DAY 1151: Shabbat With Family

August 25, 2015
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1151: Shabbat With Family

Dear Hevreh,

Back in rabbinical school, we talked a lot about the language we use to describe a synagogue. Synagogue and Community describe a group of like minded people who affiliate together for a particular purpose, whether it’s to do a ritual or to help someone find a job. On the other hand, Home and Family connote a closer connection, one in which we feel tied together despite (or because of?) our flaws. The former terms depict a place and a group we can move in and out of as we please; the latter terms describe a condition that is always a part of us, no matter how often we are present or absent.

I spent this past Shabbat with my family celebrating my father’s 60th birthday. Though we don’t see each other often because we live far apart — California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey — the feeling we get when we’re together is the kind of closeness that comes from family. And that feeling of closeness was strongest when we did Shabbat — from the prayers to the meals — as a family.

One of my favorite quotes that I often share here is from the Zionist thinker Ahad Ha-am: more than the Jewish people have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jewish People. I think what Ahad Ha-am means here is that what keeps the Jewish people together is the feeling of seeing each other as family. We may be separated by both physical and spiritual distances from one another, but on those special Shabbatot we get together — from THIS WEEK’s Shabbat by the Sea to the greatest Shabbat of the year, next month’s Yom Kippur — we experience a mysterious closeness with one another we can only describe with one word: Family.

May our Jewish home for the soul always be a home of belonging for the broadening Jewish family.

Kol Tuv,

Rabbi Ari Saks

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