On Saturday I was walking home from a kiddish lunch at the local Rabbi’s home. I’d been spending some time at the beach, and the Rabbi’s wife, the Rebbetzin, was so kind to invite me to attend services and then share a meal with her family at the upcoming Shabbat.
I don’t go to Shabbat services very often, and being protective of my beach time, I was leaning towards graciously declining her generous offer. We had connected because I had asked about, and gone to their wonderful Lag BaOmer celebration a few weeks earlier, and had just asked about Shavuot.
On a side note, the warmth and inclusivity she offered is really crazy loving. So amazing to be in a new area and be invited into the intimacy of a home to share a Shabbat meal.
Still, I was going to be a no, thank you. Easier to not put myself in this new situation with people I don’t really know and to stay in my comfortable known environment.
Then I remembered…
I am trying to become Shomer Shabbos…. It’s Shabbos.
A few wonderful friends have been encouraging me to enter into Shomer Shabbos observance slowly. Don’t jump in and make lots of big changes at once. My Hebrew teacher Hindy encouraged me to look at Shabbat as a day for calm. Try ADDING a calm and a restful attitude to Shabbat rather than initially focusing on what I have to give up for the day – electronics, cars, shopping, etc.
What a concept! I had been throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I was so focused on NOT using the internet, phone, etc, that I was adding stress to the holy Shabbat day of rest. She suggested I might even naturally give up social media on Shabbat as I go deeper into this restful approach.
When Saturday morning arrived, I was debating, do I drive or walk to the service and the kiddush? I’d walked there once before – Rosh Hashanah 2020; it took about thirty minutes. I didn’t have enough time to attend much of the service if I walked; I decided to walk anyway. It’s Shabbos… the walk could be a beginning- towards calm and observance.
It took fifty minutes… I arrived AFTER the whole service ended. 😯
The Rabbi and his wife were lovely about my showing up just for lunch. REALLY, very lovely.
They quickly set a special place at the table, made an extra blessing over the wine, shared delicious food, great conversation, and an inspiring Torah talk. It happened also that one of the guests has a first cousin who is in the same program and is good friends with my son in Israel, right now. Just happens.
One more detail before explaining the whale.
For both the two weeks prior, I was trying to be Shomer Shabbos (this was before Hindy had suggested the simple calm approach). Don’t you know that on the first Friday night, while I was stressing over using or not using electronics, there was a huge wind storm and the power went out!
The following Shabbat, the weather was quite calm. The dogs wanted to go out, but I just tried to do one more thing on the computer! When I stepped outside, out of nowhere, the winds gusted up, my dogs pulled anxiously to escape inside, and the power SHUT DOWN! It started hailing….IN MAY! The curtain on the inner door flipped to the outside and the wind was so strong, I could barely flip the curtain back or even shut the door. It was like a scene in a movie – the Wizard of Oz!
Then just like that, it stopped and the sun came out.
Back to this past Saturday.
After lunch, I left the Rabbi and Rabbitzen’s home ready for my long fifty minute walk home. I was kind of dreading it a bit, even though the weather was beautiful. It had been a haul there, and now I would be on my second fifty minute segment. I decided to walk back along the shore instead of the main thoroughfare.
As soon as I approached the beach, I noticed everyone was pulling their cameras out and gathering at the shoreline.
Wouldn’t you know, directly ahead in the water, not too far out, a whale was swimming along. Going south! The direction I was walking.
So, I walked back along the beach lockstep with the whale. We were going about the same pace.
The walk was a mixture of excitement, calm, and ease; I was taken with the whale and the fortune of having this unusual experience, a first!
For me, I take it as my Shabbos whale. I will always remember this Shabbat, when I made the decision to walk the long walk to Shul, and I received this little surprise. Honestly, I could not have possibly predicted this little delight.
Love, Vivi. ©
The SHEHECHEYANU blessing thanks G-d for bringing us to this very moment in time. Delightfully, it expresses our joy at experiencing something new and special – it can be… a first fruit of the season, a new home, seeing a whale for the first time!😮 It also is traditionally said on the first night of many Jewish holidays.
Bar-uch A-tah, A-do-noi E-lo-hei-nu,
Me-lech ha-o-lam, she-he-che-ya-nu, v’ki-yi-ma-nu,
vi-hi-gi-ya-nu laz-man ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, L-rd of all, who has granted us life, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
Here is the Shehecheyanu blessing recited by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz on Chabad.org.
And, here is an original song written and performed by Sheldon Low incorporating the blessing.
P.S. I just remembered Kobi’s favorite book when he was very little was “Baby Beluga“. I didn’t know Raffi’s song back then (linked here), but we made up a tune that I consistently ‘sang’. My tune really wasn’t very good, but Kobi loved it and his joy continuously surprised and delighted me. Baby Beluga song and book were written in 1980 by Raffi.
I can’t miss an opportunity to post Shomer Shabbos from the Big Lebowski (WARNING: “R” Rated for profanity). I don’t own the rights to this clip.
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Whale cartoon designed on Canva.com, Cat photosforyou from Pixabay, Social Media Photo by Gian Cescon on Unsplash, Tornado Photo by NOAA, Witch’s feet Photo by Please Don’t sell My Artwork AS IS from Pixabay , Whale Photo by Jackie Eggins