Anticipating our next contemplative Shabbat

Dear friends,

I’m reaching out to you this morning to offer a reminder that I’ll be leading a special Shabbat service on this coming Shabbat morning, November 2. This will be a contemplative service, with a somewhat different style from the service I usually lead! We will chant one or two lines from each prayer, going deep into the sounds and into what the words mean, and then sit in silence to let each prayer reverberate in us.

Although we will touch on all of the various steps in the standard Shabbat morning service — we will sing one chant which corresponds with each of our usual prayers — we will only be doing little pearls from each prayer. You might think of it this way: usually our Shabbat morning services are a grand banquet. This week we’ll still have each of those many courses, but we’ll pause to savor each course by focusing on a single flavor.

The only prayer which we will recite in fulltext form will be the Mourner’s Kaddish, in order that we might fulfill the mitzvah of comforting mourners, and of accompanying our mourners as they walk the path of healing.

Although most of us are accustomed to a more action-packed Shabbat service, there are deep connections between Shabbat and contemplative practice. The very word Shabbat comes from the root which means to rest and to be refreshed. Contemplative Shabbat practices offer us an opportunity to still the waters of the mind and heart, and to be at rest.
The Hebrew verb להתפלל, “to pray,” comes from a root which means “to judge oneself” or “to discern oneself.”  As we chant, and sit in silence, and chant again, we’ll have an opportunity to discern what comes up for us as we enter into these prayers in this way.
All are welcome: whether or not you have ever participated in a chant-based service, whether or not you are familiar with meditation, whether or not you’re one of our Shabbat morning “regulars.”
I hope to see you soon!
Blessings to all
Rabbi Rachel

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