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Shavat Vayinafash:
Rested and “Resouled”
Rabbi Nancy Weiner, D. Min.,
Dr. Paul M. and Trudy Steinberg Professor in Human Relations and Counseling;
Director, Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling, HUC-JIR/New York
A
respite and a “resouling” – these are the essence of
Shabbat. Taking a respite from time and its norma-
tive activities and finding a way to reclaim our souls,
our true selves.
Going to synagogue, cooking a special meal, cleaning the
house may have been the ways in which Shabbat used to
punctuate your week, serving as reminders to take a rest and
to “resoul.” But perhaps you can’t get out to
shul
or you can’t
sit through a service or your cooking days are over (for good
or for the time being) or enjoying food is no longer a pos-
sibility or heavy physical exertion is no longer part of your
repertoire. You spend the entire week reclining or sitting.
How do you take a rest from what you used to categorize
as resting? How do you connect with Shabbat and truly
appreciate it?
Shabbat is all about refocusing and getting to the essence of
things. Was it the cooking itself that brought you pleasure?
Or the ability to gather family and friends around you and
contribute to nurturing them physically and emotionally.
And to be nurtured by them? What did getting to the syna-
gogue give you? A chance to see and catch up with friends
and family? An opportunity to pray with those who shared
a history, a heritage, a set of values, hopes and dreams? A
chance to offer personal prayer amidst fellow prayers? An
opportunity to enter a holy space in which God’s presence is
more palpable? A scheduled moment to take a deep breath,
to take stock, to remember that all of life isn’t the
work-a-day world?
Losing familiar ways of preparing for and celebrat-
ing Shabbat is painful and giving yourself ample
space to mourn such losses is important. But you
need not give up Shabbat entirely.
Midrash refers to our homes as a
mikdash me’at,
a
small sanctuary. Perhaps there can be a spot in your
house or a focal point in your bedroom that can
be your
mikdash,
your sacred space… where you
go physically, visually, or emotionally to experience
the Divine presence. Where you can pray, alone
or with others. Or perhaps there is music that can
transport your soul to someplace beyond your physical
body, linking you with the Jewish community past and
present and enable you to welcome Shabbat. Inviting family
and friends to come and make music, playing a CD, or just
humming or singing to yourself can open you up to welcome
Shabbat. You can ask friends and family to visit with you
on Shabbat as they are going to or coming from
shul.
Those
who come or call before can be your emissaries to the larger
community. Those who come after can catch you up on
what went on, who was there, what’s happening in different
people’s lives and what the sermon or
d’var Torah
was about,
so that you can participate in the discussion or just ponder
the day’s messages.
Heddy Abramowitz
Brooklyn, NY
Arab Bakery, the Jewish Quarter
, 2013
Ugat Chen
, 2013
Neeman Bakery, the Jewish Quarter
, 2013
Peer Challot 4
, 2013
Photographs, 16" x 20" each
Abramowitz captures the essence of the Israeli culture
she lives in through the lens of her camera.
Challah,
a bread which holds many biblical, folklore and
traditional associations, is traditionally blessed and
eaten at the Shabbat table.
Jan Aronson
American
Kiddush Cup,
2013
Watercolor, 11" x 8½"
Kiddush, the blessing of the wine, is said on many celebratory
occasions, particularly Shabbat. This image, evoking the warmth
of these occasions, was created for
The Bronfman Haggadah
.
Helene Aylon
1931,
Brooklyn, NY
From My Memoir: Lighting the Candles with My Mother,
2013
Photograph, 14" x 26"
Helene Aylon, a visual, conceptual and installation perfor-
mance artist and eco-feminist, says: “At candle-lighting time
the dazzling white tablecloth covered the large table, making
it look like a world unblemished. My mother’s arms would
bring the Sabbath light toward her shut eyes in broad arcs…
When she lifted her palms from her face, her eyes were
invariably moist.”
Malcah Zeldis
Confined to Bed
, 1981
Acrylic on found wood,
10"
x 24" x 16"