Emor, Leviticus 21:1-24:23 Parshat Ha Shavua for Shabbat, May 14, 2022

During the first year or so of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many of us were minimizing our contact with others and those who were lucky enough were working from home, the days seemed to run together, to blend into each other without differentiation. What kept me anchored in time was Shabbat. Every Friday I would prepare for Shabbat: bake challah, cook a special meal, and clean the house. Friday evening was sacred time, ushered in by blessings over candles, wine and challah, followed by a leisurely family meal filled with conversation and connection. Saturday was spent without a computer or cell phone, in synagogue or at home with family, peace and quiet. Shabbat gave that long stretch of time a form and a shape. In this week’s Torah portion we read, “Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: These are My fixed times, the fixed times of ADONAI, which you shall proclaim as sacred occasions. On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a sabbath of complete rest, a sacred occasion. You shall do no work; it shall be a sabbath of יהוה throughout your settlements.” (Leviticus 23:2-3) Shabbat and the holy days are sacred time and are meant to stand apart from the rest of the week, month or year. This sacred time gives our lives shape by giving us the space to turn toward our inner selves, our spiritual selves, those parts of us that seek something greater in life than just the day to day hustle and bustle of life. Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote of Shabbat as a cathedral in time, “Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge from the magnificent stream of a year. The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals; and our Holy of Holies is a shrine that neither the Romans nor the Germans were able to burn;” (A.J. Heschel, The Sabbath, P. 8) If you do not do so already try, in some small way, to begin to tune in to the holiness of sacred time, the rhythms of the Divine, the mystery and meaning that exists outside of our day to day existence.