Saturday, November 03, 2007

544. The world to come

At havdalah this evening we studied chapter 8 of Heschel's The Sabbath:

"...And yet to Rabbi Hayim of Krasne the Sabbath contains more than a morsel of eternity. To him the Sabbath is the fountainhead (ma'yan) of eternity, the well from which heaven or the life in the world to come takes its source."

Explained our rabbi: We speak of the Sabbath taking on qualities of haolam habah, life to come, as if little pieces of the promise of ultimate wholeness could rain down upon us like heaven-sent crumbs. But what if the opposite were true, as the Hassidic master suggests--if the heart of perfection originated down here, within us all?

Can I imagine a life of Shabbatot--of rest, song, study, love, companionship--as the ultimate expression of being human, fuel to bring the world to a state of peace and equilibrium? I don't know. Last night, many hours before feasting on this teaching, I dreamt I arrived at services only to learn that Shabbat had already happened--on Sunday and Wednesday! Saturday would henceforth be the week's third day of rest. I was confused. What prayers do we say now? I asked the rabbi. He sat me down and began to explain; it was complicated. Why can't we go back to one Shabbat a week? I demanded. We've grown beyond that, he answered.

I woke up in a daze, wondering why my subconscious wanted to trade in a lovely 2BR prewar WBFP condo of the day of rest for a Trump Tower penthouse version. The Sabbath is palace--no need for satellite offices. If the spark of haolam habah really does begin down here, I have a feeling our collective hearts provide enough space for it to grow. If only we could learn to see its light within all those other crowded rooms.

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