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October 21, 2014

TheShabbatProjectMakingHistory-230x150#wellbeing “We all want to feel good on the inside and look good on the outside.” ~ @Venuseswilliams

Paula Abdul says “Shabbat is her Club Med in life”[1]

This week’s Torah Parsha (Portion) is Noach (Noah). Below is a summary from

G‑d instructs Noah—the only righteous man in a world consumed by violence and corruption—to build a large wooden teivah (“ark”), coated within and without with pitch. A great deluge, says G‑d, will wipe out all life from the face of the earth; but the ark will float upon the water, sheltering Noah and his family, and two members (male and female) of each animal species.

Rain falls for 40 days and nights, and the waters churn for 150 days more before calming and beginning to recede. The ark settles on Mount Ararat, and from its window Noah dispatches a raven, and then a series of doves, “to see if the waters were abated from the face of the earth.” When the ground dries completely—exactly one solar year (365 days) after the onset of the Flood—G‑d commands Noah to exit the teivah and repopulate the earth.

Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifices to G‑d. G‑d swears never again to destroy all of mankind because of their deeds, and sets the rainbow as a testimony of His new covenant with man. G‑d also commands Noah regarding the sacredness of life: murder is deemed a capital offense, and while man is permitted to eat the meat of animals, he is forbidden to eat flesh or blood taken from a living animal.

Noah plants a vineyard and becomes drunk on its produce. Two of Noah’s sons, Shem and Japheth, are blessed for covering up their father’s nakedness, while his third son, Ham, is punished for taking advantage of his debasement.

The descendants of Noah remain a single people, with a single language and culture, for ten generations. Then they defy their Creator by building a great tower to symbolize their own invincibility; G‑d confuses their language so that “one does not comprehend the tongue of the other,” causing them to abandon their project and disperse across the face of the earth, splitting into seventy nations.

The Parshah of Noach concludes with a chronology of the ten generations from Noah to Abram (later Abraham), and the latter’s journey from his birthplace of Ur Casdim to Charan, on the way to the land of Canaan.

Running this week I noticed a sign outside a gym that said #FITWEEK and all over Caulfield are signs advertising the Shabbos Project with the theme #KEEPINGITTOGETHER. Both hash tags are aiming to get people started! To get people motivated to start exercising or to try keeping the laws of Shabbos for a week.

I read something interesting from Rabbi Riskin on this weeks Parsha. Rabbi Riskin says – “Noah may have been righteous and wholehearted as an individual, but he lacked the strength and the boldness to confront G-d’s decision and to oppose the wicked ways of the world. This characteristic is built into his name, which means “ease.” Rashi says that he received that name because he created an easier method of reaping wheat from the ground. G-d elects the one who challenges Him and is willing to go to war to fight the evil terrorists who captured Lot. G-d wants us to swim against the current, to put our lives on the line, in order to perfect the world in the Kingship of the Divine. That’s what it means to be a Hebrew (Ivri): to stand in opposition on one side (ever in Hebrew), even if everyone – even God – stands on the other.”

Keeping Shabbos and putting our lives on hold for a day is going against the tide or as Rabbi Riskin says “swimming against the current” to our busy technology filled lives.

“Jews of all walks of life – religious and secular, young and old, from all corners of the world – are uniting to experience one full Shabbat together.” – #KEEPINGITTOGETHER

Senator Joe Lieberman says the simple meaning of #KEEPINGITTOGETHER – “the unifying experience of literally keeping Shabbat together – as one Jewish people, and as individuals, families and communities all over the world, all at the same time.”

I have been thinking – What does the Shabbos Project mean to me? As a Jew who tries to keep the laws of Shabbos, why do I need a Shabbos Project?

Throughout my life I have always strived to improve who I am and what I am. Keeping Shabbos has been an unbelieve part of my life and who I am. Part of this process of keeping Shabbos is to learn more and more about the laws of Shabbos and to try and enhance this Shabbos experience. I can honestly say that I love keeping Shabbos, but do admit that at times it is easy to get into the Shabbos rut and forget about the essence of this special day. At times your inspiration wanes and you need a boost. For me this Shabbos Project is this #BOOST. It is absolutely amazing to see soo many people so excited about Shabbos this week. So many people talking about it and saying what they are planning to do for the Shabbos Project. Even the great BEARS running school posted the following in their weekly update – “Saturday – NO RUN SHABBOS PROJECT” They are on board – Are You?

The theme #KEEPINGITTOGETHER is brilliant. The sign #FITWEEK is designed to attract you as an individual, but the Shabbos Project theme is aimed at the ENTIRE Jewish community of Melbourne and cities around the world. Jews all over the world will all be trying to keep Shabbos together, sharing meals, participating in communal events, enjoying good old friendly hospitality and of course experiencing Shabbos.

I noticed a quote from @Fit_Motivator – “GET FIT: Eat cleanly, get your body moving, drink lots of water. (Side affects may include happiness, radiance, and amazing health)”

What would an equivalent quote be for Shabbos or #KEEPINGITTOGETHER ? I have found a few quotes:

From an article by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach[i][2],[3]“G-d created the world in six days and on Shabbos He rested. What a sad translation! On Shabbos G-d gave the world a soul. On Shabbos G-d created a world of souls, of depth, of tasting that which is most real.

Shabbos invites all those who need new energy, all those who have been broken by the world of the six days, who need the world of Shabbos to make their brokenness whole again.”

I think a quote that defines both Keeping Shabbos and the #KEEPINGITTOGETHER theme – “More than the Jewish People have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews.” – Ahad Ha’am[4]

We all need that #BOOST to increase our Shabbos observance, to keep Shabbos for a week or to start exercising or start/ maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“At this moment in time,” says South African Chief Rabbi Goldstein, “in the aftermath of the Gaza War – and the pressures Jews everywhere have felt in its wake – the international Shabbat Project provides us with a unique, historic opportunity to give birth to a new sense of Jewish unity and Jewish identity. As Jews around the world, we will be doing this together. The power of that shared experience is unimaginable.”

The real test is what are we going to do with the #BOOST?

The Kollel in Melbourne is already planning for the future. The Kollel has said that as they had so many people willing to host guests for the Shabbos Project – “Based on the innovative approach of Project Inspire, the Shabbos Project has now evolved into an ongoing year-round project….. There is nothing as powerful as experiencing firsthand the beauty of Shabbos, to help bring people closer to yiddishkeit.”



[3] Shlomo Carlebach (Hebrew: שלמה קרליבך‎), known as Reb Shlomo to his followers (14 January 1925 – 20 October 1994), was a Jewish rabbi, religious teacher, composer, and singer who was known as “The Singing Rabbi” during his lifetime. Although his roots lay in traditional Orthodox yeshivot, he branched out to create his own style combining Hasidic Judaism, warmth and personal interaction, public concerts, and song-filled synagogue services. At various times he lived in Manhattan, San Francisco, Toronto and Moshav Mevo Modi’im, Israel. Carlebach is considered by many to be the foremost Jewish religious songwriter of the 20th century.[1][2] In a career that spanned 40 years, he composed thousands of melodies and recorded more than 25 albums that continue to have widespread popularity and appeal. His influence also continues to this day in “Carlebach minyanim” and Jewish religious gatherings in many cities and remote pristine areas around the globe. Carlebach was also considered a pioneer of the Baal teshuva movement (“returnees to Judaism”), encouraging disenchanted Jewish youth to re-embrace their heritage, using his special style of enlightened teaching, and his melodies, songs, and highly inspiring story telling.

[4] Asher Zvi Hirsch Ginsberg (18 August 1856 – 2 January 1927), primarily known by his Hebrew name and pen name, Ahad Ha’am (Hebrew: אחד העם‎, lit. one of the people, Genesis 26:10), was a Hebrew essayist, and one of the foremost pre-state Zionist thinkers. He is known as the founder of cultural Zionism. With his secular vision of a Jewish “spiritual center” in Israel, he confronted Theodor Herzl. Unlike Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, Ha’am strived for “a Jewish state and not merely a state of Jews”.


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