Tonight was the first time I lit shabbat candles for myself.
It's not my first shabbat. Thanks to dear friends Dawn, Mark and Val, I have been at others' houses when they light them. But I think tonight is the day that I finally decided I was going to try to observe shabbat.
I have two very plain candles in little green glass holders. I lit them and said the blessing for the first time. I don't have it memorized yet, but I expect, with the constance of Friday evening in my future, I will learn it. I also said the blessing for wine as I lifted the glass of Chardonnay to my lips. And I said the blessing (although I'm not sure it's the right one) for the beef before I ate it.
I have to tell you: I kind of enjoy the idea of blessing food before I eat, of acknowledging the fact that I did not create this and that I'm thankful to have it. Whether or not you can wrap your arms around the idea of Adonai, you have to admit that you didn't do everything yourself. This piece of fruit is here for a reason. This bread someone made with natural ingredients and their own labor. I am thankful. The blessing slows me down and makes me acknowledge so many things.
I didn't have any challah, which kind of upsets me. And I passed right in front of the Grand Lake bakery today; I could've bought some. I had some rolls with dinner, but I don't suppose my mother's type of rolls would substitute for the tasty, twisted challah. Well, one thing at a time.
And tonight was not ideal. Ideally I would spend the shabbat evening with family and/or friends. I'm alone tonight. But that's okay because I'm practicing.
Ever since I discovered the concept of shabbat, I've been trying to figure it out. I worry about it. What do you do? More to the point, what do you not do on shabbat? I remember Rabbi Dardik's talk about shabbat vividly. He has such an expressive way of talking, and his enthusiasm is so infectious. He told our group about all the ways there are for getting around the restrictions of shabbat. Getting someone to take you somewhere. Having someone lift and carry something for you. Turning the game on with a timer set for after sundown. Rabbi Dardik is an orthodox Jew, so his shabbat rules are 'way more restrictive than that of Reform.
But the other night, Rabbi Broude said that he does not attend performances on shabbat, and he's Reform. "Performances" include movies.
Yes, yes, I can hear all of you out there telling me I should be concentrating on the spirit of Shabbat, the positive view of it, as a time to enjoy with family and friends, and not dwell on the negative of restrictions. Enjoying movies is something I like to do with family and friends, I would argue. Perhaps I could approach it that way, a way of spending time with people I love, something we both or all enjoy. (I also like to spend money and buy things, but I get it that I shouldn't be doing that on shabbat if I want to observe this day in an orthodox, reform or whatever way.)
I'm still figuring out what I should do and not do on shabbat. Lighting candles signifies the beginning. Havdallah (sp?) signifies the end. (But I haven't got there yet. I need two candles intertwined for that.) And in between, I should have a very good time. And I want to devote a piece of time to the study of Judaism -- its practices, ideals, history.
I'll be seeing "Memoirs of a Geisha" with my good friend, Bruce tomorrow afternoon. I hope that qualifies as shabbat worthy.