Sunday, October 01, 2006

Reflecting on Yom Kippur - Part I

Now that Yom Kippur has come and gone, I have decided to change things up a bit and share with you my personal Atonement Day experience rather than posting for you my typical universal explanations of what the Holy Day is all about. I have been asked in the past to give "day-in-the-life" posts about Shabbos, so, with that request in mind, I am going to begin with Friday night bringing in Shabbos and end Monday night at the break-fast. Hopefully, you will find being a fly on MZ's wall for this year's Yom Kippur journey to be enlightening and entertaining, but, if not, than I apologize in advance for being a bore.

Friday, 5:14pm

Shabbos Shuvah [the Shabbat before Yom Kippur - Shuva meaning to "return"] was quickly approaching, as was my neighbor for our weekly OMINOS (Orthodox Men In Need Of Scotch) meeting, but the house and the MZ clan still needed to finish preparing for Shabbos. These scotch meetings are always one of the highlights of the week, and I like to be ready before he arrives so we can just relax and enjoy ourselves.

MZ does more of the cooking and Shabbos prep now that Mrs. Z is this far along in her pregnancy. She normally handles most of it like a pro, but, because she's so far along, I'm doing the bulk of the work to help her out. She does it much better and more efficiently than I do, of course, but we carry on best as we can with my clumsy hands trying to steady the ship.

Dinner will consist of Mrs. Z's challah, mushroom barley soup, roast chicken, deli roll (deli meats baked together in filo dough) peas and corn, kishka, barley rice, and fresh cut fruit for dessert. Normally, a pot of cholent (boned meat, beans, water all mixed with assorted other ingredients) gets plugged in, too, for Saturday's lunch, but since the third trimester Mrs. Z can't tolerate the smell or taste of it, so we'll be eating the leftovers from Friday night's dinner instead.

We normally like to host friends and family on Shabbos, too, but when she's this far along Mrs. Z prefers to have quiet family Shabbos instead. Walking to friends houses, unless very close, is also out now since she doesn't like to go too far on her feat at this point.

Friday, 5:33pm

It was the usual Shabbos Chinese fire drill as the clocked ticked closer to Shabbos - making sure the refrigerator lights were turned off, getting paper towels pre-torn from the roll, turning the oven light off, setting the stove warmers, getting the table properly set (white table cloth, nice dishes, silver, kiddush cup, challah board, table flowers, etc.), making sure the final touches on the delicious meal were in order, getting a quick shower in, having the timer on the dining room and kitchen lights lights set properly, getting dressed, getting Baby Z bathed and fed, and everything else that we need to do to prepare for Shabbos.

My neighbor will be over any minute for scotch; the pressure is on! Even though things are hectic, it looks like we'll be ready just as he arrives. Candle lighting is at 6:51 and we meet at my home one hour before to drink single malt scotch and talk about life.

Friday, 5:44pm

He arrives at the door, bottle in hand, and the meeting is on! As he comes in he informs me we will be having a 3rd visitor to the meeting, a nice guy we both know from the shul. Out goes some chips and dip plus three glasses with a little ice. At the meeting we discuss our week, Israel, Judaism, and have very lively discussions sharing our opinions. Usually we agree on things, but this time we have a pretty good debate about a Torah matter, with our new visitor contributing much to the meeting. MZ just loves this, as we argue our views on things as only the best of friends can.

Of course, the discussion is even more spirited after we've downed about four l'chaims (scotches that are toasted to life and good things), and *POOF* in the blink of an eye our hour has passed and it's time for us to part ways for candle lighting and Kabbalat Shabbat.

Friday 6:48pm

Everyone has now left, and it is time for the MZ clan to light candles and bring in Shabbos. The wife of the house always leads candle lighting, as she is entrusted with properly welcoming Shabbos, the weekly celebration of God's creation of the world, into the home.

After she lights and says the prayer, we kiss and then wish one another a good Shabbos singing "Shabbat Shalom". Shortly after candle lighting, I bless my daughter (Baby Z) with the Hebrew prayer the father gives to his children every Shabbos.

The english version:

May God make you like [for a girl] Sara, Rebecca, Rachel and Leigha. May He shine His face upon you and be gracious to you. May He shine his countenance upon you and give you the gift of peace.

I have not been going to Kabbalat Shabbat for the past few weeks as it is too tough on the wife now to eat around 8:30 pm. I miss going to the lively Friday night service tremendously, but it is better to be home with her and Baby Z at this point.

Next we sit at the table, sing Shalom Alechem and Aishes Chail, and then make the Kiddush. Baby Z loves the kiddush wine (we like to use the traditional Manischevitz concorde grape) so after I've made the prayer we make sure she gets her taste, too.

Then I recite the prayer over washing the hands, the prayer over the challah, and finally it's time to eat. The food is always so good on Friday night and I also make sure to have a couple glasses of wine so that I will sleep very soundly with my full stomach and peaceful, relaxed mind. I love Shabbos...

End of Part One


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