As you read last week, BlogShalom will be attempting and yearlong, on-line Torah study project that I hope you will take part in. And the project starts right here, right now! We start at the beginning of the Torah, in the parasha (weekly Torah portion) known as Bereisheet. This parasha contains the Jewish creation story. In six days, Gd created the heavens and the earth. If you try to read this story from a rational/scientific point of view, you might find yourself getting frustrated. This is a spiritual story. Do not look at the literal meaning. Look deeper, beneath the words and you will discover the powerful lessons of Torah – lessons we can apply to our own lives today.
The most important lesson contained in this week’s parasha is the idea that on the 7th day, we must rest. Gd rested after spending six busy days creating. In our tradition, the 7th day, the Sabbath, is Saturday. The week starts again on Sunday. As the Torah portion tells us, God declared Saturday to be a holy day – a day of rest for us all. But, how many of us take advantage of this holy day – a day on which our tradition teaches us that we are to rest? A day on which we are to stop working, stop “creating”, stop rushing around and simply “be” – be with our family/freinds, be with a good book, be by the pool/beach, be at the synagogue…It is a day that most of us fail to observe. Saturday has become errand day or get the kids to soccer day. Our challenge is to make Saturday Shabbat. Start simple. Perhaps begin with Friday night dinner (remember, Jewish days start at night – so Shabbat begins Friday at sundown). Maybe you can make Saturday a cellphone free day. Or commit to giving yourself 1 hour every Shabbat to spend on the couch with a good book. Some of us are craving this time, we just need permission to take it. You have permission! Some of us do not know how to sit still. We feel like resting is a waste of time. And we are so wrong! When Gd rested on the first Shabbat, Gd was able to appreciate all that He had created during the first six days. When we follow Gd’s lead and rest on Shabbat, when we act godly and take the time to appreciate our work and our blessings, we come to realize that resting is not wasting time – it is giving thanks for the time we have.
As we start reading the Torah together, I challenge each of you to live the words of Torah. Try giving yourself Shabbat – time to rest and appreciate all that you have. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences here on the Blog. I look forward to learning from you.