Shabbat Shalom
Shabbat Lech L'cha / 7 Cheshvan 5775
Genesis 12:1-13:18 / Isaiah 40:27-41:16 

This Shabbat, Nisan Chavkin shares:
Shavua is for Doing, Shabbat is for Being


I greatly like the new logo for Beth Emet's yearly theme, Shabbat 5775. As depicted on our spice boxes distributed during the High Holy Days, it pairs two sets of ideas, in Hebrew and English: Shavua [week] with Doing and Shabbat with Being. For me, this brilliant graphic offers a profound re-conception of Jewish time that teaches us how and why to embrace Shabbat and what it can offer to our lives.


I first started to keep Shabbat when I was a teenager. Through high school, I found joy and great meaning in this special weekly gift. On Shabbat I did no work for school or for money. I prayed and studied Torah and spent time with friends. I become very close to my congregation.


When I went to college, however, Shabbat became less joyful. I had learned and was taught that Shabbat was the highpoint of the week. Time and law were structured around this special day: its honors were greatest, its traditions were strongest. Shabbat brought a taste of eternity, a measure of the world to come. It was the ultimate reward. But increasingly I felt that I was celebrating Shabbat backwards.


For me, Shabbat's great gift was as a day of rest. It was my chance to refuel and re-soul for the coming week, to return to what I found truly meaningful-creating and doing. Shabbat, which had freed me when I was younger, had become a prison. Eternity was too still. I needed Shabbat to serve the week, and not the other way round. It had become a means, not the end.


I drifted away from Shabbat, but I did not know where to go. The weekly climb toward Shabbat became an unmarked plain. Tasks blurred time, and the space where Shabbat had been felt empty. I had no balance.


Thanks to my wife, our friends, our children, and Beth Emet, I found my way back to Shabbat. It has returned to its central place in my life and the lives of those I love. But there is an important difference that our new graphic captures so succinctly. I no longer approach Shabbat in an either/or mode.


What I have come to understand is that, for me, Creation and Shabbat are not hierarchical but complementary. Each is essential, and I need both to be complete.


Doing and being, Shabbat and Shavua. Perhaps the world to come will include them all. In the meantime, I know that together they offer a gift of fulfillment, of balance, and of peace.


Shabbat shalom.

Nisan Chavkin is Executive Director of Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago. He and his wife Sarah have been members of Beth Emet since 1992 where Rabbi Knobel married them. They have warm memories of hosting Dov Bear during each of his Shabbat visits to their home when their daughters attended Beth Emet pre-school.
In this new weekly email, each Friday during 5775, we will be featuring writings from you, our congregants, sharing reflections on Shabbat. We hope you will be inspired to share your reflections with the community. If you are interested in contributing to this project, please contact Stacey Zisook Robinson
This Shabbat at Beth Emet

Friday, October 31 
5:45 p.m. 

6:30 p.m. 
Kabbalat Shabbat Services including a D'var Torah by Rabbi Andrea London. Our music leader will be Rebecca Raus.

Saturday, November 1
9:30 a.m.
Kahal Worship in the Weiner Room with Torah Reader Rebecca Raus and Torah Discussion Leader Arthur Altman.
Shabbat Minyan in Room 208

10:30 a.m.

Laura Schneidman and Ruth Steinhouse B'not Mitzvah in the Sanctuary.

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