“Shabbat is stealing a day out of life, to live” said Louis Brandeis during a 1915 conference. We should therefore be thieves and steal into Shabbat and pilfer it as was originally meant. Take Shabbat into your heart as the expensive booty from a heist. Don’t fence Shabbat, keep it for yourself and share it with the gang of thieves around you. Roman Poet Horace is credited with first using the term “Carpe Diem” interpreted as “Seize the Day.” Here, we encourage “Carpe Shabbat,” seize it for all it is worth!
Let the world hear you offer the warm greeting “Shabbat Shalom.” In his effort to define the word “Shalom,” Jerry Herman’s song from the Broadway show “Milk and Honey” offered the meaning: “twice as much as Hello… like Peace be Yours, Welcome Home…and… say Goodbye with Shalom.” The accompanying memorable melody conveys the sincere sentiment of the greeter stating this time-controlled phrase to those along the way. When uttering Shabbat Shalom to someone, you are both wishing peace on Shabbat as well as the peace that Shabbat itself brings to you.
Shabbat commemorates the day that G-D rested from His work of creating the world. This is a conundrum in that we believe G-D is omnipotent and not in need of space, transport, nor rest. G-D is an unexplainable force that permeates the world and all that is within. However, Shabbat is simply defined as “He rested,” though elevated in the Hertz Chumash (Exodus 34:21) guidance, “…on the seventh day thou shalt rest.”
Jewish Law considers Shabbat as the Holiest day(s) of the year. This is founded, in part, because it is the first Holy Day mentioned in the Bible. Further amplified by Rabbi Hertz’ explanatory statement that G-D was the first to observe it at the cessation of Creation (Genesis 2:1-3), “…and He rested on the seventh day… and G-D blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because in it He rested from all His work…”
The advent of Shabbat causes one’s spirit (and spirits) to become the sweetest moments of the week. Return home from work, play, school, or wherever. Open your door and self to a refreshed attitude. Intone a few blessings at the beginning of the Friday evening meal and foods just taste better than when offered on any other weekday. Candles are lit to a beautiful glow which continues to grow in personal illumination as Shabbat is welcomed into one’s home. The first beverage to touch lips is sacramental wine and the first morsel of food is the challah. And Shabbat has entered your home, heart, and mind. Memories mingle with the aromas and tastes. Who sang the sweetest “Boray pre hagafin” or what made Bubby’s chicken so delicious, cross our minds.
Leave the news of the dual upheavals behind. Headlines and talking heads will continue to report on the Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus) and protests and disturbances predicated on the death of George Floyd. But, in some way every person makes an imprint on the universe. As a summery beach’s grains of sand or winter’s snowflakes we are nothing as individuals, but when together we are harnessed to stand against waves such as an incipient disease and/or insincere looters masquerading as caring supporters of a cause celebre.
The Shabbat table with its ritualistic layout of ceremonial implements and foods will for 24-hours light the world. Sincere conversation where we talk and explain so as to both hear and listen to the human experience in life as well as the most sacred beliefs found inside us. The discussion leads toward answering the questions of who we are and what is our innermost makeup. Yes, Shabbat is therapy for the soul.
Okay, Shabbat therapy may not pay the bills but it can slow our technological world down so we can again connect with G-D. Former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, has said that “whatever Jews have gone through or are dealing with today, Shabbat is a reminder that … there is a need to disconnect from the world, reintegrate with family, be part of a community, and connect to G-D. It was this innate understanding of the centrality of Shabbat to Judaism – though seemingly simple this is brilliantly radical.”
So, we say Misha Berach for the World in which we live and wish Refuah Schlema to those in need. But, do not forget to say Amen because this oft repeated word means so be it. May our prayers be heard on High and share the peace of Shabbat with all inhabitants of this terrestrial globe. Then, listen closely to hear G-D say “so be it.” Amen.