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SA Jewish News

An eternity in an instant

  • dylan cohen
As exams approached, and the stresses of being a first year UCT engineering student studying away from home began to catch up with me and I was feeling stressed for time, Shabbos had always been a time to take a step back from the stresses of day-to-day life, and truly reflect on what is important; spending uninterrupted time with family, discussing Torah thoughts around the dinner table, and finding a sense of pure spiritual connection in shul.
by DYLAN COHEN | Nov 02, 2017

However, this close to exams, sacrificing an entire 25 hours seemed detrimental to my studies.

A friend and role model sent me a “Weekly Shabbos Shiur” that addressed a few ideas from that week’s parsha of Lech Lecha.

The key concept of the message, was: “One should not lose track of the bigger picture.”. The shiur ended with a quote by Shannon L Adler: “The secret to your purpose is to find what you feel is important, and not to pursue what others would think is important.” This shiur made me stop and think.

We have been given a brief 25-hour period each week, in which we rid ourselves of the distractions of day-to-day living and can deeply reflect on our relationship with G-d. Sacrificing this time for a few hours of university study, now seemed senseless to me.

I immediately asked Rabbi Nissen Goldman (head of Chabad on Campus CT) to help me find accommodation in the hospitable community of the southern suburbs. He arranged for me to spend Shabbos with two other students in the Samson Student House, following a Friday night student Kabbalat Shabbat and supper there.

The Friday night service was one of the most meaningful I have experienced, as the small room of roughly 25 people felt like the grandest of shuls, singing through the familiar Kabbalat Shabbat songs in unison, everybody davening with a sense of unity and spiritual connection.

The young congregants were made up of people from all over the globe, with entirely different backgrounds; students who grew up across South Africa and even three foreign exchange students from America, studying at UCT.

This personifies the true power of an idea such as the Shabbos Project, which hand-in-hand with the South African Jewry, can unify people from all walks of life, by setting aside just one Shabbos to disconnect in order to truly connect!

It’s about Jews embracing their heritage, through practices that will remain unchanged from the first Shabbos till the last.

The friendly Claremont Wynberg Synagogue community made us feel very welcome and the service was uplifted by the outstanding voices of guest Chazzanim Ezra Altschuler and Shmuli Brill, and was followed by an incredible brocha.

It was admirable to see the lengths the congregation had gone to in order to enrich the Shabbos experience, and sustain this passion throughout the day, ending with a Havdallah concert.

The walk home, filled with questions and discussion, led to another delicious meal at the Samson Student House, and after an afternoon of fun and games, a Shabbos shloff was in order before Havdallah.

And just like that, Shabbos was gone… 25 hours, previously thought of as an eternity, had gone in an instant. The six days before the next one was now the eternity; true perspective had been attained.

This Shabbos, which was almost disregarded completely, proved to be one of the most meaningful I have experienced. In my eyes, it fully embodied the purpose of the Shabbos Project; revealing the joys of Shabbos, and the benefits that disconnecting, taking a step back, and discovering what seeing the bigger picture can do for you, particularly at the busiest of times.

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