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Embodied Ecstatic Prayer and the Power of Community

Date: Sunday, Aug. 8 | 11:00 AM–12:30 PM EDT

Rabbi Kalonymos Kalmish Shapiro (1889-1943), known as the Piaseczner Rebbe, was a twentieth-century hasidic master in Poland. Famed as a pedagogue, educational theorist, and founder of a yeshiva, his teachings are masterful hasidic discourses, displaying compositional excellence, sublime spirituality, and powerful, often radical, theological insight. His writings from the period of the Holocaust show how it is possible to maintain a deep faith in the midst of profound darkness and despair. Our focus in this seminar will be a discourse from an earlier period (1929), on Parashat Noah (Genesis 6.9-11.32), on the theme of “Embodied Ecstatic Prayer and the Power of Community.” Rabbi Shapiro explores how ecstatic prayer is encounter with the Infinite, an encounter that leads to humility, at once uplifting and transformative. Ecstasy is brought into the body, which becomes a resonant receptacle of spiritual power. In a communal setting, inspiration is collective, arising from awareness of each individual’s unique mode of expression and embodiment. We influence others by the way we channel the ennobling divine resonance and share it in blessed ways. In prayer, our bodies are “Noah’s Ark,” conveying life-saving spiritual energy.

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