Friday, March 27, 2015

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Tzav/Shabbat HaGadol 5775–Two Way Street (Revised)

The nature of covenant has been on my mind of late, and this musing, originally written in 2004, provides one glimpse at what a covenantal relationship could be like.

Tomorrow morning in our synagogues we will hear the special Haftarah reading for Shabbat HaGadol, Malachi 3:4-24. We owe it to ourselves to pay special attention to Malachi's message. After his time, the rabbis say, there were no more prophets. Thus, Malachi's words occupy a special place--a last chance to say what needed to be said--and what the people needed to hear. And still need to hear.

The reading is full of so many gems. In verse 8, we read

הֲיִקְבַּע אָדָם אֱלֹהִים

"Can a person cheat G”d?"

And G”d's answer is

כִי אַתֶּם קֹֽבְעִים אֹתִי

"Still, you do cheat me."

The people say

וַֽאֲמַרְתֶּם בַּמֶּה קְבַֽעֲנוּךָ

"In what way have we cheated You?"

G”d, through Malachi, has a rather specific answer--

הַֽמַּֽעֲשֵׂר וְהַתְּרוּמָֽה

"HaMa'aseir v'HaT'rumah," tithes and gifts.

Support for the Temple, is the implication, at least in Malachi's time. Malachi goes on to say that if we but bring our full tithes to the Temple storehouse, G”d will cause limitless blessing to flow.

Next, G”d charges us

חָֽזְקוּ עָלַי דִּבְרֵיכֶם אָמַר יְהֹוָה

with speaking harsh words against G”d. And we ask

וַֽאֲמַרְתֶּם מַה־נִּדְבַּרְנוּ עָלֶֽיךָ

"what have we said one to another against You?"

G”d answers that we have said:

שָׁוְא עֲבֹד אֱלֹהִים

"shav avod Elokim" - it is nothing to serve Gd." (i.e. without purpose or meaning.)

At the end of the reading, G”d promises to send us Eliyahu HaNavi--who will turn the hearts of parents to their children and children to their parents, and herald the coming of the awesome day of G”d.

Great verses and thoughts all. Yet when reading the passage this year, what struck me most were these words at the end of verse 7:

שׁוּבוּ אֵלַי וְאָשׁוּבָה אֲלֵיכֶם אָמַר יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת

Shuvu Eilai v'Ashuva aleichem - return to Me and I will return to you.

Our response is

וַֽאֲמַרְתֶּם בַּמֶּה נָשֽׁוּב

"In what way shall we return?"

(JPS spins it a little differently--"in what way do we need to return?" but I prefer the plainer meaning--which leaves it a little more open for interpretation.)

Who am I to argue with the scholars who decided it was an arrogant "what have we done wrong," since the later repetitions of these questions in later verses do have more of that flavor? But I think there's enough "put down" of the people of Israel in what Malachi writes that maybe we deserve a little slack in this instance. Maybe all we really meant is "what must we do to return?" After all, unlike the other two question and answer sessions in this Haftarah, there's no answer from G”d this time. No response telling us what we need to do, no rebuke for having the arrogance to say "in what way do we need to return?" We move right into the next Q&A in regards to cheating G”d.

However, as if often the case in our sacred writings, things aren't always presented in order. Perhaps the answer to our question at the end of Verse 7 is answered in the words of the previous clause in that same verse:

שׁוּבוּ אֵלַי וְאָשׁוּבָה אֲלֵיכֶם אָמַר יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת

Shuvu eilai v'ashuva aleikhem. Return to Me and I will return to you.

Two-way street. Covenant. We return to G”d's ways, to our love of G”d, and G”"d returns to us. Imagine, for a moment, a whole world of Jews, right here and right now, returning to G”d, and G”d returning to us. Now there's a consummation devoutly to be wished!

But we're stubborn. We want G”d to go first. We stand here, defiantly agnostic. We want proof. We want to see G”d active in the world before we make the commitment.

Typically, we miss the big picture. After all the trials and tribulations of the past 3000 years, we're still here. Dare we attribute that to our own stubbornness, our own efforts. Or perhaps G”d has played an unseen hand in it all? Our survival to this day IS a miracle. As is the survival of the reborn state of Israel. Can we attribute it all to determination and clever tactics?

G”d stands there patiently, day after day, with outstretched hand, saying, asking, pleading with us "Shuvu Eilai." When are we gonna reach out and take G”d's hand? The time is now.

שׁוּבוּ אֵלַי וְאָשׁוּבָה אֲלֵיכֶם אָמַר יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת

Shabbat Shalom and a Zissen Pesach to all,


©2015, 2004 by Adrian A. Durlester

Other Musings on this parasha

Tzav/Shabbat Zachor 5774 - Does G"d Need a Shrink?
Tzav/Shabbat HaGadol 5773 - The Doorway to Return
Tzav/Shabbat Hagadol 5772 - Not Passive
Tzav (Purim) 5771 - A Purim Ditty
Tzav 5769 - Payback: An Excerpt From the Diary of Moses
Tzav 5768 - Jeremiah's solution (Updated from 5761)
Tzav/Shabbat HaGadol 5767-Redux 5762-Irrelevant Relavancies
Tzav/Shabbat HaGadol 5766 - Dysfunction Junction
Tzav 5765 (updated 5760)-Of IHOPs, Ordination and Shabbat
Tzav/Shabbat HaGadol 5764-Two Way Street
Tzav 5763 - Zot Torahteinu?
Tzav 5761/5759-Jeremiah's Solution

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Vayikra 5775–Meaningful Gifts II

It has been 15 years since I first mused on this topic, so I thought it time to revisit them. Often enough, my musings for parashat Vayikra have dealt with the idea that its words teach us that G”d expects imperfection from us, and provides a means for us to come to terms with that imperfection. (That is not to say that G”d does not expect us to strive for as much perfection as we can achieve, but that G”d recognizes that sometimes we all fall short of the mark, often through no fault of our own.)

This year, as often happens, my reading of Vayikra produced some very different random thoughts. I started thinking about gifts. All those gifts we give-and generally I mean material ones, although non-material gifts can raise the same issues I am about to raise-to our family, relatives, friends. Many times, we give them automatically, with little thought. Other times, we may put some thought into choosing a gift, but does that make it meaningful - simply because we have put some effort into it.

It seems to me that what the Torah teaches us in parashat Vayikra is that we need to always give the best gift we can, if it is to be meaningful. But what is best? Torah tells us that, when we make offerings (i.e. gifts) to G”d, as individuals, we must offer up unblemished animals. But what is it that makes the unblemished animal a meaningful gift? One could argue that it is economic value. An unblemished animal is of greater value, and is therefore a greater personal sacrifice than a blemished one-right? However-as none of us are experts on animal valuation, we have to ask if unblemished animals were of greater value before or after G”d told us to offer up unblemished ones. (Well, yes, there is some biblical evidence of that-if we recall the story of Jacob and Laban and the spotted and unspotted goats. But is that what G”d means by a blemish?)

But, wait a minute...couldn't a speckled or blemished animal be worth more than an unblemished one? Maybe some seasons speckled goatskins were in fashion, and other years pure white? Who knows. Maybe, at some point,
blemished animals were more valued than unblemished ones? Maybe the blemishes were a sign, or maybe it meant those animals were, since not purer, then maybe more active? Seems to me an unblemished animal must have
led a pretty couch potato life to remain unblemished.

Now, here's a funny thing. When it comes to free offerings to G”d, individuals must offer unblemished animals. But the rules change for sin offerings. Individuals must still offer animals without blemish. But, if the offering is for the sin of the community, the Torah doesn't say it has to be
unblemished. Go figure that one out.

So, what does all this say to me about meaningful gifts? I'm not sure. It would be easy to agree to a reading that says that a meaningful gift must be a pure one, and one of value to the individual offering it. But what about the recipient? In Vayikra, we get G”d's "registry" for acceptable gifts. Sort of like people do for weddings. But, in this metaphor, how does the "unblemished" part fit in? What is an unblemished gift to a friend or relative?

Well, it's already clear to me that G”d puts gifts in several categories. There are simply "thank you G”d gifts," and there are "gifts to ask for a favor" (i.e. sacrifices of well-being), and then there are gifts to atone for sins. When we give gifts to others, perhaps we need to classify them the
same way. Why are we giving them-because we appreciate them for who they are? Because we want them to be nice to us? Because we wronged them and want to ask forgiveness and make amends?

Are any of these types of gifts better than the other? I'd venture to say not, from the textual evidence in Vayikra. Two chapters on thank you offerings, one chapter of well-being offerings, and two chapters on guilt/sin offerings. All three types of offerings are worth G”d elaborating thereupon.

I had intended the message of this musing to be: "give a meaningful gift, one meant simply to be nice, and of pure nature (i.e. unblemished)" However, at this point, the message has changed! I'm still struggling with the "unblemished" part and what it means in terms of a gift. But I have come to see that gifts given in love, or to ask for favor, or to redeem sin are all worthwhile and meaningful gifts. Aha-that's where the "unblemished"
comes in. Metaphorically speaking, an unblemished gift is one in which the giver's intentions are open, without blemish, known. That means when we give a gift meant to atone, if we make sure the recipient knows it is for
atonement, then it is a meaningful gift. But if we hide our true intention, and pretend to offer the gift not in atonement, or not in return for favor, but simply as a "nice gesture", when it is not, then our gift is blemished, and not a meaningful one.

We need to stop for a moment and see this from the recipient side for second. Hey, all you recipients out there. Give the givers a break. It's OK if they give you a gift for other than just to say "nice to know you." A gift that says "I'm your spouse, and feel compelled to give you a gift" can be a meaningful one. Let's not all be so quick to demean the gift because we suspect the intent. Hubby buy you flowers after a big fight? Accept them graciously, know that they are meant in atonement, and allow your spouse to
feel comfortable admitting that to you. Will the gift make everything ok? Well, I don't see G”d offering any guarantees.

Which leads me to yet another revelation. We all have this perverted belief that gifts have to be meaningful for the recipient. (Go back and read what I wrote. I never said that the "meaningful" part applied to the recipient. You just assumed that, as most of us do with our social conditioning.) No-gifts serve the giver more than recipient, in most cases. After all, as the prophets later told us, what need has G”d of sacrifices? Of burnt sheep and goats and bulls? Of smelly incense or burning flour? G”d instructs the people on how to give gifts to say thank you, for well-being, and seek atonement because G”d recognizes that we humans have a need that is only fulfilled by the act of giving a gift. That need can differ from circumstance to circumstance, but it is a real need. Sure, if I buy you flowers after a fight, I'm kinda hoping you'll accept it as a sin offering and forgive me. But if that is the only reason I offer it, it has little chance of helping me. I must offer it because I genuinely feel bad that I have wronged you. The gift helps me. If it is helpful to you, the recipient, as well, so much the better. But it is the giver who truly benefits.

All of these are very Jewish ways of doing things. We treat death similarly. Funerals are not for the dead, but for the living. Charity benefits the poor, it's true, but most of all, charity makes us good people. Gives us good hearts. Teaches us to follow G”d's commandments. Even charity given begrudgingly is deemed worthwhile, though, according to Rambam, on a lower level. Similarly, gifts given in obligation can be worthwhile. For when we meet an obligation, we better ourselves.

Recently, I’ve been fond of playing with the idea of how we translate the word “m’odekha” from the V’ahavta prayer. Though it is often translated as might, I talk with students about the word “m’od” which they know to me “very,” sometimes in context can mean “more” or “much.” So I’ve been talking with them about the idea of loving G”d with our very-ness, or more-ness, or our much-ness. What might that be? I think it varies for each person, and, indeed, may be the whole point of the text. We each have skills, gifts, talents, passions.  These are the things that are our “much-ness” and it is with those that we can love G”d. Music is a part of my “much-ness” and I certainly offer it as a way of loving G”d. I think our “m’odekha” comes as close to being unblemished as we can, so we can not only use our “much-ness” in loving G”d, but as our way of offering an unblemished offering to a friend. 

This Shabbat, take some time to think about the gifts you give (and the ones you receive.) Think about how you value them, how you select them, and how honest you are when you give them. How you can identify your “much-ness”. Once again, our ancestors prove their wisdom, and G”d shows true understanding of G”d's creations. Offer up a thank you gift to G”d for G”d's holy Torah, and G”d's gift of creation and life.

Shabbat Shalom,

©2015 (portions ©2000) by Adrian A. Durlester

Other Musings On This Parasha:

Vayikra 5773 (Redux 5761) - Mambo #613: A Little Bit Of Alef In My Torah
Vayikra 5772 - Confession: Not Just for Catholics
Vayikra 5771 - I'd Like To Bring To Your Attention...
Vayikra 5770 - You Can Fool Most of the People Most of the Time
Vayikra 5768 - Redux 5763 - Kol Kheilev
Vayikra 5767-Stuff That's Bugging Me
Vayikra 5766 - Osymandias
Vayikra-Shabbat Zachor 5765-Chatati
Vayikra 5763 - Kol Cheilev
Vayikra 5759 & 5762-Salvation?
Vayikra 5760-Meaningful Gifts
Vayikra 5764 and 5761-Mambo #613: A Little Bit of Alef in My Torah...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Vayakhel-Pekudei-Shabbat Parah 5775–New Heart, New Spirit

These are difficult times for American Jews and their relationship with Israel, and I make no secret that I am somewhat critical of the current Israeli government and its policies. So I thought I would take this opportunity to say something positive about Israel (along with some , inspired by the special haftarah we read this Shabbat for Shabbat Parah, one of the four special shabbatot before Pesakh.

Yes, I will admit that in reading the first part of the haftarah, in which Ezekiel relates how G”d was so angry with the people when they dwelt in the land, defiling it with their practices and lack of morals and ethics, that G”d kicked them out, that I made the comparison to the modern state, and how I think some of its practices are equally troubling, and could just as easily lead to the same result.

Then G”d, through Ezekiel’s vision, complains that this very act of dispersing the people brought dishonor to G”d, the peoples of the other nations mocking the fact that G”d own people were driven out from G”d’s land.

So G”d declares that for G”d’s own sake, G”d will gather the people and bring them back to Israel, and purify them. This is not the first time we’ve seen G”d concerned for G”ds own reputation.

For close to two millennia, the children of Israel lived in exile. Then, wonder of wonders, a new nation of Israel arose. It was as if Ezekiel’s prophecy were coming true again, in modern Israel. Jews were gathered back to their land, and given, as Ezekiel’s prophesied, a new heart and a new spirit. As I read the text, which speaks of abundant fields, rebuilt cities, and a populated and fortified nation, I could not help but think of modern Israel. It made me proud to think of this modern Israel, and all the great things it has accomplished. Though we cannot ignore the not so great things, we should not bury them entirely or totally overshadow them with Israel’s shortcomings. Israel has much of which to be proud. It is once again a land flowing with milk and honey. It is a shining star of democracy in a part of the world that sadly needs more of it. The world is quick to point out the problems, but often fails to recognize the good, of which there is plenty. Israel has gifted us with agricultural technology, computer technology, communications technology, medical devices and procedures, stunning artwork, and so much more.

I’m afraid, however, that not all of modern-day Israel has lived up to the promise. Pride and hubris devour humility. Israel has every right to be proud of how it has remade itself, how its people have worked hard against difficult odds to create a thriving, vibrant nation. Perhaps there is something to the cries of some in Israel’s orthodox community that secular Israel may be forgetting something crucial--G”d. We need all to remind ourselves that it was not for our sakes that we were restored to the land, and the land was restored. G”d did it for the sake of G”d’s name, as Ezekiel reminds us.

As a liberal Jew, I of course do not subscribe to the orthodox viewpoint that a particularistic understanding of Judaism is the only valid one, and the only one of which G”d approves. I also firmly believe that the values and ethics of non-orthodox Judaism might go a long way to helping steer modern Israel on the right course. (Orthodoxy, however, is an important part of the mix. A liberal Jewish religious establishment given sole authority over religious matters would be no more valid to me than the current system which gives orthodoxy a stranglehold.) Note, by the way, that in the haftarah, G”d doesn’t say G”d will only take the strictly religious Jews and restore them to the land. G”d promises to restore all of us, pious and transgressor alike (though show me a truly pious man who has never transgressed.) G”d doesn’t say, through Ezekiel, that we should purify ourselves. It is G”d who will do the purifying, who will put a new heart and spirit within us, so that we may dwell in the land in peace and prosperity.

It seems as if one part of the process remains to be completed. G”d has not yet, apparently, cleansed us of all our iniquities. Though the biblical worldview may have been that G”d can do this even against our free wills, I suspect that, over time, G”d has discovered the G”d-limiting aspects of having granted us free will, and it is wishful thinking that G”d could simply restore us to a pure state. I think we have to be open to it. Maybe we can help the process along if we take the time to remember that G”d is doing none of this for us. G”d is doing this for G”d. Yes, G”d’s motivation may be pride and reputation, but is that necessarily always the wrong reason? Consider that world opinion of Israel is pretty low. Just as G”d wants the rest of the nations to not think of G”d as a G”d who kick’s G”d’s own chosen people out of their land, should not modern Israel seek to have a positive reputation among the nations? Will Israel get that reputation through being overly prideful, or through humility? It is time for modern Israel to walk humbly with it’s G”d. It is time for all of us to open ourselves to G”d so that G”d may put into us a new heart and a new spirit – a heart full of love, and a spirit always seeking the path of peace.

Shabbat Shalom,

©2015 by Adrian A. Durlester

Other Musings On This Parasha:

Pekudei 5774 - Pronouns Revisited
Vayakhel 5774 - Is Two Too Much?
Vayakhel-Pekudei 5773 - Craftsman. Artisan. Artist. Again.
Vayakhel-Pekude 5772 - Vocational Ed
Pekude/Shabbat Sh'kalim 5771 - Ideas Worth Re-Examining
Vayakhel 5771 - Giving Up the Gold Standard
Vayakhel-Pekudei/Shabbat HaHodesh 5770-Corroborative Detail
Vayakhel-Pekudei 5769 - There Are Some Things You Just Have To Do Yourself
Vayakhel 5768-An Imaginary Community?
Vayakhel-Pekudei/Shabbat HaHodesh 5767-Redux 5760-The Lost Episodes: Too Much of a Good Thing
Vayakhel-Pekudei/Shabbat HaHodesh 5766 - So How Did Joseph Get Away With it?
Pekude 5765-Redux 5760-Pronouns
Vayakhel 5765-The Wisdom of the Heart
Vayakhel/Pekude 5764-Comma or Construct?
Vayakhel 5763-Dayam V'hoteir
Vayakhel/Pekude 5762-Sacred Work
Vayakhel/Pekude 5761 (Revised from 5758)-Craftsman. Artisan. Artist.
Vayakhel/Pekude 5758-Craftsman. Artisan. Artist.
Vayakhel 5760-The Lost Episodes: Too Much of a Good Thing

Friday, March 6, 2015

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Ki Tisa 5775–Shabbat Is A Verb II

Back in 1997, for my musing for Ki Tisa, I wrote:

"In one of his first successful big musicals, about the progenitors of one of Judaism's daughter races (that "superstar" guy,) Andrew Lloyd Webber ended the musical with a strictly musical piece whose title was a new testament bible verse, John 19:41. Those who knew it by heart easily understood the message, and those who did not could easily find out.

Well, my Shabbat message this week is as simple:

Exodus 31:16-17."

Some years later, in 2003, I added a bit:

I'll make it easier for you. These verses should be familiar to us all.

וְשָֽׁמְרוּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּת לַֽעֲשׂוֹת אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּת לְדֹֽרֹתָם בְּרִית עוֹלָֽם: יז בֵּינִי וּבֵין בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹת הִוא לְעֹלָם כִּי־שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה יְהוָֹה אֶת־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת־הָאָרֶץ וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שָׁבַת וַיִּנָּפַֽש

31:16 "V'shamru v'nei Yisrael et-haShabbat, la'asot et-haShabbat l'dorotam b'rit olam. 31: 17 Beini uvein b'nei Yisrael ot hi l'olam, ki sheishet yamin asa Adnai et-haShamayim v'et-haAretz, u'vayom haSh'vi'I shavat vayinafash."

And the children of Israel shall keep Shabbat, making Shabbat throughout their generations, an eternal covenant. Between Me and the children of Israel it is a sign forever, for in six days Ad”nai made the heavens and the earth, and in the seventh day G”d ceased and was refreshed. (Freely adapted from Everett Fox's translation.)

Now, here in 5775, I’m refreshing and adding to those two previous musings.

Let's examine the verbs used in these two verses:


v'shamru, la'asot, asa, shavat, vayinafash. Three of them are verbs that describe action--v'shamru, to guard or keep; la'asot and asa, both forms of the "to do" or "make" verb. Two of them are verbs that appear to be more passive--shavat, to cease or rest; and vayinafash, to be refreshed.

However, is Shabbat intended to be a passive activity? If Shabbat is to do nothing, as some seem to think, how can one "do" nothing? How can one "guard" or "keep" the act of doing nothing (well, I guess I've known some teenagers quite capable of that. Come to think of it, adults, too.)

We are commanded to observe and to do Shabbat. Can one "do" Shabbat passively? Can one even "cease" passively? Do cars really stop on a dime? Not really. An object in motion has momentum. It cannot stop instantaneously, but must dump its kinetic energy so that it can be in a state of rest. (Actually, instantaneous stopping is probably possible, but can have some interesting, and often bad results and side effects. Car careening into wall or tree might be an example. That kinetic energy has to go somewhere – and it usually goes into the part of the car designed as the “crumple” zone. The airbags work to absorb the kinetic motion of the occupants. As an aside, of late I’ve encountered several science-fiction stories that portray space battles as being played out across huge distances, and realistically acknowledging the fact that spacecraft are unlikely to have the capability to just sort of hop around like fighter jets and make rapid acceleration or deceleration – that fleets of spaceships are more likely to fly past each other and engage only briefly, and then have to slow down their momentum and slowly turn around to engage each other again.)

People shifting into a “Shabbat state” are no different. Action is required to bring ourselves from our state of momentum during the rest of the week to the "resting state" of Shabbat.  We have to find ways to dump our kinetic energy. Therefore, "making Shabbat" or "doing Shabbat" is not just a simple matter of stopping and doing nothing. The very act of stopping requires an energy transfer, and therefore, effort. Yes, power braking helps, but you still have to press on the brakes of your car to stop it. Ever driven a car without power brakes? It’s not so easy.

Our tradition recognizes that we need to exchange our kinetic energy so that we can truly “shavat.” The rituals and practices that have grown up around the concept of Shabbat are geared to help us make that transition. If we want to "do Shabbat" then our tradition offers the means we need to get there, and we ought to take advantage of those means. Doing those things we need to slow down our momentum and prepare to Shabbat illustrate why Shabbating is not a passive practice at all.

And what happens when we have successfully overcome our momentum to reach a state of Shabbat? Even when we're doing nothing, we're not really doing nothing. After all, our bodies must continue to do what they need to do to keep us alive, the most basic of which is breathing. Like G”d, on Shabbat, we, too, must refresh--yavinafash. From a Hebrew root that can mean, among other things, to draw breath, to breathe. And, as is often pointed it, it is in a reflexive form, so it could be thought as “refreshing one’s self” or “re-souling one’s soul,” or in this particular case, G”d re-souling G”d’s self. I love how Hebrew is rich with such complexity.

So here’s the funny thing. You’ve probably seen me write elsewhere that I’m not entirely convinced that Shabbat is about not doing certain things. I explained at length why I might not choose to participate in the annual national day of unplugging for Shabbat. I’m not opposed to the idea, but I’m also not entirely convinced that unplugging is always the best way for me to keep Shabbat. So that musing, alongside this one, demonstrate my ever-present inconsistency. I’ll admit that I revel in it. We all should. Shabbat-ing can be experienced in many different ways, and although our traditions holds there are only certain acceptable ways, I’m all for pushing the envelope in that regard. I make music all week long. I teach. Is Shabbat-ing, for me, not making music, not teaching? Heaven forbid. (We can debate the merits of making music with and without instruments on Shabbat. When instruments are not available to me (or not acceptable for use on Shabbat in the community where I am davening, I can still make music. So, should I not even sing? Some definitions of Shabbat do indeed ask us to refrain from our labors. Does a rabbi then stop being rabbinic on Shabbat? I know that’s a ridiculous case, but given some of the extremes the rabbis considered in their debates…)

On the seventh day, G”d shabbat-ed, and re-souled G”d’s self. So on the seventh day, we shabbat, and re-soul ourselves. Whatever any of that means. which is precisely the point. However you see and interpret the concept of shin-bet-tav, shabbat, and however you read and interpret “vayinafash,” you have the opportunity to do what that means for you. It could mean a very traditional Shabbat. It could mean a nice family dinner. It could mean a full morning of services. It could mean a walk in the woods. It could mean a musician spends Shabbat learning to sculpt, or a banker learning to play the harp. It could be a day of disconnecting and unplugging, or it could be a day of using modern technology to reconnect with people and family you don’t connect with often. Maybe, for you, with your job, spending a Shabbat at the mall is your way of “shabbating.” Some may judge us on our choices – I’m not going to be one of those judging others for their choices on how to observe, do, keep, or make Shabbat. For some it may be an obligation, but for all, it is a gift.

Shabbat-it's like taking a big breath. Open wide and breath--Shabbat is coming.

Shabbat Shalom,


©2015 (portions ©1997 and 2003) by Adrian A. Durlester

Other Musings on this parasha:

Ki Tissa 5774 - Faith Amnesia (and Anger Management)
Ki Tissa/Shabbat Parah 5773 - Fortune and Men's Eyes (Redux and Revised)
Ki Tisa 5772 - Other G"d?
Ki Tisa 5771 - Still Waiting for the Fire
Ki Tisa 5770 - A Fickle Pickle
Ki Tisa 5768-Not So Easy? Not So Hard!
Ki Tisa/Shabbat Parah 5767-New Hearts and New Spirits
Ki Tisa/Shabbat Parah 5766-Fortune and Men's Eyes
Ki Tisa 5765-Re-Souling Ourselves
Ki Tisa 5764-A Musing on Power Vacuums
Ki Tisa 5763-Shabbat is a Verb
Ki Tisa 5762-Your Turn
Ki Tisa 5760-Anger Management
Ki Tisa 5761-The Lesson Plan