What is the personal meaning and relevance of Shabbat Shuva?
Jews today are blessed with unprecedented freedom. We can be as Jewish as we wish – we can send out children to Jewish schools, keep Shabbat, kosher and all the mitzvot without any fear of persecution or punishment. Keeping Shabbat, having a Brit, or studying Torah, does not have to be a clandestine, underground experience. Doing a Mitzvah does not come along with worrying for our lives.
This wasn’t always so. Just a few short years ago Jews in the former Soviet Union had to make everyday choices between observing Mitzvot and staying alive. A Jew could be imprisoned or killed for keeping Shabbat or donning Tefillin. And countless were.
In 1984, just 35 years ago, Jews sat in underground synagogues, hidden by false fronts and trapdoors, praying the same prayers and listening to the same Torah. Only, no one banged on the Bimah, lest it be mistaken for a bang on the door by the KGB. No one shouted Shema Yisrael, lest someone on the street hear it.
One soul-wrenching story, sure to flood our hearts and well up our eyes with tears, of a Russian Jew writing a letter to the Lubavitcher Rebbe about his struggles with Shabbat, will change your entire perspective on Shabbat, Judaism, and being Jewish today.
And it will remind you of what Shabbat Shuva is all about.