Thoughts on Shabbat

At any rate, Shabbat was not my favorite day of the week. I never really observed it seriously, and eventually didn’t even pretend to do so.

But of late, I’ve found Shabbat to be more important to me. I don’t follow the rules at all strictly (I’m typing this on Shabbat, for example), but I still take the day seriously. Lawrence Kushner, in his essay “Thinking Shabbat” in A Shabbat Reader came up with a term for liberal Jews who are serious about Shabbat: “Zocher Shabbat” (in contrast to those Jews who are obsessive about the minutiae of Shabbat, who are called “Shomer Shabbat”).

Tonight, we spent Shabbat evening at Congregation Shir Hadash; first, we helped set up the Oneg (which definitely qualifies as work!). Then Jeff went to the regular service, and Diane and I went to the “Service of the Soul”, led by our new assistant rabbi, Yitzhak Miller. This was a very different service; we started with six niggunim, then six psalms, and then much more music. There were no spoken prayers at all, but there was time for silent contemplation. I surprised myself by enjoying the service quite a bit, though I wasn’t able to give up looking at the clock from time to time, since we continued for a good while after the regular service ended.

When we finished, we went out to the Sukkah for Oneg — Jeff had helped carry everything out at the end of the regular service and was cleaning up in the kitchen while he waited for us. We made our Oneg and then went back to our duties as Oneg volunteers and finished the cleanup.

And now it’s definitely time to call it an evening. Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sukkot!