After Havdalah

Havdalah Candle

I didn’t make it into Blogger yesterday – it was a busy day, spent, among other things, holding ten-week-old twins and preparing for Shabbat (fortunately, not at the same time).

Shabbat is a subject I am passionate about. I came to Jewish observance in my early- to mid-thirties, mostly under the influence of our then-rabbi and his wife. They demonstrated to me that it is possible to be modern, egalitarian, ambitious, connected, and also to set one day a week aside with no driving, no writing, no cooking, no phone calls and no Internet. What at first seemed awkward is now a haven, although I will admit that as soon as the Havdalah candle is extinguished and we are separated from the sacred, I run to satisfy two of my addictions – Internet and freshly brewed coffee. In the intervening years since we began to keep Shabbat I have learned to lead services, to spend time studying, and to increase the quality of that strand in my life I call my Jewish neshama, or soul. While we pray every day, in the presence of the Shabbat Queen we have a neshama yeteira, an extra helping of holiness.

My children have grown up with Shabbat observance and have never known us to do otherwise. It has been fascinating to watch as they mature from hating the day-with-no-electronics to appreciation of the time to read, play board games, talk and go to the park. My fifteen-year-old puts away the ubiquitous texting and seems truly relieved to be out of touch for twenty five hours. My twelve-year-old is in transition, and my eight-year-old still completely hates it, although she does enjoy the social aspects of dressing up and going to shul. The availability of adults who would otherwise be staring at a screen is also not to be underestimated.

 Do you set time aside to attend to your soul and your family? If not, why not?

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9 Responses to “After Havdalah”

  1. Holly Jahangiri Says:

    I have to admit that the answer to that is, “No, not really.” And I think I would like to.

  2. Dr. Eviatar Says:

    There seems to be a lot of this unplugging stuff going on right now … (another ancient idea rediscovered!). Do you think you can make an unplugging appointment with yourself? Doesn’t have to be a whole day.

  3. Holly Jahangiri Says:

    Does tomorrow at the zoo with J.J.’s coworkers count? 🙂

  4. Holly Jahangiri Says:

    Actually, I’ve been semi-unplugging before bed every night, reading books on my nook. (Right now, reading Hound of the Baskervilles. Re-reading it, but it was on W’s summer reading list. I had to refresh in order to discuss.)

  5. Dr. Eviatar Says:

    Absolutely it counts! Have a wonderful time!

  6. Kanga Jen Says:

    No. We have very little family time. It’s so hard to find a day that none of us has commitments, and when we do have one of those days, we’re usually off doing our own things at home (internet, xbox-live, TV). I need to think of things we can do together that won’t make my kids feel punished. Q is NOT a board game guy, and it’s been so hot around here that it’s miserable to do anything outdoors. Maybe we could form a family book club? (I can see the eye rolls now, but I think it might be fun)

  7. Dr. Eviatar Says:

    I’m thinking, Jen, that maybe you need to do things the other way around. Rather than thinking up an activity, maybe you need to block out some time (doesn’t have to be a whole day) when nobody can have any commitments, and then you decide together what to do with this time. Could even watch a movie together or play a video game or something. Do you think that might work?

  8. Betsy Says:

    I’m not ready to unplug, but I know I should look for the strength.

    In the meantime, I have a tip! You might like to try cold-brewed coffee! Since the brew is never heated, the flavor is very smooth and mellow. And it *stays* fresh-tasting for weeks (not that it lasts that long). Highly recommended technique. 😀

  9. Dr. Eviatar Says:

    Thanks, Bets! Will have to look it up as I don’t think I’ve ever had that … I do love iced coffee (DH doesn’t, alas).

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