The Mysterious Shaman
Once the Rebbe was sitting in his office when he heard a knock on the door.
He called out, "Come in."
In walked a man about 50 years old who asked if he could tell the Rebbe "his story."
The Rebbe was always wanting to hear a good story and so invited the man to sit down. He called for the Rebbetin to please
bring them some glasses of mint tea. That done, he asked the man to proceed with his story.
The man began, "Back about 1991 or so, I received a phone call from a friend of mine who lived in Blanding, Utah.
He informed me that he was dying and that he would like to have one last chance to win me back to the Mormon fold. I was once
a very active Mormon, served a mission, and held the priesthood "rank" of a Seventy when I informed the Latter-day
Saints Church that I was going to convert to Judaism, which I did April 17, 1977.
Needless to say, since this fellow had been a friend for about thirty years, and I was taught to respect a deathbed wish,
I loaded my family in the car and we drove from Boise, Idaho to Blanding, Utah. We were up very early for family prayers,
a custom in many Mormon homes, and soon after breakfast my friend and I began our dialogue-debate-argument-disputation, which
lasted with breaks for his medications and visits by doctors and nurses, until dinner time.
Pretty soon I had had enough of all the dialogue, references to personal miracles, visions of angels, and testimonies
of long dead ancestors, and I let the whole room know that I was going up to the cafe and drink myself several wonderful cups
of strong coffee. And thus I got up and left.
I went to the cafe, drank some coffee, and started reading the Ma'ariv (evening) prayers from my Spanish-Portuguese Prayer
Book, when I heard a voice over my shoulder say,
"I know that this page is written in English, but what language is that on the other page?"
Oh boy, Here we go again, I thought, another damned missionary. My hackles were up now and I was prepared for a no-holds
barred argument as to just exactly why it was that the Mormon concepts of many things they believed were not in accordance
with the Hebrew Scriptures. So I says,
"It is Hebrew."
The obviously Indian fellow then asks me, "Are you a Jew?"
I reply, "YES!" He then blows me away with his next words.
He asks "How would you like to help me bring up the sun in the morning?"
Now I've been asked to help with lots of things before, both legal and illegal, but this was the first time that I had
ever been asked to help bring up the sun. "You bet!," I replied, "what do I have to do?"
So he asked me if I had any ritual items that I use to pray with. My tallit (prayer shawl) and tephillin (phylacteries)
were back at the house in my car, so he asked me to go get them, which I did.
We drove a couple of hours down into Arizona, with me jabbering like a jay bird all the while, telling him of my experience
at my Mormon friends house, and in turn, he told me of his experiences with Episcopalian missionaries, schools, and with Mormon
missionaries and programs designed to make over Indians into "pseudo-White men". Pretty soon, he stopped his pickup,
which he had been driving down a real bumpy road. I couldn't see anything but shadows near the road, it was so dark. You could
see sagebrush and Juniper whenever a curve came up.
He took a flashlight from under the seat, and asked me to follow him. I did. I had to hurry as he was moving right along.
I kept tripping over things in the dark, but somehow, he and I ended up in the same place.
We were standing before a hole in the earth that had a ladder sticking out the top. Even before I could ask if we were going
down it, he was headed down into the darkness. Somehow I summoned up the courage to follow him.
NOW, thoughts came to me that maybe this stranger was a thief and murderer who would kill me, and since no one knew where
I was, including me, my body would never be found. Maybe I'd gone from bad to worse! Oy! Oy! Oy!
As soon as I got to the bottom of the ladder, I noticed that, because of the light from the flashlight, I could see that
we were in some sort of round room with mud or dirt walls. My "friend" was gathering smallish stones from various
places around the room, which he formed into a circle. He filled the inner space with small twigs and sticks, which were also
scattered around the room. He then lit the fire and taking something from a pouch that he was wearing on a thing around his
neck, he sprinkled it on the fire. A pleasant aroma came from whatever it was that he took from the pouch.
He then looked at me and asked if I was ready to do my praying.
I asked, "What do you want me to do?"
He said "You're a Jew, aren't you? Do whatever it is that you Jews do when you pray to bring in the morning."
So I took out my Siddur and set it near the fire where I could see the words (I was still far from having the prayers
committed to memory as yet), I took out my tallit that had been given to me by Rabbi Solomon Maimon, a direct descendent of
the Rambam (Maimonides), said the blessing, and put it on. I then took my tephillin, unwrapped them, put the one on my right
arm, saying the blessings, then the other between my eyes on the forehead, finally the signing of the "dalet" (as
is the Sephardi custom) in the palm of my hand, with the last of the strap.
My companion had taken out an eagle's wing, and a small rattle. He also produced a small drum that he proceeded to beat
while he chanted his monotonous melody. Aye, yai, yai, yai. Aye, yai yai, yai. Over and over again.
SO, looking into my Siddur, I began "Mah tobu ohalechah Yaakob, mishkanotechah Yisrael" according to the melodies
of the Boise Jewish community. However, before I got very far, I got caught up in the chanting of my Indian friend... "Sheh...
MAH...Yis... Ra... El, ADO... nai... EL... O...h ay... nu, ... ADO... nai, ... Ech ...ADD!!!" (to the same tune as was
being chanted by my shaman friend).
After a while, when I realized that I was about to finish the prayers, I wondered what I would do then. Then it came,
those final words, "B'yom hahu yihyeh Adonai echad u'shmo echad! (In that day shall God be one and God's Name be one)"
I was finished.
And as by a miracle, so was my Indian friend.
AT THAT VERY MOMENT, the sun came up over a place on the far horizon and a shaft of sunlight filled the room we were in
as though someone had thrown a bomb of sunlight into the room. I was suitably impressed. It was one of the three most spiritual
times in my life. ( The other two were when my first wife and our children had been sealed in the Idaho Falls Temple, and
then when I went to the Portland Mikvah for my Jewish conversion.)
I looked around to see if my friend was also impressed and was surprised to see that he had put out the fire, scattered
the ashes, and was moving the stones into their spots in the corners of the room, after which he wiped away any trace of our
having been there. He would be back to do this again, come morning. It was his job."
The man sat back in his chair and took a few sips from his tea, and waited for the Rebbe's response.
After a bit, when it appeared that the Rebbe was not going to say anything, he said, "Tell me Rebbe, what do you
make of this experience? This Indian medicine man taught me more about accepting other people and their traditions, and about
devotion to a tradition and Path than anyone else who I have ever met before him."
"Well," said the Rebbe, "I have prayed AS A JEW in Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, and Seventh Day Adventist
Churches. I have also prayed AS A JEW in a Moslem mosque and with the Bahai; at Metaphysical Churches and Gay-Lesbian religious
I am fully confident that one need not feel threatened by other people's methods of achieving connection with the Divine.
One can follow their own Heart-Path while helping others form a prayer community.
As the Prophet Micah said in chapter 4, verses 1 - 5 of his book, about his HOPE of a future time when there would no
longer be a world that accepted war, hunger, displacement, ignorance, etc. as options for just action, for in that Messianic,
Shekhina filled Age, 'All the people will walk each in the Names of its Gods, and we will walk in the Name of Yod, Heh, Vav,
Heh our God forever and ever.' So what will be the difference between then and now? It must be only that we will all, every
one of us, come to realize that despite all these names that humankind has for it's gods, We all actually worship The One
God. And we can only truely worship the One God when we treat each other with love, compassion and justice. After all, words
do not mean anything unless accompanied by justice in action, for there is only God, nothing else. All is God"
With that the Rebbe made a motion that signaled that he was about to give the man his Rebbe's Blessing.
He moved over to the chair the man was sitting in and put both hands on the man's head.
Then he sang, "Yivarekhe'kha YAH yishmarekhe'kha; Ya'air YAH panav elekha vichunekha; Yisa YAH panav elekha, v'yaseym
lekha SHALOM-bizkeh hozjho- Peace-balance-beauty.
I bless you that you are always open to accepting that every person you meet is filled with God. May you always be watched
over and guided as you journey through this world. May you only see God's Shikhinah Presence when you look into the eyes of
any person, including yourself in the mirror. And, may you be totally centered, balanced in your way of being in the world.
With this I bless you. Ameyn."
With that, he dismissed the man and each went their seperate ways.
THE RABBI WAS A KLANSMAN
Once upon a time, it happened that the EcoRebbe was attending a Kallah for Rabbis.
During a lunch break in between the sessions, he sought a shady place to eat his box lunch. He spotted a tree under which
sat several people eating their lunches. He decided to join them.
As he arrived at the tree, he realized that there was a person sitting there who he did not know, so he introduced himself.
One of the other Rabbis sitting there spoke up and said; "Rebbe, this is Rav Lachish from Idaho. He has an interesting
story to tell. Maybe he will tell it to you."
So, the Rebbe sat down and opening his lunch, said; "So, nu, what is this 'interesting story' you have to tell, Rabbi?"
Rabbi Lachish smiled a bit sheepishly and responded; "In this morning's session, in the class that I was attending,
the teacher asked those of us who were not born Jewish to please share with the class our reasons for coming to Judaism. When
my turn came, I told my story."
"You see, I was born to a West Virginia-Kentucky family that had a long tradition of racial intolerence. My ancestors
were Bushwackers and Confederate soldiers during the War Between the States. After the War, they returned to their homes and
suffered through the Reconstruction days of imposed non-citizenship status for all who had bore weapons against the Union,
while the blacks who had previously been slaves, were given all the privilages previously enjoyed only by the white politicians.
As the blacks had not been prepared for such roles of responsibility, they often went to excesses when opportunity arose.
This created quite an anomosity among the white men who could not even vote nor carry a weapon legally.
A group of these men, former members of General Nathan Bedford Forrest's Cavalry, decided to do something about this perceived
injustice against white men. They came together and formed the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, based upon the ancient Scottish
secret warrior society that fought against the English when they felt that acts of injustice (real or perceived) were being
committed against the Scottish people.
These former soldiers of the Confederacy began to terrorize the black freedmen, killing some by shooting them or lynching
them. They rode at night wearing robes and hoods made from white bed sheets so as to resemble ghosts. This would further frighten
the black ex-slaves, who were quite superstitious.
Eventually, the U. S. Army succeeded in putting down the Klans in the South. However, the legacy of the Klan continued to
be passed down through the generations. My great-granddaddy was a Klansman; my granddaddy was a Klansman; my daddy was a Klansman;
and in the mid-60's I became a Klansman.
I was living in Portland, Oregon at the time. I had recently gotten out of the Navy and the Civil Rights Movement was
in full swing. I contacted my cousin in West Virginia who gave me the address of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
in Georgia at Stone Mountain. My cousin also sent me my granddaddy's Klan robes from the 20's.
I contacted the head of the Klan in Portland, who was a lawyer and a Presbyterian deacon. He had me come visit him at
his home. Later on, he inducted me into the Klan with me wearing my granddaddy's robes.
As the Klan was not openly operating in Oregon except to show a presence during Civil rights demonstrations and marches,
the Klan operated behind the front organization "The National Party of America," which held regular monthly meetings.
At these meetings, the leaders would show films, feature speakers, and presentations showing why and how communism was
taking over America under the direction of the Zionist Jews and using the black Civil Rights Movement as its excuse.
Although my family was racist and oppossed to all rights for blacks, we had not heard anti-Semitism before. This was a
new twist for us. The only Jews we knew were those in the Bible (Old & New Testaments).
After listening to this anti-Semitism for a couple of years, and regularly being involved in protesting the rights of
blacks, including getting myself arrested and even beaten up a couple of times, I began to question the motives of the Klan's
propaganda and its accuracy.
My Church's religious leaders also spoke to me about my ultra-right wing view points and whether they represented positions
that were consistant with the positions of my Church and it's understanding of the scriptures.
Under the direction of my religious leaders, I began to study the scriptures and the history of the Jews in relation to Christianity.
I also began to take Hebrew lessons to better understand the "Old Testament" scriptures. I read the books in the
"Judaism" section of the local library.
I made contact with Jewish religious leaders and asked them questions about what Judaism taught about this or that position
and made comparisons between what the Jewish leaders told me and what the Klan leaders told me. Most of all, I checked the
sources that were given to see if what I was being told was accurate. I began to notice great discrepencies between what the
Klan said that Jews believed and practiced and what the Jewish sources said that they believed and practiced.
I decided to attend a Jewish service to see for myself how Jews worshipped God. Therefore, I looked in the phonebook for
the nearest Jewish synagogue, which was the Sephardic Orthodox synagogue. The next Friday night I attended the Welcoming of
the Sabbath service. On Saturday morning, I returned for the Sabbath Day Torah service.
The next week I attended the Conservative synagogue for Friday night and Sabbath Day services, and the next week I went
to the Reform services.
Eventually, I began to take Talmud-Torah classes at the Sephardic Orthodox synagogue, where I was the only non-Jew present.
The other people present made me feel welcome and I soon became actively involved in the religious discussions. My book readings
had helped me to understand which subjects were sensitive to Jewish ears and so I actually spent most of my time just listening
to the discussions.
I began to realize that there was a wide gap between what I had been told that Jews believed and what Jews actually did
believe, AND what range of beliefs that Jews were permitted to believe by their religion.
As I became familiar with the inner meanings of Hebrew words, I began to realize that there was a vast gap between the
English translations of the Hebrew Bible and what the Hebrew itself was saying. I also found that the Hebrew allowed for a
greater range of understanding of what a text could mean than did the English translations.
I also found that it was a Christian thing to accept the literal meaning of a text verbaitim, while it was a Jewish thing
to argue with the text, twisting it this way and that way to wring greater meaning from it. In my way of thinking, this meant
that the Christian way of interpreting texts was to see what the text once said, and then to see if it was still applicable
in the "Christian Age," while the Jewish way was to see if the text could still be lived in this day and age as
a living Torah, by giving the text one of the alternate understandings.
As I began to wrestle within myself with these ideas that were so foreign to me, I also began to question every basic
principle that I previously had held as sacrosanct; ESPECIALLY the concept that one race or one religion was dearer to God
I had studied comparative Christian and Jewish texts, customs, people, beliefs and understandings for about five years when
I decided that I now wished to become a Jew!
This decided, I contacted some Rabbi friends of mine only to be told NOT TO CONSIDER CONVERSION! There was no requirement
by God for one to be a Jew unless one had been born a Jew. AND, as I well knew, Jews were capable of being subjected to persecution
only for being Jews and for no other reason. God required that a person be RIGHTEOUS, not that a person be Jewish. "A
righteous pagan was closer to God than was an unrighteous High Priest."
One after another of the Rabbis I knew refused to teach me for conversion because I would not, and could not, require
that my Christian wife also convert and become a Jew. They could not teach for conversion into an intermarriage.
Eventually, I did find a Rabbi who would teach me for conversion, with my wife's permission. He required that I become
fully active in living according to the Jewish religious lifestyle based upon calendar, prayerbook, synagogue attendence and
participation, giving to charity, and study of the sacred texts.
After another five years of living as a non-Jewish practitioner of Judaism, I was adopted fully into the Jewish peoplehood
and tribal religion.
Nine years later, I began to study for the Rabbinate and after several years of study, I became accepted as a Rabbi and
received s'mikah. So there you are, Rebbe, my story in a nutshell."
"WOW!," replied the Rebbe, "Rabbi Lachish, you are a wonder! What a story of hope and transition! Your
story teaches us that if you can change and repent from the path of hatred and bigotry that you once traveled, then others
ought to also be able to change and become tolerent and accepting of others. Your story fills me with a hope for the future
of this planet. Thank you for sharing it with me."
(Story ADAPTED from a true story titled "From Klansman To Landsman" that appeared in the Pumbedisa Magazine.
The Royal Toilet Cleaner
A Tale by Reb Gershon Caudill of El Cerrito, CA
I would like to tell you a story: Once upon a time, King Solomon was instructed by HASHEM to build the Holy Temple. It
was designed by such great artisians that it became known as the 8th Wonder of the world. However, in a short time, it was
brought to King Solomon’s attention that there was a problem with the Holy of Holies, the Kadosh Hakadoshim. "What is
this major problem?" asked the King, of theKohen Hagadol, the Highest Priest.
"The problem, Your Majesty, is that the Holy of Holies gets dusty and cobwebs greet me when I open the Holy Doors on Yom
Kippur, The Day of Atonement." responded the Kohen Gadol. "It is not befitting that the Most Sacred Space on earth should
be so dirty. Besides, I am allergic to dust and it causes me to sneeze."
"So easily fixed" replied Wise King Solomon, "Get one of the Lesser Kohenim, or the Levites, to go in and clean the place
"No way, Your Grace! The Holy Priests and the Holy Lesser Kohenim are afraid to set foot in the place as they just KNOW
that they are not pure enough to do the job. Besides, dusting and cleaning is not a job befitting a Holy Member of The Holy
Priesthood. You must ask GOD to magically keep the place clean," begged the Kohen Gadol.
So King Solomon called in The Holy Shaman-Prophet and presented the Prophet with the dilemma. "Go to HASHEM and ask what
we should do," pleaded King Solomon of the Holy Prophet. So the Holy Prophet went to the Sacred Spot on a cliff overlooking
the city of Jerusalem and presented the problem before HASHEM. Soon, King Solomon was advised that the Holy Prophet was awaiting
to present the King with GOD’s response. "So NU," asked the King, "What did HASHEM say?"
"HASHEM laughed, Your Majesty! HASHEM said that this problem was within your wisdom to solve, and besides the Kohen Gadol
should have used the Urim and Thummim to pick a Priest to do the cleaning, but now it is too late, HASHEM will not accept
a Holy Kohen or Levite to clean the Holy of Holies. You are to find just the right person for the job," stated the Holy Shaman-Prophet.
So King Solomon fretted and fretted, and stewed and stewed, until finally he needed to go to his Royal Toilet. As he approached
his Royal Toilet, he heard a off-key niggun being emitted from the Royal Toilet Throne Room. "Yai, yai, yai, yai, dai, dai,
dai, dai, bum, bum, bum, bum!", came forth the song.
Suddenly the Royal Toilet Cleaner stepped out of the Beyt Hakisse, with his cleaning tools, and
bumped into the King. "Oy! I am SO sorry Your Majesty! I did not realize that you were here", stated the
"Why are you so happy? Why do you sing as you clean the Toilet?"
"Why, Your Majesty, it is such an honor to be given the responsibility to see that you have a clean john to use, that I
cannothelp but feel joy as I clean it. My heart just bubbles over with joy!" said the Royal Cleaner.
"Aha", thought King Solomon, "HASHEM WAS right! The answer lay right under my nose." "You will no longer be the Holy Toilet
Cleaner! You will teach another to clean my Toilet. From now on you are given
s’michah to clean the Holy of Holies in the Holy Temple," dictated King Solomon.
And so it was, The Holy Royal Toilet Cleaner, now The Holy Holy of Holies Cleaner, went into The Holy of Holies each year
before Yom Kippur and dusted and cleaned the Gold Cheribum, The Holy Ark, The Holy Walls, The Holy Floor. He removed the wee
spiders carefully, making sure not to kill even one of them. Then he swept out of The Holy of Holies, all the cobwebs. During
all this could be heard the Sacred Niggun,
"Yai, yai, yai, yai, dai, dai, dai, dai, bum, bum, bum, bum!"
THE REBBE DOES A JEWISH SHAMANIC WEDDING
As the Rebbe pulled his car up to the gate of the "farm" where he was to perform a wedding, he reflected
a moment on what the country had probably looked like prior to the coming of the White settlers two hundred years ago.
The farm was located a two hour drive north from San Francisco just off the scenic highway 101, and so was in the
midst of the Redwood Country's rolling hills and giant trees.
From the gate, the Rebbe could see the little knoll on which the wedding would be performed. It was a clear, grassy
area that looked as if it had often been used for such events. After all, the "farm" specialized in being
a facility for holding sacred events.
The Rebbe was early, as he did not wish to have a group present for what he needed to do. It was his intention to
sanctify the area in which he would later perform the ritual of unifying a loving couple in the covenant of holy
He parked his car, and taking his Walking Stick and Medicine Bag, he proceeded to walk up the pathway towards the
When he arrived on the summit of the knoll, he first looked around to take in the site on which he stood; to get his
bearings and place himself in relation to the rest of the Universe, and to determine where the Four Directions of East, South,
West, and North were.
After he had determined this, he sat on the ground, reached in his bag and pulled out a smaller bag. From this bag
he produced a large prayer-shawl and a small leather box with a loop of leather thong attached to it, which he
lay in front of him. He wrapped himself in the prayer-shawl while he recited a prayer and took a minute to meditate.
Then he produced from the smaller bag another small leather box with a long leather thong attached to it. Again reaching into
his larger bag, the Rebbe pulled out a small Prayer Book. Each leather box had a cardboard cover which the Rebbe now removed
as he slipped his left arm into the loop of the second leather box with the long strap,
which strap the Rebbe wrapped counterclockwise seven times around his bicep and forearm. He wrapped the rest of the thong
around the palm of his hand as he said a prayer.
Now, the Rebbe placed the other box on his forehead above his hairline and affixed the loop around his head so that
the knot was at the nape of his neck.
The Rebbe then unwound the thong around his hand and crossed it to his finger where he wound it three times, then
brought it back to his thumb and around his palm three times. As he was doing this, he recited several prayers.
Thus adorned, the Rebbe now stood up and taking the Walking Stick, he held the end of the stick to his forehead, with
the other end on the ground, as he recited a prayer. He then put the end of the Walking Stick on his chest over his heart
area and recited another prayer of intention.
Now, taking the Walking Stick with both hands and holding the point firmly on the ground, the Rebbe began to draw
a large circle, and as he drew the circle in the dust and grass, he began to sing the chant: "Ana B'koakh -
Gidulat; Y'meenekha Tateer - Tz'rurah, etc..." As he finished chant, the large circle was also completed.
The Rebbe placed the Walking Stick to the side, and reaching into the Medicine Bag he brought forth a bag of corn
meal. Starting in the North of the circle, and pouring a small stream of corn meal on the ground, the Rebbe
began to draw a mandala, using the stream of corn meal as his medium. He drew a counterclockwise spiral that near the
center of the circle became a flame design that became a clockwise spiral to the Southern edge of the circle.
Now, he went to the Northeast of the circle and placed a line that went from the North to the East. From this line
he drew three more lines towards the center of the circle.
He went to the Southwest of the circle and drew a line from the South towards the West, and from this line he drew
four lines towards the center of the circle.
Now, he proceeded to move to the West and drew, with his corn meal, two parallel lines from West towards the center,
with two lines that connected the two.
Moving now to the East, the Rebbe drew a box in the East area of the circle.
The Rebbe now put the remaining corn meal back into the Medicine Bag, and took from the bag a large feather. He then
stepped back into the circle without concern that the designs that he had just drawn were being messed up, and going to the
South area of the circle, he held the feather up and recited the Name of God; YHVH in Hebrew. Then he proceeded to move to
the WEST area where he recited: VHYH. Then he moved to the North, where he recited: HVYH, and then he moved to the East,
where he recited: VYHH; and finally he moved into the center where he held the feather towards the sky and sang out: YVHH,
then touching the ground with the feather, he sings: HYVH.
Then, the Rebbe turned towards the East and sang: "Sh'ma Israel, ADONAI Elohaynu, ADONAI echad!" and stepped
from the circle. He removed the leather thong from his hand. Then removed the box and thong from his head,
wound the thong around the side of the box and put the cardboard box top on the leather box. This he put back into its
pouch. Now he removed the leather strap from his arm, and wrapped the strap around the now covered box and put
it into the pouch, and put the pouch back into the Medicine Bag.
From the Medicine Bag he now produced a large Shofar. He put the shofar up to his lips and gave forth a mighty long
blast. He blew the shofar blast three times.
Below the knoll, a group of people holding in their arms the poles of a Wedding Chuppa began to move towards the top
of the knoll where the Rebbe was. The Rebbe directed them where to set up the Wedding Chuppa within the
Sacred Circle, while the guests of the Wedding began to gather and claim seats in folding chairs set up around the Chuppa
Now the Rebbe again put the Shofar to his lips and blew forth a mighty long blast three more times. From the area
below the knoll the Groom and his parents began to proceed towards the Wedding Chuppa, followed a little later, by the Bride
and her parents.
As the Bride arrived at the Wedding Chuppa, she began to make seven circles around the Groom while the Rebbe sang
a blessing. Then the Groom also circled the Bride seven times while the Rebbe sang a blessing.
And then, as the two faced each other, the Rebbe took up a cup of wine
and began the Wedding chants: "Sabrey maranan! Barukh Atah ADONAI, elohaynu, etc.."
AND THUS IS HOW THE REBBE SANCTIFIED A WEDDING SPACE.
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