I remember in rabbinic school one of the teachers, an acerbic and witty philosophy professor, dead-panned to the class, “I celebrate my Shabbos (Sabbath) on Thursday night, and so should you, because Friday night you are working!”
Don’t get me wrong. I look forward to the ancient, holy day of rest every week. But it passes by in a flurry of activity. Exhilarating and lovely, inspiring me week after week, but very, very busy.
This last Shabbos, though, we had no public service, after our own medical professor and U.S. Air Force doctor confirmed the urgent need to follow the governor’s advice of not having any gathering of more than 10 people. I wasn’t in the role of leading study, prayer, or publicly reading from the Torah scroll.
Read more of the Coronavirus Diaries here!
It was quiet and surprisingly natural. I went to sleep early, woke up in the dark, took a few hours to read the entire Book of Psalms, sinking deeply into its deep musical tides of emotion and inspiration. Quiet prayer, a quiet meal, a walk outside with my wife — all was quiet, but all felt new and powerful.
Where is this power coming from? A centuries-old hymn sung in people’s homes speaks of a “A day that is entirely Shabbos and tranquility for the life of all the worlds.” The initial Sabbath of Genesis came after the Creator deemed the entirety of the world “very good.”
In the midst of a plague, the traditional modes of observing the Sabbath were shaken up, and what revealed itself to me was something that was beyond the clichés of my own making. Something primordial, as old as Creation itself, yet hidden, until summoned out by the need of an extraordinary time. No matter what the chaos attending, something very good is being born, and we are called to celebrate it and rest in it before we go back out and work.
Editor’s Note: The coronavirus pandemic has many of us shut up in our homes for now. That can be isolating and frustrating. But it can also be a chance to catch up on things we let fall away during busier times. So we’re asking our writers and readers: How are you spending your time amid the shutdown? We’re open to anything that will make us laugh or think and help us share what will be a difficult time for many. Please send contributions of 250–400 words to email@example.com.