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a taste of the world to come

12/30/2021 09:52:46 AM

Dec30

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

Perhaps you might have noticed all of the television commercials showing happy families gathering together to celebrate Christmas over a meal. When you think about the religious practices of most religions, families gathering with food is a common theme. The meal at the end of each day of fasting during Ramadan is one where families gather together. Most of the Jewish observances of festivals includes a meal, be it Shabbat or eating in the Sukkah. Even our most prevalent civic holiday in the United States, Thanksgiving, is characterized by families gathering over a meal.

Shabbat has been classified by many as “a taste of the world to come”, meaning that once the mashiach (Messiah) would arrive, every day would be like Shabbat. While I recognized the power in this description, it has been a bit difficult to totally enjoy Shabbat when I’m leading services Friday evening, Shabbat morning, afternoon and evening. For Rabbis and Cantors, Shabbat is not exactly a day of rest, unless you include the afternoon nap. For me, if this was a taste of the world to come, it sometimes left a bad taste in my mouth.

I am still learning to adapt to being an empty-nester, as I miss having my children around. No matter how delightful the visit, it has a beginning and an end, and the visits are generally too short and end too quickly. My son sort of last minute decided to come in for a visit, which of course pleased me no end. We checked on what meal favorites he might like cooked so that we could purchase and prepare as needed.

When our children were growing up, our Friday evening dinners were always special, because services were at a later hour (8:00PM), so we could sit and enjoy a Shabbat meal together uninterrupted. This past Friday, I baked two challot as well as a noodle kugel, and my wife prepared the chicken. We set the table with all of our Shabbat accoutrements, and my son chanted Kiddush, I recited Hamotzi over the challot, and we enjoyed our meal together. Although the meal did not last very long, it really revived my spirits. That’s when I came to appreciate the entire notion of “a taste of the world to come”, but it was more of “a taste of the world of the past”. For that brief amount of time, the outside world did not matter. It was just the three of us enjoying a Shabbat meal, and time stood still.

If that is a taste of the world to come, then it tastes delicious. It wasn’t about the challah, the kugel nor the chicken. It was about that special seasoning added that made it delicious – Shabbat. May your coming Shabbat be as delicious as this one was for me. And, may the coming year be one of joy and good health for you and those whom you hold dear to you.

Sun, August 7 2022 10 Av 5782