Friday in Israel – A Dialogue with God before the Shabbat

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It’s Friday morning again in Israel. Sometimes, I think part of me lives just for this morning, this moment when the soup is cooking and it’s quiet. I have so much I could do today…I probably won’t. I’m going to take the day off…do very little. But soon, I’ll fill the candle holders with oil so that I’ll see them and remember…soon, soon Shabbat will come.

Over the last few years, I have traveled far…so many countries in Europe, two in Asia. I have traveled from the north of India to some of its southern and western states. I met so many people, saw so much…and always returned to Israel richer for the experience.

Everywhere I went, I took a few things with me. Often, because I keep kosher, I took the foods of Israel. I’ve become an expert at packing food even for a few weeks. Always, I take my God with me. Yes, I know. Of course, God is everywhere, not just here in Israel. Not just mine, but everyone’s. But God and I have an arrangement, an agreement. We talk. Well, I talk and He listens. I don’t listen enough. I try, but it isn’t easy.

And when I am the farthest from Israel, God is the closest to me. To fly and know, just know, you are the only Jew on a plane is an interesting experience. Suddenly, when you say the traveler’s prayer, you feel that you are saying it not just for yourself, but everyone else around you.

You long for the sight of another Jew, the sounds of Hebrew and when they are nowhere to be found, God is the closest of all.

Sometimes, at the airport waiting for the flight to Israel, God slips a bit away, steps back. You’re almost home, He tells me. A little bit longer. Israel is waiting for you.

Come with me, I ask God. Don’t step back just because I’m almost home. And though I don’t claim to actually hear and speak to God, I know in my heart that even as God grants me my wish to see and hear and feel my people around me, He guards and watches over all.

It’s sort of like at a park, when a mother or father hovers closer to the child that separates himself and then falls back and lets the child play with his friends when he re-centers himself near others.

And then comes Friday and the promise of Shabbat…Shabbat when God shows His Greatness…somehow being everywhere…but also right here with us.

Late on Friday afternoon, just as Shabbat arrives, Israel changes. It is that moment when the open skies of our land turn into a dome…more powerful than the Iron Dome. I long for Shabbat and pray that it lingers well beyond the 25 hours marked by the clock.

A Sabbath Prayer

May God grant us all a Shabbat of peace, of health, of togetherness. May we feel His presence and know we are blessed. And as we always pray, please God, grant a speedy recovery to the sick and suffering all over the world and bless us with life.

Shabbat shalom.

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