I have guilt – so what else is new, nu? – about missing Saturday’s Tot Shabbat at Temple Mickve Israel. We really should have been there – our favorite Jewish families attended and my son is always transfixed in the presence of an open Torah scroll. A good Jewish mother would have gotten everyone up and made the schlep to be there at 10:15am instead of putting Kiki’s Delivery Service on the DVD player and dozing on the couch until noon.
But here’s my rationalization: Every other day of the week, I perform a frantic dance of getting everyone dressed, breakfasted, inspected for boogers and out the door to somewhere. (Yes, including Sunday – even though I don’t have to wear eyeshadow and I get to act like a dork, teaching Shalom School is indeed work.) At last week’s Friday night Community Shabbaton, I noticed a distinct emphasis from the Conservative service about rest, the admonition to separate Shabbat from all the other days. If I had set my alarm, struggled with my contact lenses and screeched at my daughter to just hurry up and zip her gawdforsaken boots so I could drive downtown and speed around the squares, irritated that I couldn’t find a parking place thanks to all these f*n tourists, it would have violated the laws of Shabbat much more than making challah french toast, painting the girl’s toenails and staying in my pajamas until 2pm. According to the Mizvot According to Me, anyway.
In fact, being a DIY Jew for whom experience most always weighs out over rabbinical law, I’ve developed a whole Shabbos scale of personal kosherness for myself: Dishes, laundry and other housework are no-nos, as is doing any kind of work for money. I don’t shop for groceries or spend any money if I can help it, but I have been known to get a pedicure just to sit in the massage chair. And if you’ve been reading even for a little while, you’ve figured out that the Yenta don’t blog on Shabbos. Basically, if it feels like work, I abstain. And the reality is that on my one day off, getting farpitzed for synagogue and schmoozing feels like work.
I am conscious of separating Shabbat from the rest of the week – We light candles on Fridays and eat a leisurely meal, I spend time in nature, I put forth prayers of gratitude and lovingkindess for my loved ones and the world, I play board games and pretend beauty shop and bake with my kids. I always feel a little sadness when those three stars appear on Saturday night and I fire up the computer and put in a load of laundry, signifying the return to the breakneck speed of life. The best Shabbats are like this past one, when I do nothing but putz around the house with El Yenta Man and the kids, take the dog for a walk and spot a red-tailed hawk. And laugh a lot.
What sayeth y’all, readers? Is it more important to attend synagogue on Shabbat or to really, truly, deeply rest as we see fit?