Reb Zalman

I met Zalman more than 30 years ago. We have been friends ever since that first meeting. Deep friends. Sharing with each other our most profound insights, and our equally profound laughter.

Of all the people I’ve known who have had a positive influence on religion – any religion – Reb Zalman has been one of very few who has been a voice for playfulness as much as a voice for spirituality. With Zalman, there really is no difference. His playfulness has helped thousands of people to reclaim their spirituality, renew their connection with religion, and redefine both. He has gone far beyond Judaism, making connections between spiritual disciplines of every religion he can touch. And his touch is as light as it is enlightening. He brings love and laughter to all those who hear him. When he leads people in prayer, he also leads them in dance and song and an ever-deepening joy.

It is not an easy path he has chosen for himself. Zalman is widely known as a champion of silliness. Religious people tend to take things very seriously. So, for many, he is seen as a threat. Virtually unsupported by the establishment, he has found his own support. His laughter draws followers. His faith sustains them. His playfulness heals them. Instead of denying the forces that have denied him, he affirms those very traditions, and goes at least one step further. He embraces the best in all traditions, he celebrates the deep fun of each, and the deeper delight that exists between them.
Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Defender of the Playful.

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