- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On November 3, 2017
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we make our way toward Shabbat.
I have spent many hours in the past days looking down at the ground. I, along with a couple hundred other bike riders, including four TI folks*, are making our way from Jerusalem to Eilat. We are raising money for two environmental organizations, the Arava Institute in Israel and Hazon in the states. I am traveling many miles with a great deal of time to pay attention to what is beneath me. And being in Israel always makes me think of the ancients who also walked this land.
This week’s Torah portion begins with Abraham sitting at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. The rabbis who commented on this scene noted that Abraham kept his tent open from all four sides, so that he would be ready to greet any wanderer or guest who walked near it.
Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground. (Genesis 18:2)
Abraham’s welcoming response serves as one of the primary examples in Jewish texts regarding kindness to strangers. In addition, I see something else going on.
This will be one of the many moments in his life when Abraham looked up to discover a new path. It happened here. It happened when he stood before the mountain where God would instruct him to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. It occurred when he lifted his gaze to find a ram caught in the thicket that would serve as Isaac’s replacement for the instructed sacrifice.
But where was Abraham looking in these instances? Could it have been the ground? It certainly had sacred significance to him. He greeted these strangers bowing to the ground. He showed homage to them while showing honor to what lay beneath his feet.
Much of religious and spiritual life is founded on the ability to notice the sacred in all things. Not just what is above us, but also around, and below us. Perhaps lifting our gaze is not so much about directing our attention in an upward direction rather by having intention for whatever we may see around us, and therefore take notice with reverence as if what we see has holiness in it.
Take this Shabbat as a practice for noticing, paying attention by lifting your gaze. It is as sacred as Abraham who made sure that his tent was open from all four sides. He did not want to miss the opportunity to notice these strangers who by the way turned out to be on a holy mission that would change his and Sarah’s life forever.
Shabbat Shalom from Israel.
Join the community tonight for Qabbalat Shabbat at 6:00 p.m. Live stream HERE. Come join a lively Torah discussion at 9:00 a.m., which begins with a short service.
Connect directly with me HERE with your reflections and comments!
* David & Rhoda Trietsch, Roger Krakoff and Sara Sclaroff