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November 17, 2017  RSS feed
Rabbinically Speaking

Text: T T T

Shabbat- pause and reflect

By RABBI ALTER KORF Chabad Center of St. Petersburg

At a recent well visit appointment at the pediatrician’s office, the doctor asked me a series of standard questions regarding my child’s development, and that of our family.

“Does he use a helmet when riding his bike?”

“Does he know how to swim?”

“Do you eat dinner together as a family at least once a week?”

This question took me by surprise! Eating dinner together at least once a week? Upon reflection, I realize just how much the doctor can discern about our priorities and lifestyle with this last, simple question.

The way we live our life – and make decisions – is all based on our priorities. There are ideals and values that we view as significant, and there are those we believe to be expendable. We all know that wearing a helmet is important for a child’s development, but do we stop and think about the importance of simply eating dinner together? According to a report from the National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse, eating family dinners regularly drastically lowers a teen’s chance of smoking, drinking, and using drugs.

Have you noticed how life is so busy? Though we have more “smart” appliances and gadgets than ever before, it seems as though we are busier now than our parents and grandparents were. What activities and projects make it on to our work, social and family calendar? Only those that are high priority. The rest gets shelved for another time….

People question and wonder about the relevance of Torah and Mitzvot in today’s day and age. I constantly field queries about the laws and customs of living a Jewish lifestyle. When answering the pediatrician’s question about dinner, I was struck once again at the wisdom of our sacred tradition.

“Yes, we eat dinner together as a family, at least once a week” (Actually, every day of the week). The blessing of Shabbat, the once-a-week pause of all work, enables Jews worldwide to focus on family and friends, without any distractions. Shabbat dinner, replete with kiddush, challah and family favorites are a fantastic way to bond as a family unit. Just before sunset on Friday afternoon, we usher in the Shabbat with candle lighting. Welcoming light, love and holiness to our home, we proceed to reap the benefits of being “unplugged” for 25 hours. There is no need to take part in the National Day of Unplugging, we have a weekly recharge and rejuvenate day, inbuilt since the beginning of time.

Just two weeks ago, 200 women from the Pinellas community joined in the third Annual Mega Challah Bake. I have personally heard about the many families that enjoyed fresh challah with their family at Shabbat dinner, and their resolve to continue baking challah to enhance this family tradition.

Looking for tranquility and inner serenity? Usher in the peace on Friday afternoon with the Shabbat candle lighting*, and see just how much it enhances your life, and that of your family.

*Not sure how to do the ritual candle lighting? I encourage you to reach out to your rabbi, and make this tradition yours!

The Rabbinically Speaking column is provided as a public service by the Jewish Press. Columns are assigned on a rotating basis by the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis. The views expressed in this guest column are those of the rabbi and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Jewish Press or the Board of Rabbis.

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