The Geologist of the Soul: Talks on Rebbe-craft and Spiritual Leadership

The Geologist of the Soul: Talks on Rebbe-craft and Spiritual Leadership

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Once, when Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi was still a young Hillel director, he took his students to meet the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994). To his embarrassment, one of his students asked the Rebbe, "What is a rebbe good for?" But the Rebbe was not offended and offered this amazing response: “I can’t speak about myself; but I can tell you about my own rebbe. For me, my rebbe was the geologist of the soul. You see, there are so many treasurers in the earth. There is gold, there is silver, and there are diamonds. But if you don’t know where to dig, you’ll only find dirt and rocks and mud. The rebbe can tell you where to dig, and what to dig for, but the digging you must do yourself.” In this amazing series of talks, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement and one of the world's leading authorities on Hasidism, discusses Jewish spiritual leadership from the perspective of the Hasidic Rebbe, applying traditional Hasidic models and teachings to contemporary situations. He covers issues of identity for spiritual leaders, the teacher-student relationship, spiritual guidance and intercessory prayer. Anyone who is deeply involved in Jewish spiritual leadership, or a student of Hasidic models of leadership, will find a wealth of valuable information in these informal talks on the subject.

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More wisdom from Reb Zalman, March 26, 2013
So happy to have this book in our library. I've had the honor of learning with Reb Zalman...I bought it as a gift for my husband who has not yet relinquished it to me. He's reading it, underlining, taking notes. Reb Zalman is a wonderful guide for finding your path and then taking it.

Of Rabbis and Rebbes, January 27, 2013
A rabbi is a trained legal authority in Jewish law who often functions as an external leader for a Jewish community. A rebbe is a rabbi in the Hasidic tradition who, in addition, has a soul connection with his followers and works on the deeper internal needs of that community. This distinction is crucial as it is the soul relationship between a rebbe and a hasid that is important in their relationship.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi is the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement and the Rebbe to many of its supporters. The Geologist of the Soul: Talks on Rebbe-craft and Spiritual Leadership, beautifully edited by Netanel Miles-Yepez, is a collection of seven talks given by Reb Zalman. He discusses the historical role of the rebbe in Hasidic tradition, the idea of soul-clusters, transpersonal sociology, spiritual typologies, spiritual direction, and intercessory prayer. The discussions, some of which are quite technical, are always interesting and illuminated by interesting stories from his past and from the Hasidic tradition.

Many of us may think that great spiritual leaders are born, not made. This book offers a fascinating inside look at how such leaders develop through training. For spiritual leaders interested in becoming better leaders and for the rest of us interested in how rebbes do their work, this book is a gem.