August 3, 2016

Shabbat: The Only Way I Will Spend Friday Night.

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“Cheers to the freakin’ weekend, I drink to that, yeah yeah…”

Rihanna’s words belt out intoxicatingly from the radio as I drive along.

The perfect match to my Friday morning errands; the talented artist’s rhythm and message make me smile.

It does not take a lot to prompt my laughter, joy or appreciation for life and even its nuances to be honest, but come Friday evening, one hour before sundown, my entire being shifts into the Sabbath mode and undeniably so.

While Jews around the globe celebrate on Friday nights and light candles as part of that ritual, the Shabbat observance also enchants all my non-Jewish pals when I share it with them, and here is the reason why…

Shabbat is a well deserved “hall pass” and instruction even, to simply stop and rest.

All week we rush, work, stress, push, panic, pray, and basically plug in to our computers, smart phones and more in the name of getting our hustle on, drawing dollars toward our pockets and being accessible to the world. To be invited, by God, no less, to not only slow down and enjoy the weekend but to connect, deeply, with friends and family, serves as the best dream vacation that I could possibly wish for. This happens every single Friday night!

Yes, despite me not keeping to the Jewish tradition of being kosher with my food (as I’m an “everything ocean” eater and gourmand, thus the strict shellfish rules from Jewish dietary laws don’t serve me well). Even though I don’t attend a synagogue or service and I sport tattoos (a “no-no” according to halacha, traditional Jewish law), I have always, even amid my wild single days—when apartment hopping and moving across the country and back again—observed Shabbat.

To light candles (which for this ritual must take place with at least two, signifying unity with more than just our egos or ourselves) is to bring light into the week we’ve experienced and surfed. We do this regardless of whether smooth conditions or frightful tsunami moments to navigate existed. The lady of the house is designated with this honour,, nodding to the powerful spirituality and nurturing mystique which she embodies. This helps bring a woman’s touch to the table and the time together that evening for all to share in.

Call me old fashioned, but I find it downright enthralling, innately feminine and can I say, even sexy that each Friday, as the sun meets the sea, we perform this ritual.

When I strike that match and welcome in the most relaxing and sanctimonious time—bringing sultry and soothing energy to the past days that I have faced and fervently fielded—to share that experience and part of me with others is only more meaningful to my customary doings. So being invited to a Shabbat dinner does really mean that you are loved.

Regardless of whatever transpired up to that point, God has commanded that the Sabbath not only be observed but also ordained officially with wine (let’s hear it for tradition right?) and with blessings and a delicious meal. I don’t know about all of you, but to “bring some light” into our life, embrace only gratitude, eat, drink and then lounge around with each other and love, celebrate and languish the true beauty of life is pretty damn beautiful, magical stuff.

Moreover, much like ancient Sanskrit, the Hebrew language has been proven to be healing (whether one understands what they are saying or not). The mere pronunciation of all those strong guttural sounds requires one to breathe, fully, in and out, and to exhale and inhale and repeat, merely by reciting the words. Thus the Shabbat prayer(s) do prompt a tremendous heart opening. Solely by saying them. For this reason, unlike reciting the blessing over the candles in English, the words of “thanks” and “Sabbath lights” actually act out their healing meaning as we open our very hearts, articulating them with such healthful and rejuvenating big breaths.

To attend Shabbat at the home of another, and to in turn even hear the Hebrew blessings chanted, does wonders. For in just those few seconds, in tandem with witnessing the “changing of energy,” and feeling the mood and ambience change so harmoniously as the candles are lit, one is transported into closer proximity with healing via all those deep breathy sounds. One cannot help but become elevated on some level when brushing up against such energy.

Shabbat does not discriminate against whether somebody present can understand the blessing that the woman sang when illuminating the room with those candles or when pouring that wine. One needn’t be Jewish to be a part of that coming together, a incredibly connecting experience. Just imagine a wonderful menu and soiree with pals on a Friday night, albeit with a certain contagious warmth unlike any dinner party you have been to, and then the permission to enjoy every taste, sip and yes breath; because right up through the sundown of the following day, that is how it is.

Sure, we can stop that whole mushy kumbaya moment of sorts and get right back to our hyper worrying and bitter judging frenzies come Saturday night if one really feels quite threatened by the Shabbat restful time. But it is hard to want to break that “luxurious vacation” or to go elsewhere when Shabbat is involved. Even my dogs feel the energy switch, as they practice calmness and serenity in cozy droves once “Good Shabbos” is said. That itself to a dog mom is a gift.

The Shabbat ritual is one of my favorite times of the week and a custom that is so beautiful to me and for me to share. And that takes, “Cheers to the weekend” to a whole new fantastic level!

Happy Friday, and Good Shabbos, to All!




Author:  Laurie-Beth Robbins

Image: Video Still

Apprentice Editor: Justine O’Connell; Editor: Travis May

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