What do you do the day after you thought the world was going to end?
We made it through. We’re on the other side of the High Holy Days. Look around. Now is when the real work starts. We always are told to live each day like we are dying, But is that really what we should be doing? My mother told me a story she learned from Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann, about a man who turned 60 years old and wanted to learn the violin, but decided not to, not knowing how much longer he would have. He died at the age of 97, and could have been a virtuoso. It is never too late too begin.
Live like today is the beginning! Tomorrow is the first Shabbat after the holidays. Our first opportunity to sing, to chant, to pray, since we left the Divine Holy Court. Jews sing all the time, but there is something particularly special about getting to sing together on Shabbat. The word in Hebrew for a song is “Shir”, but a song we sing on Shabbat is called a “Zemer”. Hebrew words and letters hold holy and mystical significance. Words were formed with intention, and can be reformed and reinterpreted to deepen meaning. Zemer, read backwards, is Remez, which means “hint”. A shir is a song that we sing anytime, but a Zemer on Shabbat hints at something more. It hints at the Divine Presence, at the comfort and love of Shabbat. Yah Ribon is a zemer.
Taking time to be in Shabbat gives us the strength to continue the work we need to do in this world. Sing your way into Shabbat with this zemer, Yah Ribon. Sing it with friends. Sing it with family. Sing it in your heart.
May the voices which chant and pray on this Shabbat be voices of kindness and truth at all times. May we deepen our concern for all your children, and renew our devotion to our people and our faith. On this Shabbat which we share together, help us to feel your presence, O Source of Life and Love.