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A Shabbat Insight

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I went to the supermarket to buy my husband a bottle of Nescafe coffee. I went there just for the coffee. My first mistake was to take a shopping cart. After all, who needs a shopping cart for a bottle of coffee? I've bought coffee before in this supermarket and I know which aisle it is located in – aisle four. My shopping cart and I started off in aisle one. Why? I remembered that I wanted to buy mushrooms. Aisle one, two, three, four. I finally got to aisle four via the first three aisles. My shopping cart was now full. There was no Nescafe in the store. I went to the checkout aisle. I left the supermarket with eight bags of groceries, not one containing a bottle of coffee.

I can be connected to everyone, anywhere, anytimeIt wasn't so long ago that all I had was a telephone. You know, a standard telephone that didn't light up and wasn't digital. Now I have a digital landline, a cell phone, internet, and a VOIP DSL telephone that allows me to have a US number while living in Israel. I can be connected to everyone, anywhere, anytime. However, with all this communication going on all weeklong the only one whom I'm not connected to or communicating with is myself. Then Friday afternoon rolls around and I unplug my phones, shut down my computer and as I light the Shabbat candles and welcome the holy day of rest, I suddenly find myself connected. Even though I make it a point to sit down to talk with my husband each night when he comes home, our time together is brief and often interrupted. However, on Shabbat there are no interruptions; there is only us, talking and singing and enjoying. It's the only day where we can sit down with our children and observe how much they've grown and learned during the week.

"Six days you shall do your work and on the seventh day you shall rest" (Exodus 31:16). The language that the Torah uses to describe the rest or cessation that is commanded on Shabbat is "Shabbat Vayinafash," literally translated as your nefesh, your bodily soul, will cease. On Shabbat, we gain a neshema yetera, an additional soul. While so much of Shabbat is about physical pleasures such as eating, wearing fine clothing, and sleeping, the pleasure and "rest" that one derives from Shabbat is deeper than these things, for you could take part in them during the weekday and yet you wouldn't be observing Shabbat.

In the midst of all this physical enjoyment, we disconnect from the physical outer world and reconnect to our spiritual inner selves. It's the one day where you don't get distracted in your journey on this planet, and instead of walking out of the store with eight bags of unnecessary groceries, you walk out with the one item that you needed and sought. It's the day where you reconnect with your family and friends. Just as important, it's the day when you reconnect with yourself.

It's the day when you reconnect with yourselfI remember that when I was a student in university, I spent many Shabbat days alone. There was either nowhere to go or nowhere that I wanted to go for a meal. It wasn't ideal. Shabbat is a beautiful day that is best shared and not passed alone, but at the time I didn't have many options. I'll never forget how those moments alone of reflection made me incredibly in tune with myself, my goals, and my direction.

Now as a wife and mother, I bask in the beauty of quality family time that Shabbat gives us, and while I recharge physically from Shabbat to Shabbat it also remains the only time when I can unplug the phones and plug into Elana.

Originally from northern California and a Stanford University graduate, Elana Mizrahi now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and children. She is a doula, massage therapist, writer, and author of Dancing Through Life, a book for Jewish women. She also teaches Jewish marriage classes for brides.
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yehudit Toronto, Canada October 20, 2010

Your Journey Hello : )
I would so appreciate locating your personal
account of your journey from being secular to becoming religious. I so admire your wonderful writings and honesty. We live in Canada as a reformed family but I have always longed for
spiritual connection.
Please continue publishing your heart felt writings. With appreciation. Reply

Rachel-Lea Long Island September 15, 2017
in response to yehudit:

My journey in life continues with increased joy as I draw closer to HaShem. I'm now on vacation in Virginia. I came to a realization this morning as I watched the sunrise,that I need to follow the laws of Kashrut more closely. Judaism is so rich in learning and I am on this path. I am a widow in my sixties who lives alone. I love the Chabad where I go in Woodbury, New York. HaShem is always with me and I shall not fear. Reply

suzanne May 25, 2008

Shabbos Thank you for your words.

I always look for more words to tell how Shabbos feels. The flow of spirituality. The connection to Gd and to myself. How to convey it to others who have never experienced it.

I remember when I knew it only theoretically. It was only an idea. I did everything; I bentsched licht (lit Shabbos candles) as my mother and my Bubia (grandmother) always had. My husband made kiddush, said eshet chayil (the woman of valor). We sang Shalom to the Shabbos angels.

They were nice things to do, but that was all.

I remember the day that I first experienced it myself. Something special flowing from me, through me, filling the room, as the candles were lit, as the wine was poured, as the hands were washed, as the challah was uncovered.

It came into the room and stayed.

And from that moment on, I could always evoke that flow. Others could feel what I had brought in.

What a gift!

Last December, I once missed bentsching licht. Something vital was missing until I lit on the next Shabbos. Reply

Welcome to our candle-lighting section, where you will find the details and practicalities of lighting Shabbat candles, along with the meaning, spirituality and power of doing so . . .
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