Saturday, April 14, 2007

Out, Thoughts, Out

The rabbi suggested that Ryan and I take time each week to observe Shabbat in whatever way we can. Traditionally, Shabbat would begin with a Friday evening meal at sundown, which would include candlelighting and prayers. Depending on how you observe Shabbat, the following 24 hours are intended for prayer, soul-searching and rest.

When I first thought about observing Shabbat, I was incredibly intimidated. I am definitely incapable of not making mental lists in my head of all the things I need to do. I often use Ryan as my springboard. I ramble things to him, hoping that by doing so that I'll remember them tomorrow. I can't even imagine praying! My mind can't stay quiet long enough to have any persisted thought. The minute I start to think of something to meditate on, my mind sprints to something else. Thoughts are constantly crawling around in my head, driving both me and Ryan insane.

One of my friends says she sets a timer every time she wants to connect with G_d. I think if I did that I would keep looking at the digital numbers and just grow frustrated as lists upon lists keep formulating and time keeps dwindling.

I think the rabbi understands my confusion/frustrations regarding prayer and G_d, so he kept it simple. He said our Shabbat should be a time for us just to enjoy each other as human beings and not housekeepers, landscapers, dishwashers or any other kind of taskmaster. He discourages us from even talking about the things we need to do around the house. The rabbi himself observes Shabbat by not talking on the phone during the period. To each his own, I guess.

Because I work every Friday night and Saturday, we obviously can't observe Shabbat in any traditional way. So we've taken to having Saturday brunch. I light the candle, Ryan recites the prayer and we have whatever breakfast entree I have come up with at the last minute. This morning -- French toast and scrambled eggs.

We follow the Shabbat meal by reading aloud from Basic Judaism, one of the three books the rabbi has suggested I read. The book is interesting, but a hard read. It was written just before the founding of Israel, so we find ourselves stumbling over words and grasping at meanings.

Today's reading was about the Torah, which is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible -- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. It mostly delved into the two interpretative theories -- traditionalists and modernists. Traditionalists believe the entire word of G_d was delivered to the Jews on Mount Sinai, and that the Talmud and even the rabbinic writings were predetermined at that point. Modernists believe in flexible interpretation of the Torah, that it can mean something different today than it did in the last generation.

Ryan and I are going to Great Bend for a few days, so I'll be away from the computer for a while. It'll be a nice break for someone who is on the computer at least half the day for work or leisure. I plan on speeding through The Chosen this weekend, so I'm sure I'll have some thoughts come Tuesday.

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