Mother Earth needs a rest. According to our Torah portion this week, the land earns and very much deserves a rest every 7 years. This is known as the shmita year- a year in which the land lays fallow. When we afford the land the opportunity to reinvigorate itself, the nutrients, the very power of the soil comes back to life. We too are commanded in the shmita year to rest, to rejuvenate our spirituality. We are directed to reconnect with our essence and have faith that in taking care of the land we are taking care of our souls, minds, bodies, and spirits. When we do so, our Torah portion tells us, God will literally take care of sustaining us. We shouldn’t look out on that land which lies fallow, wringing our hands with worry and fret- rather we are told to have faith, be optimistic and leave everything to God. The land isn’t ours the shmita year teaches us, we are tenants; what grows forth from any field we should never take for granted. Ever.
What an amazing lesson we can connect to this past year. Humility-trust-faith. Take nothing for granted and consider that much around us is a miracle.
We too, in a different way and certainly not by choice, had a very long year of forced cessation. Our physical bima and classrooms, our wedding chapels (not to mention our stadiums, restaurants, and sports fields) lay fallow in a physical sense. While we discovered Zoom and virtual gatherings, taking a step away from our physical spaces has resulted in a unique rejuvenation of our sacred ground. We have known it all along but discovered anew that our community is more than the physical ground upon which we stand. Brawerman Elementary School is more than the artfully decorated classroom walls dripping with the fruits of our children’s academic labors.
I finally got to physically return to the sacred ground of the Brawerman bimas today. March 11, 2020, was the last time we were physically together without the necessary protection of masks, distancing, and plexiglass or sitting in cars drive-in style. Today, still masked and 8ft apart we gathered together to enjoy one of the basic simple pleasures of human existence… singing and praying together. It felt wonderful. It was a whole new playing field-literally. So simple. So pure. So bursting with spirit. You could see it in the teary eyes of the adults and you could hear it in the voices of the children. It took my breath away and produced tears of joy. What a difference taking a year off has made. We enter our physical space with a new perspective. We don’t take it for granted…. not anymore. Not the students, not the teachers, not the parents, and for sure not this rabbi.
Take some time this Shabbat to express gratitude to mothers everywhere, to Mother Earth and to the generative power in each of us.
With abundant gratitude and love,