Parshas Noach: Shabbat – A Lifeboat for All of Us
This weekend we will be participating in The Shabbos Project. This is a grassroots attempt to get Jews worldwide to experience the magic of the Sabbath, just once. Last year, it happened in South Africa, where almost every single Jew participated – even if they were not at all religious! That’s because you don’t have to be “religious” to participate in Shabbat. Shabbat is not some sort of punishment, it is a gift, given by G-d to all Jews, religious or not. There are some special aspects of Shabbat that have actually been studied and advocated for by scientists! You don’t have to be religious to appreciate that having the whole family sit down for dinner together once a week is proven to be good for family unity, or that putting down phones, computers, and all other screens for a 24 hour period is great for improving relationships with your children and spouse.
In this week’s parsha, Noach was faced with a world of decadence and decay – sadly, not that much different from what we experience today. We open our email and find obscene spam, we turn on the television and see scenes of murder, and we turn on the radio and hear foul language. Shabbat is our chance to turn off all the garbage and focus on what is good and meaningful in our lives – our real-life, face-to-face relationships. Just as Noach had to build an ark and G-d had to wash away the garbage that the world had become, so too we can build ourselves an ark in time and each and every week wash away the mundane so we have space to illuminate the spiritual.
This week, we have many opportunities to connect to this precious gift of Shabbat in a community setting. Unlike Noach, we don’t have to go it alone on our arks. We can keep ittogether! Women can join the Rebbetzin for a challah bake on Thursday night, one of the special mitzvot for ladies. And everyone is welcome to join in the community celebrations of Shabbat over the weekend: community candle lighting on Friday night, followed by kabbalat Shabbat services and a delicious dinner at the Shul; Saturday morning services led by visiting Rabbi Heilbrunn from Melbourne, followed by a Kiddush and then community lunch at the Rabbi’s house; and finally, a havdallah ceremony, concert, JAZY performance, and kumzitz sing-along at the Shul. Let’s build our ark and keep it – TOGETHER!
(To indicate participation in the Shabbos Project, please feel free to tag photos and videos of your involvement with #shabbosproject and #keepingittogether !)
Read more on Parshas Noach: Halacha of Traveling By Ship