Elul 27 5776
Today, we are publishing a double love letter for your double super Sabbath souls. Wishing you a restful, peaceful, and love-ful Sabbath. Be back on Sunday!
Dear Persistent and Tired Peacemakers,
Shimon Peres failed to make it happen but who knows how long it will take for grand visions like his New Middle East to manifest. The world brings a peace fighter to rest today, a brave, wise and complicated man, a devoted leader, who taught us, through the very end, how to not give up on optimism and bridge building. How to persist. His funeral brings together leaders from around the world, united, if fleetingly, in honoring the vision of peace.
Shalom, Peace, it is said in the Talmud, is one of the Divine Names. Like God and Love, Peace is also so often a tired cliche, found fleetingly, always yearned for. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach used to compare peace to clapping: left and right come together, briefly, and then separate, again and again.
When despairing of the many strifes within one’s self and in the world around us, the tired clapping, it’s helpful to reignite the memory of a possible, even if fleeting, sense of peace in our lives. Peres left many lessons but the ones I honor him today with is the courage not to give up on the little wins in the bigger struggle for justice, how to move from fear based strategies for life to more love driven choices, even and esp. in the face of conflicts and complex challenges.
Peacemaking is something we all get to do and can all be better at, with more patience, and persistence. In what ways, areas of my life can I be a better peacemaker? How can I be more of a peacemaker this coming year?
Peacemakers also need times and places to rest and recharge.
Places, palaces, like Shabbat.
Shabbat Shalom - a Sabbath of Peace, is the greeting that I grew up with, used by people starting Friday, mostly, all through Saturday dusk. It’s an ancient blessing and so auto-pilot that we forget that our words invoke that which we yearn for: Being time. Our own-made oasis, unplug/recharge dinner table, time for rest and reconnect, a book, nap, stroll, game, love making, peace making.
On this 27th day of Elul, the eve of the last Sabbath of this year, let all peacemakers rest. This coming year, please, fellow peacemakers, let’s remind each other to rest, and let’s support each other to persist, with optimism, and build bridges peace by peace.
Elul 28 5776
The pursuit of you is a delight compared only with your presence, and perhaps too often I neglect to note, appreciate, and welcome your being in sight, touch, taste, smell and all other senses. The pursuit of you can sometimes lead us to a rocky road. That’s where addictions happen.
Maimonides and the Marshmallow test, physicians and philosophers through the ages, all counsel moderation as a way to balance our being and enjoyment of life’s many possible pleasures.
All of them and all of us find ways to deal with guilty pleasures. Adjustments are needed. This Elul period is good for that.
Ideally, we can come up with wholesome ways to bring more conscious pleasures into our lives. Guilt free.
Shabbat is one of those consciously chosen islands of pleasure. Isaiah the prophet proclaimed “Name the Sabbath: Pleasure.” Even 2,700 years ago people realized that it’s wise, at least once a week, in the midst of our busy lives, to take time out and love ourselves in some small way of pleasure.
On this 28th day of reflection, the last Sabbath of the year, I invite you, pleasure, as welcome guest, honored and prioritized. How can I celebrate you as a guest more often in the coming year?
I wish for all the Sabbaths of the coming year to contain at least a healthy dose of moderated pleasures in so many pleasing and surprising ways. I’ll do my share in setting tables, casting sacred circles, arranging flowers, for others and self. And you, pleasure, please please us with your presence for as long as you’d like, beyond the three stars and the smelling of the spice. I’ll meet you in the new year honey.
PREPENT: Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie’s annual journey to the new year, with 40 ways in 40 days to reflect, refocus, recharge and restart life. This year features daily love letters inspired by Lab/Shul’s theme for the High Holy Days, “וְאָהַבְתָּ re:love.”
This story "Prepent Day 27+28: In Search of Peace and Pleasure" was written by Amichai Lau-Lavie.