Shabbat Shalom: Marking Time

Feb 12, 2021 | Article

Shabbat Shalom: Marking Time

Dissonance and harmony. Elemental qualities that can enliven or calm the senses. I’m thinking about this because the great pianist Chick Corea passed away yesterday. He, like other musicians of the post-John Coltrane era, laid down the sounds of what we would come to call jazz fusion, avant-garde jazz, and even progressive rock. This Shabbat we read Mishpatim, which is filled with civil, moral, and religious law. It’s also the beginning of Adar, the month in which we celebrate Purim. It’s a kind of jazz funk moment in our Jewish way of passing time.

Notes on a sheet of music. Days, weeks, months, years. Rhythm and meter. The hurried rush of the week punctuated by the Sabbath’s deep breath and exhalation. The drumbeat of time against which we riff and improvise.

Our Sabbath teachings shape the music of our lives. They mark the stanzas of our years. The pulse is regular, and then the off note, the half beat, the pause in cadence at the new month, and we’re re-enlivened. This new month slows down and speeds up. Its time stamp is complex, like klezmer music, and there is room for both dancing and contemplation. Weeping and laughing. Sorrow and rejoicing.

Purim will be here soon.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jay Strear
President & CEO