Friday Night Versus Lies of Spiritualigious Patriarchy


Friday night versus lies of spiritualigious patriarchy




Friday night.

A set table.

Shabbat Dinner.


The four of us at the living room table intone the centuries-old Hebrew candle blessing.

And, I—as it is how my grandmother did it—have my eyes closed and rest my hands gently over my eyelids as we slowly sing.

*Baruch A-tah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, Asher Kidshanu B-Mitzvotav, Vitzi-vanu L’had-lik Ner Shel Sha-a-a-bat.*





About a third of the way into the prayer, I find myself wondering if my children or Jane close their eyes, too.

 I choose not to look and return my attention to the meaning of the prayer.

Still singing I laugh a bit at this thought—my choice not to look proves I am a person of faith!





I both love and hate the words I am singing.


I love how connected the ritual makes me feel.

I love this weekly reminder to STFD—slow the f down.

I love feeling connected to my grandmother.


But tonight I’m struggling.

I can’t keep from focusing on the meaning of the words I’m saying.

And I just hate the meaning of the words I’m saying.


*Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the world, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the Shabbat candles.*





It didn’t go down like that.

God didn’t command Moses (or anyone) to with any laws pertaining to the rituals I am now doing.


It’s not until the ninth century that the prayer for the candle lighting is first recorded.

And, the prayers for the wine and challah? More than five hundred years later.

The braided egg-bread challah that I make, as is “traditional”?

That tradition is a few years younger than the 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk. Challah was a sourdough until the Fleischmann brothers immigrated to the US, manufactured, and sold packaged yeast.






Shabbat in my house isn’t dogmatic. 

It’s about us spending time together, without rushing.

As getting uptight about how we do it would be counter to what we are trying to do, we stay loose on the rules.


The spiritualigious life is about freedom, after all.





Tonight I cannot free myself from parsing the meaning of these Hebrew words no one else at the table understands.


Hidden within the purportedly ancient words are a series of horrid lies of patriarchy/colonization.


Lie 1. God is gendered.


Lie 2. God is separate from us, commanding us.


Lie 3. God desires fidelity to man-made rules.


Lie 4. We are loved/holy the more we complete Jewish tasks.


That’s a lot of bullshit.

 But, what ought we expect coming from a culture that misleads with the story of men birthing and bringing life  to women?






If you like today’s newsletter is going, you are going to love section three,“The Book of Malarkey” — pages 136-213 — in the yet to be released Rabbi Brian’s Highly Unorthodox Gospel

(Hey, it’s my newsletter, and I’m going to take a moment to upsell the book if I want.)





After I open my eyes from the Hebrew candle prayer, I attempt to synthesize the above lies of spiritualigious patriarchy.

It doesn’t come out very clearly.


That’s alright.

The first draft isn’t the last draft.


Some ideas take a while to make sense.


Picking up some of what I am talking about Emmett rejoins, “But doesn’t the prayer mean what we want it to mean?”


“Very good,” I tell him as we turn our attention to blessings for the wine and challah.


He’s right. 

But the prayer also means what the words mean.






Tradition in our home is to sing the Hebrew prayers and then informally take turns interpretating what the words might mean.


We (usually) stick with these three themes.

  1.  The candles are about making time slow down
  2. The wine is a reflection on joy
  3. The challah is about gratitude.

We bless the wine and egg-bread challah and then continue with our regular house tradition: going around the circle and each telling the others three things we like about them.

Being with my bride and kids, feeling grateful. That is the best part of shabbat.

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