Friday, October 9, 2009

21 Tishrei. Slow me, slow me down

Earlier this week, Arianna Huffington announced a 'HuffPost Book Club' at  She explains that she wants to share interesting,thought-provoking books, and not necessarily just selected from the latest releases.  Her first selection is called 'In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed', by Carl Honore, which was published in 2004.  Arianna's review certainly tempts me to take a look, and as I glance at the chapter headings, available, along with substantial excerpts, here, it is apparent that Jewish wisdom and practice has the perfect antidote to the 'cult of speed'... Shabbat.  Honore reflects on how we eat, where we live, how we care for our bodies, how we make love, how we work and rest, and how we raise our children.

Another wonderful writer that gives us a gorgeous Jewish take 'in praise of slowness', currently putting the finishing touches to a new album, is Jewish singer and composer, Beth Schafer.  Check out these words from an earlier album, 'The Quest and the Question'

Slow Me Down
© 2005
Words & Music by Beth A. Schafer
Hebrew text: Genesis

Friday afternoon the day comes skidding to a halt on my tired face
Arms are full, tank is low, did I place or even show in this week’s race?
Then the sun warms up my arm hanging out my window.
Another mile and a deep breath brings me ‘round.

Slow me, slow me down
Slow me, slow me down
I need rejuvenation to find the heartbeat of creation
Where my soul’s unbound
Got to slow me down

I’ve got piles on my piles and lists of lists unfinished so what else is new
Colors whizzing by me too much busy too much, “Why me?” in this crazy zoo
Then the strains of old songs written long ago tug my ear again
Another couple hours and I’ll be wrapped in those sweets sounds


Ki sheshet yamim asa Adonai et hashamayim v’et ha’aretz
U’vayom hashvi’i Shabbat vayinafash, Shabbat vayinafash
Trans. For in six days God created the heavens and the earth and on the seventh day,
God rested.

This weekend we celebrate Simchat Torah.  Two power ends of our holy text, both with lessons that inspire us to reflect on the speed of life, and the importance of slowing things down enough so that we can live in the moment, appreciate our blessings, and nurture authentic connections - with our family, friends, community, and with God.  At the end of D'varim, Moses dies.  When we reflect on the life of a loved one, now deceased, we are flooded with the memories of presence; with the experience of being.  We realize the preciousness of that existence, and perhaps it reminds us to slow down and try to be more present to life, and to each other, in each moment that we have.

And then we return to B'reishit - Beginning.  For in six days God created the heavens and the earth and on the seventh day, God rested.  So important is Shabbat that, in among all of the amazing creations of the material world, we are given a holy clue as to what we must do to truly live in and appreciate this world.
Choose one way this Shabbat to consciously slow down, take a breath, notice, bless, appreciate, connect.

Shabbat Shalom, and Chag Sameach,
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz

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