An odd title today, for my weekly Shabbat greeting and message to you all.
As I sit here in my office, I contemplate the approaching Shabbat, all the while aware that circumstances will be depriving me of the opportunity to properly welcome Shabbat this evening, for the first time in quite a while. After twenty plus years working at my insane profession, I have managed, over the last few, to finally achieve the ability to leave my performance spaces in the hands of others while I join my wife and my congregation in welcoming Shabbat. Of course, in earlier times, rare was the occasion when I even thought about Shabbat and its meaning, let alone celebrate it's arrival and refrain from laboring at my work. So it should be easy for me to do it again tonight. But this time, the feeling is different. In the past, I was able to either justify the necessity of being at work, or, more recently of putting my faith above my work. Today, I am conflicted as never before. To honor the Shabbat would mean I would not be doing my best as a human being to meet my obligations to others. However, I also have obligation to my G-d.
What would G-d want me to do? At first I thought, well, I can keep Shabbat in my heart. To be honest, with the music of "The Student Prince" swirling around me, and my mind focused on the task of insuring that every aspect of the production falls into place-that every lighting cue, scene change et al happens when it should, that the ushers are well-dressed and offering good customer service, that the custodians have cleaned and stocked the rest rooms, how can I do that? What is the link? It would be more honest to say that I am postponing and compacting my Shabbat until my mind and body are free from other distractions and obligations. For at least I have the daytime tomorrow between evening performances to find some Shabbat peace and rest.
Then there is yet another side that says to me-think of the joy and happiness you will be bringing to others tonight-the beautiful sounds and sights. It will surely be restful and peaceful for them. Maybe the music will carry their souls to place that is like the Shabbat is meant to be for us. I'm just giving up a little piece of my Shabbat so that same spirit can be shared by many others. A rationalization? Surely. Sounds poetic but I'm not buying it fully-yet. Perched on the other shoulder, whispering in my ear, is yet another voice saying "What are you worried about. You're a Reform Jew. Doesn't that mean you can work on Shabbat without guilt?" Sorry to disappoint myself-I know better than that. It used to be an easy out, but no more.
I searched today through Chaye Sarah for an answer. I found none-only the brief thought that tonight, I would be like Abraham, a resident alien among people who know nothing of my faith and belief. And no land to buy that I can call my own. And one other tenuous connection. Eliezer went searching for a bride for his master's son. I too, am on a search for a bride-the Shabbat bride. And wondering if she really can be found where I will journey tonight-and if she'll come with me when I ask her. I've meandered on long enough. I leave you with no great insight, answer, or solution. I leave you instead, as I am now, conflicted, confused, searching. Strange as it may sound, I am glad that this is how I feel. It means that, at the very least, I'm not taking the easy way out, and really thinking about it.
Sometimes, this confusion is needed in our lives. When we reach a crossroads, perhaps it's best to stop and think a while before making a choice of which road to follow. I wish, for you and yours, a Shabbat of peace, joy, and rest. Or, if you need it to be, one of doubt, confusion, and conflict. Both have their place in G-d's creation.
© 1997 & 2000 by Adrian A. Durlester
Some other musings on this parasha:
Chaye Sarah 5766-Semper
Chaye Sarah 5763-Life Goes On
Chaye Sarah 5757-The Shabbat That Almost Wasn't
Chayeh Sarah 5761-L'cha Dodi Likrat Kala
Chaye Sarah 5762-Priorities, Redundancies And Puzzles
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