“I hope Magda has stew or casserole for dinner tonight,” he thought, “I’m freezing!”
It had been warm in the early afternoon when he had left the office. He had worn his overcoat on the morning commute, but he was running late for afternoon prayers and in his haste had forgotten it hanging on the back of the door.
The angry wall clouds had delivered sheet after sheet of horizontal rain earlier in the afternoon, now the cold front was moving in with a vengeance. Huge gusts of wind buffeted on all sides, but every few minutes, a particularly strong gust would almost knock Ya’akov down.
“It must be blowing at least 60 mph out here.” he said to himself.
Rounding the corner, he saw that the neighbour’s huge blue spruce had been snapped in two about four foot up from its base and now lay sprawled across the lawn and sidewalk. Several limbs of the surrounding trees also lay in ruins on the ground, creating a large void in the sky where tree had once stood and a painful carpet of the once pristine yard. When Ya’akov and Magda had first moved in fifteen years earlier, the full branches already reached the roof. It had weathered many strong storms before, and a few hurricanes, too. Ya’akov winced at the loss of such a magnificent tree.
Reaching his door, he let himself into the refuge of his warm front hall. The relief from the wind was nearly deafening. Shedding his briefcase and sport coat, he sniffed at the wonderful aromas wafting in from the kitchen. Cholent and home-made challah! How perfect! He needed something to stick to his ribs tonight.
“Children! Ya’akov! Wash up quickly! Dinner is almost ready.” Magda called from the kitchen.
Hurrying into the living room, she gave him a peck on the cheek. “How was it today?” she asked.
“It went well, I think. The auditors found a few mistakes, but nothing too terribly bad. We should be able to take care of them in the next week or so. Harry seemed pleased. Steinitz is known for being a real stickler, but couldn’t find anything of any consequence this time.”
The quarterly audit of his accounting department had gone well. The outside auditing firm of Steinitz & Trumbaugh had gone over the books and databases with their usual vigour, finding only minor errors. Harry Wendt, his boss, had been beaming all afternoon.
Last year, it had been another story altogether. One of the employees had been having a really rough time of it and had made some serious errors that had taken a lot of effort to put to rights. It felt good to be on solid ground again.
When the family was gathered at the table, Magda put on her scarf and began to sing in her lovely soprano:
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam
asher kidishanu b’mitz’votav v’tzivanu
l’had’lik neir shel Shabbat. Amein!
Blessed are you, L-rd, our G-d, King of the Universe,
Who has sanctified His commandments and commanded us
to light the lights of Shabbat.
Inwardly, Ya’akov let out a sigh. Shabbat! How he looked forward to the sweetness of this moment when he could set aside all of the hustle and bustle and just be. Looking at his wife and children over Erev Shabbat dinner was always the best moment of the week. He was, indeed, a man of many blessings!
Vay’hi erev vay’hi voker yom hashishi
vay’khulu hashamayim v’ha’aretz v’khol tz’va’am
vay’khal Elohim bayom hash’vi’i m’la’kh’to asher atah
vayish’bot bayom hash’vi’i mikol m’la’kh’to asher atah
Vay’varekh Elohim et yom hash’vi’i vay’kadeish oto
ki vo shavat mikol m’la’kh’to asher bara la’asot.
And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day
The heavens and the earth were finished, the whole host of them
And on the seventh day God completed his work that he had done
and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done
And G-d blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because in it
he had rested from all his work that God had created to do.”
Raising the kiddish cup, Ya’akov chanted:
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam borei p’ri hagafen. Amein.
Blessed are you, L-rd, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine. Amein.
There was always something stunning about these moments. Ya’akov could always feel the voices of the ancients, hear them echo through the halls of time. How incredible to be part of such a great heritage! To be chosen by such a great King! Raising his voice to join those of antiquity, Ya’akov chanted:
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitz’votav v’ratzah vanu, v’shabat kad’sho b’ahavah uv’ratzon hin’chilanu zikaron l’ma’aseih v’rei’shit, ki hu yom t’chilah l’mik’ra’ei kodesh zeikher litzi’at Mitz’rayim, ki vanu vachar’ta v’otanu kidash’ta mikol ha’amim, v’shabat kad’sh’kha b’ahavah uv’ratzon hin’chal’tanu, Barukh atah Adonai m’kadeish hashabat, Amein.
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctifies us with his commandments, and has been pleased with us. You have lovingly and willingly given us Your holy Shabbat as an inheritance, in memory of creation because it is the first day of our holy assemblies, in memory of the exodus from Egypt, because You have chosen us and made us holy from all peoples, and have willingly and lovingly given us Your holy Shabbat for an inheritance. Blessed are You, who sanctifies Shabbat, Amen.
Pouring water over his hands, Ya’akov recited the blessing for washing hands.
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam, asher kidishanu b’mitz’votav v’tzivanu al n’tilat yadayim.
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning washing of hands.
As the basin and pitcher made its way around the table, Ya’akov pondered these traditions. They were truly a people with a rich, full heritage, unlike any other.
Removing the pomegranate challah cover, he took the challot and chanted:
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz. Amein.
Blessed are you, L-rd, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth. Amein.
What a bittersweet memory, the challah and the salt. So many thousands of years ago, yet still they remember the tears and pain.
All over the world, Jewish families everywhere were sharing the wonder that is Shabbat!
“I wonder what it would be like for all of us to be together?” he though. “But, oy, the noise!!!”
Bowls of cholent and salad were passed around the table along with plates of warm challah and honey. Could it get any better than this?
— J. E. Clark | 25 February 2011
PARASHA & HAFTARAH
four_candles_preview.jpg from http://fridaylighters.blogspot.com
PRAYERS & TRANSLATION:
Adapted from Judaism 101: Shabbat Evening Home Ritual at http://www.jewfaq.org/prayer/shabbat.htm