Harp and Story

The Blessing of Shabbat

We have 19 of us living in this little house right now, but by this time next week 5 of our girls will have made the trip back to their homes.  We have grown close spiritually and emotionally, (not to mention physical closeness, space-wise that is). Every Erev Shabbat we offer the opportunity for a girl to carry-on their family Erev Shabbat service.  Last night Steve and I presented our Erev Shabbat service.  When the part in the service came to the blessing of the children we incorporated a special blessing time for these five young women, we will all miss them when they are gone! We have a little more than 2 weeks and we also will be gone.  Some things you try not to spend too much time thinking about!

Living in a religious community in the Shomron of Israel these last several weeks does cause one to make some interesting observations about life in general and the Shabbat in particular.  In western Christianity and also in the
western Messianic community to some degree, the week is generally viewed like this: one day for God, six days for me. The fourth commandment can even be seen to reflect this, but in the religious community we are a part of for the time
being it is still one day exclusively for God and six days for me to work, but the way it works out is something like this.
Six days we study Torah and wash clothes and build houses and go to school and check news on the internet and…, but on the seventh day we rest from all our work.

Our house is across from the synagogue so whenever people gather there we hear them.  Every Shabbat morning, bright and early, the men gather for prayers – they say prayers three times a day, as a group when a minion can be gathered – and then they do what scriptures tell us to do they rest and enjoy the day God has made for our pleasure in Him.  No one drives anywhere, but they do take walks all within the determined Sabbath’s day’s journey of their community. Groups of men gather in the streets and visit and mothers push strollers with little ones following to go to friend’s houses and children play in the park’s sandlots and swing on the swings and ride the metal horses and climb the jungle gyms.  Older boys play soccer and basketball or go hang out at the IDF base on the edge of the community and groups of girls take strolls down the streets looking for other groups of girls. From almost every house the sound of people being neighbors emerges and one can’t help but wonder what delightful dishes are behind the wonderful aromas wafting down the streets.  Our religious community obviously enjoys this day of rest!

Of course it is easier to have this kind of a Sabbath when you live in a community of like-minded people, but I can’t help but wonder if this is something of what YHVH meant when He set aside the seventh day for our rest and pleasure.  Going along with the Shabbat rest there is an interesting commandment in Exodus 35:3 that says; you shall not kindle a fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day. The Jewish people take this to mean in the literal sense no fire or even anything that makes a spark, but a few years back I heard an explanation for this commandment that made a lot of sense to me; to not kindle a fire can mean to not start a contention, dissension, anger, frustration, wrath, annoyance, fury, rage, irritation in someone else.  To do so would be to steal their Sabbath peace or the blessing of the Sabbath rest that this day was designed to provide.  I have been in a few Shabbat day Torah midrashes (discussions) that have kindled fire. And this kindling does indeed steal the shalom of Shabbat.  We can learn things from our Jewish brothers and sisters and the way they keep the Shabbat certainly should deserve our consideration.

One thought on “The Blessing of Shabbat”

  1. Dear sister, I SO appreciate your thoughts on kindling a fire! I am trying to institute the honoring of Shabbat in our home and it is a challenge. Cooking is one thing I really struggle with. I really don’t mind cooking and it is actually kind of nice to not have the distractions of other things getting in the way. Of course, right now, we are kind of like the donkey in the well. There are things we need to do for winter and this is oftentimes the only time to do them. I am looking forward, though, to the time when we can leave things for the next day. I love the Shabbat.


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