Sunday, January 06, 2008

First Shabbat

by Sokol Haxhinasto

Shalom everyone!.

Yesterday I joined a friend of mine who was kind enough to share the Shabbat celebration with me and my family. I was to meet him before 4 o'clock at his place, so I left work earlier than usual. Since Shabbat did not start until 4:07, I was able to get a couple pictures of myself with a kipa on.

I was struck by the immense preparation that goes into welcoming Shabbat-making the food (more on that later) but most importantly ensuring that all the lights that need to be on for the next 24hr are on (living room, bathroom) and those that need to be off off (bedroom). I was glad to see that my reading of Talmud-related books came in handy when i reminded them about the refrigerator light that needs to be turned off during Shabbat.
My friend and I left for the synagogue ( We picked up a prayer book on the way into the sanctuary where the majority were men and by the end of the service three females showed up and set in a completely different area. Thankfully the prayer book was both in Hebrew and English, so i could understand and follow somewhat. Mostly it consisted of Psalms (familiar territory) and prayers. By the end of the service we welcomed the Bride-Shabbat, similar to what is done in weddings when the bride comes in. Interesting.
I was reminded of the verses where the church is referred as the bride of Christ-not sure if there is a link...

Afterwards we went home where the rest of the family joined us. We were ready to partake of a feast. After washing our hands three times they said the blessing over the wine and the bread (sweet). My friends wife had cooked from 8:30 pm to 2:30 am the previous night - amazing to think this happens every week. Thanksgiving meal every week-that's a tradition i can embrace. Everything was delicious.
After we got done, my challenge was yet to come-keep the Sabbath for the next 20 or so hours. I started by waking home instead of taking the train (not Levitical, i know)-it gave me more time to think about God and His intent in giving this commandment of rest and reflection. My goal was to refrain from work-no computer and work related things. I also ended up avoiding TV. Naturally this provided more free time which I mostly used to read the Bible and got a few extra chapter for my "read the Bible in one year plan". I was going to avoid other manual work, but my daughter's doll-house arrived in the mail, so i had to put it together. Probably not sth the Talmud would allow, but I felt my daughter's enjoyment and our bonding time was more important. i was tempted to check my email throughout the day and must say kept looking at the time when I could go back to my busy, stress filled life. it is not easy to teach an old dog new tricks, but not impossible.
so overall i feel like it was a success-i did not shop, ride the train, got to the library, work and every time i thought about those things i quickly tried to change my thoughts toward God. I did spend more time with God than most saturdays, so resting from work and substituting that time for Godly and family things is certainly something Jesus would want me to do in the future. This Sabbath shed new light on Jesus's invitation in Mathew 11:28, "come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and i will give you REST".

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