Shabbat and the Sabbath

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The below video is by a Jewish a capella group, the Maccabeats. It is a cover of one of my favorite songs, or really, three of them. It’s not only a wonderful version of The Sound of Silence, but at the end of it, we can hear Lecha Dodi to the tune of Lenard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Lecha Dodi is a song that has many tunes, with many Jewish cantors composing new ones. It’s a song that originates from Sefad, the home of Jewish Mysticism, and it welcomes Shabbat, the queen. Centuries later it is sung in synagogues all over the world, welcoming the holy day of rest. After the lighting of the Shabbat candles and singing Lecha Dodi–for part of it facing the synagogue’s door–Jews rest from their daily lives, setting aside the day to sanctify and enjoy this gift of G-d. A Jewish friend once said that the greatest holiday they have happens every week, from sunset on Friday to nightfall on Saturday.

The message is to sanctify and enjoy the Shabbat. We, latter-day saints might not have as strict rules of Sabbath observance as our Jewish friends, but we, too, aim at sanctifying and enjoying the Lord’s day. We gather in our meetinghouses to partake of the Sacrament–the Lord’s supper–, and to worship and learn as a community. We try to avoid working on Sunday–I’m not particularly good at that–or shopping, or the use of secular entertainment and media. We serve in the Church, we visit friends and family, we focus on the Lord on Sundays.

To be honest, I didn’t really miss the getting up early and going to church in the morning aspects of Sundays during my years of not being active. What I missed, though, even if I didn’t consciously realize or admit it to myself, was partaking of the Sacrament. In addition to the quiet reflections during the passing of the bread and water, I get to renew my covenants with the Lord. It’s not just a one sided promise to be good and keep the Lord’s commandments, but it is also a renewal of the promises the Lord has given me.

Sundays might seem boring, but truly they are gift from our Heavenly Father.

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