I had a hard time finding a worthy topic to address in this week’s email.
I went through the past week, combing the days for something exciting to share or teach. As we have just finished marking the holiday of Shavuot, there are no other holidays to speak of for a while. Intent on finding an exciting topic, I pondered the articles I read, the classes I attended, the powerful life cycle events, the movies and lunch dates, the baby swim lessons and playgroups, anything and everything. And yet, even with the richness of this week, no obvious Shabbat message revealed itself. I started chatting with my wife, Sam, to drum up some inspiration. Together with her, the message revealed itself.
I realized that this week has been less intense than usual. It appears that summer has indeed begun. In the three years I have been blessed to serve as your rabbi, life has moved at a frenetic pace. Moving to the South, buying a house and a car, getting a dog (and nursing him back to health after a devastating accident,) changing houses, becoming a father, developing amazing friendships, and losing loved ones…the list goes on. Not to mention the constant flights from Atlanta to Baton Rouge that enable our sacred relationship to continue and to prosper. Life has been busy.
And yet, this week…this week has been chill.
So maybe, this Shabbat message, in some way, was a gift from God; a reminder that we cannot spend every day on the peak of that mountain. In fact, it was that mountain peak at Sinai that we just celebrated a few days ago with Shavuot. These days, our ancestors and us, via the weekly Torah readings, find ourselves ba’midbar, in the desert. It was in the desert where our ancestors really developed and where our tradition took shape. It is in the desert, the time and place away from the excitement and drama, where true growth occurs. Perhaps then, in that place of calmness and equanimity, the renowned words of our priestly benediction, found in this week’s Torah portion Naso, will reveal themselves in all their truth; that God may grant us all peace.
I invite you to take this week as a gift to heed the words of our tradition and limnot yameynu / to treasure our days. Those days may rise full of excitement or they may float in seeming normalcy. And yet, normal they are not! Each moment is a gift, a fleeting gift to hold and to treasure.
Thus, we can take a deep breath, reflect on the majesty of life, and the beauty of the weeks, no matter what does or does not transpire. New insights and teachings will reveal themselves as gratitude grows in all aspects of our lives. In this way, we will find ourselves refreshed and ready for the frenzied pace to return once again. Because…it will.
Our post-Shabbat ritual of havdalah teaches us that we spend our lives living between the sacred and the mundane. It is up to us to take notice of all that happens in between.
Praying for a weekend of gratitude and goodness.
And to all you fathers out there, Happy Day and keep up the good work!