Since Wednesday I have been signing my emails “Shabbat Shalom”, anticipating the rest on the horizon. But these weeks it feels like it takes on new urgency and meaning. As if to say, May there be peace by Shabbat. May there be peace on Shabbat.
Each week, no matter the violence and suffering that has ensued, we find a way to greet Shabbat. In the words of Lecha Dodi,
לִקְרַאת שבָּת לְכוּ וְנֵלְכָה. כִּי הִיא מְקור הַבְּרָכָה.
“Let us go to welcome Shabbat, for she is the source of blessing.”
And then in the next verse we sing,
רַב לָךְ שבֶת בְּעֵמֶק הַבָּכָא. וְהוּא יַחֲמול עָלַיִךְ חֶמְלָה.
“For too long you have been dwelling in the valley of tears.
May the One who is compassionate, bestow compassion.”
The past four weeks have been a valley of tears.
As I prepare for this shabbat, I find myself longing for respite. The rabbis describe shabbat as a taste (literally: the unripe fruit) of the world to come (Genesis Rabbah 17:5). This teaching has drawn me back to the Days of Awe and our dreams of the world to come.
One of the many beautiful teachings about the world to come describes 10 things that will be renewed or made true in Olam Haba (Exodus Rabbah 15:2). The list reads:
In this moment of profound destruction, these visions of healing and rebuilding are soothing to my system. It is not lost on me that this list was likely written by someone who knows what it feels like to see a world full of weeping and wailing and to long for that to end.
I feel called by this teaching to devote my shabbat to imagining a world without weeping and anguish; to create a day together that is full of joy and connection; to eat from the tree of life that will one day bear this fully ripe fruit; to feel in my bones a shabbat shalom so that I can be truly refreshed for the week to come.
I invite you to lay down the news, turn off your phones, and find a way to join me for at least some part of the next 25 hours. May we have the wisdom and courage to be joyful. For 6 days a week we work to build toward an everlasting day when these 10 things are true. But tonight “Let us go to welcome Shabbat, for she is the source of blessing.”
You can search Rabbi Ari Lev's blog below:
Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari brings Torat Hayyim, a living tradition, to Kol Tzedek through thoughts about prayer, justice, and community.