This post is part of the #blogelul project started by the inimitable Ima On (and off) the Bima. I am using it as my motivation to rejuvenate this site and get myself back into the swing of things.
The Rabbi stood in front of the class and proclaimed, “As I’m sure you all know, Shabbat starts on Wednesday.”
He stood there smiling through the pregnant pause, where many of the attendees were surely considering if it was proper to ask a Rabbi to provide documentation of either his Semicha (ordination) or sobriety. Or both.
“What I mean to say,” he continued. “Is that you can’t just turn around on Friday at sundown and expect for Shabbat to magically work if you haven’t done anything beforehand.”
He elaborated about the obvious: Setting lights, setting up the crock pot, warming tray, etc. And then he went to the not as obvious: laundry has to be done, at least so that you have clean cloths, but also so that you can go into Shabbat with an uncluttered mind. Many of us cannot call it a “day of rest” if there’s a pile of unsorted socks screaming at us from the laundry room.
For those of us with kids, having games available – all the pieces together, knowing which ones don’t require batteries, etc – is as necessary for a happy Shabbat experience as having a well-seasoned cholent. The same goes for a ready supply of interesting books
And all of these – the Rabbi assured us – are Shabbos-dic tasks. They are as much a sanctification as the kiddush wine. Because through our preparation, we are showing we care enough about Shabbat to interrupt our weekly grind, to turn our minds toward the holy and prepare ourselves even when we are in the middle of mundane time.
The same goes for the year. As we stand at the edge of Elul, we have the opportunity to acknowledge that we see Rosh Hashana coming and we are beginning to sort out the place settings of our thoughts, to ensure the ingredients in our intentions are pure, and to launder and lay out a clean white set of intentions for us to put on when we stand before the True Judge.