Interrupting is encouraged…
Please let me explain…
Pinchas was a zealot. He was very, very interested in making sure things went “the right way.” What is meant by “the right way?” Well, for Pinchas, “the right way” was however Pinchas wanted things to go. Little, if anything, could keep Pinchas from ensuring that that was the case, even at the cost of others’ lives.
Of course, even as Pinchas was overly committed to having his voice heard and having rules be followed, sometimes taking someone else’s life in the process is going just a bit too far.
When we see each other at RTR events in general, and at Shabbat services in particular – beginning with this coming Shabbat Evening (my second Shabbat Service at RTR overall, and my very first Shabbat Evening service here as a leader…ever…), I have two very special favors to ask of each and every one of you.
1 – please be kind, and gentle, as you do your best to make your way over to me and to make sure that we meet and have a chance to say, “Hello!” and to wish each other “Shabbat Shalom!”
2 – even as you are being kind, and gentle, please also be zealous, and please do be sure that we do connect and that we do get the chance to say, “Hello!” and to wish each other “Shabbat Shalom!” – even at the cost of others’ conversations.
In other words…PLEASE INTERRUPT!
One of the things I love to do most in the world, is to share the things I love most in the world, with the people I love most in the world. Which means that one of those things that I love to do most in the world, is to share Shabbat with all of you.
Whatever each of us may do during those “ordinary” days of Sunday through Friday, we each know full well (perhaps even more than we might care to) what it feels like to be “overbooked’ and “overprogrammed” and “overscheduled.” Work, school, business meetings, family, friends, school activities, social engagements, team sports, spectator sports, etc., etc. – our weeks are generally packed (sometimes to overflowing) with commitments and appointments, and there hardly seems to be enough time to take care of our own selves…
Shabbat is a time for each of us to wind down, re-group, re-energize, re-lax, and just “to be.” We enter the sanctuary, having left the outside world outside, and we look to share with the community all that is sacred and holy in ourselves and in our world, that sometimes gets overlooked and pushed aside by our hectic week. To quote Alice Walker, from “The Color Purple:” “Tell the truth, have you ever found God in a church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks waiting for him to show. Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did, too. They come to church to share God, not find God.”
Just as each member of our congregation comes to Shabbat worship services in order to share God, and leave the work world outside, so, too, I share with you the need/desire/opportunity to experience Shabbat while leaving the “work world” outside. Granted, I am, technically, “working” during Shabbat services on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings; however, on some level, I do experience the spirituality and warmth and comfort of Shabbat along with everyone else – it’s a different “form” of work, for me.
One of the most special parts of Shabbat services, is that people come together who otherwise wouldn’t ordinarily come
together. Each individual has their own schedule, family circumstances, responsibilities, etc. and, so, we all spend the rest of our week in a million different places. Shabbat evening and morning are something that all of us share, regardless of the rest of our respective weeks.
With that in mind, I try to mix and mingle with as many people as possible during the Friday night Oneg and on Saturday morning as well. Sometimes, much to my chagrin, I’m not successful at making a personal connection with everyone who is present. As I’ve been known to say, I’m very good at having conversations, but I’m not always great at ending them. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the next time you and I are sharing a conversation, please don’t think that I’m only concerned about ending it – that’s not my intent. Rather, I want to be sure that conversations that need more than just a few minutes, are allowed the opportunity to go on for as long as is necessary. Shabbat may not be the best time for every conversation that needs to happen.
So…allow me to combine my two favors, into one request…if you see me having a conversation with someone during a Friday night Oneg or on Shabbat morning, or at any other time we’re in the RTR building together, and you’d like to say “Hi!” to me, but you don’t want to interrupt a conversation already in progress…PLEASE DO INTERRUPT!!! INTERRUPTING IS ENCOURAGED!!! If someone has a need for counseling or a need to speak with me personally and/or privately, I am available to make appointments on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. I have met with people over breakfast. I have met with people in the evenings after other meetings and appointments are long over. If there is a need for an extended conversation, there are other days in the week for us to arrange for those extended conversations to take place. On Friday evenings and on Saturday mornings, however, it is my intent to be available and accessible to all who are there to share Shabbat, even if only for a moment or two. So, if you’d like to say “Hi!” please know that I would also love for you to say “Hi!” – PLEASE DO INTERRUPT!!!
BY THE SAME TOKEN, if you and I happen to be having a conversation during a Friday evening Oneg or at some other point, and someone comes along and interrupts us – PLEASE BLAME ME – NOT THEM!!! Please remember that I JUST ASKED THEM TO DO IT!
So, I look forward, as I will every week, to sharing Shabbat with each and all of you, and I also look forward to being interrupted…often…so that I can be sure to connect with as many people as possible during the Oneg and other communal experiences!
Rabbi Eric J. Lazar