Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"The Chatzos Lady"

Rabbi Frand, We Are All In This Together:

I once spoke about Shabbos in Highland Park, NJ, and I read an essay, not realizing that the writer of that essay, a woman by the name of Mrs. Azriella Jaffe, was in the audience. 

She wrote how she makes a point of being ready for Shabbos every single week before chatzos (midday) on Friday. When I started speaking about this to women, their general reaction is to either laugh or look at me like I'm insane. But after I spoke in Highland Park, Mrs. Jaffe wrote to me to explain how this came about. 

She wrote that on Friday, her daughter remarked, "Oy, tonight is Shabbos. I wish it wasn't Shabbos." 

Do you know why she made that comment? Because Friday meant chores. Friday meant chaos. Friday meant a tense mother. 

So Mrs. Jaffe accepted upon herself that by chatzos Friday, everything would be ready. EVERYTHING!

This meant, in her words, "The food is prepared, the table is set, the candleabra is ready, and when my kids comes off the bus from school, instead of coming home to Shabbos chores and to a tense mother trying to cook and clean and make the deadline, they come home to a happy mother, a clean house, the smells of Shabbos in the air, and a free afternoon to relax.

"When my husband comes home from a long day at work, he comes home to serenity, not chaos.
"Friday Night Candle Lighting" by Robert Tanenbaum
"But to do chatzos right," she adds, "you can't start at midnight on Thursday night. You need to prepare for Shabbos every day of the week. My children now think that it's normal to make a new batch of challos on Motza'ei Shabbos. Or to plan a Shabbos menu on Sunday. They're accustomed to asking me if the chicken cooking in the oven 7 a.m. on Friday is for Shabbos." 

Listen to the icing on the cake: 

"Shabbos is on our minds all week long. When Friday comes around, our house is one of beauty and serenity, and anticipation of Shabbos, rather than that former feeling of, 'Oh no, when is candle lighting?'" 

Mrs. Jaffe started a support group with three women, but she now has women all over the world—in England, Eretz Yisrael, and Australia—in her support group. 

Once again, this is not an all-or-none deal. Whether a woman wants to be ready at chatzos, or maybe just an hour early, or even just to be ready on time rather than late, it's worth planning ahead. 

A woman from New York wrote that she set a goal of being ready five minutes before the zman, accepting upon herself to be ready 23 minutes before the shekiah rather than the standard 18 minutes. 

This already sends the message to Hashem: Shabbos is something I want, something I look forward to. 


Daniel Saunders said...

Reminds me of something Rav Soloveitchik said about America as opposed to his Lithuanian upbringing: in America there are plenty of Shabbos Jews, Jews who keep Shabbos, but there is a lack of erev Shabbos Jews, Jews who spent Friday in excited anticipation of Shabbos.

Princess Lea said...

Ah, yes. Also there is that contemporary warped thinking that busy = important, so people intentionally don't take care of things until the last minute as a status symbol.