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Shabbat Challenge Lab 4 Go Outside!

05/01/2015 10:23:35 AM


Shabbat Challenge Lab 4
Go Outside!

This weeks experiment is increase the amount of time you spend outdoors amongst the trees and the grass, with the sky above your head.
Go for a walk, a hike or a bike ride. You can sit outside or eat outside. The weather should be terrific. 
When you are outside appreciate the beauty and think about your connection to this world. Consider ho you are a part of all this and how your time outside impacts your spirt.

Thoughtful Words from Richard Freedman

BK Chevre,


Webster’s provides a simple online definition of Shabbat as simply, ”The Jewish Sabbath.” Albeit dated, the 1994 edition on my workplace bookshelf provides no definition at all! What is a Shabbos hungry Jew to do? If left to our own curious devices a ready-made excuse of stress and the speed of modern life will surely swallow up yet another magical opportunity to enhance our weekly practice. The natural place to turn for answers comfortably falls to one’s institutional memory and upbringing. My own childhood experience of Judaism and Shabbat range from a weekly observance filled with candle lighting, challah and kiddush to no observance at all. As my childhood family drifted further into the liberal diaspora of the American Jewish experience, a feeling of liberated jubilation filled our home as we could literally eat or do anything.  What young man turns away from the allure of a world with less rules….. As I aged, the feeling of freedom that was initially so intoxicating transitioned to a notion of emptiness and thus began my exploration for a different version of the Shabbat experience. The Shabbat experience I was looking for was not a replication of my more formal early childhood practice but rather a way to connect with a more global and historically Jewish experience as a true day of rest and reflection. But what do I do when the snow is falling just right or the sun is shining brightly on Saturday morning?


I have found great meaning in spending a part of my Shabbat morning walking/hiking through the woods in Eagle Rock Reservation, contemplating both the week that has been and the possibilities of the one to follow. Our local parks and wooded areas offer wonderful spots, within walking distance, to sit and gaze out on Manhattan or to experience a meditative moment. If you are lucky, a local critter will be right next to you collecting a Shabbos acorn or two.


There are Jews that find a sense of Shabbat solace hanging off of mountaintops, sailing or skiing as I have admittedly included as a part of my seasonal weekly sojourn. The key is to take the experience and marry it with a tangible practice, such as a meditative moment or quiet walk. Any journey along the Shabbat highway is a worthy trip indeed! This weekend as the flowers bloom and the trees abound with the fresh greenery of spring try and schedule an outdoor moment and  honor both it and yourself with a uniquely Shabbat experience. Shabbat is a weekly gift that our tradition offers but its beauty can only be realized through practice. I am suggesting that you try an outdoor moment as a way to further engage your sense of the Jewish Sabbath, or simply to begin one. Have fun finding the outdoor experience that speaks to you.


Good Shabbos! 

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Sat, June 15 2024 9 Sivan 5784