NHBZ to honor founder of modern Kabbalah

For the third year, Nusach Hari B’nai Zion has announced a series of weekend events beginning on Aug. 8 to commemorate the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Isaac Luria, the founder of modern kabbalistic thought. Dubbed “The Holy Ari” (for the Ashkenazi Rabbi Isaac), Rabbi Luria was known as a deep mystic who taught his disciples the intricacies of the Kabbalah and spirituality.

“You don’t have to go any further than our name to see the connection between The Ari and our synagogue,” noted Rabbi Ze’ev Smason, spiritual head of Nusach Hari. As Rabbi Smason explained, “a Nusach refers to the traditional order and form of the prayers. Nusach Hari’s name is derived from the desire to pray “in the spirit of Ari.” It is understood that The Ari developed his “Nusach” through his respect for all strains of tradition and customs in Judaism.

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The Ari developed this liturgy to take into account the spiritual needs of those who, over time, had lost their true spiritual roots. Today, the nusach developed by The Ari is the preferred order and form of prayer amongst kabbalists all over the world. Nusach Hari recently recommitted to this style by switching to the new Nusach H’ari prayer books in order to reconfirm its continued respect for Jews of all traditions, customs and levels of observance.

One popular innovation of The Ari was to “welcome in” the Sabbath on Friday night by leading his disciples out to the fields near Tsfat, Israel at the onset of the Sabbath. It was one of his disciples that wrote the very popular Lecha Dodi, which is sung in synagogues of all denominations all over the world on Friday nights.

In similar fashion, Nusach Hari plans on holding its Friday night services on Aug. 8 outdoors at the “field” that is the site of the synagogue’s new location. That site is located off Price Road just north of Old Bonhomme and Logos School. Friday night services at the “field” begin at 7 p.m. and will end by 8 p.m.

Both members and non-members, men and women, adults and children, are invited.

Shabbos morning, the congregation will daven according to the “Nusach” of the Ari, in the NHBZ sanctuary. A special Kiddush-Lunch, celebrating August birthdays and wedding anniversaries will follow services; Rabbi Levi Landa, of Chabad St. Louis, will speak on “The Spirituality of the ARI.” Mincha services on Shabbos afternoon, Aug. 9, will be after lunch, at approximately 1:15 p.m. The fast begins Saturday evening, at 8:03 p.m. Maariv and Eicha will begin at about 9 p.m.

The weekend commemoration will continue on Saturday afternoon at a Shalosh Seudos, or “third meal,” at 8:10 p.m. at which Rabbi Smason will discuss “The Ari’s Ideas in the Modern World.”

The Saturday events will take place at the synagogue. All events are free and open to the public.