In the midst of so much rich narrative in this week’s parasha, (the death of Sarah, the generosity of Rivka, the love discovered between Rivka and Yitzchak and the death of Avraham), we find the following pasuk…
וַיֵּצֵ֥א יִצְחָ֛ק לָשׂ֥וּחַ בַּשָּׂדֶ֖ה לִפְנ֣וֹת עָ֑רֶב וַיִּשָּׂ֤א עֵינָיו֙ וַיַּ֔רְא וְהִנֵּ֥ה גְמַלִּ֖ים בָּאִֽים׃
And Isaac went out walking in the field toward evening and, looking up, he saw camels approaching.
The translation of the word lasu'ach in the Etz Chayim chumash is 'walking'. This makes sense, as we later hear Rivka ask who the man is who she sees walking in the field. Rashi, however, translates lasu'ach as 'to meditate’, delineating further, ”A term for prayer, as in, 'He pours out his prayer.’” (Tehilim 102:1) It seems our forefather is engaging in spiritual practice. Why engage in spiritual practice? These were some thoughts from my mentor, Rabbi Sheila Weinberg, when we were in this very conversation recently in relation to social justice and activism.
"Spiritual practice is valuable and a valid response to these troubled times while there is violence, trauma and separation. The spiritual practice is about unification.”
Unification means that, as opposed to feeling separate and other, we feel at one, with the Divine, with community, part of a whole - echad – one.
"We can't do it from here," she points to her head. " We have to do it from here," she points to her heart.
Whether connecting with the Divine for you comes while walking or meditating or praying, consider that taking the time to slow down and bring awareness to what you are feeling, thinking and experiencing might make some much needed space inside. When there is space, there is less constriction, the kind of tightness that breeds reactivity. When there is less reactivity, there is less violence and more connection.
This connection may be reflected in the ways we open to one another in loving.
“(…) and, looking up, he saw camels approaching.”
It seems that, after he has been engaged in some kind of spiritual practice, Yitzhak beholds Rivka arriving on a camel. He is available to see her and welcome in the love that she brings.
This Shabbat, let us consider that our devotional practices can be a part of bringing comfort, a part of the greater healing that is needed. Where there is isolation and loneliness, for each of us and for all those with whom we share this beautiful life, may there be connection and wholeness.
Shabbat shalom shalom.