First though I offer some current & historical context in my ancestral line; yes the latter is historical, not herstorical. Perhaps next year, I can dig that up for you.
During this month in the Hebrew calendar called Kislev, which can translate loosely as the pocket of the heart, is a dark time and for many of us on the planet it feels particularly difficult this year. It occurred to me today that many of our light laden experiences, interactions, relationships have pockets of dark in them. These spaces require careful attention, meditation, and reverence for herein may be portals to mend the broken vessel of our creation story; i.e. heal the footprint of our birth.
Today is a noteworthy day in the Chassidic world as it marks when the Maggid of Mezritch left the world and said to his disciple, Rabbi Schneur Zalman: “This day is our yom tov (festival).” (according to Chabad, Vt) It was also on this date 26 years later, in the year 1798, that the founder of Chabad Chassidism, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745–1812), was freed from his imprisonment in czarist Russia. What happened was that the Chassidic movement’s founder Rabbi Baal Shem Tov (1698–1760), revealed to his disciples treasures from the mystical soul of Torah which had previously been the domain of select Kabbalists in each generation. Rabbi Shneur Zalman brought these teaching to a much broader Jewish population in Eastern Europe and founded the ‘Chabad’ approach involving study, meditation, and character refinement that helped ground abstract concepts into practical daily applications. There was much opposition to the popularizing of previously hidden Torah teachings. In the fall of 1798 Rabbi Shneur Zalman was arrested on charges that his teachings and activities threatened the czar’s imperial authority. He was imprisoned on an island fortress in Neva River in Petersburg. After 53 days, including an interrogation where he presented the tenets of Judaism and Chassidic philosophy and thought, he was exonerated of charges and released. He saw these events reflecting what was occurring above and once liberated redoubled his efforts to disseminate his teachings on a broader scale with a more ‘down to earth’ explanation. The 19th of Kislev is thus seen as the ‘birth’ of Chassidism; when Chassidic teachings emerged from the womb of ‘mysticism’ to grow and guide Torah aligned daily living.
Oh H-shem, Shekhinah, Tzimtzemai, El Shaddai,
She who makes space, with who we struggle to know, to who we listen:
Are you tending to those unjustly behind bars like Red Fawn of Standing Rock,
Leonard Peltier of the AIM, Mumia Abu-Jamal of the Black Panther party?
Where are you present in the cells of so many African American men waiting for a fair trial; where are you in the sidewalks where so much innocent blood has been shed?
How is it that you ask for praise when you allow the economy of slavery to continue in corporatized mass incarceration where freedom for all is not granted?
Oh Prophetess Miriam, tender of the well that sustained our people in the desert,
Can you guide us please in how we can protect our imma adama’s mayim, water
From those who have gone astray, insisting on continuing to extract our plant ancestors’ bones while disregarding original people’s burial grounds & promises?
How is that we can sing, dance, and transform earth’s polluted waters when our very structures, presence, and systems are based on colonial genocide of millions of people?
Ah Prophet Elijah who ushers out our holy rest day and in our work week, as you bridge the now with messianic times, tending the shield of David bridging the upper worlds of Atzilut and Beriyah with the lower of Yetzirah and Asiyah can you help us to
Navigate through this modern conundrum of participating in exploitation paradigms just to perform simple mitzvahs, thereby catalyzing the 6th Great Extinction?
Oh Moses, when you struck the rock, what precedent was set instead of listening and speaking to the rock? How can this trail of violence on the earth committed by humans
Be rewired as anthro domination has continued exponentially throughout the earth?
You were not allowed into the promised land supposedly because of this irreverent act and therefore I ask you how can we repair this precedent so all can reach home free?
As we approach a festival commemorating a resanctification of a defiled place, can we
Purify the fragmented parts of our inner sanctuaries and the outer spaces we tend?
How is it that who we once worshipped via Asherah the Living Tree of Life, can allow dangerous beings so much power and old patterns of ignorance to resurface?
Oh Kabbalists who guide us towards equanimity involving total indifference to outside good and bad influences; believing that from this place of stoicism spiritual radiance emerges: how is it that this can be? Are we not required to protest, to redirect, as Cocreators we can urge you to reconsider the decrees set forth which reek of evil.
Oh Elotainu please hear our please; notice our collective projects in justice reclamation, support our earth guardians, open the hearts of those closed.
As we kindle light soon in humble awareness of our sukkah fragility, we offer gratitude for all we have, we praise the beauty of your creation, and we beg you for a miracle because we need your help to open & link up peace portals throughout the earth community.
 Rabbi Dov Ber passed away on Kislev 19. He was the successor of the Baal Shem Tov.
 Known as the “Rosh Hashanah” of Chassidism.
 According to Chabad, VT. http://www.chabadvt.org/library/article_cdo/aid/335659