Religion & Beliefs

Spiritual Seeking, Shrooms, and Shabbat

Raw Shabbat. Taco Truck Shabbat. Brown Bag Shabbat. Everyone is trying to re-invent the wheel, myself included. I never really got the whole Shabbat thing until my cousin went to the Wailing Wall and decided he wanted to become a … Read More

By / October 6, 2009

Raw Shabbat. Taco Truck Shabbat. Brown Bag Shabbat. Everyone is trying to re-invent the wheel, myself included.

I never really got the whole Shabbat thing until my cousin went to the Wailing Wall and decided he wanted to become a Rabbi. When he got back to the states he started having all his friends, Jewish or not, over for a Shabbat dinner each month.  Being the close knit fam we are, we got the invite too. I mean, it makes total sense. Our moms are sisters, Polish shtetl Jews, Auschwitz, keep the family close … you’ve heard it all before, so of course we made the short list.

This is my older cousin, the one I’ve always looked up to but never really knew. He was the one that would hit these monstrous home runs every time I saw him play baseball. The one that saved me from the worst bad trip on mushrooms one Christmas Eve when his brother and I ate them so we could look at all the Christmas lights but decided to watch stand up comedy on tv instead. "Comedy is the good trip" I said as the shrooms kicked in but as the half hour ended and all turned to bad, I dropped to my knees and began to swim in the carpet. "We’ve been neglecting the carpet," I said as his friend screamed "Red, Blue, Orange" at the top of his lungs and the TV flickered on the ceiling of the room.  My older cousin came home some hours later while I was naked and curled up under a blanket, coming up for air to occasionally shout at the cop show we were watching "Why is it always the black guy?!"

One of the first Shabbat dinners he had he stood up in front of everyone, challah in hand, searching for the perfect words for his sermon. "I mean … I mean …" he paused. (Was that a tear in his eye?) "I mean… how many times did we have to get this wrong before we got it right?" He thrust the challah up over his head, "That’s just so fuckin cool!" Did the Rabbi-to-be just say fuck at the Shabbat dinner table? What is going on here?

Up until this point Judaism was something I left at my bar mitzvah, in Hebrew school and at the top of Masada. I’d been more interested in smoking in the bathroom at Hebrew School than I had been in actual Jewish things. But I guess it’s a cliche because it’s true: it all boils down to how someone delivers a message, especially when you dont even know you’re looking for something. My cousin had taken his search for spiritual meaning and brought it down to earth, grounded it in such a base way that I could actually listen to it, let alone comprehend it. Yeah, all he said was fuck at the Shabbat dinner table, but it carried the weight and importance of all the suffering, joy, sadness, unity, anger, and betrayal that is our family blueprint. It carried a visual image of all those years ago when no one had actually made this bread, no one had tasted it and all the trial and error that went into making it this perfect, this gooey, this fuckin’ tasty bread. The way he said it was so filled with the passion and true respect for an ancient tradition that I had no choice but to actually allow it into my world and make me question my own relationship with this bread and in essence this crazy thing we call religion. I mean, it was now his lifes’ work. If I looked up to him I might as well at least consider its power. So I guess it doesn’t matter where you find your pause, your peace, your reflection, your humbleness – just as long as you find it and it means something to you. I mean, lighting some candles, drinking some wine and eating a meal with my family sounds like a perfect Friday night to me. That is, if I can stop checking my email facebook twitter pages before sunset on Saturday jump starts the whole thing again.