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Today I participated in my first Sabbath (referred to as “Shabbat”) ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.  Saturday is the Holy Day in Judaism, and it really is a day “set apart”.  It begins at Friday at sundown, and the whole Jewish part of the city shuts down–they don’t drive cars, they don’t light fires (which includes things like taking a picture–all of my photos are before sunset), they prepare meals beforehand–in short, no work is done.  It is really quite humbling to see.  It really made me wonder about my own committment to the Sabbath.  The surprising thing was that I expected the bringing in of the Sabbath to be an exclusively solemn event.  For a large number of the Jews at the wall, it was–I saw people with their scriptures, reading and reciting passages to themselves as well as praying by the wall.  But a significant portion of the Jews were dancing and singing and genuinely celebrating.  They were sincerely excited for the Sabbath day.  I met one Rabbi who was explaining it and he was saying that it wasn’t so much of a day of rest as it was a rest from the world–a rest of the worries and woes of this world and a chance to step back and focus on the blessings and grandeur of God.  In his mind, there was nothing more appropriate than celebrating and dancing.  It was so humbling to see and hear.  How many times have I grumbled about the things I “can’t” do on the Sabbath?  Why was I not celebrating the chance to free myself from my worldly box, and explore the vast world of things divine, holy, and inward?  It really made me rethink the way we approach a lot of the commandments.  Another Rabbi, in talking about the “restrictions” of their dietary laws, said, “I don’t view them so much as restrictions, but rather that my God cares so much about me–right down to the things I eat.”  What an awesome perspective!

The path we walked to get into the Old City and the Western Wall. Below is the City of David

The more ‘modern’ (reform) group of Jews were dancing to bring in Shabbat. My JC friends and I even joined in!

All the men gathered at the plaza at the Western Wall, just before Shabbat.

4 Responses

  1. Kendel, thank you for your insightfulness. Reading about Jerusalem from your perspective makes me both jealous, and insightful about my life. Especially the post about the Resurrection.Thanks friend.

  2. I hope they let you go to the Shouvot celebration at the WW. That was amazing. (Pentecost). There are so many people there and you get to go for sunrise. They let us do it last year, but I don’t know with all that has been happening. I hope they do. At least ask. Ophir will probably suggest it as well…

  3. Thank you for posting the great content…I was looking for something like this…I found it quiet interesting, hopefully you will keep posting such blogs….Keep sharing

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