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The holiest day

In the Jewish calendar, the holiest days are Shabbat (the Sabbath) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Both are prescribed for Jews by the Torah.

Shabbat begins Friday night at sundown, ending Saturday night an hour after sunset. Candles are lit marking the onset of the seventh day. A prayer service is conducted at the synagogue. Then at home, God’s creation is praised over a goblet of wine to sanctify the day, and a similar blessing is pronounced before the bread is salted, after which the main meal of the week begins.

In our home, it is so too. The meal involves all in the family: the food preparation, setting of the table, dressing in the nicest clothes, and the discussion at the table are each part of the shared celebration of God’s day of rest.

My own role involves commenting on the weekly Torah portion from the Five Books of Moses, which will be read, in a year-long cycle, during synagogue prayers Saturday morning. I must make the reading relevant to each one at the table, often relating it to world events. That can be challenging when the assigned portion, for example, deals with details of the sacrifices in Leviticus.

The ensuing discussions involve everyone. We question each other, probing for meaning, correcting when called for, often engaging in repartee. It is exhilarating. At its best, we all gain wisdom for our daily walk in life. It beautifully encapsulates the Psalmist’s verse, “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (119:105).

We typically say the storms are raging outside, but here we feel sheltered in God’s holiness.

Those storms should have been foreseen.

Russia’s threat to the West was obvious after other invasions in the past two decades. Today, the Russians warn repeatedly that the danger of nuclear conflict is very serious.

Iran’s ambitions to get a nuclear bomb have been known for years. The White House is saying Iran is weeks away from getting it.

We cannot change the world ourselves, but we are commanded to pray, to petition God for help for our nation and for ourselves (1 Sam. 12:23; 1 Thess. 5:17). “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield” (Ps. 33:20; 115:9)