Resource Room

For Steve Kobrin's Jewish Meditation Class

“Meditation, Judaism, and Self-Mastery”
Let’s reclaim our spiritual heritage!


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Question from a student:

I was planning on trying to do tonight’s meditation standing but decided against it since I often go deep enough that I may lose my balance or be taken away from the meditative state by focusing on staying balanced. Your thoughts on that?


Relating to God through the Amidah
Rabbi Kaplan – “Jewish Meditation” pp 107 – 111
The first Blessing: I-Thou relationship, p. 107.
The First three words:
Barukh, pp 107 – 108
God is the blessing

Attah, p 108
He hears us

Adonoy, pp 108 – 109
Dealing with the paradox

Being vs principle, pp 109 – 111

More on being vs principle- ref Martin Buber (Wiki)

Who was Martin Buber?

Martin (Hebrew name: מָרְדֳּכַי, Mordechai) Buber was born in Vienna to an Orthodox Jewish family. Buber was a direct descendant of the 16th-century rabbi Meir Katzenellenbogen, known as the Maharam (מהר”מ), the Hebrew acronym for “Our Teacher, the Rabbi, Rabbi Meir”, of Padua. Karl Marx is another notable relative.[5] After the divorce of his parents when he was three years old, he was raised by his grandfather in Lvov.[5] His grandfather, Solomon Buber, was a scholar of Midrash and Rabbinic Literature. At home, Buber spoke Yiddish and German. In 1892, Buber returned to his father’s house in Lemberg, today’s Lviv, Ukraine.
Despite Buber’s putative connection to the Davidic line as a descendant of Katzenellenbogen, a personal religious crisis led him to break with Jewish religious customs. He began reading Immanuel Kant, Søren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche.[6] The latter two, in particular, inspired him to pursue studies in philosophy. In 1896, Buber went to study in Vienna (philosophy, art history, German studies, philology).
In 1898, he joined the Zionist movement, participating in congresses and organizational work. In 1899, while studying in Zürich, Buber met his future wife, Paula Winkler, a “brilliant Catholic writer from a Bavarian peasant family”[7] who in 1901 left the Catholic Church and in 1907 converted to Judaism.[8]
Buber, initially, supported and celebrated the Great War as a ‘world historical mission’ for Germany along with Jewish intellectuals to civilize the Near East.[9] Some researchers believe that while in Vienna during and after World War I, he was influenced by the writings of Jacob L. Moreno, particularly the use of the term ‘encounter’.[10][11]
In 1930, Buber became an honorary professor at the University of Frankfurt am Main, but resigned from his professorship in protest immediately after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. He then founded the Central Office for Jewish Adult Education, which became an increasingly important body as the German government forbade Jews from public education. In 1938, Buber left Germany and settled in Jerusalem, Mandate Palestine, receiving a professorship at Hebrew University and lecturing in anthropology and introductory sociology. After the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, Buber became the best known Israeli philosopher.
Buber’s wife Paula died in 1958, and he died at his home in the Talbiya neighborhood of Jerusalem on June 13, 1965. They had two children: a son, Rafael Buber, and a daughter, Eva Strauss-Steinitz.
Scholar of Hasidism
Buber was a scholar, interpreter, and translator of Hasidic lore. He viewed Hasidism as a source of cultural renewal for Judaism, frequently citing examples from the Hasidic tradition that emphasized community, interpersonal life, and meaning in common activities (e. g., a worker’s relation to his tools). The Hasidic ideal, according to Buber, emphasized a life lived in the unconditional presence of God, where there was no distinct separation between daily habits and religious experience. This was a major influence on Buber’s philosophy of anthropology, which considered the basis of human existence as dialogical.
In 1906, Buber published Die Geschichten des Rabbi Nachman, a collection of the tales of the Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, a renowned Hasidic rebbe, as interpreted and retold in a Neo-Hasidicfashion by Buber. Two years later, Buber published Die Legende des Baalschem (stories of the Baal Shem Tov), the founder of Hasidism.[21]
Famous for book “I and Thou”
Buber is famous for his thesis of dialogical existence, as he described in the book I and Thou.[3] However, his work dealt with a range of issues including religious consciousness, modernity, the concept of evil, ethics, education, and Biblical hermeneutics.[29]
Buber rejected the label of “philosopher” or “theologian”, claiming he was not interested in ideas, only personal experience, and could not discuss God, but only relationships to God.[30]
In I and Thou,[3] Buber introduced his thesis on human existence. Inspired by Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity and Kierkegaard’s Single One, Buber worked upon the premise of existence as encounter.[33] He explained this philosophy using the word pairs of Ich-Du and Ich-Es to categorize the modes of consciousness, interaction, and being through which an individual engages with other individuals, inanimate objects, and all reality in general….[34] Philosophically, these word pairs express complex ideas about modes of being—particularly how a person exists and actualizes that existence. As Buber argues in I and Thou, a person is at all times engaged with the world in one of these modes.

Ich-Du (I – Thou, You)
Ich‑Du (“I‑Thou” or “I‑You”) is a relationship that stresses the mutual, holistic existence of two beings. It is a concrete encounter, because these beings meet one another in their authentic existence, without any qualification or objectification of one another. Even imagination and ideas do not play a role in this relation. In an I–Thou encounter, infinity and universality are made actual (rather than being merely concepts).[35] Buber stressed that an Ich‑Du relationship lacks any composition (e. g., structure) and communicates no content (e. g., information). Despite the fact that Ich‑Ducannot be proven to happen as an event (e. g., it cannot be measured), Buber stressed that it is real and perceivable. A variety of examples are used to illustrate Ich‑Du relationships in daily life—two lovers, an observer and a cat, the author and a tree, and two strangers on a train. Common English words used to describe the Ich‑Du relationship include encounter, meeting, dialogue, mutuality, and exchange.
One key Ich‑Du relationship Buber identified was that which can exist between a human being and God. Buber argued that this is the only way in which it is possible to interact with God, and that an Ich‑Du relationship with anything or anyone connects in some way with the eternal relation to God.
To create this I–Thou relationship with God, a person has to be open to the idea of such a relationship, but not actively pursue it. The pursuit of such a relation creates qualities associated with It‑ness, and so would prevent an I‑You relation, limiting it to I‑It. Buber claims that if we are open to the I–Thou, God eventually comes to us in response to our welcome. Also, because the God Buber describes is completely devoid of qualities, this I–Thou relationship lasts as long as the individual wills it. When the individual finally returns to the I‑It way of relating, this acts as a barrier to deeper relationship and community.

Ich-Es (I – It)
The Ich-Es (“I‑It”) relationship is nearly the opposite of Ich‑Du.[35] Whereas in Ich‑Du the two beings encounter one another, in an Ich‑Es relationship the beings do not actually meet. Instead, the “I” confronts and qualifies an idea, or conceptualization, of the being in its presence and treats that being as an object. All such objects are considered merely mental representations, created and sustained by the individual mind. This is based partly on Kant’s theory of phenomenon, in that these objects reside in the cognitive agent’s mind, existing only as thoughts. Therefore, the Ich‑Es relationship is in fact a relationship with oneself; it is not a dialogue, but a monologue.
In the Ich-Es relationship, an individual treats other things, people, etc., as objects to be used and experienced. Essentially, this form of objectivity relates to the world in terms of the self – how an object can serve the individual’s interest.
Buber argued that human life consists of an oscillation between Ich‑Du and Ich‑Es, and that in fact Ich‑Du experiences are rather few and far between. In diagnosing the various perceived ills of modernity (e. g., isolation, dehumanization, etc.), Buber believed that the expansion of a purely analytic, material view of existence was at heart an advocation of Ich‑Es relations – even between human beings. Buber argued that this paradigm devalued not only existents, but the meaning of all existence.
Who is the Maharam? (ref Wiki)
Meir ben Isaac Katzenellenbogen (c. 1482 – 12 January 1565) (also, Meir of Padua, or Maharam Padua, Hebrew: מאיר בן יצחק קצנלנבויגן) was a German rabbi born in Katzenelnbogen.
Meïr ben Isaac, who was often called after his native town, was the founder of the Katzenellenbogen family. After studying at Prague under the well-known casuist Jacob Pollak, he went to Padua and entered the yeshiva of Judah Minz, whose granddaughter, Hannah, he afterwards married. He succeeded his father-in-law, Abraham Minz, in the chief rabbinate of Padua, which office he held until his death on 12 January 1565 (epitaph below). He was the father of Samuel Judah Katzenellenbogen.
Meïr was also nominal rabbi of Venice, where he went several times a year,[1] but he had his fixed residence at Padua. Meïr was considered by his contemporaries a great authority on Talmudicand rabbinical matters, and many rabbis consulted him, among them: Moses Alashkar, Obadiah Sforno, and his relative Moses Isserles (who addressed him as “rabbi of Venice”). It may be seen from his responsa (ninety in number, published by himself, with those of Judah Minz, under the title of She’elot u-Teshubot, Venice, 1553), as well as from those of Isserles, that he was disposed to be liberal in his decisions. Another indication of his leaning toward liberalism was his use in his responsa (Nos. 38, 49, 72) of the civil names of the months, a thing not done by other rabbis of his time.
In Responsum No. 86 he speaks of the plague that raged at Venice, but without indicating the year. Many of his responsa are to be found in the collection of Isserles. Meïr added to the edition of his responsa his father-in-law’s Seder Giṭṭin wa-Ḥaliẓah, and a detailed index. He edited also Maimonides’ Yad, with some commentaries, to which he added notes of his own (Venice, 1550; see Isserles).

=====How to connect with the intangible?

Rabbi Kaplan – “Immortality and the Soul,” in “Anthology Vol I,” pp 215 – 216

God Himself as the greatest Gift of Good

Steve Siebold, “177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class”

The world class connects to the source through gratitude, p 37

A world-class attitude leads to world-class happiness, pp 127 – 128

Attitude development as meditation

Question from a student:

I was planning on trying to do tonight’s meditation standing but decided against it since I often go deep enough that I may lose my balance or be taken away from the meditative state by focusing on staying balanced. Your thoughts on that?

My answer:

Standing meditation, and standing while meditating, are two different activities.

Sitting requires balance.
Sitting is best for going deep.
Going deep while standing requires advanced physical training.
Standing meditation can help provide that.