Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Iyar 5760 - May 24, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Letters, Eitzes, Feedback

Your editor received the following bona-fide letter from Sora Horowitz in Bayit Vegan who said she did not want to remain anonymous if the use of a real name will help others. She writes:

I am a working mother of four and a kollel wife. I never have enough time to get everything done, or ideas to upgrade my efficiency. Many times, I reached Shabbos with 'my tongue hanging out', so to speak, panting and thoroughly exhausted. Three months ago, I spied an ad in your paper for LIFESAVER COURSES on home management in various areas (Instructor: 02-5372-055). Even though I do consider myself `fairly on top of things', it appealed to me. After all, I didn't know everything. I called, was impressed by the instructor over the phone, and signed up for a time- management course.

We were asked at the first meeting what our specific goal was. Mine: to be ready for Shabbos on time.

Sora tells us that after a few sessions, she actually had the children seated on the couch Friday afternoons, listening to a story and asking if it was time to light candles yet. It was 20 minutes early! This instead of their usual reminder that the Shabbos whistle was blowing.

I signed up for a course on Pesach preparation. This is always a pressured time since I work up until the 14th of Nisson. Again, I received the tools with which to get organized, plan and execute the job. And I did it!

When we discussed the topic of help from the children in our workshop, I kept silent. My oldest is a boy of 8. Our instructor read my reservation and insisted on tackling this aspect. And her ideas worked!

I highly recommend this particular course and its instructor. Her ad appeared in the FAMILY SECTION on May 12, and the CLASSIFIED SECTION of May 19. The number, again, is 02- 5372055. But I felt a personal endorsement was my way of saying a hearty "Thank You", and passing on the good news to all the readers.

IN GENERAL - a heart to heart talk

Maybe it's a case of priorities, maybe it is an appreciation of Shabbos that comes with age. If one pants for Shabbos at the finish line, do they have what to show for it? When Shabbos finally comes, is it the real thing?

A young woman once described a disastrous Friday to me and how she had handled it. She had had a major plumbing problem that had taken hours to unplug and made a mess of the house, compounded by her lively children traipsing through the goo.

This young woman made it by the bell. But what was her Shabbos like? Salami. Bought kugel. Challa and bought salad spreads. A jar of fish. And how did she feel about it all? She had survived and was relieved. Not guilty. Almost proud that she hadn't had a nervous breakdown. I know we must judge such situations favorably and hope we never have to live through them. But also, derive a vicarious lesson from just hearing about it. How would you have handled it, not you Bessie Baalebustas, but you average harried mothers? We'd like to hear from you. How to make Shabbos special under stress.

Then there was the time I came home from a wedding outside of Jerusalem. I was waiting at the deserted bus stop, when a woman I knew somewhat decided to confide in me. I guess the dark was conducive to confessions. "Do you always make it to candlelighting when the whistle sounds?" she asked. I thought she meant a discrepancy of a minute of two and said, yes, give or take them. She shamefully revealed that she considered herself lucky to light candles eighteen minutes before sunset. This was in Jerusalem. I was shocked, but tried not to show it, lest I frighten her. I offered all kinds of suggestions, and tried to point out the illogic in not being ready in time for the whistle when she did make it in time for the eighteen minute deadline, which kept on moving, anyway. I don't feel things should be like this. I think something is basicly wrong about this attitude towards Shabbos, and with the first woman's priorities and procedure. I don't know, but I think the home touch of something cooked, thrown into the pot before the floors were mopped, would have made it a Shabbos. Is this impossible thinking? And I also feel she should have felt guilty. And what about the second one? What could you suggest?

Then there is the paper plate controversy.

A mother of ten I know well (mostly boys, but they're well trained) who always has half a dozen guests for Shabbos - at least - tells of one newcomer who made his committment to Tshuva from her Shabbos table. He had seen much of institutional cooking and serving, and the real china, serviettes and matching silverware, the atmosphere of a family sitting down to dine, royally, in her home, had made a profound impression. I don't think this woman's schedule is ANY the less hectic or any emergency-less on occasion, and still, her Shabbos is a Shabbos to be proud of.

I think that washing dishes is a small price to pay for that royal atmosphere. A cheap price to pay for the luxury of Shabbos. I'll capitulate for a sheer plastic over the white terylene tablecloth and thank my luck that I don't have to starch and iron it. I think if we had no choice, I would. But Paper is Party; festoon and not festive. I would rather cut corners on other things that don't (show or) make such a difference. To me, this does. What do you think? Any ideas?

I guess I'm old fashioned. I'd love to hear what you all have to say (and at what stage of life you're at).

I think it boils down to an attitude of loving what you do as opposed to being resigned to a fate, which is what we try to promote in our Family section. Not only `resigned' to bringing up a large family. Resigned to cooking a full day for Shabbos in advance. Not an attitude towards mitzvos as obligations instead of opportunites. For, really, they are gifts to mankind. The feeling- sorry-for-yourself syndrome in general.

Pesach is not a boogey man! It is not a punishment to be afraid of or resented. The four weeks between Purim and Pesach are part of the gift package. It is a challenge, a test of mettle, to use your brains, brawn, middos - to flex all those muscles and accomplish! And be proud and happy, making that fresh start.

Nu? What do you'all have to say?

Mail: Weinbach at Panim Meirot 1, Jerusalem, FAX to 02- 5387998.


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