This year, my mistakes have totaled into a collage of embarrassing stories, tearful moments with Rivka, and pains of apathy. As I consider the weight of my neglect of sleep and health, the distressful disagreements with others and my own pressure that I weave into my schedule, I ponder the waves of decision making that I swam with grace. Tallying up my goals that I can check off, observing Shabbat has towered over any other success.
Every week, I await Shabbat; the rest day that I used to prioritize in my life when it was convenient for me, now with the excitement of a love letter flying its way towards me. I plan my introduction to amazing communities throughout Israel, testing to see where I could imagine living, what family values I would like to emulate, what unique stories and personalities tap me on the shoulder. The shivers from the wacky family in Elon Moreh during that stormy weekend in December, and beautiful songs from the following Shabbat at Mizpeh Yericho rustle in the pages of my Shabbat Siddur.
Raising up Shabbat raises up the rest of my week. Beautifying and celebrating Shabbat motivates spirituality that otherwise would slip away from me. The dvar Torah that submits my thoughts to an audience summons new parshah ideas to be investigated. A lick of time away from my school allows the questions and knowledge I have acquired sink into my endless mind. Guarding the mitzvot of Shabbat unites my very distinct Shabbatot and bridges the gaps in my active memory with deep appreciation for Torah. Inspired by location, my surroundings speak a language of effort and commitment that probe my cognitive dissidence with sparks of change. By enacting the mindfulness of the the laws I learn in Hilchot Shabbat, the 25 hours dance with growing into the future I desire.
When I light those candles, I not only see the years next to my mom and sisters, but also my national memory of generations striking the match to kindle an elevated existence. Conscious of the prayers that have accompanied this action since I was a little trouble maker, I feel the intimacy of marking time with my creator. Invested in the moment, I smile with empowerment to continue my path for the next week. Friday night discussions taste just as delicious on my lips as the meal that sets the stage. I am stringing the Tzfat shabbaton during Amud Anan speaking with IDF soldiers training to become officers, Tel Aviv Shabbat with Olivia, Emek Refaim with Emma and her parents, the Maaleh Rachavam carivans watching the same stars that maybe were glanced at by Avraham- all these Shabbatot on the same necklace dangling from my heart.
A diverse education of experiences signify a personal success of my year and by continuing to ensure myself of this practice, the connection will only strengthen. By walking around Eretz Yisrael in the many shoes I have come across, I can proudly dance in my own. While the specific books I pile in every Shabbat allow resting a stretched definition, the time always rested me into a recognition of constant learning. And as I walk next to Ilana sharing Shabbat at the Kotlers, I begin to believe that Shabbat holds transformative powers. I can daven Friday afternoon mincha with a conviction bouncing around within and find myself through a car wash of eternal time and by havdalah Saturday night, the world seems different. Someone once told me that Judaism is a religion of time striving to sanctify time on holiness by separating the essence away from the mundane. To further that notion, I believe that Judaism releases time from the confinement of the mundane by sanctifying even the simple smells and sips, the casual conversations and elevates the daily tasks that we turn on their heads. I believe in Shabbat because Shabbat becomes me and I unto her. As much as I keep Shabbat, she keeps me. And when I do accidentally miss a step in our relationship, she is there still knocking at my door every next week, beckoning me toward elevated time with the King.