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Rabbi Kalmar's Parshat Beshalach Message 5781

“Home Sweet Home – Home Glorious Home”

One of the interesting facets of how this past year has played out has been the opportunity to spend more time at home.  And we all know about the downsides of staying home - they do not need to be enumerated.  

But there have been upsides as well.  Working from Home: We’ve got to turn our home office in our all the time office. No commute – and less office politics.  Schedules can be more life-flexible.

Spending more quality time with loved ones.  Families could slow down and connect.  

Forcing us to be creative to find ways to stay connected with others.  There are many things that we’ve learned to do and skills we’ve had to nurture in order to stay in touch with others and making our brain think in ways that it hasn’t had to before.

Spending more time in the kitchen – we’ve learned to cook new things and to cook together as a family.  Sour Dough Bread – has been a particular favorite of many people.  And Hot Cocoa Bombs- as Cindy Katzoff showed us this past week.

Being home has also led many people to make physical and mental health a priority – finding ways to do home work outs and go for hikes and walks.  And with telemental health taking off – more people have been able to find ways to access mental health professionals.

Finally, for many people staying home has means saving money – on restaurants, travel, gas, entertainment, childcare, etc.  And even if people have not been saving money – this time at home has often led to thinking differently about one’s budget and about how to save and spend and plan what to do with one’s money.      So staying at home has had some upsides as well.

When the Jewish people sing their song at the Yam Suf in this week’s parsha they say – זה קלי ואנוהו – which is translated as ‘This is my God and I shall glorify Him”.    Rav Samson Rephael Hirsch says that it means that but it means so much more.   At the root of the word ואנוהו we find the root נוה – which can mean beautiful and lovely but it can also mean a dwelling, a home.  Says Rav Hirsch – someone who is committed to God will turn his or her home into a place of holiness for God to be.  This is my God – and I shall make a home for Him.   This means one takes their own body and turns it into a Temple of the Lord – a place where holy thoughts and deeds and speech are used to glorify God.  And it also means that we take our home and make it a place where God can dwell.    

I think that a lot of the time we have spent in our homes this past year can be a jumping off point and a testing ground for us as human beings who are intent on using our bodies and our homes to serve God and fulfill our purpose.  In all of the ways that we have been forced to think about our lives differently this year – in terms of work, family, food, creativity, health, and finances – we can find ways to serve our creator in a more wholesome and thoughtful way.    So we all may have a home sweet home – but we can also have a home glorious home – glorifying God in the new home perspective we have found.

Good Shabbos!

Sat, June 10 2023 21 Sivan 5783