January 2016, from the clergy

Dear Women of Rodef Sholom,

A Mountain of Cookbooks and The Perfect Shabbat Afternoon

It had been another mighty Shabbat morning at Rodef Sholom: Gesher families had bonded in deep ways, Torah with Soul folks had surfaced even more connections to the weekly parsha, and 2 b’nai mitzvah families had each risen to the top of Sinai to receive Torah of awareness and awe: for the gift of their child, for their family and community, and for one of the most profoundly holy mornings of their lives.  As a rabbi, there’s nothing quite like witnessing people of all ages coming alive with gratitude for life, for community and for an appreciation of shared sacred paths.

After sharing reflections and mazal tovs with the b’nai mitzvah students, their parents and grandparents, I head home for a Shabbat afternoon with my family.  Invariably, I’m greeted with hugs or hot cookies or a dance performance that they’ve been working on over the past hours or weeks.  Needless to say, Shabbat is our most important family recharging station.

When I returned home from services three weeks ago, my girls were nowhere to be found.  After combing our first floor, I headed downstairs to find all three of them huddled up in Minna and Bluma’s bedroom.  There, smack dab in the middle of all three of my daughters, was a stack of no less than 15 cookbooks rising high above all the stuffed animals on the adjacent bed.  I soon realized that I had walked into the middle of a dialogue that had been going on for at least an hour.  Together, my three daughters had grabbed all of their favorite cookbooks off the shelves, and were in the middle of going through them, making a very long list of all of the recipes that interested them.   And now they were busy winnowingthe list from 500 recipes all the way down to the one we would work on as a family that Shabbat afternoon.

To me, this is an image of what we aim for on Shabbat: slowing way down and shutting down anything that might get in the way of laughing and bonding and dreaming together.  The rabbis talked about how Shabbat was to gift us with  “mei’ein olam ha’ba / a taste of the world-to-come.”  That cake our girls baked that shabbes afternoon was supremely tasty.  I like to think of Shabbat as the originial Slow Food or Slow Life movement.  Shabbat’s a tool that gifts us with time and space to breathe, to connect, to savor relationships and mainly, to feel wildly alive.  That image of my ladies and their cookbooks piled high reminded me of how very good life can be.

In what ways is Shabbat helping you to feel wildly alive.  Let us know how we can help you deepen your practice.

~Rabbi Michael Lezak

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