Parsha: Pinchas (2023)

The Gift of Shabbat.

We have begun the period known as the 3 weeks. This begins on 17th of Tamuz until the 9th of Av known as Tisha B’av.

This is an annual mourning period that begins Thursday (6 July), 17th of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, a fast day that marks the day when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans in 69 CE.

It reaches its climax and concludes 3 weeks later, with the fast of the 9th of Av, the date when both Holy Temples were set aflame. This is the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, and it is also the date that many other tragedies befell our people.

So, for the next 3 weeks, we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and our launch into a still-ongoing exile.

However when Shabbat arrives, all mourning is suspended.

Why is this so? And how can we just stop mourning, just because its Shabbat ?

The Talmud says, something fascinating about Shabbat, a conversation that G-d had with Moses:
“The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Moses: I have a good gift in My treasure house and Shabbat is its name, and I seek to give it to Israel.”

When we enter “Shabbat mode” we are entering into a divine space. We are entering into G-ds gift.
It can transcend life’s demands, stresses, expectations, and allows us to just be.

It is also very telling that this week’s Parsha, this first Shabbat of the “3 week period of mourning” we read Parshat Pinchas. This Parsha speaks about the 3 Festivals. Perhaps reminding us of the power of G-d’s gift of Shabbat and the Festivals.

Joe Lieberman is a very well-known American politician, who keeps Shabbat. He was the nominee for Vice President of the United States in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. He was once asked by the media “Mr Lieberman, I very much respect your religion and all the things that you’ve embraced, but how can somebody be running for the Office of the President of the USA and be able to make big decisions if you’re not available 24/7?’

And Joe Lieberman looked back at the camera, and he said, ‘Can I ask you a question? How can you make big decisions if you are available 24/7?’

It is perhaps during these 3 weeks that we can recognise the power of Shabbat even more.

Jewish Mysticism teaches us that every Shabbat constitutes a foretaste of the Messianic Era. As such, on Shabbat we can live in a state of redemption, peace and bliss without the need to mourn.

The Shabbat experience, is not “all or nothing”. We can all add (at least) a little something to allow us to benefit from the gift of Shabbat. Its “G-ds gift” to us, lets utilise it.

Shabbat Shalom