Sunday, October 03, 2010

Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah stories

The pre-Chag (holiday) rush
We were in such a hurry to get ready for the Yom Tov (holiday)/Shabbat (Sabbath) weekend that, while we remembered to do Eruv Tavshilin, we completely forgot to light our Yahrzeit candles. More on that later.

Tefillat Geshem
Apparently, the Prayer for Rain, traditionally recited on Shemini Atzeret, worked a little too well this year. More on that later, too.

The inevitable finally happened :(
For the past year or two, I've been praying at our local synagogue on Erev (Eve of) Simchat Torah in order to ensure that our shul got a minyan. This year, it was a gornisht helfen (no help). We got five men and three women. No matter whom you count for a minyan, we didn't have one. This was the first time since I started attending synagogue voluntarily as an adult roughly 35 years ago that I went to synagogue on an Erev Simchat Torah and didn't see a single hakafah. How sad for our congregation.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch-house . . .
In the middle of the night on Simchat Torah, there was a soaking rain with lots of wind. When I woke up the next morning and went into the kitchen to fetch my daily dose of acidophilus from the refrigerator, I smelled gas. Sure enough, the wind from our always-open kitchen window--an anti-carbon-monoxide precaution--had blown out both of the stove burners that we'd left on so that we could cook during the holiday (which is permissible on a pre-lit flame on a holiday, but not on Shabbat/Sabbath). Without a Yahrzeit light to use to transfer one pre-lit flame to light another one, there would be no more cooking and no Shabbat candle-lighting for us. :(

When I told my husband the bad news, he promptly dumped the stuffed cabbage into a pot and put it on the "hot spot" on our already-plugged-in electric hot tray so that it would be warm by dinner-time. Of course, on the way out to synagogue, I just so happened to check the timer, and found it set to the rather unusual hour of 7:30 AM. Hmm . . .

Rush job
When I arrived at my current favorite egalitarian Conservative synagogue in Manhattan for the Simchat Torah morning service, I was dismayed to discover that I'd already missed the hakafot with the minyan with which I prefer to davven/pray on Simchat Torah morning. I was even more dismayed when I realized the likely reason why they'd finished dancing with the sifrei Torah/Bible scrolls so soon--the overnight rain had not only flooded the basement social hall, forcing that group to move the pews and dance in the sanctuary, it had also rendered unusable not only the elevator, but every single bathroom (WC) in the entire building! Under the circumstances, I was forced to forgo staying with that minyan and getting an individual aliyah, davvening instead with a minyan that gave out group aliyot. It wasn't the best of circumstances for Simchat Torah. But we had a joyous celebration anyway, though it was shortened.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch-house, part 2
"Did you reset the timer for the hot-tray this morning?" My husband tried to hide a grin, looking like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "Did you really think I wouldn't notice?" He gave up.

On the plus side, I recently read a question on the Internet asking whether it was permissible to change a setting on a timer on Shabbat, since changing the setting does not cause an immediate change in an electrical circuit, so I suspect that there may be some leeway. Any further information would be appreciated. I'd like to get my husband off the hook. :)


Anonymous rivkayael said...

Resetting a timer for the purposes of cooking is ok on Yom Tov! I checked with my former classmate turned LOR. We did that in our home too.

Sun Oct 03, 03:10:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

RivkaYael, I thank you for that information, and so does my husband.

Sun Oct 03, 04:15:00 PM 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Conservative synagogue my in-laws go to had 7 people on Simchat Torah day; and no children.

Mon Oct 04, 01:09:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Our local synagogue had 18 people, no children, on Simchat Torah morning. I'm sorry to hear that your in-laws' experience was even worse.

Mon Oct 04, 07:03:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

Timers on Shabbat and Yom Tov In true halachic survery fashion, no final ruling is given, just Rabbi X say this, Rabbi Y says that.

Tue Oct 05, 02:15:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I knew I'd seen that discussion somewhere on the Internet. Thanks, Larry, for reminding me where I'd seen it.

Thanks to Rabbi Broyde for the information (and to Rabbi Student, for hosting this guest post). I'll have to study it more closely.

Tue Oct 05, 05:31:00 PM 2010  
Blogger The Reform Baal Teshuvah said...

Silly question:

Does the Oven have a pilot light you could pick a flame up from?

Tue Oct 05, 11:05:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Reform BT, my husband checked and didn't see one. As far as we can tell, everything on our stove works by electrical ignition, unfortunately.

Wed Oct 06, 09:10:00 AM 2010  

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