This week's portion: a Shabbat for the earth

The Rabbi And

Ready for a Shabbat picnic.

Sometimes it's a little bit challenging to be the rabbi and. The rabbi and mommy. The rabbi and sometimes solo-parent. The rabbi and hostess. And and and.

I'm hosting two of my dear ALEPH friends here as houseguests this weekend. They'll be co-leading services with me tomorrow morning. Leading davenen with friends is truly a joy. Our ruach (spirit) is reflected and refracted and magnified somehow between us; it becomes more than the sum of its parts. And there's something about hearing these longtime friends' voices in my ears as I pray which always lifts me up.

Ethan's out of town, on a truly nutty whirlwind of a trip from here to New York to Boston to Toronto to Texas to Virginia to here again. (At least I think that's how the itinerary goes. It's easy to get confused.) And -- unrelated, but also relevant to my weekend -- we have plasterers in our house right now, on their second week of repairing extensive water damage from a formerly-leaking roof.

We're blessed to have guys who can make our ceilings whole again. And Ethan is blessed to have interesting work which takes him to interesting places! But I'm realizing, in retrospect, that this is why I've been running around like the proverbial headless chicken these last few days: because I'm trying to be the rabbi and.

Yesterday I stocked up on diapers and Drew-compliant foods for the weekend. (Mommy task.) This morning I led meditation, set the Torah scroll for tomorrow, spent a few hours working toward weekend's Shavuot and bar mitzvah plans (rabbi tasks) -- and then dashed to the store, bought groceries for houseguests, came home and popped a chicken in the oven to roast, made up the guest beds. (Hostess tasks.) Meanwhile checking synagogue email. (Rabbi task.) And making sure I had a check for our daycare provider and for the plasterers. (Household task.) And tidying Drew's toys. (Mommy task.) And putting up the umbrella on our deck table so that we can eat a quick and early Shabbat dinner outside (hostess task), since our kitchen and dining room tables are piled with drygoods and home-canned pickles thanks to the plasterers moving things around. Now I'm preparing for tonight's speaker at shul (rabbi task) and periodically checking the roasting potatoes (hostess task.)

It reminds me a little bit of the way we used to have to scurry in Jerusalem to complete our Shabbat preparations before everybody closed for Shabbat. Most stores and restaurants in West Jerusalem aren't open on Shabbat, so Friday morning and early afternoon is a flurry of crazed shopping and cooking and dashing about. But then the evening light on the Jerusalem stone turns pink and gold, and you light the candles and bless the bread and wine, and peace settles in.

I'm looking forward to peace settling in tonight...even though the "peace" of a working Shabbat isn't exactly the peace of total relaxation. I'll be back at shul tonight (babysitter for Drew), and back at shul tomorrow morning (dropping him off at a friend's house for a few hours.) In some ways, the real Shabbat menucha (rest) comes tomorrow afternoon when my work obligations are over and my houseguests and I can relax into chasing an active toddler around the backyard. Okay, "relax" might not be the right word even then, but I know it will be sweet.

Wishing a sweet and joyful Shabbat to all who celebrate.