Saturday, January 23, 2010

I thought keeping a blog would obligate me to write regularly and therefore, provide more discipline to my very hectic life. Needless to say, it hasn't.

After a voluminous start, sometimes with two postings a day, I have slowed down considerably. Finding the time to write isn't as much an issue as finding the time to thoughtfully consider the content of my writing.

This particular post is long overdue. Last Friday evening, I entertained seven families for a Shabbat dinner; fourteen adults and twelve children. It was a wonderful evening- everyone brought a dish and some wine which helped me tremendously. I made a terrific brisket, actually three briskets ( in Hebrew, do we say briskot?) and I can brag about it because, I got the recipe from my friend Karen, whose food blog you should definitely check out, if not for the unbelievably tasty brisket, then for all her other great recipes and stories.

Back to last Friday night.

Having guests for Shabbat dinner is something I always want to do on a regular basis. Until I do it!!! I so envy my cousin Diana, who not only teaches all week, but every Friday, cooks up a homemade meal, sets a beautiful Sabbath table, and entertains guests. Granted, except for holidays, when she hosts a multitude of family, she usually invites, a manageable, one or two families. But even this amount of cooking, and cleaning, on a regular basis, seems overwhelming to me.

Don't misunderstand. I love opening my home to friends and family. I love the rituals of Shabbat; lighting the candles, and blessing the wine and challah. I love the relaxed atmosphere and the feeling of sitting around the dining room table conversing (except when the conversation turns to politics like it did last Friday night- and I thank all the "gentlemen" for their restraint).

I love the holiness of the moment, which is always present on the Sabbath, but not always noticed. Yet, more often than not, I don't allow this "specialness" to permeate my home on a Friday evening.

I can blame it on the fact that my kids have scheduled events that sometimes interfere, or that my husband, exhausted from a long weeks work, shouldn't have to entertain guests, when he, most probably and understandably, wants to unwind alone or get an early nights rest. But those are just excuses. The reality is that, as much as I enjoy the quality time, I dread the effort that it takes to achieve.

To quote one of my favorite authors, a man considered as close to a modern day Jewish prophet as exists, Abraham Heschel:

" How significant is it that this word, (holy), is applied to time. “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy” There is no reference in the record of creation to any object in space that would be endowed with the quality of holiness. Only time gets this distinction.

It would seem that after God created heaven and earth, he would create a holy place like a mountain or spring- whereupon a sanctuary is to be established. Instead, God creates holiness in time, the Sabbath, which comes first."

I believe this beauty in time can be created in all homes for all faiths. I have heard stories, which today seem like lore, of my husband's extended Italian-American family, coming over every Sunday afternoon- to eat, talk, play cards, and just be together. Were they observing their Sabbath without the rituals? Or my mother's extended family, who all lived near one another in Brooklyn and would come by my grandmother's home without invite to eat, talk, and just be together.

We have lost that family "sacredness" which came with proximity, but, if we make the effort, we can still allow some of the "sacredness of time" to infuse our homes.

My birthday gift last Friday evening was enjoying a lovely Shabbat dinner with friends. My hope for this, my fiftieth year, is that I remember to let the joy of the Sabbath enter my home more often.


  1. Lovely post! Very thoughtful.
    Thanks for the link.
    Hope you're having a great weekend!

  2. Oh Alicia, I lOVED this post so much. And I wanted to be with you too!

  3. Karen and Kate, thanks for your comments. Love hearing from you!!