A Shabbos Prayer
Tevye and Golde sang:
“May the Lord protect and defend you.
May He always shield you from shame.
May you come to be
In Yisroel a shining name.”
When it’s just us in the car, Amelia demands Manilow. There’s something disconcerting about a 12-year-old who likes Lorde and Pink and whatever else is contemporary singing along at the top of her lungs to “Mandy.”
Nezzie’s hitting that age where she’s starting to correlate words to meaning. Like all things with toddlers, it’s equal parts exasperating and adorable. She also has limitless energy. If they held toddler marathons, she would easily be the Kenyan that always wins.
Amelia and I just came back from the Winterport Transfer Station, getting rid of our recycling and trash prior to Shabbos and the weekend. As the sun hangs low on the horizon on a Friday, and as I reflect on the week and the blessings one says for one’s children, I wonder if what we value about our children has changed from what our shtetl ancestors felt.
Living in the Maine woods, I chop wood. I build fires. But I’m not a milk man. Leah doesn’t slaughter and defeather a chicken for Shabbos dinner. We enjoy considerable amounts of time with our children because even a life detached from “the grid” is substantially more convenient than it would be for Tevye and Golde.
And for all of that, we are not dependent on our children to keep up on much to help us run the household. There’s no mending, no exhausting laundry, no backyard gardening.
The leaves are turning red, gold, and brown, and are beginning to move from up to down, blanketing the cleared parts of our homestead and driveway. I watch Nezzie go out of her way to step on a sufficiently crunchy leaf when we play outside.
I’ve often wondered if changing up our lifestyle, building a little more ruggedized self-sufficiency, would be character-building. It’s not terrific enough adjustment that it seems to have significant influence. And after years in the service, I appreciate what it seems to mean to have so much free time to spend at leisure with my children. Our modern lifestyle gives us so much more time to give our children, if we play our cards right.
We have time and space for an overwhelming amount of peace and love in our lives.
And yet we’re watching the death of hope in Syria and other parts of the world. We’re watching Haitians suffer the consequences of yet another natural disaster. War, famine, hurricane…somewhere in the world right now families are torn asunder. There’s a kid listening to air raid sirens instead of music. There’s a mother trying to hold her child above flood waters, trying to just live, rather than having time to enjoy a good cuddle.
If I had one Shabbos Prayer to make on Shabbos Shuvah, a day dedicated to the spirits of repentance, return, and reconciliation in tune with the High Holidays, it would be that the world be perfected speedily, in our days, so that families could immerse themselves in peace and love. Free from worry, free from fear, free from destruction. I hope we all come back after this season of repentance ready to roll up our sleeves and earn a divine reprieve not just for ourselves, but for humanity.
May we all know only joy. Shabbat shalom.