Shabbat #11: The Piano, The Horse and The Pool
He is a gifted musician, a sweet soul, who is constantly searching for God in his life. He loves Shabbat and inspires many others to learn about this special day. He feels closest to God when he uses God’s gifts, his musical abilities, to connect to his Source. A magnificent grand piano stands in his living room waiting to vibrate with his music. His fingers itch to play; his soul thirsts to compose and sings songs of praise to the Creator. The only day he has time to sit at his piano is Shabbat. The sages of the Oral Law, with great regret, do not allow him to play his precious piano on Shabbat, no matter how admirable his intentions. “Sorry! Your piano is a finely tuned and valuable instrument and something may go wrong. A string may break. You may feel that it needs some adjustment or tuning. You will be so involved in your playing that you may forget that it is Shabbat and unconsciously violate the Shabbat, and repair your instrument.”
She is a master horsewoman. She won literally tens of ribbons, medals and prizes for her skills. She only feels free when she rides. Her spirit soars as she flies on the back of her horse. She fills with joy as her horse gallops through the fields and hills of Connecticut. She is free of the distractions of the world as she rides what she calls “her wings”. Her soaring spirit, joy, freedom allow her to connect with the infinite as she rides. She is so attuned to her horse that she can feel his energy and power flowing through her as she rides. These are the moments when she feels closest to God. This is how she would celebrate Shabbat, her day for closeness to God. The sages of the Oral Law regret her terrible loss, but they will not allow her to ride her beloved horse on Shabbat. She will have to find other ways to discover the joy, spirit and freedom that only surge through her as she does what she does best and loves most: when she can ride. “Sorry! You may ride past a tree; break off a branch to use as a whip. That would violate Shabbat.”
There are no trees where she lives. She would never hit her horse. She never has to. They ride as a unit, his power controlled and directed by her will. She is desperate, but the sages stand firm, she may not ride on Shabbat.
They live in a very hot part of Florida. They swim everyday. They are miserable on Shabbat when they cannot swim. Their son is more fish than human. He is happiest when he swims, but he cannot swim on Shabbat: He may forget that it is Shabbat and build a raft. He hates rafting. He only wants to swim. His mother would kill him for even considering building a raft in her gorgeous pool. He has never even thought of building a raft during the week. Why be concerned that he will on Shabbat?
The musician cannot play his piano. The rider is not allowed to ride her horse. The human fish may not swim. The sages considered these activities dangerous. The musician will never try to fix his $25,000 piano himself. The horsewoman will never break a branch and the human fish will never build a raft. The sages will not bend. Each of these artists will have to find something other than their greatest passions to connect to God on the day of connection.
The sages love and admire our creativity and passion. They celebrate the musician’s music, the rider’s riding and the boy’s swimming. The sages encourage creativity. They also understand that Shabbat demands a certain state of mind, one that is fragile and easily lost. The sages remind us that we can momentarily forget, even if only for a moment, that it is Shabbat. Our passions can distract us. Part of Shabbat is guarding its integrity.
The Sages are challenging us to take out the time and listen to the music of Halacha even when at first it seems so unexplainable. How can we protect Shabbat? How can we apply this concept to other areas of our relationship with God?