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Religion

Time for ourselves

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Rabbi Ari Kievman, Sandton Central Shul

Looking forward, nearly every month on the Jewish calendar has some kind of festival or official auspicious days. Next month, we’ll be celebrating Chanukah and then Tu B’Shevat followed by Purim, Pesach, Lag BaOmer, and Shavuos. Then, we have the sombre days of introspection before returning to the high holiday season once again. Festivals abound in our calendar.

Except the present month of Mar Cheshvan. A month devoid of feasts or fasts. Tedious five-day work weeks, devoid of days-off for shul.

The Torah portions we are presently reading describe the journey of our first patriarch and matriarch, Avraham and Sarah. What was the first message that G-d Almighty told them? “Go to yourself.” So, we follow their journeys first to the land of Canaan and then, due to famine there, proceeding down to Egypt. The turn of events there leads them to tremendous prosperity.

Torah isn’t just history, its messages are instructions for our life-story. So it is with us that sometimes, we need to leave our comfort zones to experience our truest self. It starts with our soul, dispatched from the heavenly realm to enter a life on earth. As lofty as its existence was basking in spirituality, it is instructed to leave that scene, and is sent to the world charged with a mission.

It is when we embark on such a voyage that we discover our true identity, and indeed realise what a difference we can make. The present month may not be as saturated with holidays as the last one was, but it is when we leave the spiritual cocoon and journey into mundane ordinary time that we discover our true selves. As in marriage, this month is the post-honeymoon phase when we learn to really make it work without the theatrics. There’s no external inspiration this month. It’s time to stop doing, and start being.

One kind of festival that we’re fortunate to have every week, regardless of the month, is Shabbos, “an oasis in time”, when we can leave the external pressures of life and tune into our inner rhythm. On this Shabbos, thousands of Jewish people around the world will proudly strive to properly observe the sacred day of rest and celebrate Shabbos in global unity. Join this worldwide wave of Jewish joy, sacred serenity, and traditional tranquillity by participating as best you can to keep it according to Jewish law.

Our sages say that if all Jews were to observe one single Shabbos, then redemption would come for the world. The Shabbos Project is another building block toward finalising our ultimate goal, the Moshiach Project. Let’s keep it together and bring Moshiach speedily.

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