Dear Holy Friends and Community, Shabbat Shalom! While circumstances beyond are control have made it impossible to join in person this weekend, we nonetheless stand together as a “virtual community” today to support each other and welcome Shabbat. We pray that the Shabbat will bring us all comfort, rest and, of course, peace.
A beautiful story from Messechet Shabbat teaches us regarding the origins of the Shalom Aleichem prayer that opens each Shabbat. According to the tradition, each of us has two angels that always accompany us. One, is a terrific guy, and the other, is a little bit of a “nudnik.” When we come home after Friday night services, if the table is set, the candles are burning and the meal is prepared, the terrific guy says to the “nudnik,” if should be just like this next week. If, on the other hand, the house is in disarray and we are not yet ready to rock and roll for Shabbat, the “nudnik” says to the terrific angel, it should be like this next week.
In this week’s Torah portion, we read of the sin of the golden calf. Can you imagine the reaction of Moshe Rabeinu, after having spent forty days studying Torah directly from the Master of the Universe himself, only to descend upon a congregation immersed in idol worship? Well, as you recall, he wasn’t so pleased. He throws down the tablets and then burns the idol to a liquid and makes the people who transgressed drink the leftovers of their transgressions. I imagine furthermore, that if the story in Messechet Shabbat, cited above, is correct, both of the angels would have called the people “nudniks.”
In part the story teaches us of the great heights of holiness to which we can aspire, and it also reminds us that none of us are perfect, either as individuals or as a community.
Ironically, in the tradition, we are told that it was the women only who did not actively participate in the sin of the Golden calf. They were reluctant to give up their jewelry and follow the lead of others.
So, if nothing else, we learn that typically speaking it is the men who are “nudniks,” and it is the women who are the true angels. I guess that is another reason we start each shabbat by singing A Woman of Valor from the book of Proverbs.
May this Shabbat offer us an opportunity to read, rest and relax, knowing that we are working together as a community to be the best angels possible.
Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Eric L Wasser