Oasis Songs: Musings from Rav D
Friday, January 7, 2022 / 5 Shevat 5782
Dear Friends and Community members,
I want to notify you that I will be taking a sabbatical from February through April. We all know that this pandemic has made it difficult to make plans or travel arrangements, and for quite a long time, it was unclear to me how I could take a break or what options would even be available during this “new normal.” At the encouragement of our capable lay leadership, we mutually decided to break up my sabbatical over two years. This decision has led to a quick turn around in scheduling.
Rest assured that with the support of our clergy team and dedicated professional staff, plans are in place to cover many of my functions. In rare cases, such as with my 12th grade class, I will continue to meet with them by Zoom. I didn’t want my time away to impact their final experience as students at CNS and I value the relationships developed in that close seminar setting. Additionally, we have reached out to any b’nei mitzvah families to ensure a seamless experience for them. In fact, one of the reasons for the February start date is that it causes the least disruption to our synagogue calendar.
Fittingly, 5782 is a shemittah, or sabbatical year, on the Jewish calendar. While the laws of shemittah were primarily focused on providing a rest to the land, this naturally spilled over to people. When the Torah enacted these rules, almost all individuals worked the land and thus they also would have a chance to recharge and shift their focus. The Bible wants us to understand that we are more than our work. That’s a provocative lesson as so many of us tie our identities to what we do professionally.
The past two years have been remarkably draining for all of us. We have all needed to dig deep to muster our reserves of resilience, hope, and grit. Speaking frankly, I need this congregational gift of time to recharge those reserves and to refocus. For much of this break, I will be out in nature, camping, reading, and reflecting.
Sabbaticals remain rare with only 5% of companies offering them. This pandemic has shaken up many assumptions about work, life, and meaning. It is my fervent hope and prayer that increasing numbers of companies will allow their workforce the ultimate gift of time. I am incredibly grateful to our kehillah for this opportunity.
Rabbi David Kosak