Dear Mom and Dad,

I seem to have forgotten how much I enjoy the great outdoors! The fresh smell of pine trees, the rustling foliage, the magnificent sunsets—I could live out here forever! Mom, I am sure glad I listened to your advice and brought along a sweater; brrr… it can get really chilly at night. Thomas and I have been out in the wilderness for almost three days now. We did manage to light the Chanukah candles each night, like you asked. We have stopped at a camping store alongside a resort area, and that's where I am typing up this quick email to you.

Listen, Thomas and I are thinking of extending our trip over Saturday, and we'll come back Sunday instead of Friday. Thomas says it's no problem keeping Shabbat out here, we just won't light the fire in the morning. What do you think? I mean, it's just for one weekend…

Missing you, but having a blast,


Dearest Michael,

Dad and I just received your email, and we hope you are still around the camping store, where you have internet access, to read this.

Michael, I am sure it is great camping out in the wilds. However, we do feel it is very important for you to have a proper Shabbat, as we do at home. Where will you be able to make Kiddush? Where will you eat a proper Shabbat meal? And it is the Shabbat of Chanukah as well, with Hallel in the synagogue. Perhaps it will be best if you do not extend your trip.

You know, the Torah portion of this week, Miketz, talks about Joseph. The Sages tell us that there is an extra word in the Hebrew text of the Torah that alludes to the fact that when Joseph hosted his brothers in his home it was the eve of Shabbat. Although the Torah had not yet been given, Jacob and his family kept many parts of Jewish law, and they kept Shabbat.

Joseph was viceroy to the king and was constantly involved in the busy life of Egypt, buying and selling lots of grain. And still, despite this, he kept Shabbat. Because of his special efforts to keep Shabbat, he managed to connect to G‑d in a very deep way.

Michael, come home. Let us light the Chanukah candles together, then your sisters and mom will light the Shabbat candles, and then later we will all make Kiddush together, and eat the Shabbat meals together. We will celebrate Shabbat just like Joseph did!

With Love,

Mom and Dad