Anticipating Shavuot
This week's portion: head by head

Reb Zalman reads the book of Ruth

The book of Ruth is traditionally studied at Shavuot. (I've blogged about this before: Ruth: Returning where we've never been.)

If you're interested in hearing the story of Ruth told in a unique way, allow me to recommend a set of YouTube videos of my teacher Reb Zalman. There are seven of them in total, adding up to 35 minutes, and you can find them here. Here's part one:

The Book of Ruth told by Reb Zalman - part 1.

This is a recent video, filmed last year; Reb Zalman translates the text on the fly, occasionally chanting a line or two and offering his own interpretations. Though the text is traditional, his rendering is very much his own, and it is lovely.

This was taped at the new home of Elat Chayyim (the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center.) Given that Reb Zalman and many of my friends (seen when the camera pans the room) are wearing tallitot, and that there's a Torah scroll wrapped in front of Reb Zalman in front of the room, I'm guessing this may have been part of the extended Shavuot morning Torah service.

Reb Zalman will again be teaching at Elat Chayyim this Shavuot; would that there were two of me and I could attend! Instead I'll be here, celebrating Shavuot with my own community. Still, hearing him give over this lovely interpretation of the text makes me miss the retreat experience a little less.

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