- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On July 1, 2016
- 0 Comments
Each Friday, I will be sending you a reflection or thought with which to approach Shabbat. Abraham Joshua Heschel, philosopher and theologian, taught us that there is such a concept as a sanctuary in time in which we can enter. Shabbat allows us that space “to turn from the world of creating to the creation of the world.” It calls upon us to consider for that moment our ability to turn inward for the nourishment of our inner life so that we have the strength and fortitude to turn back out to the world to impact it positively.
The purpose of this weekly email, called Shabbat Awakenings, is to stir up awareness of the potential for this day. Shabbat still happens whether or not we recognize the moment. Just as we have a birthday each year, that day could be observed or ignored, but, it is still our birthday. We may celebrate Shabbat differently or not at all. Even so, I believe it is worthwhile to take the opportunity to offer a teaching as we approach the sanctuary in time called Shabbat. We may be scattered throughout locations of our summer activities; nevertheless, we are brought together in our ability to celebrate, note, remember or connect through Shabbat wherever we may be.
A couple of weeks ago, an article in the New York Times talked about a study that demonstrated what happens when the mind is given room from mental clutter. Two neuroscientists demonstrated “that the capacity for original and creative thinking is markedly stymied by stray thoughts, obsessive ruminations and other forms of “mental load.” Many psychologists assume that the mind, left to its own devices, is inclined to follow a well-worn path of familiar associations. But [their] findings suggest that innovative thinking, not routine ideation, is our default cognitive mode when our minds are clear. (NYTimes 6.17.16 Think Less Think Better) As I read this article, it made me think about the gift Jewish tradition grants us with the command to guard and to remember the Sabbath. It tells us “Shavat vayenafash.” Stop and consciously take deep breaths. Some of us may recognize this state of being as summer with the respite from the very busy and full schedules we endure the rest of the year. But, maybe, this might be the time, now, to start the practice to re-fresh so that we improve our capacity to clear our minds, strengthen our souls and hone our ability for creative, innovative contemplation.
When Ahad Ha’am, a century ago, declared, “More than Israel has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jewish People,” he might have been referring to Jewish practice but he also may have understood that the mind opening potential of Shabbat sustains the soul as well.
If you are in town, come celebrate Shabbat together and join us for the launch of Qabbalat Shabbat outside with plenty of singing, learning, praying, thinking, and sharing the openness of the outdoors.
Together as a congregation we enter into a new chapter of the storied history of our community. With the past as inspiration, we look to the future with fresh eyes to initiate new endeavors and possibilities. Please feel free to connect with me here. I would be honored to learn of your own reflections and response.
Shabbat Shalom and have a proud Fourth of July!