Each week, as I write this note, I try to say something tied to the weekly Torah reading. On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, I’d like to speak a little bit about Shabbos!
Well, not just the theory or regular practice, but a special Shabbos that is planned for October 24-25, Parshas Noach.
Last year, someone suggested to South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Warren Goldstein, that there be a project to help members of the Jewish community unite to observe a single Shabbos together. What became The Shabbos Project was a great success, with a very high level of participation. This year, they have “gone global,” sharing this initiative with the rest of the world.
Every Rosh Hashanah, we look over our deeds of the past year and consider what we can do better during the year ahead. What is our next step forward? How can we come closer to G-d and Torah? Considered in that light, The Shabbos Project is both a practical option and a paradigm. For those who have never tried to observe a traditional Shabbos, it is an opportunity to participate. And for those who do so every week, it is an opportunity to share it with others as a host or coach. It ties together our efforts to grow spiritually and in unity with other Jews.
As we go into the New Year, then, let us consider both participating in The Shabbos Project, and using it as a model for other opportunities to grow. What else might we have wanted to try to do in our own spiritual lives, but we have not yet done? Trying something for a limited period of time is less daunting than making a sudden, permanent commitment. And what else might we do that helps not only our own growth, but that of others in the community?
We approach G-d on Rosh HaShanah and ask for His blessings for a good year, during a time when, our Sages tell us, the Divine Presence is close, waiting for us to turn to Him. Let us commit ourselves to practical, achievable goals to stay close to Him in the year ahead!
Wishing you and yours a year of health and success.