The Sholom Bayit Shabbat

There are many things that I like to see half an hour before candlelighting on Friday afternoon. (Jewish women who keep the Sabbath light candles 18 minutes before sunset on Friday afternoon). Some of these things are a clean house (some weeks are better than others), the food all prepared and on the hot plate, and my kids getting dressed in their nice Shabbat clothes.

Water pouring out of the fuse box is not one of them.

I may have a degree in English literature instead of one in the sciences, but even I know that water and electricity don’t mix. I quickly snapped off the main before something blew, and I yelled for westbankpapa to go upstairs to see what was causing this, although I already guessed.

Thousands of years of Jewish brilliance apparently passed by the Israeli contractor who built the houses in our neighborhood. (There must be a Chelm technical school here in Israel that I am not aware of….)He put the water boiler directly over the place in the wall with the electrical wiring leading to the fuse box downstairs, so that if there is a problem with leaks the water rushes down directly into the place where it can cause the most damage. In our case a pipe leading from the solar heater outside pulled away from the boiler, and the resulting leak caused the problem.

Westbankfamily didn’t exactly turn into a well-oiled machine in the face of crisis, but we came close. Westbankpappa took care of the leak upstairs, I sent various kids to neighbors to ask if there was room on their hot plates for our food for Shabbat, and I started lighting candles all over the house. I put my Shabbat candles on the table itself, which is a very nice tradition in some homes anyway.

Our Shabbat evening meal turned out to be very special. We discussed a number of things, including the need to be able to deal with inconveniences with a good attitude. Instead of the usual divrei Torah, where the kids read something prepared in school, my husband talked about the gemara (portion of the Talmud) where it discusses the reasons for lighting Shabbat candles – Sholom Bayis (peace in the home) is one of them. The lights prevent people in the family from bumping into each other and starting fights. The kids shared funny Chassidic stories that they remembered from their teachers – many were completely new to me.

At the end of the meal we sang the Bircat HaMazon (grace after meals) out loud, which we haven’t done since the little ones were in gan. (As soon as they were old enough to read they thought it insulting to sing it).

We were lucky in that the weather was just cool, and not really cold, and of course on Shabbat day itself there was enough light. As soon as Shabbat was out we tested the electricity and it all came on – 24 hours was enough for the box to dry out completely. I called an electrician to come check things out later today.

All in all it was a hectic Friday afternoon, which led to a very special Shabbat.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bec
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 05:38:57

    and this is how we differ.
    because in my house, had this happened moments before shabbat, guaranteed someone would trip over a million scattered toys trying to locate lanterns or extra candles, break a neck, and would spend shabbos in a random hospital while the rest of us crawled around in the dark all shabbat.
    glad it all worked out, and if we are ever at a loss for power, i hope that i remember your post, and that the kids have put their toys away!!!!
    shavua tov!

  2. treppenwitz
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 06:40:15

    Wow! Impressive story. Glad it worked out well and provided an excuse to have a 19th century-style shabbat evening experience.

  3. tnspr569
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 06:50:57

    Nice to hear that it all worked out in the end.

  4. Erica
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 07:34:01

    Addressing a sub-theme here, on the Bircas Hamazon (and happy that all went well over Shabbat – : )). Most people I know who I dine with start it, and then morph into saying it silently to themselves. I have always preferred singing the recitation aloud. I don’t know why, or what about it, but I find that it fortifies my closeness in heart with those who I am seated with. And there’s nothing childish about that.

    Shavuoh tov.

  5. PP
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 07:55:31

    Sadly, I don’t think it’s just *your* Israeli contractor who makes such stupid (and potential lethal) mistakes.

    Anyway- glad you found meaning in the crisis- I think that’s why we get put in these situations…

  6. westbankmama
    Apr 16, 2007 @ 04:11:24

    bec – I remember those days very well, I have three boys! Just think, someday you will have soccer balls and skateboards all over instead of Duplo.

    treppenwitz – thanks, it was nice for a one-time experience, but I really like electric lights!

    trnspr569 – its nice to see my loyal readers are still around – even if I disappeared for a while

    Erica – music has a more powerful affect on some people than others. As a funny aside, we listen to Radio Kol Chai during sefirat HaOmer because they only play “vocalli” (a cappella)songs. Yesterday I heard a really funky (unintentional, I am sure) rendition of Adon Olam. They sang it to the tune of “Save the Last Dance For Me”. I’m still chuckling over that!

    PP – I figured many people living here could relate.

  7. Ozymandias
    Apr 17, 2007 @ 15:44:35

    These types of problems never happen at convenient moments. The timing is uncanny. You decide to have a party and suddenly the toilet stops working etc.

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