Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shabbat: the peak of my week

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


Rose said...

I love that post Anna.

Heather said...

I love the tradition of your Shabbat. I wish that we had that same sense of importance in the US for a day of rest. It seems that even when I try to set aside a day with family, something seems to come up. I know that obviously I need to stress the need for it, but then to explain in to everyone else gets complicated. People are offended. Don't want to travel to you etc. It is definitely something I want to think more about though, thank you for sharing!

Laura :) said...

Once again, thank you for an informative post. Do you use only candlelight during Shabbat?

Anonymous said...

Just another one of God's better ideas :)

Thia said...

What a lovely picture!

Cindy said...

Sounds lovely. :)

Analytical Adam said...

Part 1: It is sad the picture has no father in it. I have spend Shabbos for over 10 years and the people I blame are the so called "religious" and God does see it.

On a deeper level though there is nothing to thing that to think that not emailing a "friend" is something you are "happy" about it. So Shabbos is only about being with those in walking distance.

The purpose of Shabbos is not to do "work". Which I guess women who spend more time at home (which there is nothing wrong with but as with anything else there is tradeoffs)) would be less qualified to constitute what "work" is.

Modern inventions have made certain items which once were work no longer work. You don't pay someone to turn a light on for you.

Analytical Adam said...

Part 2:Rabbis like other male religious leaders some of their ideas are based more on politics then what really is "work" and this competition Rabbis, Priests, and Imams have to make their religious more legitimate by having more stringencies and role in the mud holier then thou behavior. There have been articles about e-readers if that becomes what people mostly read from if we should make it ok so let us not fool ourselves.

Sadly, these ideas partly have to do with undermining a man's "public" role. If a man on Shabbos could only to talk to neighbors since he has to work the other 6 days that way we can lessen their influence. Judaism (I don't know what the chicken and egg is) but competes with the other religion who is holier then thou by being "stricter" then the other group.

As I said and continue to feel in some ways Mrs. Anna that you are using being a stay at home to want to promote Judaism and be the public role and part of it that men would understand better and certainly if you are less involved in that sphere.

I know for a fact that many Rabbis (as they have been abusive to me and this was 10 years ago when I was a little more naive) do not want men to talk to anyone and want them to just focus on Shabbos and Kosher and work like a slave and also not to talk to anyone at work either.

Shabbos should be pleasing to God first and foremost. The main thing is focusing on your work or activities that constitute work. Public speaking also is "work" for some. I don't see the difference between e-mailing a "friend" and saying hello to them.

Also most lonely people will likely get on a computer (I will admit I am talking partly about myself although I never did shopping or send out resumes on shabbos)(to read articles maybe to play games. and sometimes without thinking about it as I was bored. Should I just Shabbos staring at a wall. Is that a loving just God) but not focus on work and for us to them condemn them is also very ungodly which I also have to tell you many of the stringencies are then used against those who are poor and unconnected and have legit complaints against the community to which the Rabbis can find something and then claim well they aren't religious and we have nothing personal against them.

In conclusion, I don't think it is "work" to email a friend or even on a computer to discuss torah on the sabbath. The Male Rabbis have shown part of their reason is because they don't want other men to have any influence and during the week they don't have time because they are "working". Any more then public speaking which to most people is a "job" and "work". It is the machine doing the work not me. And many Rabbis recognize if books become mostly electronic (and they are cheaper then hardcover books) that we will have to make it ok which just shows that it is more political then anything else because e-reading doesn't threaten them like men on the internet does.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful thing to look forward to each week and plan for as well. May you and your family be richly blessed this Shabbat.

Liora said...

I too love Shabbat! Shabbat shalom to you and your family, Anna! May it be restful and joyous for you!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful,beautful!! Thanks for sharing!!
Elizabeth in NC

Mrs. Anna T said...

Adam, I think there is no father in the picture, because the time seems right for him to be in synagogue, praying mincha, while the wife and children are lighting candles and setting out the table for his return. I know my husband goes off just as I light candles.

Joie said...

I'm an Episcopal priest and have been thinking lately that we need truly to observe Shabbat. Your post almost makes me want to be Jewish;-)

Otter Mom said...

We are not Jewish, we are Christian but we have always believe that Sabbath should be remembered and observed. Our traditions are similar to some of the Jewish ones, at least as far as Sabbath goes. I find myself looking forward to the next Saturday as soon as one is over. It's the highlight of our week, and the family time we spend together is priceless to us.

Anonymous said...

A lovely post, Anna. It is so obvious, even to a casual observer, that you don't simply enjoy your treasure it & really live it out in your home & community.

It's been awhile since I've been in touch....will be e-mailing soon. :o)


Miu said...

It's a nice feeling you are describing.

But I've got a question regarding the picture: Why do the woman and the girls cover their eyes?
Does it have a meaning?

Mrs. Anna T said...

Miu, that's what we do when reciting the blessing over Shabbat candles.

Joluise said...

As a child (in a Christian home) we all always called Sunday "The Lords Day" and it was just that, a day for the Lord..a day of rest and peace and not working. It didn't matter what else what going on with others, it was the day we set aside for the Lord.

Johanna said...

Sounds like my Shabbath preparations too! :-) Thanks for sharing. Love your blog, keep on writing! :-)
Johanna from Finland