Judaism is a provocative religion. & thank G@d. The holy Shabbes that ended this evening was one of the most transformative I have experienced in quite some time. Barukh Ha-Shem.
Below is the last 22 lines of Mishlei/Proverbs, sentiments praising the inestimable value of a good woman in one's home. It's called "Ayshet Chayil", "Woman of Valour", after the first 2 words. It is traditionally sung by Jewish husbands to their wives each Friday night as a part of the ritual leading up to dinner, expressing his appreciation for all the good she brings him: food, sex, companionship, being his ezer k'negdo - "helpmate opposite him". Joel wrote a gorgeously touching tune for me to these verses, which inspired me to make the effort to achieve valourous womanhood & wifehood in our home. I made this piece back in...1999. Yeah. It's all lightfast inks on watercolour paper & is about 8" x 10". & it's for sale.
Such a beautiful way to start the Shabbat. & this Shabbat was literally wondrous! First of all, R' Ross Singer was in town, his last stop on a two-week trip across North America applying for jobs as his Jerusalem Fellowship is up this summer. We would all love to have him back here in Vancouver, like, crazy-a lot. But really we all love him & his wife Emily so much that we just want them to be in the right place at the right time for them & their kids. They're all so precious.
The "trouble" with Shabbat is that because I can't write or blog for 25 hours, I can't always recall all the beauty & magic that goes on sufficiently to write about it & really get my experience across here.
All I can really say is that we came together as a community this Friday & Saturday. We jived! Shaarey Tefilah used to be, IMHO, the best place to daven & the best place to learn in the whole Lower Mainland. But due to my own unfortunate personal circumstances & due to the synagogue community having gone through a political implosion, I haven't gone in about 3 months. I've attended other Orthodox shuls instead, but I've really missed "the good old days" at Shaarey Tefilah. It's still my home community & I've decided to start going again, but it hasn't been what it could be. In fact, a few months ago I had to make a "I'm going to make a scene if you don't hand me that Torah" face at one of the men. He wasn't going to give the women the Sefer Torah so we could carry it through our section, which is one of the really important & positive things about the shul. There were only 6 of us, so I guess he didn't think that was enough to give it over, but I insisted. He reluctantly handed it over to me & I carried it high among the women so we could all touch it & then returned it to him at the bimah. I have no idea what the sudden change was about, but you can be sure that as long as I am in the congregation, women will have that much access to the Sefer Torah.
Anyway - excuse the major tangent - last night & today it was like nothing bad had ever happened. The pews were crowded with smiling faces, we stirred up great ru'ach/spirit with our prayer & song - we even danced! We used to dance every Friday night, the women & men in separate circles, the children wherever they pleased. It was such a pure expression of joy, an offering to G@d of gratitude for the Shabbat. But we haven't danced in more than a year & a half. To return to that last night broke my heart, it was so beautiful, & because this is what we used to have & it's gone. I miss it.
I sat at the "rabbi table" for dinner, with R' Schachar & R' Ross & we caught up. Jerusalem & Vancouver are too far apart for good friends to dwell in.
& today, too, the davening was sweet & R' Ross' shiurim - like last night's - were engaging. About integrity with G@d & oneself & one's neighbour. Ethics. Between last night & today I saw & visited with probably 50 people who I have missed & who missed me. It's been intensely emotional to re-connect. Beautiful. Thank G@d.
A small group of us were invited to the home where R' Ross was staying for shalosh seudos, the third meal of Shabbat, where we relaxed & hung out, talked like real human people & had a few l'chayims (just like at dinner & lunch!).
My simple, loving experiences over this Shabbat Zachor - the Shabbat of remembering to blot out Amaleyq - reminds me of Yehezkel/Ezekiel 11:19: "And I will give them a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in them; and I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh". Ultimately, the heart of humanity will not be made tender flesh by the Holy One until Messianic times, but I believe it will not be a sudden act of G@d, more like a journey. The global process has already begun & for me personally, I have on occasion had experiences which soften the stone in my own heart. Today was one of those days. I still have a ways to go, but thank G@d.
Shavu'ah tov - godt voch - a good week...
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