Behar/Bechukotai 5783 – Nasu
After a fantastic weekend on the Jersey Shore at Congregation Torat-El, this week I’m back home in Columbus along with Coleen Dieker, my musical chevruta (study partner), immersing ourselves in music and creating some new melodies. We can’t wait to share them with you! We’ll be premiering a few at our concert this Thursday at Agudas Achim in Bexley, OH.
This week has been a much-needed pause and re-engagement with music and prayer after running and traveling all over for many months. In parashat Behar we receive the laws of Shmita, a mandated rest to allow the land to lie fallow for a year. In the midst of the instruction, Moses rhetorically says,
וְכִי תֹאמְרוּ מַה־נֹּאכַל בַּשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁבִיעִת הֵן לֹא נִזְרָע וְלֹא נֶאֱסֹף אֶת־תְּבוּאָתֵנוּ׃
And should you ask, “What are we to eat in the seventh year, if we may neither sow nor gather in our crops?” (Vayikra 25:20)
A pretty understandable question! There’s a story told about a student of Rebbe Menachem Mendl of Kotsk, who was complaining about his bitter luck and worried about what he was going to eat. The rebbe told him to pray to God and God would send food. The student replied, “I don’t know how to pray,” and continued to complain. The rebbe replied, “If that’s the case, you should worry about that more than you worry about food!
We spend so much of our time worrying about our physical sustenance – about money, about work, about taking care of our families. I think we tend to spend much less time worrying about our spiritual sustenance – about our mission, our happiness, and our sense of satisfaction and connection. This is arguably equally as important. For me, prayer serves not as a way to awaken God to act, but to awaken myself to my own needs, desires, and dreams. How do I want to walk in the world today? This week? This year?
This prayer, Nasu, comes at the end of Kabbalat Shabbat like the crest of a wave. It asks us if we can find a way, amidst all the noise and commotion in our lives, to find space for holiness.
“מִקּלוֹת מַיִם רַבִּים אַדִּירִים מִשְׁבְּרֵי יָם, מִקּלוֹת מַיִם רַבִּים אַדִּיר בַּמָּרוֹם ה”
And above the thunder of the mighty waters, more majestic than the breakers of the sea, is the Holy One, majestic on high, if only you can hear the sound.
Today is Lag Ba’omer, the 33rd day of our counting towards receiving the Torah. It is traditionally a day of celebration and coming together. 33 in Gematria (Hebrew numerology) is also גל – a wave. As we ride the waves of life, how can we navigate towards spiritual sustenance as well?
Wishing you an uplifting Lag Ba’omer and early Shabbat Shalom,