8/9 March 2024, 29 Adar 5784

‘Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be… rested we care again for the right things and the right people in the right way. In rest we re-establish the goals that make us more generous [and] more courageous…’*

I love these words by the poet David Whyte. He captures so well what can happen when we stop. I confess to worshipping often capacity and busyness and energy and elastic time as an end in itself. It never occurred to me as someone who had, I thought, understood Shabbat, that longer pause can indeed be a sacred act.

Somewhere, we know that the silent pause between musical notes serves the notes themselves. The white behind and between the black inked letters of Torah serve to create full words and meanings and if we are lucky, the opportunity to step away from our desks, our daily tasks and those emails, can and will refresh and invigorate our sense of things.

That pause has been so for me.  I have studied, read and read more, I’ve spent time on new prayers and praying. I have written without deadlines; I have paid attention to family when they have most needed it. I have taken time to think – and I’ve been reminded anew of the courage and generosity in people here at FPS.

No surprise to find this week’s Torah portion of Vayakel, at the end of Exodus, echoing back this past month for us. A reminder to keep Shabbat and sacred rest (if anything, to help us be more productive) and then we are told about the power of generosity and open heartedness in being part of building, the mishkan – sanctuary. It is speaking directly to us, isn’t it?

Everyone” whose heart so moves him or her shall bring gifts,כֹּ֚ל נְדִ֣יב לִבּ֔וֹ

Translated as anyone with a willing or generous heart.

I have watched this congregation, full of generous souls, volunteering of their time, their resources, giving funds to our own sanctuary, “all whose heart is willing.” Distance allowed an amazement and pride in what we have managed and what we will, I hope, manage more: the generosity of the hearts that make up our congregation, those who have given financially and those who give of their own time and skill. The word Kol is repeated 35 times in this Torah chapter alone. It means all, each, every. It emphasises the power of congregation, of community, of equity, of collaboration in whatever we put our mind to. Having observed my own ‘Shabbat’ I’m so grateful for the generosity of all the hearts back here.

Thank you for honouring me with this short sabbatical and giving us all that sacred pause to consider. I look forward to seeing what more our willing, generous hearts bring.

Shabbat Shalom,