@Kesher We're Working on Shabbos
As a community, we would like to harness the energy surrounding the worldwide Shabbat Project (26-7 October 2018) and to use the weeks until ShabbatUK (1-2 March 2019) to upgrade and enhance our Shabbat experience. We want to ‘work on Shabbat’. And we need your help.
Brainstorm, suggest and test ideas that can make every Shabbat more meaningful, more precious, more authentic, more holy, more fun: For ourselves, our families our guests, our Kehillah, and all of Klal Yisrael.
It’s great (and indeed essential) to keep Shabbat but it’s even greater for it to be the priceless, indispensable, undisputed highlight of the week. What could make that happen? What little change or new idea would move the needle for you?
Think about three areas:
- Preparing for Shabbat
- Celebrating Shabbat
- Observing Shabbat
Ideas can be your own, or something you have observed or read. It can be a helpful or inspiring custom, practice, or idea, or an aspect of the Laws of Shabbat which you may have recently learned or have come to especially value. No idea is too small or too quirky. If it works for you, it may work for others. Remember, we’re all “working on Shabbat”.
Shabbos Enhancement Idea of the Week: One small thing
Preparing for Shabbat:
It is well known that although the mitzvah of Shabbat candles is incumbent equally on men and women, in a household setting the privilege of/responsibility for this mitzvah is the province of the woman. Nevertheless, the Ari (see OH 263:3 and MB 12) teaches that the husband should prepare the candles on behalf of his wife. Ie, she has the primary role, and he has a supportive role in illuminating the home on Friday night. In order to be certain to fulfil this minhag, and equally to avoid the last-minute rush (particularly on a “short Friday”) Rabbi Simon’s practice is to prepare the lights for Rebbetzin Ruthie when he returns home from shul after Shabbos the week before. Easy to do and part of preparing for Shabbos literally from the beginning of the week.
Shabbos Enhancement Idea of the Week: Don’t Crash into Shabbos
In the Preparing for Shabbat category, here’s an idea for Friday afternoon. Try it today!
You’re coming home from work or school or errands, at the end of a long week. You’re in a rush, you’re stressed, you may have left the office or class or store but it’s all still with you in your head. You’re approaching home like a speeding, laden locomotive. Unless you slow down and switch gears you’re going to crash into home. Or crash into Shabbos. Instead of bringing in Shabbos you’re bringing in stress and distraction.
So here’s a simple idea- instead of just rushing through the door, wait outside for 2 minutes.
Don’t use the phone, don’t move. Just imagine the weekday stress cooling down. The pressure is dropping.
Shabbat is on the other side of that door.
So decompress, take a breath and then go inside. As Abie Rotenberg sings, “it’s time to say good Shabbos” (click on it!).
Can’t spare the 2 minutes at the front door? Use the time on the train/bus/car to de-stress. No work emails, messages, reading or planning. Shabbos is on its way!
Shabbos Enhancement Idea of the Week: Stepping Up: Learn a page of the Laws of Shabbat at the table
The Chofetz Chaim wrote Mishnah Berurah, an authoritative halakhic guide which remains indispensable until today (110 years after its publication). In the Introduction to the Laws of Shabbat, he quotes the 18th-century sage Rabbi Jonathan Eibeschutz that one who endeavours to observe Shabbat fully and correctly will nevertheless struggle to do so without error week by week unless s/he studies and reviews the (sometimes complex) laws thoroughly. Since “Rome was not built in a day,” a practical and accessible strategy is to learn a small section of these laws every week. And what better setting than at the Shabbat table at every meal? Choose a suitable text, such as Rabbi JJ Neuwirth’s (English version in 3 vols.) Shemirath Shabbath, or another, perhaps simpler or even more specialised book, and your Shabbat expertise will grow week by week.