Did you know there are seven ingredients in challah? It’s true—flour, water, sugar, salt, yeast, eggs, and oil. And the numerical value of each of the words wine, fish, and meat (all of which make popular appearances in the Shabbat meal) in Hebrew add up to the number seven. You do know of course, about the seven days of creation when on the seventh day God rested and commands us to rest as well.
Last night I went to the Northbrook Public Library for a program on Shabbat. Rabbi Meir Moscowitz of the Lubavitch Chabad of Northbrook gave a beautiful talk on the gift of Shabbat. He explained many of the practical and mystical elements of Shabbat, like the significance of the number seven that is associated with many of the elements of the Shabbat meal. Even more, he talked about the mystical side of Shabbat with people being called to go beyond the day-to-day routines of work and daily toil six days of the week and to look inward, reflect, and rejuvenate on the seventh day of the week.
I had the pleasure of being Rabbi Moscowitz’s student in a Hebrew reading course two years ago, so I was looking forward to the seminar on Shabbat last night. It didn’t disappoint. It was a beautiful tribute to Shabbat and the uniqueness of humanity itself. But wait, there’s more! Rabbi Moscowitz is part of the Jewish Learning Institute which offers a six week course titled, Oasis in Time, The Gift of Shabbat. Day as well as evening courses are offered.
During the seminar last night, I reflected on my own Shabbat meal last Friday. It took all week to prepare. I shopped at the market on Monday. I made the challah and put it in the freezer on Tuesday. I made the pie crust on Wednesday. I finished the pie and bought flowers for the table on Thursday. All week amongst my usual daily toil, I did a little Shabbat preparation. The result was a beautiful Shabbat meal with the company of a good friend who joined us for dinner on Friday. Preparation precedes reward. Rabbi Moscowitz said last night. He said it applies to Shabbat as well as one of life’s greatest lessons. Preparation is the key to life, not just Shabbat.
I just thought of a word that contains seven letters, balance. I have often said that following the traditions of Judaism is one way to lead a balanced life. May you enjoy a weekly oasis in time, the gift of Shabbat.