You don’t know this about me, but I love Shabbat with my kids.
We don’t observe in the traditional sense – we use electricity and all that, and we don't keep kosher. But we do observe in some sense: we light candles, and recite the Kiddush over the wine, and say the Hamotzi over the bread, and I put my hands on their heads and I bless them: “May the Lord, the Merciful One, Holy be G-d, give you peace in your heart, joy in your soul, and love throughout your life. May you be one with the Universe.”
We also do a drum circle. Out of the cardboard canisters that my bottles of Laphroaig come in. We sing Shalom Aleichem. Always that one. "Come in peace, bless us in peace, and leave in peace, Angels of the Most High." And we sing other songs with just as much kevana – intention – as any prayer. Red Hot Chili Peppers. Nirvana. Rihanna. Queen.
It’s great. This is our time as a family – when I put my phone down, when it’s just us around the table, the candles glowing, the wine sweet. We really get into it – we bang our drums and sing, and the neighbours kinda hate us, but whatever. We are feeling the spirit yo, and there's real holiness right here, in our little house.
But, earlier today, my daughter and I were tussling – as we do a lot these days. It’s hot out. We’re tired. The dishes-piled-in-the-sink-and-laundry-on-the-floor kind of tired. And yeah, a wiser person than I would have been more present and in the moment with her kids, but WHAT. EVER. I didn’t have it in me.
By the time the sun was setting, my daughter and I were barely speaking. We snapped. We snarled. We hissed. But then Shabbat. Shabbat is sacrosanct. Arguments are put on hold. Hard feelings set aside. “Baby, can you set the table?”
“Ooof, you do it.”
“No, I am cooking and still working, and I need you to set the table.”
She stalked into the kitchen, snatched our Shabbat dishes, and stalked out to the dining room. She slammed them on the table. “Dude, if you break those plates, I will literally lose my chill,” I told her.
She got the silverware and the napkins. She grabbed the challah. “Done,” she snarled. I looked around the corner at the table – and I saw on each chair she had put our Laphroaig and Glenfarclas canister drums. And the evening softened – its edges became gilded even before we lit candles. “You put out the drums!”
“Duh,” she said and rolled her eyes. But then she smiled.