Sabbath.

 

It’s late summer, Friday night dinner. Annie is at a birthday party. Just Jane, our 12-year old boy, and me. We sit on the patio in our backyard. Candles, a wine glass, and a challah I made.

Jane made meatloaf. 

Emmett and I look at each other knowing we will be making an exception to our pescatarian diets. Jane’s cooking is exceptional – and she will laugh to read this – she cooks only on rare exception.

The two candles are burning. The challah is still warm from the oven. The butter, at room temperature, awaits. The wine in the kiddish cup is actually the remainder of the tonic water that went into the adults’ drinks.

I am more concerned about the law’s spirit than letter. I run religion-outside-the-box after all. 

The sabbath supposed to be a delight and a joy – nothing to get into a tizzy about.

“So, what’s one thing that you think about more than you wish you did, and one thing that you wish you thought more about?” I ask.

Our tradition after the three Hebrew blessings with thematic and very loose English translations is for everyone at the table to ask and then answer a question.

When we started this sabbath practice 20+ years ago, Jane and I kept to the same question, “What does everyone at the table mean to you?”

When they got older, the kids introduced their own questions and then we spent the meal time going around the table asking then answering each other’s questions. 

“If you could be a superhero, who would you be?” 

“What animal do you think is everyone at the table’s spirit animal?” 

“What’s your favorite food?” 

Tonight, we start with my question: “What’s one thing that you think about more than you wish you did, and one thing that you wish you thought more about?”

I answer, “I think about religion stuff all the time. And, I wish I did more long-term planning.”

Jane laughs, “I’ve got the opposite. I wish I had a relationship with God these days. And I wish I wasn’t thinking about long-term planning.” 

She adds, “And I wish you’d plan.”

We all laugh.

 Emmett mentions how he is thinking too much about Minecraft, a video-game. And then he monologues about the session of the game he, Ben W., and Sam R. were playing hours earlier.

“…the farm we built was right next to the river, which meant that some of the time the fruit fell into the water, and we couldn’t get it, and then some of the potatoes got poisoned?”

It wasn’t a question. But his voice often goes up at the end of sentences.“Then I found 30 diamonds in a mine. Which is a lot. So I bought turtles. Which aren’t new. The bees are. We have to download the patch to get the update with the bees….”

 We eat as he continues: the carrot farm, the red stones, and the spiders – which can give you the string you need to make a fishing line.  

 It doesn’t matter that we aren’t following our usual Friday night dinner pattern or that we don’t get to anyone else’s questions.

The sabbath is about taking time off from busyness – to be present to the mundane – and to see the holy in the ordinary. 

We “uh-huh” and nod, asking the occasional question.

“The villagers can’t be moved unless you’ve gotten them into boats first. But then sleeping villagers can get out of the boats…”

I don’t understand. I doubt Jane does either.

I catch Jane’s eye. She winks. I smile.

Ah, shabbat.

Thinking like a push broom—or a leaf blower

Thinking like a push broom—or a leaf blower

Thinking like a push broom—or a leaf blower Jane and I are not engaged in conversation at the moment. We spoke some twenty minutes ago, before I came into the backyard, went to the garden shed, and got the black-moustached push broom that I now push. We are mellow,...

Saturday Service October 2020_5

Saturday Service October 2020_5

Podcast:Podcast Episode Notes 0:00 - 02:00 - deep breaths and welcome statement 02:00 - 03:15 - home work noticing complaining with participant comments 03:15 - 04:30 - quick note form Rabbi Brian to say thanks to Toni Anne 04:30 - 12:35 - Toni Anne: discussing what...

Saturday Service October 2020_5

Saturday Service October 2020_4

Podcast:The benefits of complaining? Camus. Simple teachings about love. Simple teachings about anger. A five minute mediation. A serious, but not humorless, spiritual-religious gathering. Topics include how to deal with frustration and the most common caricatures of...

The Best $20 I ever gave away

The Best $20 I ever gave away

The Best $20 I gave away New York City. Manhattan. 2005. I had a presentation in Philly and extended the trip to visit my family of origin.  It’s a humid Tuesday afternoon, and I’m picking up my niece at her Spanish language summer School slash day camp. Maya is...

Cancel Culture

Cancel Culture

Cancel Culture—with God  rB:“God, I have some thoughts I need to work out. You mind me using the artifice of an imagined conversation with you?”  God:“Fair enough. Glad to help. Go ahead.”  rB:“OK, so last night, I’m watching Family Guy with Emmett, and...

True Miracles

True Miracles

True Miracles “So whatever is bringing you from Los Angeles to Lynchburg,” asks the woman with the slight southern drawl next to me on the route from Dallas. “This airplane,” I tease and quickly follow up, “but seriously, a mentor of mine invited me to perform as part...

Revelation: Love. As is.

Revelation: Love. As is.

Revelation: Love. As is. Not far from the first synagogue where I am working as a rabbi, on Ventura Boulevard, about a mile to the west of Lindsey Avenue, and just east of Balboa, I have a revelation. It happens as Jane and I are eating a sushi dinner. I am a...

The Embrace of Two Friends

The Embrace of Two Friends

The Embrace of Two Friends Laurence C. Keene   I have two friends who just happen to be friends with each other as well. Amy and Stephanie have been friends for many years but while they agree on many things they do not agree on matters of religion and politics. Their...

The 77% Weekly

Try for free. Always free. Directly to your in-box.

intelligent wisdom. real + funny. about life

Enjoyed by 1,000's of people. 40/52 weeks a year.

Thinking like a push broom—or a leaf blower

Thinking like a push broom—or a leaf blower

Thinking like a push broom—or a leaf blower Jane and I are not engaged in conversation at the moment. We spoke some twenty minutes ago, before I came into the backyard, went to the garden shed, and got the black-moustached push broom that I now push. We are mellow,...

read more
The Best $20 I ever gave away

The Best $20 I ever gave away

The Best $20 I gave away New York City. Manhattan. 2005. I had a presentation in Philly and extended the trip to visit my family of origin.  It’s a humid Tuesday afternoon, and I’m picking up my niece at her Spanish language summer School slash day camp. Maya is...

read more