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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Shabbat Shalom

A friend, LA, recently asked me what I mean/understand when I say/hear Shabbat Shalom.

I was confused by the question. I had never thought that much about it. It is simply a salutation, like "hello" or "goodbye".

Another friend, GA, starts saying Shabbat Shalom early in the week. When questioned about it, he explains that we are awaiting Shabbat all week long. Though he gets curious looks, he cheerily continues to wish all a Shabbat Shalom.

I always liked this idea, that, from the outset, our week is centered around Shabbat.

I will often wish someone a "Shabbat Shalom" as early as Wednesday (occasionally even earlier) if I think I won't see them again before Shabbat. I get some of the same strange looks as GA, but I don't mind.

All week, I look forward to Shabbat.

On Shabbat, everything slows down and I get to spend real time with my family. We have proper meals, all together, with good conversations. No phone interuptions, no computer distractions, no outside obligations. Just good, quality family time.

And something extra.

Something deeper.

LA wondered if, as a religious person, I mean something more meaningful when I say "Shabbat Shalom."

On the surface, I certainly don't.

But maybe my friend is intuiting something that I am missing.

I would love for everyone to experience the magic of Shabbat that I experience. Of course, everyone experiences that magic in their own way. But the unique beauty of Shabbat, that elusive magical element, that is a gift. And I would love for others to have that gift.

And maybe that is the meaning of "Shabbat Shalom" -- that we are wishing each other that magical gift of Shabbat.

On the other hand, I think it's great that we don't think about it too much. If it was identified as a religious greeting, perhaps non-religious people would take offense. In this country, where everyone is hypersensitive about religious coersion, anything can happen. So, I'm quite happy that everyone says Shabbat Shalom to each other as a matter of course.

Still, there is an element to Shabbat that makes it more than just a "day off".

Shabbat is more than just a "Sunday".

There is a mystical element that pervades the day. It is tangible, even as it is unidentifiable. And it disappears when Shabbat is over.

This motza"sh (Saturday night), as we were eating supper, A asked if there was soup left over from Shabbat. There was, and everyone wanted some. "It was really delicious," Y commented, then added "but it won't taste as good as before". I asked her "why?" She answered "Because it won't have the special taste of Shabbat".

That's it then, isn't it?

That's what we mean when we say "Shabbat Shalom".

We wish each other "that special taste of Shabbat."

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


HolyCityPrayer said...

Hey RM! Thanks for the honorable menschen:-), but I'd be very happy if you'd spell out my name and even link to my site!:-) http://www.holycityprayer.com/

Of course, this is a beautiful post. It is amazing that such an important sentiment waited for _you_ to blog about it! Kol Hakavod.

And while we're on the subject of Kol Hakavod, when will you blog about a certain video that someone we know appears at 30:50...

aka Gidon Ariel

Risa Tzohar said...

My kids used to tease me because I would say Shabbat Shalom to the cashiers in the supermarket on Tuesday or Wednesday (days I often do my big shopping). My rationale is that I will definitely not see them again before Shabbat so this is the appropriate time. Everything we do all week should be leading up to Shabbat. It makes special

My kids don't tease me about this much anymore because they don't come shopping with me.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Gidon -- what video????

Isramom -- not to worry, I'm sure they'll find other things to tease you about!


I always tell my kids that it's my JOB to embarrass them! Then I ask if I'm doing a good job....

Unknown said...


My favorite expression which GA's wife DA coined and said when ever you called their home on a Friday was "Erev Shabbat Shalom."

I loved it!


Unknown said...

You've reminded me of something:
I had a great-great-aunt, who was like an extra grandparent to me when I was growing up, and she had the goal of living to be 90 years old. Once she reached that goal, she gradually faded away, though she lived for 2+ more years. Towards the end, she lived in her favourite day of the week all the time - Shabbat. Whatever day it was, she would wish you Shabbat Shalom. So we took to wishing her Shabbat Shalom too - whether it was Sunday, Monday, Tuesday or whatever. She would sing Shabbat songs too (and we would sing with her) :-)
Then finally, one winter Shabbat afternoon, as it was getting dark, she drifted off into her eternal sleep - I like to think that she left with the Shabbat, because for her it was (and will be) always Shabbat.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Ester -- that's cool. I like it.

Louise -- Thanks for sharing. (that's a really sweet, and moving, story)