The Origins of "A Shelter Of Peace"
When I first began the process of putting together an album for Shabbat, I had to put some time and reflection into the importance of taking some time each week to rest. At first glance, it seemed that the idea of Shabbat was outdated, a relic of earlier times. But as I looked more deeply, I discovered that this concept is more relevant now than perhaps at any other time in history. We are so glued to our computers, our Blackberries and our flat screens (myself included) that we rarely take the time to reconnect with our truest, deepest selves. And if we are not connected to our most authentic selves, then how can we be fully present and appreciate the people and events in our lives?
In looking at the liturgy, one prayer spoke to me as really encapsulating the essence of Shabbat, and that was the Hashkiveinu prayer. Although this prayer is said every day of the week, it has special meaning on Shabbat. In it, we ask God to spread over us a "shelter of peace." Ordinarily, when we think of peace (at least for me), we think of a time when all of the chaos around us has stopped. Unfortunately for most of us, life is not like that. There are deadlines to be met, relationships and responsibilities that place demands on us. The pace of life is unyielding. Amidst all of this activity, the concept of Shabbat appears like an oasis in the desert. It's a chance for us to release the burdens of our outer lives and to focus inwardly. It's an opportunity to recharge our souls and emerge renewed into the new week.
The image that came to me of Shabbat was the eye of the hurricane. Around this calm center, there are storms swirling. And yet, within this center... our own center... we can experience peace. In fact, the idea of creating a shelter of peace is only meaningful if we are being sheltered from something on the outside. There is no need for us to wait for the world to slow down to begin living our lives with clear intentionality and purpose. We need only to take some time for ourselves each week to unplug, to breathe deeply and to remember who we are.
It is my wish that the music on this recording will help in some small way to enhance the celebration and rejuvenation that is Shabbat. May we all lie down in peace and rise up waiting to do God's will.