GOOD MORNING! Many years ago in Israel there lived a couple with a little girl. Because the mother was afraid to have her daughter travel via public transportation, they sent her to a nearby religious school though they were not religious. There the girl learned of the beauty of Torah and the beauty of Shabbat. Incessantly the girl would ask her mother to light Shabbat candles and the mother promised, but didn't do it. She would get home late or be out with her husband, but never got around to lighting.
The girl decided that she would light them herself. She went to the corner store and asked the storekeeper for two candles. Knowing that hers was not a religious family, the storekeeper figured that she must want yahrzeit candles (memorial candles lit on the anniversary of the passing of one's closest relatives) since even the most non-religious Jews light them. When Friday night came her parents were out, so the little girl lit the two candles before the sun went down.
When her parents returned they were shocked to see the two yahrzeit candles lit. They woke up their daughter to ask the meaning of the two candles. The daughter sleepily replied, "Since you wouldn't light for me, I lit for you."
I don't know the end of the story. Did her mother light for her from that point on? I sure hope so! If parents want their children to love being Jewish and eventually to marry someone Jewish, they have to give their children a warm Jewish home. Your actions and attitudes are your children's heritage. If you love Judaism and live it, likely so will your child. Shabbat is essential and probably the best place to start.
Parents are often puzzled why their children don't have the same feeling for Jews and Judaism that they do. The answer is simple: emotions and feelings do not transfer in the DNA. We are a product of our experiences; that's why we feel and believe as we do. Speaking philosophy and intellectual appreciation do not touch the heart of a child and do not transfer a love of Judaism to the next generation. If we want our children to feel positive about being Jewish they have to see it in the home, sense the joy and partake in it themselves.
So, how does one bring Shabbat (Shabbos in the Ashkenazie pronunciation) into his/her home? Here are some basics for a start that can be incorporated into one's lifestyle fairly painlessly: (1) The mother lights candles. (2) The father makes Kiddush (a prayer over a cup of wine sanctifying the Sabbath Day). 3) A Sabbath dinner with two challahs (special braided breads). I highly recommend not answering the phone or having the radio or TV on at least during the meal to preserve the atmosphere. One can build from here!
To bring Shabbat into your own home can be difficult if you have never seen it observed in someone else's home. Perhaps you know someone who observes Shabbat who can invite you to be their guest? Believe me, Shabbat observers love to have guests. Its good to have a role model.
There is a magnificent book entitled Friday Night and Beyond - The Shabbat Experience Step-by-Step written by an articulate, sensitive writer, Lori Palatnik. The book not only details step by step what to do, she explains the meaning behind the steps and includes reflections from people who have taken these first steps.
I started with a story about candle lighting, I'd like to end with a beautiful insight on lighting candles from Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski in his book, Generation to Generation: "Lighting a candle is rich in symbolism. There are acts which we do totally for ourselves, and others which may be completely altruistic. Generating light, however, defies such limitations. I may light the candle for myself, but I cannot contain the light, because of necessity it illuminates the room for others. If I create light for the benefit of another, I, too, can see better.
"What better way to begin the Shabbos, the final step in the creation of the universe and its ultimate goal, than by lighting the candles, an act which symbolically binds the inhabitants of the world together. None of us can be an island; what I do affects you, and what you do must have bearing upon me. If we could realize this, we would well understand why the candle lighting is referred to in Rabbinic literature as an essential for shalom bayit, for peace in the household. Dissension can occur only when individuals believe they are separate and distinct and can each go their own particular way, untouched by one another."
For more on "Shabbat" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
This week's portion includes further job instructions to the Levites, Moshe is instructed to purify the camp in preparation for the dedication of the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary.
Then four laws relating to the Cohanim are given: (1) Restitution for stolen property where the owner is deceased and has no next of kin - goes to the Cohanim. (2) If a man suspects his wife of being unfaithful, he brings her to the Cohanim for the Sotah clarification ceremony . (3) If a person chooses to withdraw from the material world and consecrate himself exclusively to the service of the Almighty by becoming a Nazir (vowing not to drink wine or eat grape products, come in contact with dead bodies or cut his hair), he must come to the Cohen at the completion of the vow. 4) The Cohanim were instructed to bless the people with this blessing: "May the Lord bless you and guard over you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His Countenance upon you and give you peace."
The Mishkan is erected and dedicated on the first of Nissan in the second year after the Exodus. The leaders of each tribe jointly give wagons and oxen to transport the Mishkan. During each of the twelve days of dedication, successively each tribal prince gives gifts of gold and silver vessels, sacrificial animals and meal offerings. Every prince gives exactly the same gifts as every other prince.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And afterwards the Nazir may drink wine" (Numbers 6:20).
After the Nazir completed the entire process described by the Torah, he may drink wine once again. Why does the Torah still call the person a Nazir in this verse since he is no longer in the state of being a Nazir? The Alshich explains that when a person goes through a period of thirty days of being a Nazir, he elevates himself to a high level of spirituality. He is now on such a level that even if he drinks wine it is the drinking of a person on the spiritual level of a Nazir.
Two people can drink wine and the meaning behind their behavior can be totally different. The following two incidents illustrate this clearly:
Rabbi Mordechai Gifter, former Rosh Hayeshiva of Telz, was on an airplane. One of the engines caught on fire and the captain announced an emergency landing in a nearby city. One passenger called out to the flight attendant, "Give me one last drink before I die!" A person who identifies himself entirely with his body and not with his soul keeps this attitude even at the very last minute of his life. (The plane landed safely and no one died.)
Second story: A very righteous Torah scholar lived an ascetic life and denied himself many of life's pleasures. When he was on his deathbed he asked, "Please bring me a glass of wine before I die. My entire life I denied my body physical pleasures. Now I want to ask my body forgiveness and I wish to appease it with a glass of wine." The righteous man identified himself entirely with his soul. His request for a final drink of wine was with the spirituality of a Nazir.
CANDLE LIGHTING - May 21
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Guatemala 6:14 - Hong Kong 6:46 - Honolulu 6:52
J'Burg 5:21 - London 8:31 - Los Angeles 7:37
Melbourne 5:14 - Mexico City 7:54 - Miami 7:50
New York 7:55 - Singapore 6:59 - Toronto 8:25
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Between saying and doing there is a long road.
-- Spanish proverb
With Deep Appreciation to
Raphael & Dorothy Elkayam
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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