By Rabbi Avrohom Brashevitzky – Chabad of Doral, Florida
This past Shabbos will go down in my own Family History Hall of Fame as one of the most memorable Shabbosim of my life. I met an amazing group of people. One was from New York, two were from Israel and the rest were locals. We had amazing conversations, full of personal anecdotes and fantastic stories. We even played some games together and topped it off with a beautiful Melave Malka.
No, I didn’t take any precautions to keep my distance from them, nor did I wash my hands repeatedly. I wasn’t afraid of contracting any virus or becoming sick. I felt very safe around them. It wasn’t a false sense of security or foolish naivete. It’s just the fact that these were my own children. One flew in from Crown Heights, two came back home from Yeshiva and Seminary in Yerushalayim. The rest are the kids who I’m lucky enough to see all year round.
They aren’t strangers at all. Yet, I can’t say that I knew them as well as I do now!
A conventional Shabbos, with all the good intentions and purpose, never ends up being as intimate and enjoyable as this past one. First of all, I don’t make it home till less than an hour before candle lighting, so I’m already all stressed out with all the last moment hysteria of Erev Shabbos. Then we typically have guests on Friday night, which is wonderful but doesn’t allow for the family exclusivity. Then Shabbos morning I need to make sure to make it to Shul on time to greet my people. By the time I finish running the Davening, Layning, talking and Farbrengen, I’m headed home all tired. Against my best intentions, I just conk out after a short meal. By the time all this is said-and-done Shabbos is almost over.
This Shabbos we were all home. No rush, no anxiety. Preparation for Shabbos began well in advance. We always enjoy great food prepared by our very own Rebbetzin, but this Shabbos was over-the-top gourmet. After all, we had the extra hands from our special visitors. And, we had all this time to fill.
I davened at The Koisel. The same one I often Daven at (I do live on Shlichus. We don’t have Minyonim most of the week), albeit not on Shabbos mornings. We said Tehillim. We even talked during Davening. We forgot to Bentch the Chodesh till much later in the afternoon when someone remembered (it almost felt like being in 770 with one of the very late Minyonim…). All worked out. We managed to get through this rough hurdle of Davening without a Minyan, at home.
We laughed. We repeated stupid jokes. We even heard Dvar Torahs from the children, which they downloaded from online school and were reading for the very first time. We even got around to deciding policy for President Trump and his task force (in lieu of the Shabbos morning Mikvah). And of course, we kept on answering the same question all the time: “so what do you think is going to be?” — everybody got a chance. As our crystal ball was under Muktzah, we just did so by utilizing our “Schunah extra sense” which we hopefully still have after so many years of living away from Crown Heights.
Okay. Now for a reality check… All of the above is pretty much accurate, at least as I would have liked it to be. More or less, it did go as described. However, before you become very envious of our amazing family and the white picket fence (which we DON’T have) — let me assure you that we are just ordinary people like you and everyone else. After being home for an entire week and now Shabbos, minus the phones and communication… some moments weren’t as enjoyable. There were flashes of teasing and bickering. The kids do love each other, but everything has a limit…
So, I hope and pray that this Shabbos remains a good memory, never to repeat itself – at least not the way it was thrust upon us. I’m sure you feel the same way.