Friday, March 15, 2013

Shabbat of the Senses - Sermon by Beckye Levin Gross

Shabbat of the Senses
A Sermon by Beckye Levin Gross; delivered at HCRJ on Friday evening, March 8, 2013

Sometimes, just the thought of a smell can lead to a really specific memory. Have you ever walked by someone at the mall or had someone walk by you and the smell of their perfume or cologne instantly takes you back to a moment in time; and the memories and feelings you experience are so intense? 

I invite you to take a moment right now and close your eyes. Try to remember the smell of the perfume or cologne worn by your mother or father, or maybe one of your grandparents or past love; and think about what you associate with that smell?

And what about taste? Sometimes the taste of a certain dish can bring us right back to a particular time in our lives. The same can be said of photographs. A picture not only paints a thousand words, but it can remind us of a particular time in our lives, who we were with and what it felt like to be in that place, who we were in that moment of our lives.

Sights, sounds and smells each have the capacity to stimulate powerful associations of the past. Some may be positive, others may be negative, but whatever the case may be – our senses can be strong tools which can be used to generate memories. Knowing this, we could actually use our senses to not only recall memories, but to create new sacred associations.

Take Shabbat for instance. We learn that G-d created the world in six days and the seventh day was for rest. I don’t know about y’all, but I cannot remember the last time I “rested” on the Sabbath. Life is busy; and even moments of rest may not be very restful. But the thought of resting on Shabbat or making the Sabbath feel special in some way which separates it from the other days in the week is a beautiful, blessed concept. So why not give it a try.

In our weekly observance of the Sabbath, whether it is at home or here at HCRJ, we have boundless opportunities to create powerful connections through sight, sound, smell and taste.

Actually, there are probably things we do already that are reserved for Shabbat; we just don’t connect them with memories yet. For example, listening to Jane sing, as Donna plays Shelter Us each Friday or tearing into the Challah with our hands after Motzi. And those who attend family Shabbat dinner know well the moment when Rabbi Gross asks everyone to “Shhhhh” so that we can hear Shabbat coming, and then he strikes the match before lighting the candles. What a great memory of Shabbat dinner our children may have when, in the future, they hear the sound of a match being lit.

When Steve and I first came to HCRJ, we brought with us a recipe for pull-apart cake. It wasn’t so much the taste of the pull-apart cake that enticed us; though it is quite yummy. It was the smell; the smell of freshly baked cinnamon and sugar wafting from the kitchen and surrounding us at the oneg. For us, we associate that smell with Shabbt onegs.

There are other things we could do to create Shabbat centered memories which revolve around our senses. We could wear a special perfume or cologne that we reserve only for Shabbat. We could prepare a special meal or use special plates every Friday night. We could make it a ritual to listen to Jewish music or to make challah french toast on Saturday mornings. Remember to light the candles every Friday night no matter where we are or we could take a moment to smell the scents from a spice box each Saturday evening.

Whatever it may be, at some point during this Sabbath, I hope you find a moment to consider what memories YOU would like to make surrounding this holy day, and how your senses can play a part in creating those sacred connections.

Shabbat Shalom!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mirabai Starr: Keeping the Sabbath.. Radical

Mirabai Starr: Keeping the Sabbath.. Radical:
Today is Saturday. The sun has just dipped below the western mesa and the face of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is about to be washed with the scarlet glow from which the range derives its poetic name. Shabbat is over and, in the tradition of my ancestors, I mourn a little. The Sabbath, they say, is a taste of "the world to come" -- a day so sweet that the Holy One, in His infinite mercy, gives us 25 hours instead of the standard 24 so that we can have a little more time to dwell in tranquility and delight.
'via Blog this'

Monday, March 4, 2013

'The Spirit of Shabbat' is also an Aggieland tradition - The Eagle: Faith And Values

'The Spirit of Shabbat' is also an Aggieland tradition - The Eagle: Faith And Values

One Aggieland-only tradition is "The Spirit of Shabbat." The Hebrew word Shabbat provides us with the English word, Sabbath. In the Jewish world Shabbat, the seventh day after creation, begins at sundown on Friday night and lasts until Sundown, on Saturday night. The practice of beginning a day with sundown is a long Biblical tradition. For example, Genesis reads: Vayehi erev, vayehi boker, yom echad/It was evening and then morning, the first day."
The idea of Sabbath is unique to Judaism and Christianity. These are the only two major religions that demand a cessation of work on God's holy day. Due to the Ten Commandments, Shabbat is perhaps the best-known Jewish holy day. Yet ironically, the Jewish marking of the seventh day is perhaps the least understood part of Judaism.