Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood

Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood
Celebrating Havdallah

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pre-Shabbos Prep

Many people like to spend their Friday afternoons "preparing for Shabbat." That can mean everything from cooking, cleaning, preparing one's self and space physically or even emotionally. My favorite way to prepare for Shabbat, on a Friday afternoon, involves two things: mental preparation and relaxation. I know that the latter seems silly. You may be saying, "Why relax if you're about to enter into Shabbat when we elevate time and give ourselves space to stop working (in whatever way is most meaningful for you)?"

As someone who works on Shabbat, and doesn't always give myself the time to relax as I should, I find that the few moments of relaxation before Shabbat help remind me of how I want to enter in to Shabbat - hopefully to have it help carry me through that time. I like to go for a walk or engage in other kinds of physical activity, listen to music or catch up on some bad television, or even call friends and family and connect with them. Whatever I do, I make sure that it is time for me and that it is enjoyable.

The other great thing that I like to do is reflect. Whether it be reflecting on the past week, thinking about the upcoming Chagim (holidays) or the Parsha Hashavua (the weekly Torah portion) or great philosophical/theological questions that I wrestle with.

Earlier this week, after momentarily discussing some theological musings with a friend, I stumbled upon a series of questions that I had listed in a former blog from several years ago. I think I'd like to spend this pre-Shabbat time focusing on just a few of those questions:

1) What does it mean to be human?
2) What do you believe about human nature and issues of good vs. evil?
3) How does one provide meaning to human existence in a Jewish way? Why be Jewish at all?

These are big ones, I know. But perhaps if we give ourselves the space and the time to breathe, and to reflect on these questions in our own lives, the spirit of Shabbat will be that much more meaningful and that much sweeter, in our own lives.
Happy thinking and Shabbat Shalom!

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