Leaning into Shabbat

20120615-143350.jpgSunset, Sea of Galilee

Today is Erev Shabbat, the day before the Sabbath. In the Jewish areas of Jerusalem, there is a fevered pitch of activity from early in the morning which escalates in the the early afternoon. Everyone is out running trying to finish up their last minute preparations for Shabbat. It makes most tasks an ordeal to some degree or another. Lots of anxiety and pushing for position in queue so that one can rush off home to get it done. This anxiety is lengthened and lessened a bit during the summer, when one has much more time in the day prior to sundown.

In Erev Shabbats past, I have always tended to view it as going into combat. I have to steel myself against the onslaught, both physical and emotional (I am partially introverted, so sometimes the presence of lots of people ‘burns us, Precious!’). Just this morning, I ripped off the movie Braveheart, by quoting William Wallace shouting, ‘Are you ready for a war?!?’ prior to stepping out to go grocery shopping.

But, what if everyone is leaning into Shabbat? If the week is like a race, then Erev Shabbat is like the finish line. You find yourself straining and pushing to get there, leaning forward to try and finish ahead of the other contestants. There is something about the oncoming of Shabbat that you do strain for: a moment’s peace.

My neighbour is an American rabbi. Last Friday night, he and I chatted briefly about the merits of Shabbat. He scolded the US for its lack of understanding and discernment for not observing Shabbat. Now granted, he is more than just a bit biased, but he, a retired person at that, eagerly anticipates a day of rest. ‘It is a gift!’ he exclaims.

There is an old Jewish saying to the effect that a person doesn’t keep Shabbat; Shabbat keeps you. I like that more and more. It’s as though, as Friday goes through its paces, if you look up, you can see Shabbat standing there at the finish line, waiting for you, arms wide open.

Perhaps all these jostling, tempermental folks around me are actually leaning into Shabbat. They are ready to fall into Shabbat’s arms, enveloped and embraced, with the sound of thinnest silence whispering in their ears, ‘Peace. Be still.’

Shabbat Shalom.


~ by eikonministries on June 15, 2012.

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