And I don’t mean Rav Soloveitchik.
And probably not many people got that attempted joke.
Anyway, so I spent Shabbos with my rabbi, along with three other girls from sem, Yaelle, Ariella, and Sarah (who have given me permission to us their names, so hopefully this won’t get so confusing). Ariella just moved into my apartment, so nobody really knew her, but she and I sat together on the bus and got to know each other on the 40-something minute ride to the rabbi’s place.
I don’t know if I’d mentioned it in a previous post, but my roommate Elena and I just moved into the apartment we’re currently in. We’ve been moving a little bit at a time since last week and were pretty wiped out by the end of the week…I don’t know what the other girls’ excuses were, except that Ariella had just gotten here and was still jet-lagged, but we were all more zonked than anyone wanted to be for where we were spending Shabbos.
My rav (henceforth known as Rabbi S) has 10 kids (!), but only 4 of them are still living at home. So that made a total of ten of us around the Shabbos table. Good times. Both Rabbi and Mrs. S teach at our school, and I’m pretty sure they teach enough different levels that all four of us had been in classes with both of them at some point. They both wanted to do all they could to “make us feel at home,” which resulted in all sorts of “Jewishmothering.” They wouldn’t let us lift a hand to help, except to set the table, so once that was done, we were reduced to sitting around the S family’s living room, each doing our own thing. While I tried to concentrate on reading that week’s Torah portion in Hebrew and Yaelle prayed the Shabbos evening service, Ariella looked through some of the S family’s photos and Sarah looked around at the four of us.
“I feel like we’re in a waiting room,” she said.
I looked up from my Torah and Ariella looked up from her pictures. “Wait, what?” Neither of us had any idea what Sarah was talking about.
“You know, like in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. All the ladies would sit in their little waiting room not doing anything of substance–”
“Hey now!” I held up my copy of the Torah.
“–oh you know what I mean, they’d just sit there and not even talk to each other, but each person would do her own thing, reading or knitting or–”
Thus began a conversation about a book that I’ve never even read, though I know the basic plot, and now I want to. Sarah’s hopefully going to lend me her copy.
Meanwhile, I was periodically interrupting this conversation with thoughts about the Torah I was reading. At one point, I had a question about a couple of words that intrigued the other girls enough that, when I went to the kitchen to ask Rabbi S about it, one of them called from the “waiting room”, “Hey, we want to know the answer too!” So Rabbi S obligingly followed me back to where the girls were still congregated, and we had about two minutes of Torah talk before Mrs. S called us to the table.
Mrs. S’s cooking was amazing. Everything was homemade: challah, chicken soup, brownies, non-dairy ice cream (which was literally the best I’d ever tasted and I told her so).
The S kids (well, teenagers) have an interesting perspective of being born and raised in Israel, but growing up in a mainly English-speaking home. They were able to offer some valuable perspectives about living in Israel, which I was happy to hear. Then after dinner we all sort of split up, and Sarah and I ended up talking for awhile. It was really the first meaningful conversation I’d had with her, and I think we both ended up making a new friend. 🙂
We all went to bed pretty early, Ariella and I in one guest room and Sarah and Yaelle in the other. Our room was lined with wall-to-wall books, nearly all in Hebrew, but I didn’t really even look at them before I fell asleep. It seemed like I’d just fallen asleep when Yaelle knocked on my door and said, “It’s almost 10:30; lunch will be soon.”
(Yes, Israelis eat lunch insanely early on Shabbos. Makes sense when you realize the guys have been in shul since something like 7:30.)
Lunch was basically a repeat of dinner, with of course slightly different food and conversation, and then I alternated between reading, trying to nap, and watching Sarah and Ariella play Monopoly. Halfway through their game, Rabbi S came in and asked, “Are you hungry already?” (For some reason, a bunch of people here…especially, it seems, the ones who come originally from New York…randomly add “already” to just about everything. It amuses me, as do many of their other speech idiosyncrasies. More on that later, bli neder.)
“A little, yeah,” sad one of the girls.
“Okay, so we’re making tuna. You like mayonnaise, or no?” And before I knew it, a third meal was on the table, this one far more simple than the last two (as generally happens with the third Shabbos meal). During this meal, the conversation got kind of heated, as the S girls indignantly shared stories of…well, Israeli personalities coming out in Israelis, I suppose. It only started to wind down when Yaelle asked, “Can someone pass me a bencher please?”
She wanted to say the prayer after meals, and was asking for the booklet that contains it. Rightly taking that as a hint that Yaelle wanted the meal to be over, Rabbi S glanced at the clock and exclaimed, “Is it that time already?! I’ve got to get to shul!”
So the men ran off to shul, the women cleaned up the meal (quickly, as it was all on plastic), and then we did Havdalah.
“Best Shabbos ever!” I said as soon as we bid farewell to the Shabbos.
(To be fair, I try to say that after every Shabbos. I think they should be growing in spirituality and, well, awesomeness every week. But the rabbi was happy to hear that.)