Posted on March 13, 2020 by Rabbi Arnold S. Gluck
Tonight, as the sun sets it will usher in a Shabbat that is different in many ways. The day that is dedicated to connections – with each other, with our souls, with God – is arriving during a time that we are rightly being warned to keep our distance from one another.
In a sense, though, as we are avoiding public spaces and gatherings, we can choose to see this time as one of opportunity. Maybe the paring down of external options can help us connect on a deeper level with those things Shabbat is really all about – our most intimate relationships, our inner being, and our connection to the Soul of all souls. Maybe we can find some precious solitude that makes more space for these things precisely because the external obligations and events that keep us so busy are postponed.
We all need some healing of our souls. The fear and uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus has stressed and strained us all, and Shabbat offers us an opportunity to find the peace we need to restore some sense of balance.
So, I encourage us all to embrace this Shabbat and see it as a Shabbaton, a respite from tension and worry, an island of calm, and a time of renewal. Take some time to be outdoors away from crowds and commune with nature. Draw closer to the members of your household and connect remotely with family and friends. As the beautiful poem below suggests, let’s make this a time to feel deeply with our hearts and allow love to flow freely from our souls in all directions.
(shared with us by Ronnie Weyl)
And let us all say: Amen!
Torah: Parashat Ki Tisa
The Torah portion for this Shabbat, Ki Tisa, contains the story of the Golden Calf, a great moment of crisis in our people’s formative days. Thousands of years later, this incident remains an enigma. How could a people that personally experienced the Exodus from Egypt and witnessed the giving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai have such a profound lapse of faith as to make and worship a false god made of gold by human hands?
The poem below (shared by Sarah Gluck) offers the answer I find most convincing – one that is instructive to us at this moment when we face a global crisis of public health and safety. The Israelites experienced a viral outbreak of fear, and they let it get the better of them. Rabbi Yael Levy’s words are wise and her advice is sage. Let us hear them with our hearts and embrace them with our souls.
Wasn’t he supposed to be back already?
Until fear became all there was.
Something that would be definite and sure.
And led them astray.
Fear can incite and justify behaviors that are damaging and cruel.
Graciousness, Patience, Love, Truth, Generosity and Forgiveness.
With each breath, place them upon our hearts and before our eyes.
And it won’t chase it away once and for all.
And become the foundation from which our thoughts and actions arise.
As fear continues to rage.
Rabbi Arnie Gluck