Shabbat Shalom
Naso |12 Sivan 5775
Num. 4:21-5:10 | Judah 13:2-25
 
This Shabbat, Stacey Robinson shares
Havdallah

 

The rabbis teach us that Shabbat is a sanctuary of holy time. What an astounding thing - to have time, and not a thing, be made holy by God! Shabbat is not an object, nothing you can hold in your hands or see, or feel. 

 

A few weeks ago, we shared thoughts on Shabbat from the G'dolim - the four year olds in our pre-school. They talked of many of the symbols of Shabbat. We need symbols to help us connect to something so intangible as holy time. So the kids told us of about the flavors of Shabbat, of challah and grape juice, and the blessings they say. They told us about lighting the candles as a special moment - but a moment that lasts, at least as long as the flames do. Some talked of songs to sing, or services. Mostly, they talked about family, and feeling close, and feeling love.

 

Near the end of our conversation, a few of the kids talked about one of their favorite Shabbat things - the fact that it comes, every week! Even for four year olds, they begin to understand the importance of time, and how it wraps and returns, again and again. So the weeks spin out. Life happens. We grow and change and do, and Shabbat returns: a constant, bringing with it holiness in the midst of the everyday, sacredness in the midst of the profane.

 

One little girl, as we were wrapping up our awesome conversation, whispered something to her teacher. Maureen smiled, putting her arm around the girl. "Of course! There is sadness, too." The girl smiled as Maureen continued, "There's sadness when we have to say good-bye!"

 

She asked the class, "How do we say good-bye to Shabbat?"

 

The kids, most of them starting to move about (after all, I'd had them sit mostly still for 15 minutes!), moving on to other activities, the kids mostly stopped for a minute, thinking. They, too, apparently, like to linger in Shabbat! Finally, one child's face lit up. "Havdallah!" All the other kids nodded their agreement.

 

Of course. Havdallah. If there is joy in knowing that Shabbat will come, week after week, there is sadness as well, in knowing that it will end. For 25 hours, we can linger in a sanctuary of holy time, a sanctuary filled with blessings and sweetness and love. But we can only linger; in the end, we say good bye. Havdallah, which means "separation," is a short, lovely, moving service that recognizes all of these things.

 

I will leave you with two things. The first is a link of a few of the G'dolim students singing Shavua Tov [A Good Week]which is one of the songs sung at the end of Havdallah. The second is a poem I wrote, to celebrate Havdallah (which, truth be told, is my favorite service). We celebrate all our senses in this ritual, recognizing that we bring our whole selves with us into this sanctuary of Shabbat. In it, I tried to capture the sweet sadness of Havdallah, and the implicit promise that it will once more offer us all a sanctuary of holy time.

 

Thank you, again, to the G'dolim class, for teaching us such beautiful lessons on Shabbat! Enjoy the sweetness and blessings and light of these sacred hours! And while there is sadness in knowing that it will end, rejoice in knowing that we will welcome Shabbat again next week. Shabbat shalom!

And When I Leave

I am not ready
To leave this place
this time
this rest.
I am not ready
for the separation that
must come, not while
I still smell
the sweetness
of cardamon and cloves.
I want to linger
in this holy time
this sacred promise
And be
Just be.
But the stars are dancing
One
Two
Three
A thousand
Infinity and
More,
They scatter like pebbles
strewn on a field of
velvet night.
And there are numberless shades
of dark,
broken by those infinite and
silvered pebbles.
And oh! my feet ache
to explore that vast expanse,
even as my heart yearns
to stay,
to linger
in this place,
where I can still
taste the wine
that teases my tongue.
But I have blessed
The thin line that
Separates
Dark from
Light,
From Sacred
And Holy.
I have found
Rest and
peace and
comfort
and God.
And when I leave,
Though I ache to linger,
I will take with me
the sweet scent of spice, and
the teasing taste of wine, and
I will hear, Forever
the guttering of a candle
into a cup of wine,
Which will Forever be
the sound of Promise
and the promise of
Return.

 

STACEY ZISOOK ROBINSON has been writing poetry and creative non-fiction since she launched her blog, Stumbling towards meaning, in 2009. Prior to that, she wrote in the old-fashion way, using pen and paper. Using a digital format, she can write faster, delete easier and reach a much wider audience. In addition to her blog, she is a regular contributor to the Reform Judaism blog, and is privileged to be a writer at several online sites, including iPinionsyndicate.com and thesmartly.com. She was published last year in the summer issue of Lilith Magazine, and was one of the featured authors in Beth Emet's Memorial Book for 2013/5774. She lives in Skokie with her son, Nate. Stacey is also the curator of The Shabbat Project, Beth Emet's weekly e-newsletter focusing on reflections of Shabbat.

Each Friday during 5775, we are 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, May 29
6:30 p.m. Kabbalat Shabbat Service in the 
Sanctuary led by out Kabbalat Torah (12th Grade) Graduates: Emily Dana, Micah Feldman, Mabel Frank,
Noa Horberg, Mickey Manton, Leor Miller, Mariel Oettinger, Isabel Reiches,
and Noa Solomon.
 

 
7:30 p.m. 
Gesher Tekkes and Dinner in the Weiner Room for seventh graders and their families.

7:30 p.m. Shabbat Dinner for Kabbalat Torah graduates and their families in the Crown Room.
 
Saturday, May 23
9:30 a.m.   Kahal in the Weiner Room with Torah Reader Nisan Chavkin and Torah Discussion Leader Marci Dickman.

9
:30 a.m.  
Shabbat Minyan in Room 208 with Torah Discussion Leader Marci Dickman.
 
3:30 p.m. Beyond Om: Spiritual Practice for the Jewish Soul at Rabbi London's home. 
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