Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Holiness of Shabbat

Holiness of Shabbat:

The holiness of Shabbat illuminates and elevates the entire world. The woman of the house ensures that light and harmony prevail in her home by welcoming the Shabbat through lighting the Shabbat candles and prayer.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Welcoming the Shabbat queen

Welcoming the Shabbat queen:

Debra Band’s book combines illumination, beauty, art, and science

Kabbalah Shabbat is a celebration of beauty.  It’s many other things as well, of course. It’s the introductory service that ushers in Shabbat and so it marks the beginning of that paradoxical day that exists outside of time, even as its passage is marked by the appearance of stars, and the sun’s passage across the sky, and lengthening shadows, and then more stars.

Debra Band’s new book, “Kabbalat Shabbat: The Grand Unification,” illuminates and explicates and glories in Kabbalat Shabbat. She’s an illustrator and a writer; her lushly art-filled book, with its intricate designs, deeply symbolic but also surface-level lovely, go through the entire Friday night experience, both at shul and at home. She knows and writes about midrash and kabbalah. And because her late husband, David Band, was an astrophysicist, and because she discovered, to her great surprise, that all those disciplines come together in some ways, all have made their way into her book. It is, in fact, a grand unification.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Shabbat, The Foundation Of Our Heritage

Shabbat, The Foundation Of Our Heritage:

The term for Shabbat as an “Oasis in Time” belongs to Abraham J. Hershel. While describing the Shabbat and its beauty he suggested that the Shabbat is an oasis in time. For a brief moment, as we usher in the Shabbat, time, as we know it, stands still. All our unpaid bills, office hassles, and professional aggravations are put on hold as we dedicate one day to God.

For six days prior, we pretend to believe that we are in control of our lives and our destiny. We think we have the power to make choices and to effect change in this world – that we are in control of our own destiny. Shabbat comes along and sobers us up. It literally becomes a reality check. No, we are not in control. In reality, we can only affect a very small portion of our lives.

When I describe the central theme of Shabbat to my students, I always focus on that point: that Shabbat is a time when the Jewish People recognize their mortality and in essence declare that G-d is in control of the universe.

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Being Religious About Shabbat Means Connecting With God

Being Religious About Shabbat Means Connecting With God

Many people today sneer at keeping Shabbat. To them, Shabbat observance smacks of everything that’s wrong with religion.  As someone who started keeping the Sabbath so my new Torah-observant friends would eat in my house, I was dragged into Shabbat observance kicking and screaming.
Until you care about every tiny detail in your relationship with God, Shabbat is just a bunch of annoying restrictions. It’s religion. And in those early years, the only thing harder was that Fridays had to be spent in the kitchen the entire day — winter, spring, summer, fall.
I can tell you unequivocally that now, so many years later, Shabbat actually feels different. Maybe it’s that I don’t have to entertain all those kids anymore. Maybe it’s the pleasure I have in knowing that I hung in there for Him, even though it was so hard for me.
Or maybe it’s that I appreciate that Shabbat is God’s favorite day of the week. It’s the day that’s closest to the way life will be for us in the Messianic era, when we will perceive Godliness effortlessly.
That’s why I’m trying lately to light my candles early, even before sundown. Some people say it’s a mitzvah to do this. It’s also my way of showing God that, finally, I want more Shabbat in my life, not less.