Recent view from outside our window (photo not taken on Shabbat)
By Yonatan Gordon
It seems every Jew living in the land of Israel is working on the same schedule. For instance, the bargain prices of “shuk day” are celebrated every Wednesday from the north to the south, in order to draw customers to buy produce and other necessities before the pre-Shabbat rush on Thursday and Friday.
At first, I didn’t think much into this connectivity, until my experience last Friday night during the height of the windswept blizzard. The electricity had gone out in our home last Friday morning, and throughout the settlement of Bat Ayin where we live. While we were fortunate to have a gas oven to finish preparing our meals, other families either stayed by others or had meals prepared for them. Even as everyone was busily preparing for Shabbat, and even though the day itself was the fast of the Tenth of Tevet, still calls were made and dishes cooked for those in need.
Then Friday night arrived, and I went to the central synagogue here to pray the afternoon and Kabbalah Shabbat service. Shortly before the afternoon service began, the lights and heat went on in the synagogue. At the time, I thought this was as a result of a generator that the synagogue had. The lights lasted through nearly all of the service, then suddenly went off again towards the end of the evening service, with only a few tea lights to help out those congregants who didn’t know the remaining portions by heart. At the end of the services, the rabbi made sure to see again if there were any more families in need of food and accommodations for Shabbat.
Thinking still that the lights in the central Bat Ayin synagogue were the result of a generator, I started my walk back home through the snowy streets devoid of street and house lights.
As I got home, my wife and children excitedly tell me their tale. Shortly before Shabbat candle lighting time, the lights went on. My wife decided it was still a wise idea to light the extra candles for visibility as planned, but the electricity made it possible to do a few extra preparations for Shabbat. Then sometime after she and my daughters lit candles, the lights went out again.
As we compared stories, it seemed that the timing was the same for both of us! What I thought was an isolated incident that allowed us to pray in synagogue with light and heat, also enabled her to welcome Shabbat with a greater preparedness and sense of comfort.
I thought of this teaching from Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar, that aptly expressed the sentiments I felt after reflecting upon these events:
A group of people were travelling in a boat. One of them took a drill and began to drill a hole beneath himself.
His companions said to him: “Why are you doing this?” Replied the man: “What concern is it of yours? Am I not drilling under my own place?”
Said they to him: “But you will flood the boat for us all!”
Even if it seems that we are all “docked on land,” especially when living in the Holy Land of Israel, we are all on the same “boat” together whether we realize it or not!