Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rolling on Shabbos.

*Tap, Tap* Anyone out there? I've been mute for many days now, for a variety of reasons but mostly that I have been quite busy and engrossed in readings for class and worksheets for Hebrew. I've also had some time to reflect on this past Shabbos, which, to be honest, was the most disappointing in recent memory.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Really? Disappointing? Get over it! It's just Shabbos! But the thing of it is, without a proper or near-proper Shabbos, my week doesn't begin or end, it just is, and this causes great stress for me. I had hoped to stay on campus for a Mexican-themed Shabbat dinner, but because of Tuvia's schedule and a desire to spend Shabbos with him, it didn't work out. He rushed out after work, picked me up, and we rushed home to beat the Sabbath clock. Already upset that we weren't able to make it to shul, we entered his house, which, I immediately  noticed, was freezing. The thermostat was set to hit 68, but it was at a mere 52 degrees. Thus, I davened Kabbalat Shabbat. Tuvia set off to check the heater, and, as it turned out, the motor was broken. He had to call a repairman, and had to run off to help his theater group set up a screen because he's the youngest and most agile of the group. I stayed home, lamenting the loss of the day already. I sat and read, which turned out to be fruitful after I came upon an article by Isaac Gottlieb in the AJS Journal on "The Politics of Pronunciation," a text workup about the halakhic arguments regarding Ashkenazim and Sephardim and how they approach prayers and pronunciation. But still, the day was lost already. The man came and fixed the heater, but it took nearly three hours. We played a game, and went to sleep, knowing that in the morning there were other reasons that would create cause to leave home, breaking Shabbos further. The morning arrived, the day went along, and havdalah approached. I'll admit to feeling relieved with havdalah, feeling a brisk touch of the end of Shabbos, but the reality of the week approaching. How disappointing, how lacking, how disappointed I was in myself.

Perhaps sensing my frustration, by some stroke of luck, Tuvia and I have been invited to a bulk of Shabbos and Jewishly oriented activities over the next few weeks. Tu B'Shevat will be spent at the Orthodox shul, as we were invited to a dinner there, and the next Friday we'll be at the home of a friend in West Hartford for services at the other Orthodox shul, followed by a dinner with friends, and a lunch the next day in honor of the birth of one of the Chabad rabbi's new baby girls. It is without possibility that the next few weeks will be lacking.

But it's such a basic commandment -- Zakhor et yom ha-Shabbat l'kad'sho (Exodus 20:8). That is, remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it. I was telling Tuvia that I wish, absolutely wish that it were attainable for him or me or us to live in West Hartford, in a religious community, so that it is easier, more feasible, more doable to keep the Sabbath. You don't have to drive to shul, you walk, you make it there. You have Sabbath dinner with each other, or with friends. You go to services in the morning, you take your Sabbath walk in the eruv, you take a nap, you have havdalah, you go about your way. I understand entirely why communities cling to one another, why Jewish communities thrive within themselves. It just makes sense. It's logical! This is why, when planning our trip to Chicago for early March, I insisted on finding a hotel within walking distance to the shul I used to go to there. I want to have a Shabbos, darn't. I want to make a traveling Shabbos happen!

I can't help it, but I seek perfection. I know there is no such thing, but I crave it. I want it the Lebowski way -- I don't roll on Shabbos!

On a lighter (more unfortunate) note, in an effort to live entirely out of my dorm room, I managed to set off the fire alarm for the complex this morning while toasting some bread in my toaster oven. I burned my knuckle quite horribly while pulling the burned pieces out of the oven, throwing them into the trash and thrusting open the windows to air the room out. My fear? I'll be reprimanded and told that I can't have the toaster oven. Of course, there is another Jew in the complex who supposedly has an entire kitchen in his room, so why not me?

Is it Friday yet?