Shabbos in many ways is a culmination of all the effort we have invested during the previous week and infuses us with inspiration and revitalization for the following one.  Yet in between one week and the next, this twenty four hour period is when time and space almost stop.  No phones.  No deadlines.  No school pick up.  No cooking.  Let us enter the world of Shabbos…

We all know that the extent that we bask in the delights of Shabbos is directly proportional to our efforts prior to it.  Knowing ourselves and being realistic about our limitations are essential but does not exempt us from making a beautiful Shabbos table, food that our children actually enjoy and a warm atmosphere from which all the kedusha can emanate.

As well as the preparation during the week, erev Shabbos itself is a day full of unwelcome opportunities to lose control.  Therefore, whatever can be done before Friday or at least in the first part of the day, is preferable. If children help to prepare for Shabbos (rewarded by sampling the potato kugel!) they too will enjoy Shabbos more.

Since Shabbos affects our whole week, we should try to view it as a day of opportunity.  There is a magnet that says “Shabbos is a day on not off’!  It is implying that although we rest on Shabbos, we should not focus on the ‘sleeping’ part.  It is a day overflowing with potential in Ruchnius.

The atmosphere on Shabbos is largely dependent on the woman of a home.  We should encourage our children to be near us when we light the candles and maybe even sing Kabbolas Shabbos with them.  We cannot underestimate the impact of these acts upon our children.  Practically speaking, we can allocate special toys and books only for Shabbos to make this day feel exclusive in their eyes.

The romantic vision of the Shabbos table where the children are all sitting quietly for Kiddish, eating like mentschen and singing zemiros harmoniously is often not the case and we should not feel discouraged from this.  It can take months of assessing and evaluating what works and fails in each family.  (Often changing seating arrangements, making a food somebody likes or making the Divrei Torah age appropriate may help…)  We want our Shabbos table to be as child-friendly as possible and save the teaching of table manners and nutritional guidelines for the other six days of the week!

If Shabbos can transform abandoned Jews into observant Yidden, how much more can it do to those who already embrace its laws. We must not take Shabbos for granted.  Each week we have the gift of disconnecting from the physical world and travelling through the journey of Shabbos.  And our children accompany us, breathing in what we breathe out, looking up to that which we elevate and most of all, learn from us the true definition of a Day of Rest.



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