S – Sharing ideas that are
P – Precious
I – Inspiring
C – Catalyst for growth
E – and Energizing
Shabbos, Chol Hamoed, Sunday afternoon, days off from school are all days that we either love or …
My goal in writing these articles is to allow the readers of this monthly column to learn different techniques that will make your life more invigorating, engaging and inspiring.
Let’s focus on Shabbos. It’s Thursday afternoon. You are at work, fully consumed with all the catch-up work that you pushed off on Monday. You suddenly realize Shabbos is coming! Is that an exciting thought or a stressful thought? Does this thought occur regularly or even occasionally? Even if this never happens, maybe you would like to add a little magic to your Shabbos preparations and attitude.
I would like to start off with the Shabbos table. I chose this topic because of its popularity and opportunities! There are many aspects to the Shabbos table. We will break it up in different segments and try to discover some opportunities that lay within each of these wonderful parts of the Shabbos meal. We will discuss kiddush, food, zemiros, bentching and other important segments.
Before we get started, a basic understanding is required. Let’s start off with the assumption that anyone sitting around the table wants to be an active participant in the meal…it could be a toddler, a grandparent or a Shabbos guest. Everyone wants to be part of the action. No one wants to be an outsider. If we are going to spice up our meal we must be mindful of all the people in attendance. Everyone has talent and everyone should participate. Often there are fears associated with children who do not want to help. It is crucial to give them an opportunity where they can succeed. One of our primary roles as parents is to boost our children’s self-esteem. We do that by giving them responsibilities that guarantee success. Our four-year-old son has just started reading. We informed him that he will be reading a few letters of the Aleph Beis. The smile on his face and the attention he received for those ten seconds gave him the boost to remain at the table in a pleasant way. When we don’t give our children the attention they are craving, we know the consequences.
Let’s also realize that some preparation is needed. When we are prepared for an important event, we feel the confidence in our bones. You may need to research, ask or discuss. Dale Carnegie said: “When you are delivering an important speech, you should spend the prior days … thinking how all of life can connect to the content of your speech.” We should become consumed with this goal. Our Shabbos table is the way to keep our children happy and love who we are and what we represent. One may think that he is incapable of such a job. You may think that you don’t have a great voice or are capable of delivering an enjoyable and receptive dvar Torah. What are your options? We will discuss some of them.
We all need to know our limitations. Perhaps our spouse or even our own children can enlighten us better than the “regular leader.” I have learned over the years from reading different books and noting many experiences that we don’t have all the answers. Children can be better at singing, speaking and helping than an adult. Of course, after spending so much time preparing, we may get nervous and the desired effect may not result. I suggest you improve in just one of the areas that you wish to improve. The Gemara always warns us, “Too much will not hold.” Let’s tackle one thing at a time. Talk to your spouse about your plan. Planning together will ensure that your goal will be met. You will be very proud of your efforts. I am sure that after the first feeling of success, you will be inspired to try again and add more SPICE to your Shabbos table. I look forward to sharing more experiences and thoughts with you in the coming weeks.
Rabbi Reuven Hoff is a rebbe at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey. He is also the director of Camp Malchus which you can learn about by visiting: www.campmalchus.com.
By Reuven Hoff