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Read The Articles
from The Jacob Project:
Are You Ready?
Approaching the Jacob Project
Approaching Rosh Chodesh
What Moves You?
Approaching Social Action
Approaching Yom Kippur
Are We There Yet?
Lands of Milk and Honey:
A Jewish Approach
Celebrating Our Year Together
Our Movement's Principles:
Chosen for What?
God, Science, and
Living with Uncertainty
It's Your Choice:
"I listen to the wind, to the wind of my soul…
Where I’ll end up, well I think only God really knows.
I’ve sat upon the setting sun, but never, never, never, never, I never wanted water once…no never, never, never…"
Letting the soft guitar and the words of Cat Stevens bring us into focus on a lazy summer Sunday, we sat for a moment with our eyes closed, in a circle on the bima floor, at the foot of the ark, our shoes left at the sanctuary doors.
We began our discussion, "What’s Possible? Approaching Shabbat," talking about why we typically don’t keep Shabbat. "I tried it for awhile and I was miserable;" "it’s hard when nobody else is doing it;" "I got out of the habit when I became a teenager and there were more exciting things going on." It seems we face a sense of loss when we think about keeping Shabbat, and, in a nation where we are taught to cherish the pursuit of happiness and savor our many freedoms, it’s no wonder that Shabbat--with its 39 categories of prohibitions--might not feel so good to us.
So why, then, is Shabbat referred to in Jewish texts as a "gift"? How can we look at loss—and Shabbat—in a more positive light? What is the gift of Shabbat?
A common feng shui guideline instructs us not to fill every last inch of space in our home: "Full file drawers block the flow of new business; full bookcases block the flow of new information and knowledge; a full bedroom closet can block your ability to attract a new relationship…keep 20-25% of your storage areas available for new ideas, relationships, and opportunities to flow your way." Can you imagine ¼ of your house left unused, for the sake of creating space for possibility in your life? Perhaps this is the gift of Shabbat: 1/7 of our weekly "space" left uncluttered, void of activity and efficiency and multi-tasking, for the sake of creating space. For creating space and time to ponder what’s possible in our lives. What’s possible in your career? What’s possible in your relationships? What’s possible in how you raise your children? What’s possible in how your serve your community?
When we focus only on what we can’t do on Shabbat, only on the sense of loss, aren’t we dismissing its potential to add something to our lives? It is a gift when we learn to view loss not only as emptiness or sadness, but also as a space created for new possibilities. It is a gift to know we are not defined only by our material possessions and our jobs. It is a gift when, by stepping back for a moment, we develop an appreciation for what fills our lives the other 6 days of the week. It is a gift to have a weekly opportunity to ponder what’s possible.
We decided we would try approaching Shabbat in this, more positive, light. We would each try keeping Shabbat for all or part of a day, or giving up just one or two things on Shabbat that would really impact us, and we’d discuss our experiences at our Jacob Project Shabbat Dinner in August. Then, to end our afternoon in the spirit of creating a little space for possibility, we each chose our own spot in the sanctuary to sit quietly for a few moments, eyes closed. And then, more music…
"Well if you want to sing out, sing out. And if you want to be free, be free. 'Cause there’s a million things to be…You know that there are…. Well if you want to say yes, say yes. And if you want to say no, say no. 'Cause there’s a million ways to go…You know that there are…."
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