The Torah refers to Shabbat as a ‘holy occasion’ and indeed, there are many references to Shabbat as a day of sublime spiritual connection. Yet in contrast, we are commanded to do some very physical, ordinary things such as eating three meals. These meals form an essential part of Shabbat. How can we be commanded to indulge in the finest food and drink on such a holy day, infused with spirituality?
Every Shabbat in the Temple, the priests would set up the lechem hapanim (Showbread), twelve loaves of bread baked with frankincense (see Leviticus 24:7). The reason that our challot are plaited was to represent these twelve loaves; each of the two challot would contain six plaits, giving a total of twelve.
Rabbi Aharon of Belz (d. 1957) explains that for the showbread, the bread represented the physical act of eating which maintains and elevates our bodies while the frankincense gives off a pleasant aroma. The Gemara (Berachot 43b) explains that pleasant aromas do not give sustenance to the body, they only benefit the soul.
Shabbat contains both components; it nourishes our bodies and souls. This is how we can spend the holiest day enjoying the greatest delicacies and fine wines, preparing us both physically and spiritually for the next week ahead.
You shall love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 18:19)
Rebbi Akiva is quotes this verse as the greatest principle in the Torah (Sifra 4:2). British Philosopher Anthony Flew referred to this as the Golden Rule or the Ethic of Reciprocity and it is at the centre many systems of ethics from ancient Babylon to modern day paganism.
Yet what is less familiar is that in the same midrash quoting Rebbi Akiva’s view is followed by the dissenting voice of Ben Azzai who claims that the verse ‘These are the generations of Adam…’ (Genesis 5:1) is a greater still as it highlights the fact that one person populated the entire world and brought forth great people and great nations. So too, we have enormous power as individuals to impact the world around us. Rebbi Akiva focuses outwards to show care for the other while Ben Azzai looks inwards towards the individual self.
In reality, Ben Azzai has a good point; how are we to love our neighbour and care for the needs of others if we have no self respect? Yet we usually excel at looking after our own interests as mankind will naturally value himself above others. The greater test is whether we are able to reflect that value towards others, especially those who are different to us. Rebbi Akiva shows preference to that mode of thought because it unnatural and therefore more challenging.
We cannot show love to others without recognising our own self worth, but if we only focus inwardly we will never achieve our true potential.]]>
Jews hold a special meal called a Seder (from the Hebrew word “order”) on the first two nights of Passover at which participants tell the story of the exodus from Egypt from a text called the Haggadah.
Since the Jewish calendar combines both lunar-solar aspects, the dates of all Jewish festivals change from year to year although remain in a particular season. Passover will always occur in the springtime around March or April.
In 2014, Passover begins at sundown on Monday, April 14 and ends at sundown on Tuesday, April 22. Also note that in Israel, the holiday of Passover is celebrated for seven days with the first and seventh days observed as festival days.
In order to commemorate the Jews who left Egypt so quickly that they did not have time to let their bread rise, Jews eat only unleavened bread, called matzah, and abstain from leavened products (chametz in Hebrew) such as regular flour based cake, biscuits and pasta for the duration of Passover. Jews also observe the holiday by ridding their homes of all leaven.
It is important to note that some Jews who do not keep kosher (observe Jewish food laws) throughout the year might still follow Passover’s dietary restrictions. When scheduling events where food is present during Passover, it is important to be aware that Jewish co-workers may be observing Passover traditions and have dietary restrictions that they do not have at other times of the year.
During the Passover season, Jewish employees may request time off work to attend a Seder, observe the holiday, or even to prepare for the holiday. It is appropriate to wish a co-worker Happy Passover or Chag Sameach, which means “joyous festival” in Hebrew.]]>
The vision for this covenant came from Canary Wharf Chaplaincy, with the assistance of the Institute of Business Ethics. Senior business executives of different Abrahamic faith groups came together from a variety of financial and professional services firms based in Canary Wharf. Their conversations led to the following covenant being agreed as a positive framework for doing business.
We invite you to sign up to the Common Faith Covenant to receive a Covenant Card to keep in your wallet or purse. Signing up to the Covenant you promise to:
To Sign up and request a Covenant Card go to the website
With the unexpected gift
Of The Passion, Death and Resurrection of His Son
The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Every day in Lent
Try to surprise those around you
With just one unexpected gift of
Courtesy, generosity or service.
“For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.”
[Attributed to St Francis of Assisi]]]>
If you are considering getting married (either in civil or religious ceremonies) and you would like to have a couple of informal sessions to help you prepare for this new chapter of your lives together, the please do contact us at the Canary Wharf Chaplaincy.]]>