Tag Archives: shabbat

Most Difficult Mitzvah

I was asked the other day which mitzvah I found the most difficult to do. Truth is, out of the 613 mitzvot that we have from the Torah, there are a lot that we cannot do these days due to not having the Bet haMikdash, the Temple, in Jerusalem. But there are still a fair amount for us to do. (ETA: We have a lot of mitzvot that came about after the Torah that we do too).

I have trouble remembering to say Brachot. KoD never ever drinks or eats without saying the blessing first and / or after. NEVER. It’s so much a part of him. Me? Sometimes I am halfway thru eating something before I remember. However I always remind the kids. I am working on it. I have a great role model.

I hate covering my hair sometimes. Especially when it’s freshly washed and looks oh-so-good. On the bad hair days – it’s the easiest thing in the world. (These days the silver highlights that haven’t been coloured recently make it even easier to cover). I know some would argue on the importance of this mitzvah, but it is important to me.

Davening. I need to pray more. The men, they daven three times a day, and us women are not under the same obligation. But we still should daven. It’s something that I need to make time for. I am not the type to open up a Sefer Tehillim (Book of Psalms) when I have an idle moment, but that’s no excuse not to talk to G-d. I do have a running one way dialogue with Him – but formalized prayer needs to be added into that.

Thankfully I have never been tempted to eat trayfe or break Shabbat – I enjoy kosher food (being FFB I have never eaten non-kosher) and I LOVE Shabbat with every fibre of my being. I know some people find observing a whole Shabbat to be difficult. Maybe it’s easier for me because I have done it all my life?

Can you narrow it down to just one mitzvah that you find tough? How do you enable yourself to do this mitzvah when it IS so hard for you to perform?

ShainDee’s Cosmetics

Wearing make-up on Shabbat is quite the issue for the frum woman. Most women I know put make-up on before lighting candles, and they put it on thick enough that it will last through a night of sleep and still look somewhat fresh in the morning.

There are laws about what make up you are allowed to apply on Shabbat, and which you are not. I am not a rabbi, far from it, and I do not even pretend to be able to tell you exactly what you can and cannot do. I have always winged it with the extra eyeliner before Shabbat… but it does tend to smudge by Shabbat morning.

I know for me I hate leaving the house without eyeliner. I feel I have nice eyes that are enhanced by my kohl liner. If I am dressing nicely, as I tend to do on Shabbat, I feel unfinished when my face is bereft of make-up. It’s the one day during the week that we are all together without rushing off anywhere, and I want to look my absolute best.

What to do?

Along came ShainDee cosmetics. She’s a godsend, folks. ShainDee has come up with a line of cosmetics that can be applied on Shabbat, and can be applied preShabbat and last throughout the day of rest. She also has rabbinical approval for her products AND many of them are kosher for Passover.

ShainDee sent me a lovely selection of products to try. I applied lipstick before Shabbat, convinced that by the end of the next day my lips would be totally dried out by the lipstick. Not so. Not only did the lippy last, my lips still felt soft. The eye make-up lasted too, and didn’t smudge all over my face as I slept.

I also received a list of instructions of how to apply the make up on a regular day, and how to halachically apply the make up on Shabbat. No need for a bare face on Shabbat anymore – I can enhance my eyes to my heart’s content, and know that I have the Rabbi’s blessing.

Additionally all of ShainDee’s products are hypoallergenic and fragrance free – perfect for my ultra-sensitive skin. The prices are more than reasonable too.

How can you get your hands on this make-up? Go to ShainDee.com to check out the full product line, and LIKE ShainDee on Facebook.

Author’s Note: I received free product from ShainDee cosmetics and was  compensated to write this post.

Sweet Potato Pie

I got this recipe from my sister-in-law who is the most amazing cook ever. I made this for the past Shabbat to rave reviews. Apparently it is good cold, too.

You will need:

2 eggs
1 Cup of sugar  (May substitute Splenda)
1 tsp. salt
1/8  tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Cup milk (or pareve substitute)
2 Tbs. margarine
1 1/2 Cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1 8” pie shell (For Gluten-free leave off pie shell)

How to:

Beat eggs slightly.
Add sugar, salt, spices and milk (or pareve substitute).
Add butter or margarine (melted) to sweet potatoes, or stir in while hot.
Blend with milk and egg mixture.
Pour into pie shell or straight into round baking pan.
Bake in oven at 450 for 10 minutes.
Reduce to 350 for 30-40 minutes until filling is firm.
May put marshmallows on top and brown in 450 oven for a few minutes until light brown.  Do not overload the marshmallows.

Chicken Feet

One of my favourite childhood taste-memories is the feel of chicken feet on my tongue once I was done slurping up my chicken soup on Friday nights. We would feast on pippiks and chicken necks, and sometimes Grandma would throw some chicken feet into the soup. Those who have had them totally understand the appeal of these delicacies.

raw chicken feet, ready for my soup.

Once I moved to Canada it became impossible to find chicken feet, in fact, people went out of their way to show me their utmost displeasure at even mentioning chicken feet and chicken soup in the same breath.

Today I was shopping at Monsey Glatt (an experience on a Thursday afternoon, I can tell you) and while perusing the meat freezers I came face to face with a bunch of chicken feet, packaged and ready to sell. To me. For my soup. This week. In my mind, this was reason #46279 to move to Monsey – they sell chicken feet!! I was so darn excited and couldn’t wait to come home and show the KoD my purchase, after almost 2 decades of living chicken-feet-free. Such deprivation!!

For someone who works in the food industry, his reaction was not as I expected. He was totally disgusterated at the idea of me even thinking to put them in the soup. Plus, the thought of this possibly being a regular occurrence seemed to shake him to his very core. I offered to cook them in a mesh bag-thing inside the soup, so I could take them out as soon as they were cooked. Only I would eat them, I wouldn’t serve them to him or the kids. The dude turned quite a nice shade of green – and totally leeched the joy out of my find. Harumph.

Well, KoD, let me just tell you this. I would look very very carefully under your pillow tonight before you go to sleep – you just might find some interesting items in need of a pedicure.

You know, I could have bought Beef Knees too – but I didn’t know quite what to do with those….

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The Kiddush Cup.

This might look like just a regular kiddush cup to most of you folks, but to me it symbolizes a whole lot more.

Four years ago, when I became a single mother, my friend Z! purchased this for me. The kiddush cup that had been used in our house up until then left with my ex. Which was fine. He was the one that used it twice a weekend since we had first been wed. He was attached to it and totally entitled to have it.

Z! bought this kiddush cup for me to use every Shabbat from then on, something that was mine, that had not been shared. If you look closely it’s more feminine than most of the bechers that you see. I have used this becher faithfully every Shabbat that I have been home, ever since.

That first Shabbat, making kiddush out of my new kiddush cup, was emotional. I had become the head of the household overnight, the one responsible for everything. I was now in charge of religious observance and rites in the house, and I was the only one old enough to be responsible to make kiddush. There were many times that my voice cracked while saying kiddush, that the tears rolled down my face, that I was overwhelmed with my single motherhood.

Within 2 years my oldest son became bar mitzvah and relished the opportunity to take over this religious rite. Initially I allowed him to use my kiddush cup and say the blessings every Shabbat that the kids were with me. I sat back and shepped nachas as he proudly voiced the holy words. And yes, there were many happy tears too!! But occasionally I needed to reconnect with that rite. I needed to remember the person I was that first Shabbat as a single mom, and how far I had come. How despite all the hardship that life rained down on me, that I remained true to the core Torah values, that I encouraged the same in my children.

Very soon this kiddush cup will be polished up, and put in a place of honour in my breakfront in the new home we will share with the KoD. He has his own becher that means a lot to him, and I am content to sit back and be blessed with his kiddush. Z!’s becher however will have pride of place and will always remind me of how far I have come.

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Friday Night Mikvah

I think going to mikvah on a Friday night (or a Yom Tov night) has to be the most difficult night to go. Especially if you have young children. Especially if you have older children. Whether it is right or wrong (and we have had this discussion a time or two) we don’t really want our children knowing when we are going to mikvah, when we are Niddah, when we are not. It just is not modest and not something to share with children.

On Friday night the time to dunk is usually around the time the men start to daven maariv in shul. When one has little kids, and needs to go, from what I have learned, it is incumbent on the husband to stay home from shul and watch his children while his wife performs this mitzvah. It’s easy when the children are small to tell them mommy has to go help a friend. But what do you tell them when they are teens and they notice that their father is not in shul and won’t buy the “friend” story? Or they come home from shul and they notice that mommy isn’t there?

I have heard a time or two that many women push off mikvah if it falls on Friday night. They will just go Saturday night instead. This bothers me so much. Yes it’s annoying to have to make arrangements to go on a Friday night, but the annoyance is far outweighed by the joy of being able to reunite with one’s husband – and on Shabbat too, a double mitzvah.

So, help me help other women – what works for you for Friday night mikvah? How do you manage to get it done without the children being any the wiser? What about if you are staying at friends for Shabbat, or if you have a simcha, or company staying with you? How have you managed it then? Do you think it’s fair to the husband to push off mikvah for a night, just for convenience sake?

Edited to Add (thanks MG) – what do you do when the mikvah is not within walking distance?

(inspired by IR)

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WWYD – Shabbat Guest

So here is the scenario. You have an open door policy on Shabbat. Your friends know that they can bring a friend or two along with them if they are coming to you for a Shabbat meal. You like to have advance notice, but you always cook enough to feed an army anyway, so if you get a drop-in or two, it’s never a problem.

Your friends let you know a day or two before Shabbat that they plan to bring their single girlfriend Ms X along with them, as she has nowhere to be for Shabbat. They tell you she is so excited about attending. What these friends are not aware of is that Ms X used to work with your husband a couple of years before, and he cannot stand her. Being the consummate professional that he is, he never let on to her that she made his skin crawl. He has told you that just hearing her voice is the equivalent of nails on a chalk board for him.

You know your husband is going to be extremely uncomfortable having her at his table, but you also know that it would be mean and rude to tell your friends not to bring her.

WWYD in this situation?

(not my story)

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My Awesome Boys!!

It’s Friday, a day that I traditionally spend in the kitchen, whipping up delicious food for Shabbat – chicken soup and home baked challahs etc. My boys have hungry tummies and very much appreciate my cooking. (It’s all the extra love I put in). Poor KoD doesn’t get to enjoy my Shabbat cooking very often, but soon enough that will change and I will be chasing him out of the kitchen too to stop him from “taste testing” like the boys do.

We like to have our house clean for Shabbat – so that we can welcome the Sabbath Queen in the right spirit. Usually I have laundry going at the same time as I am cooking – and once I am done cooking the kitchen gets scrubbed.

But we have a lovely sized apartment and no cleaning help. So that means that all the boys have to pitch in whenever asked. It’s not a choice, it’s a necessity. Growing up we had a chore list, and it rotated. That way there was a fair division of labour. I am not as organized as my mum was, so it’s always a little different. But the boys know better than to complain. Sometimes they will collaborate on chores to get them done quicker.

Squiggy likes to clean the bathrooms. I don’t know why, but I can see he has pride in a job well done. I hate hate hate cleaning the boys’ bathroom. Those of you with sons will understand why. So, that has become his job by default. A funny – today he felt a little lazy and I could see he needed motivation. I told him he’d better use some elbow grease. He looks under the sink – Ima, where’s the elbow grease??

Lenny gets to do the living room / dining room and does a great job too (when he remembers to actually move the furniture and sweep under it). He also loves to go to the store for me to pick up items that have been too heavy for me to carry, or that I forgot.

They are all dab hands at folding laundry and putting it away. The oldest two even know how to work the wash machine. HockeyFan loves to wash the dishes, and this afternoon he organized the refrigerator – apparently he put the yogurts in alphabetical order. He always asks me what else he can do to help.

ChatterBox is only 7 and as such I am not expecting too much. He gets to match up the socks, and organize his toys, and put away his Lego. Taking the recycling down to the garage is his job, and he gets to set up the candlesticks for Friday night. He loves to set the table for the Shabbat meals and does a fantastic job. The kids all take it in turns to help me serve the meal, and to clean up. They fight about whose turn it is to help. “It’s not fair, Ima, he helped you last week. Please can it be my turn?” Sometimes they will insist that I remain seated for the whole meal, so they can serve me.

It’s now 330pm and I am exhausted. There is one more load of laundry to be folded, and then I think I will take a nap. The house is sparkling, the aroma of delicious food is wafting through the apartment, and soon we will be showered and dressed in our Shabbat finery to welcome Shabbat with the lighting of my candles.

I am so blessed – I have the best boychikles in the world.

Shabbat Shalom.

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Shabbat Across America

On March 5, 2010 tens of thousands of Jews across America and Canada will come together to eat, drink, relax, dance, enjoy, debate and celebrate at the 14th Annual Shabbat Across America .

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Heinous or Harmless – Discipline

I have written before about keeping promises and carrying out threats. I was tested on this on Friday night. For the longest time I have had a deal with my youngest son. That if he goes to shul (synagogue) with his brothers on Friday night and misbehaves, then he has to go to bed after kiddush and hamotzi (the ritual Friday night blessings). We started this in order to keep him focused on being quiet in shul, and not bothering his older brothers while they daven (pray). It’s the older boys that tell me about his behaviour and I require consensus from all three. For months he was well behaved enough to stay up for the meal. I know it’s hard for him and for his brothers. They are alone in shul, and have to keep themselves and their little brother in line. Hopefully soon it will be a thing of the past, and the KoD will keep a watchful eye on them.

Friday night they came home after shul and told me that the little one did not behave, did not maintain decorum fit for shul. I was saddened and disappointed. I called him to me, and asked him how he thought he behaved. After much hesitation he admitted he had been badly behaved. I held him in my arms, and told him that after we eat challah he has to go to bed, as that was our deal. He was so upset and it tore my heartstrings to shreds. It would have been so easy for me to tell him to behave better, and ok, you can join us for the meal. But I wanted him to learn the lesson and also to know that I carry out my threats when necessary.

We were both crying when I bensched him. He cried all through Shalom Aleichem and Eishet Chayil. He was crying almost too hard to drink the grapejuice. He managed to chomp his way through a piece of challah, softened with his hot tears. Before he left the table he came to curl up on my lap. I asked him if he understood why he was being punished. He knew why and promised to behave better next time. I reminded him how much I love him, but that he needed to go to his room.

He took some books so he could read in bed. He came out of bed a couple of times for an extended drink of water and another hug or two. I missed him at the table. I did.

Shabbat morning he crawled into bed with me and told me he felt so sad that we were all having fun without him, and the he knows if he would have behaved appropriately that he would have joined us for dinner. He promised that he would be the best boy in shul from now on, because it felt “bad” to be punished. He totally understood his punishment, he was aware that there would be consequences for his bad behaviour, but it hadn’t deterred him. He told me that next time he wanted to act up in shul he would remember how sad he felt to hear us having a fun meal and not be part of it. So I guess he learned the lesson. But why do I feel awful about the whole thing?

Was disciplining him this way heinous or harmless?

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