Leah’s Blog – March 6th 2016
Just as I was making the last of the salads and the face of the clock gave a menacing glance of “It is getting late!” a knock on the door made me peer through the window above the sink piled high with dishes. Fogged with cooking vapor, I couldn’t make out if it was the organic farmer that came around Fridays to sell his wares-sun dried cherry tomatoes, fruit leathers, home- made cheeses and houmous or some-one maybe coming to borrow paper plates? Maybe it was the cute little rascal who lived down the block that always bummed around with his over- sized dog that sold flowers on Fridays. Opening the door, I am immediately jolted into a sense that our Shabbat was about to take a change of course. Thwack. My heart skips a beat as two Chassidic looking guys walk into the kitchen and ask for Moshe. They have a Yiddish accent and premonition tells me I am about to bust a gut.
Luckily my mother taught me to always make more than less (“So, you throw another chicken in- was that hard to do?” I can hear her say.)………. Within minutes they become our Shabbat guests. Don’t get any bright ideas- I despise people showing up and not calling first.
These weren’t regular guests though but special guests, maybe even the angels Gabriel and Michael. It is Shabbat Vayakhel and Kehilla- community is the subject of thought. We are taught as Jewish people that we are responsible for one another. We are all one big community no matter who or where we are or what we do. It’s about how to help each other, how we can learn from each other- Moshe warns me not to push away the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim (inviting guests into your home). Within minutes they are perched right in the kitchen, the arena of the last of my chores. Moshe runs down the stairs to where I have run to look for blechs and Shabbat clocks. He tells me they are from the Underground, a movement inside Satmar that are bold enough to come to Israel for a week despite the vehement anti-Israel stance of their Rebbe and community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There is not a home in Satmar that doesn’t have a copy of VaYoel Moshe, a book dedicated to the evils of the Jewish State and worse yet, a prayer for the destruction of it. Yes, the place they come from are the very people we see (and we are more than perplexed) carrying signs alongside our enemies for the destruction of Israel! But the 2 guys upstairs want out. They want to come home.
Later, some -time into the meal I soften up as they start singing nigoonim. The old songs of our joined traditions bring us into a realm of a shared vibrant past. Their voices smile and lift us into a space not defined by a place. Their faces seem familiar. All barriers fall and we share our Divine light, jewels of Torat Eretz Yisrael; they share the soul of song and the warmth of the Shabbat candles reflect into their smiling eyes. They are not the typical advocates but the urgency of the hour and the intensity of the time line of our history brings us to share this rare moment. It really is not about a subject of thought but a spirit, a unifying spirit returning to a heart of flesh.
Shabbat kehilla is when a community comes together.
I remember not too long ago being in a community in somewhere U.S.A. We were the two that came there for Shabbat. (of course we called first- we actually had it all written in stone).I remember all too well feeling overlooked, something missed. Knocked on the head with the lethargy and dullness of the reception, almost paralyzed, we hobbled away from the stone walls of that obstructed place. Maybe at best you could stop by, but not stop IN. Maybe we were getting in the way of something? Hitting me in the face now at the table was an opportunity to transcend and bond, to jump over obstacles only in way Hashem can fashion by “beaming down” these two that came to hear and share. Don’t stop sharing. Don’t stop putting your heads together. We plan, Hashem does. Besorot tovot! Shavua tov! Leah