makes the breathtaking scope, richness and texture of Reb Zalman's insights available for consideration and reflection by an ever-wider readership. She weaves these teachings into a coherent and sequential whole, contextualizing excerpts from the audio tapes with the experiential elements of the retreat weekends. In this compilation, Reb Zalman's broad secular education and intimate familiarity with the Western intellectual tradition, psychology, theology and comparative religion combine with his bone-deep knowledge of traditional Jewish texts from the biblical, rabbinic, and mystical traditions of Judaism. Through this great teacher, as refracted through Densmore's lens, this critical mass of intellectual, spiritual, and experiential knowledge ignites to create for every seeker a challenging, stimulating, and inspiring path to ever-deeper engagement with our best, most sacred, selves.
Diane M. Sharon, Ph.D.

 

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Kafir Yaroq Books

An imprint of Green Lion Press

Books for the study of source texts of the Hebrew tradition.