On Shabbat

She came early, letting herself in through the front door and running into the living room on wobbly legs.

“Hi there,” I greeted her just before she pounced.

“It’s so great to see you!” She wrapped her arms around me, almost chokingly tight. “It’s been forever! Is that a new shirt? It looks great on you. Gorgeous. That color really works. Is that water you’re drinking? Can I have some?”

She grabbed my glass and drank. “Hey, this is good water! I love it! Where did you get it?”

“The… tap?” I watched her savor it like fine wine. “Sweetie, are you okay?”

“I feel fabulous!” She kicked her feet into the air, toes wriggling, as she giggled.

Finally, I couldn’t take it any more. “What are you on tonight?” I demanded.

“Shabbat!” she announced, falling on the couch and laughing like she would never stop.


Fairy tale

Once upon a time, a farmer stumbled into an underground bower where a fairy of astonishing beauty begged him to cease plowing the land just above her home, lest he tear through her packed-earth ceiling. In return for protecting her and voluntarily lessening his crop yield, she plied him with platters of fruit, bright as jewels, and a bowl of nectar gathered from midnight-blooming flowers.

The clever storyteller will say that the farmer is the Jewish people and the fairy is Shabbat, providing immeasurable reward for a day’s leisure.

(But I see Shabbat in the bowl of honeyed nectar, warm as a midsummer evening and smelling of lavender, primrose and jasmine. Surely the bowl must remain full to the brim no matter how many mouthfuls the greedy farmer drinks, as his fields, his work, and all sense of time slip away, replaced with giddy satisfaction.)


Winter wonderland

Shabbat has strong features, dark hair, and he is wearing a tuxedo when he beckons me from the other side of curtain.

I join him in a tent made of silver, walls arching toward the sky and frost-kissed branches tangling overhead. I am suddenly wearing a silver-sequined gown, glittering in the light of a thousand candles shining two by two in the periphery.

Shabbat settles a firm hand beneath my shoulder, and as the music starts we sweep into the crisp stillness of the early winter sunset.



Each human being is as unique as a carefully crafted snowflake, as breakable and fragile as a tiny shard of frosty rococo.

Shabbat remains as faithful and unmoving as stone.

Those drawn to Shabbat come in gusts and flurries, soon to be gathered and tightly packed.

The sky darkens. The snow deepens, swirling and eddying upon a frozen mountaintop.

Uniqueness piles upon uniqueness, pressing together, unifying beneath a thick, churning storm.

Snow falls week after week.

If enough snowflakes gather, the mountaintop will hum and vibrate—

And all the collected drifts will surge together into the valley below.


Tropical paradise

I dressed for winter before stepping outside to pick up Shabbat. He was waiting by the bus stop, holding an overnight bag and wearing a bright, almost glowing Hawaiian shirt.

“Aren’t you cold?” I called as I walked toward him. His tanned brown skin, open to the elements, clashed with my thick, water-resistant coat.

“‘Cold’?” He stretched out his arms. “Are you kidding me? Baby, it’s sunshine and mai tais 24/7 over here!”

I looked doubtfully at the gray, packed-frost sidewalk. Then I frowned. “Are those orchids growing out of the cement?” I demanded, pointing at a short trail from the curb to his sandaled feet.

Instead of answering, Shabbat wrapped his arms around me. He smelled like coconut with a soft tang of seawater. I wanted to ask him what kept his skin so warm, but as soon as I opened my mouth he smothered me with his tropical optimism.