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“Today,” Rabbi Zecher’s Shabbat Awakenings

August 26, 2022 | 29 Av 5782

Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings as we move toward Shabbat. You can listen to it as a podcast here.

This day is marked as crucial and determines every other day.

In the Torah portion for this week, the Hebrew word for this day is hayom. It appears three times, once in each of the first three verses of the portion, “Re’eh.” This is the Torah’s way of saying pay attention to this word. Hayom. Today. This day. Be alert.

See, this day I set before you blessing and curse: blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Eternal your God that I enjoin upon you this day; and curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Eternal your God, but turn away from the path that I enjoin upon you this day and follow other gods, whom you have not experienced. (Deuteronomy 11: 26-28)

It is possible to understand these verses in the context of the specific moment in Biblical times. It was when Moses offered this choice to the Israelites as they were about to cross over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan. The commentator, Rashi, however, noted that when the word, hayom — this day, appears, we should read it as this day for ourselves now as well.

That kind of awareness of the potential of blessing and curse of this moment we are experiencing right now transforms the present to an awakened presence. What we do, how we act, and the way we respond today to the choice of blessing and curse has greater importance and significance. The transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Only that day dawns to which we are awake.”

This is the Torah’s way of mindful living. How we experience this moment we are living right now continues to hold blessing and curse.

In these days, we are living in right now, we have said to one another that it is hard to know what day it is. They seem to run one into the other. With this week’s Torah portion, we are reminded that we have the ability to be awakened by our own consciousness of the great potential for blessing (and curse) in each day.

The Psalmist emphasized the point.

This is the day — hayom — the Eternal has made, let us rejoice and be happy in it. 

Every day is this day and even more so on Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom!

(Originally shared August 14, 2020)

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  • If you are in town, come join us for Qabbalat Shabbat onsite with plenty of singing, learning, praying, thinking, and some treats to eat and drink. If you’re unable to join onsite, please join on Zoom, on Facebook Live, or stream on our website. Let’s celebrate together.
  • Tot Rock Shabbat gathers online at 5:00 p.m.
  •  40s(ish) Qabbalat Shabbat and Dinner Join us at 5:30 p.m. for the third in a series of three summer dinners for professionals in their 40s and beyond (and before). Register here | Learn more. Contact lay leader Rachel Daniels with questions.
  • A delightful Torah Study begins at 9:00 a.m. We begin with a short service and Torah reading and then jump into a provocative discussion. To join the conversation interactively, access Zoom. You can also watch on Temple Israel’s website or Facebook page.
  • Outdoors with TI will be holding the rescheduled Summer Walk in the Arboretum at 2:00 p.m. Register here.
  • Rabbi Oberstein and guest ritualist Yaakov Ginsberg-Schreck will lead the Elul Rosh Chodesh gathering onsite at 7:00 p.m. No registration necessary.
  • Gather online for Havdalah at 8:00 p.m. Our weekly Havdalah ritual is a lay-led experience. Stop by, say hello, catch up from the week, and say goodbye to Shabbat together. Join on  Zoom.

Rabbi Elaine Zecher