The Simplicities of Shabbat
Printed in the FALL 2017 Jacksonville Jewish Center Centerpieces
‘Twas the night before Pesach, with the oven on self clean
Turned on after saying “Shavua Tov’ to the Shabbat Queen
When it locked and blew a fuse without quite a care,
That our seder couldn’t go on without it’s repair.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While I envisioned a meal of maror and unleavened bread
61. Roger Maris’ home run record and the number of days it took to get our oven replaced. Thanks to a home warranty, after hours of time on the phone listening to Kenny G’s greatest hits and after more than a dozen home visits, I recited the Shehechiyanu blessing over our new oven a week after the festival of Shavuot. Through stove top cooking, the opening of a new kosher eatery, and help from family and friends, we made it through two months without missing a beat. Not surprisingly, since its repair, we haven’t used the oven as much as we used to.
We all have similar accessories in our lives that we might deem irreplaceable. What would we do without our electric toothbrush? Or our Alexa? Or, heaven forbid, our cellphone? Would we survive? After a few weeks of our oven ordeal, I could only smile at that the fact that life can go on without some things. Does it make life harder? It makes life different. You adapt and you appreciate other parts of your life. Maybe living under different circumstances can condition us to live a more fruitful tomorrow.
Being outside our normative practice allows us the room to relax and reflect. It’s the true essence of “Shabbat,” a sanctuary in time and space. It can vary from taking away the electronics, to attending a musically inspiring Friday night service. It can be a moment to catch up on a book, or play a board game, or get the ultimate shabbos shluf (nap).The holiest day of the year is Shabbat, not because of fixed liturgy or the added restrictions we place on ourselves. It is holy because it is different from our norm. For some it is a respite from the outside. For others it’s a challenge that can motivate the brain and stir the heart.
For all the email and calendar reminders we drill into our schedules, I hope that in the year ahead we all find that there are things we can live without. In turn, we can take those aspects of our lives that we may have gone without and reacquaint ourselves with them. We may find that we have added extra meaning not only to those sabbatical moments of serenity, but to the rest of our daily lives. For in essence, to paraphrase Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, we should aspire to make all of our days a sanctuary in time, for we dream of a period “when all will be shabbat.”