5.6.18

The Sabbath Bee is a book now!

I am thrilled to announce that The Sabbath Bee is now available in book form, published by Ben Yehuda Press! Find out more at https://benyehudapress.com/books/the-sabbath-bee/.

This blog contains some of the "bees" that appear in the book, as well as many that are unpublished. Please explore at your leisure.

4.6.10

Journeys of fancy

Shabbat is a chameleon, blending into the best part of where you want to be. It’s your happy place—your escape. If you wish you were back in bed, then Shabbat is a fluffy down comforter. If you imagine yourself at an amusement park, then Shabbat is the best roller coaster, nobody in line. It’s all relative.

Sometimes the day stretches long and empty, like a dusty, baking desert road. Tedious hours of trudging spent under the constant fear of bandits, in a place so far from home that the stars have no names.

If you let it then, Shabbat will be an evening oasis—with cool winds and rustling leaves, with music and spices in the air, with refreshed travelers telling stories of places you’ve never been but have dreamed of all your life.
What does your Shabbat need to be?

14.5.10

New baby

They haven’t been the same since Shabbat joined their family. They never go out anymore. We only see them when they invite their old friends over, in twos or threes, for sedate home-cooked meals.

We come and we walk on eggshells, terrified of somehow upsetting this demanding, easily displeased presence. Shabbat doesn’t even have to be in the room to be the center of attention. Shabbat has turned their lives upside-down.

After dinner, he walked me to my car and I asked him how he handled all these new restrictions and responsibilities. “It’s hard,” he admitted. “And nothing will ever be how it used to be. But I don’t think I can explain to you how—how worth it it all is. How empty the old days seem now. But who knows? Maybe it’ll happen to you some day. Then you’ll understand.”

Not likely. I said goodbye and left.

7.5.10

Ritual helps but isn’t necessary

She came without candles, she came without wine.
All she needed was quiet, a chance to unwind.
No blessings were uttered, but time ticked along,
Past gloaming and sunset, to twilight then dawn.

And she’ll leave without spices, when the hour’s passed away.
She’ll slip out like clockwork; don’t ask her to stay.
She’ll come again next week, a fresh new Shabbat.
To rest on your home, invited or not.

9.4.10

The anniversary when numbers stop mattering

I bend down to grab a bowl; Shabbat reaches over my head for a plate. At the same moment that I step forward with my left foot, Shabbat takes a mirror image step back on right. Shabbat doesn’t bother saying the things that I already know, and I bring home the same presents every week because Shabbat likes them best.

There’s no fumbling to it, no exotic mystery or unexpected discoveries. We have a schedule, and we both do our best to make it work.

We fit together, not an inch of space between us—but not because of natural serendipity. We have been shaped by years of gentle sanding, the erosion of consistency. Shabbat has heard all of my serenades before, and knows them well enough to ask for favorites.

19.3.10

Precision

The ball drops at midnight. The rooster crows at dawn. Every hour on the hour, and at 15-minute intervals, the bells clang. The train pulls out of the station each morning at 7:49, whether or not you’re onboard. And the library will invariably close 5 minutes before the posted time.

They will have you know that Shabbat comes in 18 minutes before sunset, a time that occurs at this latitude sometime between 4:10 PM and 8:15, depending on the season. See an almanac or chabad.org for further details.

The hands circling the face of the clock can’t tell you everything, of course. They don’t understand that sometimes Shabbat holds back, waiting until long after you’ve started the party and perhaps not even crossing the foyer until after the guests have started trickling out.

The schedule’s for your benefit. Shabbat comes and goes as it pleases.

12.3.10

Candle secret

Do you know why we light candles for Shabbat? I do. It’s because their fire is the same light as every person has glowing inside of them. Some people have big lights and some aren’t so bright—and some people’s lights even make everyone around them brighter! If you pay attention, you know that everyone’s the lights change through the day, or flicker or turn ugly colors when bad stuff happens. Sometimes, just because someone gets sleepy his light starts to shrink.

So that’s why there’s the candles… because if you watch, the fire goes inside the person who lights the wick. Then at least for a few minutes it makes their shine fill up the room!

5.3.10

Light-maker

Don’t ornament Shabbat with diamonds. Never bedeck her with perfectly faceted jewels—not a single one. Do not ask her to condescend to rubies darker than wine, to topaz that glows like orange blossom honey. No sapphires smooth as tide pools, nor emeralds bright as a utopian rainforest.

Because when light pours into these precisely cut prisms, it cracks and breaks. The perfect stream is disrupted to rainbows, stretched red to violet and scattered across the floor.

Shabbat’s wrists are bare, her long neck unadorned. Nothing weighs upon her earlobes, nor her silken fingers. Shabbat does not take in light but instead collects the divided colors, unifying the fragments. After the spectrum passes through her it emerges in full photonic splendor, pure and radiant as the sun.

17.2.10

Storming (Psalm 29)

Revere the Lord, all you mighty ones. You who sit on high, secure in your dominion, bow before God’s raw power.

The voice of God thunders down the mountaintops, it roars from the waves. It whirls across the prairies. The voice of God incinerates everything in its path.

The voice of God arcs across the buzzing sky. It swells above the coast. The earth trembles at God’s voice, and all who hear whisper awe to the unfathomable.

The voice of God strips the suburbs bare. It disrupts the work of mighty cities—causing metropolises to stagger and buckle.

God in the flooding streets, God in the raging flames. God in the gray ash descending, in the gathering darkness and the searing flash.

And in the preternatural early morning stillness, it is the voice of God that silently whispers peace.