Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Adar 5759 - March 10, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly

















Home and Family

Notwithstanding the fact that the word SHaBBoS spells out Sheina Beshabbos Taanug - Shabbos sleep is delightful:

Perhaps the best time to rouse our consciences to an overindulgence is precisely when we feel that pre-Pesach fatigue in the bones and NEED our Shabbos shluff. The time to see things in their proper perspective and take the necessary measures to assure that Shabbos is spiritually revitalizing for the entire family, and not just an opportunity to tune out and hibernate.

My Shabbos is My Shluff
by Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein

Ahhhh... Finally. Shabbos. Candles lit, table set, food all ready. Time to sit back, close my eyes and relax until the men and boys return from shul and the serving starts.

Divine... Shabbos Kodesh.

Ahhhh... First meal finished. Table cleared off. Food all put away. Children tucked into bed. Time to shluff.

Divine... Shabbos Kodesh.

Early Shabbos morning. Moishele, did you find your Shabbos shoes? Hurry, or Abba will leave without you... Sarale, be sure Malky's coat is buttoned and that Rivky keeps her hat on. Don't disturb the people davening. Gut Shabbos.

Front door closes. Ahhh... Shabbos Peace. Shabbos Quiet. Shabbos Kodesh.

Second meal finished. Table cleared. Food all put away. Kids out the door.

Shabbos Peace. One last cup of tea. Now our Shabbos shluff.

Ahhh... Shabbos Kodesh.

And the children?

Outside, running. Screaming. Jumping. Chasing. Pushing. Yelling. Climbing low- lying trees, throwing stones at cats, pulling up flowers. If young enough, more running, jumping, chasing, pushing. And if a little older, watching cars go by and yelling "Shabbos", or lying on the grass, talking, and tearing grass up from the ground absentmindedly. Nothing really to do. Boredom. Older sisters watching, waiting, talking, babysitting, talking, laughing, talking. Until time for seuda shlishis. Then all come home.


Yes, Abba learned and/or worked hard all week and he needs his shluff. And Ima cooked and cleaned and diapered all week, and perhaps even went out to another job as well, and so she also needs her shluff.

But with all this holy shluffing, what is happening to Shabbos and its beauty and holiness? And, perhaps even more to the point, how, and how much, is this beauty and holiness and love of Shabbos Kodesh being passed on to our children?

True, kids love running and jumping and screaming and chasing outdoors. But will hours of this pasttime on Shabos instill in them the warm memories of family togetherness and the majesty and magic of Shabbos? Will spending hours idly yapping with girlfriends while babysitting the little ones provide a deep love and appreciation of the Torah way? Will all of this strengthen the inner core of our children so that if, G-d forbid, they ever become exposed to the winds of Saturday soccer or threatened by Friday night hangouts, they will have the inner reserves to resist because they have the memories of beautiful Shabbos afternoons sitting around as a family, talking together, playing quiet games together, telling stories and discussing Torah at different levels?

What are we doing to our children? What values are we teaching them, and what messages are we sending them?

Shabbos Kodesh isn't Shabbos to me without my Shabbos Shluff. How many times have we heard this refrain? Or said it ourselves?

To me, Shabbos is eating and clearing away, davening, and having an afternoon shluff. You go play outside with your friends, and don't bother me. Watch the little children so that they'll be alright. Don't disturb me. You handle my problems/responsibilities. I need my Shabbos Shluff... Just be sure you're back in time for shalosh seudos.

What message is such an attitude, such words, sending to our children, and to those standing nearby who hear it? What does it say about our TRUE attitude toward, and true belief, in the holiness of the day?

And yet, there is even more. Have you, as a parent concerned with your children's education, ever noticed what is going on outside on Shabbos afternoon?

For hours and hours, the children are playing outside. Unsupervised. Not one adult watching. Alright, so there may be no traffic, but there is not a person around to comment that perhaps climbing a tree isn't a Shabbos activity. No parent in sight to remind running children that their screams might be disturbing other people. No family bonding except that of young girls forced into being unpaid babysitters while they saunter back and forth, gabbing, gabbing, and gabbing.

Shabbos Kodesh? Where?

Half hour Tehillim sessions? Beautiful. Then, what?

What are we telling and doing to our children? What are we doing to our families? And the generations to come?

Can you imagine, chas vesholom, sleeping through two thirds of Yom Kippur? Even if you didn't have any tshuva to do, it still wouldn't `look good' for the children in the house to see such a lackadaisical attitude to such a holy day.

Shabbos is me'ein olom haba - a taste, a piece of the World to Come. Will our future spiritual world be lacking in depth and dimension because we neglected to prepare in this world and slept away our opportunities? Is it such a little thing that we have been allowed, no, given a chance, to experience a piece of olom haba? Is it so inconconsequential that we can sleep it away? And if we do have to take a nap - by all means! - keep it within narrow limits and don't loudly and proudly proclaim it.

We talk about feeding our additional neshoma which we are granted on Shabbos. Are we fooling ourselves with double talk? Are we feeding it with the food it needs to keep us going, like a double portion of Torah-talk? Perhaps, most important of all, are we careful to show our children that we are talking more Torah than usual? And conversely, that they are feeding their OWN souls with double-Torah-talk?

Not homework or school study, but with stories of gedolim, Torah games and quizzes, questions and answers, and middos puzzlers like "What would you do if..." or "How could you possibly judge this situation favorably?" [Ed. This is a fascinating exercise. You could use "The Other Side of the Coin" as your basic text and then go on to true life incidents which the children will surely provide, or can make up as you go along.]

Togetheness. The entire family, sharing, laughing together, enjoying one another at each age and stage of juvenile development. Warmth. Happiness. A family on Shabbos Kodesh. A memory of holiness that will stay with each person wherever s/he may go and whatever s/he may do in life.

But I need my Shabbos Shluff...

What are we doing to show appreciation of Hashem's Gift to us?

What are we doing to concepts of, and attitudes towards, Holiness?

What are we doing to Shabbos?

Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein is author of HAPPY HINTS FOR A SUCCESSFUL ALIYA (Feldheim) and a CHILDREN'S TREASURY OF SEPHARDIC TALES (Artscroll) and editor of the anthology TO DWELL IN THE PALACE, among other books.


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