Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The seasons of Sabbath

It's 3:30 PM on a Friday afternoon in December in the Salamone-Punster Palace, and the alleged king and queen thereof are tearing around the apartment like chickens with their heads cut off. All the food has to be fully cooked and on the hot tray. The garbage and trash have to be taken out, the carpets vacuumed. The lights that are going to be left on for Sabbath must be turned on, the lights that are going to be left off must be turned off, along with the computers. The table has to be cleared and set, and the wine cup, challah tray and cover, and candlesticks (preferably with candles in them!) set out. And don't forget to put the two challot (Sabbath breads) under the challah cover! Quickly--Shabbat candle-lighting time is 4:07!

Ah, but then, what a lovely leisurely evening! We can take our sweet time davvening (praying), eating, talking, singing z'mirot (Sabbath table songs), and reading, and still get to bed by 8 or 9 PM, and be sufficiently well-rested to wake up at a decent hour for synagogue services the next morning.

Of course, we don't get much of a Shabbos nap on Saturday afternoon. But we can go out on Saturday night by 6, no problem.

Contrast that to an Erev Shabbat (Sabbath Eve) in June, when licht-benching time is after 8 PM. On the one hand, we can get a ton of work done before Shabbat, which is a delightful relief. On the other hand, by the time we light the candles, we're too pooped to party. We have to davven quickly in order not to starve to death waiting for dinner until after Arvit/Maariv/Evening Service, and we're too tired to sing z'mirot.

True, we can take a nice long nap on Shabbat afternoon. But it's almost impossible to get anywhere on a Saturday night before 10:30 when Shabbat doesn't end until after 9.

Sometimes, I'm also sorry that it's become customary to have Maariv right after Mincha (Afternoon Service) on a Saturday. Is it against the law for a Jew to see a sunset on a Sabbath afternoon?

Ah, the challenges of being Jewish. Still, it doesn't hurt to have one day with no "screens"--no television, computer, video games, DVDs . . . not to mention telephones, radios, MP3 players, etc. There's something to be said for silencing everything except what existed on the original Sabbath.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

customary on a saturday?

No place I've been, almost every place has a long break (30-40 minutes at least) between mincha and maariv on saturday.

Wed Jun 13, 11:51:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Sorry I didn't make myself clear. What I meant was that, since Mincha and Maariv both take place late on Saturday, with S'udah Sh'lishit (the Third Meal) in between, those who attend these services are almost always indoors while the sun is setting. There's something to be said for an early-afternoon Mincha--it would leave one free to watch the sun set. On the other hand, I suppose that an early Mincha would interfere with Shabbos naps and/or family time and/or study time. Oh, well.

Thu Jun 14, 12:42:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Alex in Miami said...

There is a lot to be said for it... except for one thing. That would pull the men away from their families for longer, make it harder for people to make it, and otherwise reduce the attendence... When you only have one minyan, you HAVE to go for maximizing attendence. Remember, those of us that hold things are obligations need to make certain that people fulfill them.

That said, Maariv is not obligatory on women in ANY stringent interpretation (it's status is Minhag K'lal Yisrael, so one step below Rabbinic decree, while morning/afternoon prayers are at least Rabbinic and we often pretend Biblical with some very stretchy interpretations), so your only issue is time to daven Mincha.

There is no reason not to daven Mincha at home, enjoy a nice leisurely Seudah Shlishit, and then be free to watch the afternoon sunset.

You're having problems because by taking on male obligations instead of female ones, you're frustrated by the scheduling. But the scheduling is set so that the men can spend as much time with their family on Shabbat before davening, then quickly hop in the cars they left at Shul and resume the work week that night. The schedule will NEVER work for you, because its not supposed to work for you.

Get a women's minyan together on Shabbat afternoons, daven Mincha together, and enjoy a Seudah before enjoying a sun set.

To minimize time away from work/family and allow as many men to participate as possible, Mincha/Maariv are always going to keep you from enjoying the sun set... something that gives women happiness, but most men would rather have an extra few minutes during the day by not having to go to Mincha/Maariv at different times.

Thu Jun 14, 11:41:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Alex, point taken. Separating Mincha from Maariv by several hours does take a man away from his family.

Thu Jun 14, 12:12:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Scraps said...

Personally, I like it when mincha is slightly earlier so I can catch the setting sun between mincha and maariv. Some of my most peaceful and happy Shabbat memories are from a summer I spent in Israel, where we'd eat seudat shlishit a little earlier and then sit and sing outside as we watched the sun set. :)

Fri Jun 22, 02:04:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Sunset--what a delightful "dessert." :)

Eek, speaking of Shabbos, I'm outa here--candle-lighting is in about 10 minutes! Shabbat shalom.

Fri Jun 22, 07:59:00 PM 2007  

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