Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some more on hospitality

Friday night. The candles are lit, the house tidied, the table beautifully set for ten persons. I'm waiting for my husband to come home from synagogue, while putting finishing touches here and there; I add another set of cutlery, take out the drinks, pour iced lemonade into my lovely new glass pitcher. The guests - a local family we are friendly with - are due to arrive any moment.

They come. After the meal begins and everyone had had something to eat, the six kids we have among us progress to play and get the house good and discombobulated. We adults linger around the table. The conversation flows. Different subjects are discussed, but not work, or household projects; no plans are made. The Shabbat encloses us all in a beautiful, magical circle, temporarily shutting out the cares and worries of the world, allowing us to be duly refreshed. 

Then our friends are gone, with a tired baby sound asleep in her stroller. The table is cleared, the children tucked in, dishes are being washed. I reflect with satisfaction on an evening well spent. 

Why, then, was I a little reluctant to go through with it in the first place?

Well, there's the extra work having people over requires of me, of course. A larger variety of dishes is expected when there are guests (also, as a rule, around here people usually bring something with them as well). The table needs to be opened, extra chairs fetched, the cutlery drawer almost emptied, nearly all my dishes used up. Then all of it needs to be washed. And Friday is a day usually spent, for me, in hectic activity, and rather a lot of washing up as it is. I'm tired by the time evening rolls on. 

However, there is nothing like the gathering of people around a common table. It gladdens my heart. It forges special ties. I know I want this, for my family. I also know that with no pregnancy, new baby or illness, I can reasonably do a lot of things that would otherwise be stretching. I am blessed with leisure which is rare for someone my age, in my circle. I am stepping out of my comfort zone, if only a bit. And that is worth it. 

The photo is obviously an illustration, because I can't take pictures of our table on Shabbat.

PS: Blogger is automatically putting in some links which I would never deliberately put in my posts, and I don't know how to stop it. Technical support will be much appreciated. 


Anonymous said...

Why can't you photograph the Shabbat table? Just curious.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Operating electric appliances during Shabbat is prohibited. We can leave lights/heating on, or set a timer in advance, but we don't turn on lights, light fire, drive, etc. It's kind of complicated to explain if this is the first time you hear about it, but if you Google "Jewish Shabbat" I'm sure you can read a lot of interesting stuff about it!

Mrs.Rabe said...

What a beautiful story - it is wonderful when we share our lives with others.


Anonymous said...

So is that why the candles have to be lit before sundown? Lovely description, lovely post. Thank you.
Mrs. L.

Otter Mom said...

I am Christian, but we observe Sabbath on Saturday. From Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. I'm curious about you mentioning washing dishes - is that not considered work? I'd actually prefer to wash the dishes after we've eaten, but my husband prefers that I not wash them as he considers that to be work. Our customs are slightly different from yours, we use electricity for one thing. But the point is to rest and reflect on our faith, however we do have some craft projects that we allow since they are mostly for fun.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Otter Mom,

Generally speaking, work prohibited on Shabbat is *creative* work - just as G-d ceased creation on the seventh day. Turning the lights on is creation, for it generates a spark of electricity. Crocheting is obviously creation, so is drawing. But moving a table or washing the dishes, or changing a diaper is not creation... although it's work and crocheting is fun!! Yes, of course washing the dishes work. But not the kind of work that is prohibited. Also the finer nuance is that I am washing the dishes to use in the *next Shabbat meal* - I don't have enough dishes to go around for 3 meals, sometimes with guests, without washing up! But I don't wash up after the final meal and until the end of Shabbat, because that would be preparing for the day to come.

Google "Shabbat Jewish Law" or "Jewish Shabbat" if you are curious to find out more.

momto9 said...

We were just in Israel for Almost two weeks so now when I read your blog I can picture the places and customs in my mind:) I loved it there!