About two weeks ago, only a couple of hours after Shabbat was over, I approached my husband and asked: "so, what do you fancy I should cook for next Shabbat?"
He found this funny, but the truth is, I start planning, and often cooking and freezing for Shabbat, starting from the beginning of the week. It feels as though my whole week is leading up to Shabbat, which is undoubtedly the most important day of the seven.
It is a day of family togetherness. Throughout the week, we don't always have a daily family meal together - the children and I eat together, of course, but my husband often comes home when the girls are already in bed. We have resorted to emailing each other, because often, it's difficult to squeeze in even a hurried phone call. Shabbat, on the other hand, means the luxury of Daddy and his girls being together all day long.
It is a day of hospitality. During the week, of course I get to meet other moms for informal get-togethers at the playground, but overall we are all pulled into our separate routines. Shabbat means opening our doors to others for a leisurely Shabbat meal full of laughter, noise, fellowship and sharing. It also means inviting, sometimes on the spur of the moment, neighbours whom we don't normally see during the week. It means forging connections, building a real community of friends who can count on each other in times of need.
It is a day of peace and rest. There's the luxury of midday nap, of course, but also, and especially, the knowledge that no cell phones will ring, no emails will need to be answered, and talking about paying the bills or planning for the week ahead is actually forbidden. Not just our bodies, but our minds and souls are refreshed by the pleasant rest of easy conversation, Shabbat songs, and appropriate reading and study.
That is the precious gift I receive each week, starting on Friday and ending with Saturday night. Tomorrow night, I will be once more lighting the Shabbat candles, forging yet another link in the chain that connects us to Mt. Sinai. I can hardly wait.
Beautiful illustration art by Victor Brindatch