Welcome fellow travelers on spaceship Earth written by Rabbi Barry Silver This article appeared in “The Jewish Journal” newspaper on May 3,2017
The Jews have always been wanderers, engaged in a sacred journey in search of the Promised Land. On Shabbat, we journey together, across the eons of space and time, all the way back to the beginning. It is not only the journey of the Jewish people, but the journey of humanity and of all living things on spaceship Earth that we recall on Shabbat.
On Shabbat, we celebrate the birth of the universe, of Earth and of all living things, as we remember that my journey is linked with your journey, and the journey of the Jews, is linked with the journey of all people, and the journey of humanity is inextricably linked with the journey of all living things, with whom we share this planet.
The road has often been bumpy and filled with dangerous twists and curves. But our ancestors left us a vision of not only what was, and is, but of what could be, once we realize that we are all fellow travelers on this pale, blue dot, that some call Earth, la Tierra, or in Hebrew, Ha-Aretz.
So let us journey together this Shabbat back to the beginning of time and space when Creation was new. Both science and religion tell us that all began as one, science in the form of a singularity which led to the big bang, and one form of life that diversified into all others, and one common ancestor for all mankind. Religion tells us that all emerged from a single creative power. Although they got the time frame a little off, confusing a 6000 year old Earth and universe that is actually closer to 14 billion years old, religion claims that all comes from one source and that all humans are kin.
On Shabbat, we rejoice over Creation and seek to recapture this original unity in our lives and in the world, as we take the greatest journey of all, to go from the person we are today, to the person we could be tomorrow, if we lived up to our highest potential, to the dreams of our parents, and to the vision of the prophets for a world perfected by love, justice and mercy.
We reflect this original unity, which we strive to recapture in our lives today, with the Shema, the central part of the Shabbat celebration and the most important words said by the Jewish people. Why is this so important? Because the Shema and its focus on unity, is a central theme of our people, who throughout the eons have dreamed of the day when all mankind will live as one family in peace, and when each of us will be united with that part inside us that links us to all others, and to the sacred spark of life and creative power that is our true, but often hidden nature.
Let us join our fellow travelers among all people each Shabbat as we pay homage to our common striving for the sacred in our lives. And let us travel on a pilgrimage of transcendence beyond the self, as we link our lives to the lofty ideals of our people and with the majesty and the mystery of the cosmos, of which we are a part.
And let us always remember that “The greatest voyage of all is not to see new lands, but to see with new eyes.”
The purpose of religion and of Shabbat is to open our eyes to the world as it really is, which is truly miraculous. Our minds play a trick on us. The more often we see things around us- even the beautiful and wonderful things- the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds – even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.
That great scientist and philosopher, Albert Einstein, said “We can see the universe as if everything is a miracle, or nothing is a miracle.” Science and religion both reveal that everything is a miracle, even though we often do not appreciate this startling fact.
May we embark on the journey of Shabbat and spirituality with new eyes, filled with the knowledge that the cosmos and everything in it is wondrous. And let us embark on this journey linked with all other people and learn to move beyond the denominational barriers and doctrines that all too often divide the Jewish people into adverse factions. If we truly seek to make the Jewish dream of unity a reality, we must first create this unity amongst ourselves and work together as one people to serve as a light to the nations to join the world in peace.
Shabbat is observed each Friday night at 7:30 at L’Dor Va-Dor, 3475 Woolbright Road in Boynton Beach, Florida.