Nov 1, 2008

Getting Shabbat Done. Chavi Style.

Why was this Shabbat different than all other Shabbats? I realized a few things about being a bit of the Shomer Shabbos. The repeating realization that Shabbat lasts forever if you don't spend it at shul or meals or with friends/family hit me once again last night. I managed to lay down for a nap last night pre-Shabbat at 5 p.m. And then, I woke up at 7:30 p.m., an hour after services/dinner at the rabbi's started up. So I ate some cold pasta and hummus from the fridge, mulled about, davened a bit, and went back to bed. Luckily, I woke up this A.M. and made it to the rabbi's for some lunch, park time, and a pleasant walk. So, in sum, this Shabbat was just what I needed -- a lot of sleep, a lot of quiet, a lot of peace, a lot of recovery time from a most harrowing and stressful week.

+ It's going to take a few tries before I get my lamp timers right. I also have to set up my fan on a timer. Why? Because I can't sleep without the fan, that's why. It was a rough night, so I'm lucky that I went to bed early and slept so very late.

+ I love my Art Scroll.

+ Going to the bathroom seems like a simple issue -- if you're in your own house. But I share a bathroom with five other girls at any given moment, so there isn't a box of Kleenex in the bathroom to prevent rippage (a no no on Shabbat). The interesting thing is that I didn't realize this faux pas until I got up to use the ladies' room in the middle of the night. Funny how being mostly unconscious you can make some stellar realizations.

+ After spending some time at the rabbi's, I realized there are quite a few things I don't know about Shabbat as far as the 39 categories of forbidden labor and how they translate. I know the basics, and I am pretty sure I know even more than the basics (don't doodle on the frosted-over windows), but I'm looking for a comprehensive book that won't break the bank. If I had $120, I'd pick up this four-volume set . But I don't, so please -- someone! anyone! -- offer up some suggested reading materials?

+ I want to always have hot water available (for tea and what have you), but for some reason leaving my coffee maker (which I use to make hot water) on for the entire 25 hours seems to me like something super unsafe and not cool. Suggestions?

+ I need some havdalah goods. That is, a havdalah set/kit that isn't super expensive. I've looked, I've searched, and I can't seem to find something. Maybe I should look in Israel?

Yawn. Shavua tov!


Gruven_Rueven said...

The 39 Malachos set is fantastic! But if out of your price range for now, Art Scroll has a similar 2 volume set called "The Shabbos Home".

Yasher Koach on your road to being Shomer Shabbos.

Gruven_Rueven said...

Also checkout or for Havdalah supplies.

If you need a candle, our local shop sells them pretty cheap. Like under 2 bucks. I can pick a few up for you if you like.

Christopher said...

can't speak to most of the rest of it of course--but I've had good luck with good thermos bottles keeping things warm for a day-plus. I can put milk and a yogurt culture in at about 120 degrees on one night, and the next night it's still well above body temperature, which means it hasn't lost but a few degrees...

It might not be quite as effective at keeping water hot enough for tea, but it's not electric and not switched, so it might be worth a shot. Especially for that first cup in the morning. Simplicity, right?

This is the one I've got.

peace to you, kiddo,


Jessica said...

suggestion for havdalah -- does it have to be a full set? if you go to (or just go to Eichlers the next time you're in NY) you may be able to find a fairly inexpensive havdalah candle. as for besamim and the cup, my parents use cinnamon and a styra-foam(how is that spelled?!) cup.

Daniel Saunders said...

I have also wanted The 39 Melochos for a while, ever since my rabbinic mentor recommended it to me as the best book on Shabbat from a Modern Orthodox point of view, but it's beyond my price range at the moment too. I should really start saving for it.

Regarding the hot water, it sounds like you need an urn.

chaviva said...

GR: Thanks for the suggestions :) I'm guessing a havdalah candle lasts a while, right? Because it's put out after the blessings? I haven't done havdalah much, to be honest. It wasn't something stressed in my previous life and experience.

Christopher: Long time, bud. I owe you an email or two or three. I don't mind having something plugged in, to be honest, as long as it won't blow up in the 25-hour period that it's on. But I'll give your suggestion a gander :)

Jessica: I would love to have a full set, since I don't already own one, but it just isn't in my budget right now, which bums me out. I don't even have a thing of cinnamon, but am considering procuring one since it would be cheaper than going for the whole set. Thanks for the suggestion!

Daniel: An urn? Aren't those what they put ashes in ...? The 39 Melochos looks awesome, and I'll have to check out Reuven's suggested alternative. Likewise, I found another set on Eichlers that is different, but has the same gist I do believe.

Christopher said...

I like to keep a couple emails from you queued up. I figure that means I'll get a most lovely surprise or two or three sometime in the not too distant future, and that'll make my whole morning. ( :

If you don't mind leaving things plugged in, you might look into those little heating elements that clip over a coffee mug--you might be able to keep more water than that hot with a larger submerged element. I agree I wouldn't probably want to keep a glass coffee pot on the heat overnight.

But the simplest answer may be the best; a good vacuum bottle most certainly won't run up power bills or be a fire risk. I suppose it depends somewhat if you're looking to make a cup of tea in the morning, or looking to be able to make several to keep you going towards the end of the day...

Your mileage may vary, my friend,


Lorri said...

"A lot of sleep, a lot of quiet, a lot of peace, a lot of recovery time from a most harrowing and stressful week."

How ideal this past Shabbat was for you, in more ways than one.

Anonymous said...

Can you take a box of Kleenex with you when you go to the bathroom - or is carrying the box of tissues a faux pas too? Not being funny - I just don't know!


chaviva said...

@Christopher: Indeed, I must examine what I want said hot water to be used for before I make any major decisions :)

@Lorri: Indeed, so true!

@Rachel: Well, I could. It's funny because I live in a dorm, so technically the whole building is kosher and doesn't need an eruv, I guess, but we have an eruv around the building anyway. So I guess technically I can carry to and from the bathroom. I just grabbed a few tissues on my way in on Friday :)

Anonymous said...

Nice post.

Jess said...

in Israel in the town of Zefat there is a candlemaker and has all sorts of amazing havdalah candles and the like. beautiful things. If you're in Israel I suggest you check it out. I bought my mom some candles- she's a candlemaker- and she thought they were the most beautiful candles she's seen.

The coffee on 24/7 may not be a good idea- but unless u can press a button on a microwave u may be outta luck. The JUDS office leaves their coffee maker on a lot and there isnt a problem (as of yet) so as long as its not touching anything like paper you'd prob be fine. can you put that on a timer? lol

chaviva said...

@ID Thanks!

@Jess Ooo! I'll have to see if we go there. I'm a sucker for candles ... I'm addicted, which is now why I have a tart warmer.

For those wondering: I bought a coffee maker with a timer, so I can set it to start brewing coffee or hot water any time of day on Shabbat. I also bought the children's book on the 39 melachos, as both the rabbi's wife and another blogger had suggested it to me. Starting simple is sometimes the best way to go.

Thanks again for all the suggestions!

rescue37 said...

you need to talk to your Rabbi. You are not allowed to set the timer on a coffee maker to boil the water on shabbos. It is considered cooking. What you need is a hot water urn. such as the one from this place:
I am sure your Rabbi can get you one from crown heights, and there may be cheaper ones out there also.

ck said...

Are you coming to Israel? Then yeah, you can get a havdalah set here! Improvise till then - a cloth bag with spices in it, basic havdala candles. I'll gladly show you where to get the best deals!

Shabbat is often challenging but seriously... always rewarding!

chaviva said...

@rescue37 I've put in a call to the OU, since I don't really have a rav (I'm a grad student out in the middle of nowhere with a Chabad rabbi at my disposal, though). I had a few other OU related questions to ask anyhow. I've seen the urns around and even spotted a few at a Judaica shop. I'm going to see what I hear, and then go from there.

@ck I *am* coming to Israel, for sure. I'll be there December 18-28 at least for Birthright, and I might extend ... but I don't know how or where or anything I'd stay if I extended, so I'm still feeling that out.

Jewlicious said...

Oh just extend silly! Do it now before the flights get sold out! We'll find u places to crash. Seriously, do it now!

chaviva said...

Will there be crazy new year's parties? Should I extend a week? Two? Just one? I'm such a PLANNER/ORGANIZER. Maybe that makes me totally un-fun :)

Levadi said...

In my opinion, the best shabbat laws book for the theory behind them is by Dayan (i.e., the rabbinic title of judge) Isadore Grunfeld, and called The Sabbath. It was written in the 1960's or so and many libraries have it. He goes through each of the 39 melachot and all the derivatives.

My havdalah "set" is a green glass plate from Goodwill that I hold the candle over and is now covered in deep layers of wax, which I love, a $3 havdalah candle from a kosher grocery that I hold in my hand (actually, right now it's a patterned candle with multiple wicks, not braided, from an art fair --- the only requirement is multiple wicks), and a bottle of whole spices (cinnamon stick, star anise, or cloves, depending on my mood.) The whole thing costs $5, $10 if you want to be fancy.

- Perhaps you can keep a plastic grocery bag with pre-torn toilet paper in the bathroom. Or an empty kleenex box with pre-torn toilet paper. The idea being that no one will use pre-torn toilet paper and they'll just think it's weird. The easy way to pretear toilet paper is to rip a whole roll down the side, about 1/2 cm deep at a time.

- On Simchat Torah: I know where you are coming from on women's roles. I used to feel that people who complained about feminist issues didn't understand, but it turned out not to be that simple. I found that communities differ, and people's attitudes also change over time.

In my current community, Simchat Torah is a actually anti-feminist affair: that is, most of the dozens of Orthodox synagogues in town do not allow women to dance at all; some allow women to dance, but not with a Torah. A few Orthodox synagogues allow women to dance with a Torah, but these are all considered radical or lax, depending on when they were founded (more recent ones are radical; older ones are grandfathered in from the times before b"h Jews could be extremely strict.) Otherwise, it is actually a principled stand in many synagogues against letting women dance at all, and people will refer to the synagogues that allow women to dance at all as liberal and generous.

Communities also vary in the age distribution: communities with many young singles are more fun no matter how restrictive the practice is because of the high energy level. The same practices in a sedate congregation of families where most of the women your age are married and carrying babies feels very different, especially if you're the oddball single.

Batya said...

You don't need an official set for havdala, just the candle, or someone to hold two with the wicks burning together, cooking spices, like cloves and cinamon mixed, or some fragrent leaves and wine.

Get a metal camping thermous for hot water. It should be fine for most of Shabbat, especially if you have lunch out.

Stay longer in Israel, if you're already coming. We're in Shiloh.

Sabba Hillel said...

We use a 50 cup tea urn and leave it on all week. All we need to do is make sure that it is full before Shabbat. During the week, we just refill it as needed. There is a glass indicator in the front so that you can see how much is left. The only "problem" that needs to be addressed (aside from checking that it is full) is putting it where children cannot pull it down.

I would not use a regular (glass) coffee maker. Also, putting it on a timer to turn on and off would not IMHO work as that is "cooking" the water.

Check with your LOR for a full explanation as to why water that has been "cooked" is considered "cooking" after it cools down and is reheated while food is not.

Check with your LOR as to the rules about how to make tea or coffee. Note that if you drink coffee, you should use instant and not put water through ground coffee (I think it is considered cooking). Also there is a question about using tea bags rather than "essence" made before Shabbat. Your LOR can explain the customs of your community and why there is a difference between pouring the water onto the tea bag or putting the tea bag into the hot water.

Your LOR can also explain the concept of "kli sheni" and why you might need to put the water from the tea urn into a cup and then pour into the cup you will be using to make the coffee or tea.

We have a havdallay candle that just got totally used up after about five years of constant use. We are about to start using the second of the pair that we got then.

It is the type called a "pillar" candle and you can get some real fancy ones from the candle shops in Tzfat for relatively little. I saw in your posting that you will be on the Birthright tour. Usually there will be a Tzfat visit and the candle shop seems to be a standard.

BTW, since your Rabbi's meal started an hour before you wokeup, I think that you would have had time to still show up for dinner. Next time it happens, just go over there. I am sure that he will be glad to see you. If something like that happens to guests of ours, we would rather they come late than let us worry about what may have happened or have them miss eating as happened to you.

May you enjoy Shabbat in the future.

Sabba Hillel

chaviva said...

@levadi I'll have to look and see if the library here has the book your refer to. Your havdalah suggestions are stellar :) I've got something in the works right now, but until I get hitched, I probably won't have a *nice* set. As for Simchat Torah, I do know that it's probably a more liberal thing to let the women dance ... but part of me wonders if it isn't because the women don't do *enough* to really put themselves out there. I think women (and the men) have a lot of misconceptions about what is and isn't allowed within halakah. But your take on things? Incredibly helpful. THANK YOU for coming by!

@Batya Todah for the tips, and thank you for popping in. I will be staying longer, maybe an extra week or week and a half. I will definitely keep you in mind (I have NO IDEA where I'll be staying).

@Sabba Hillel Great, great comments. I do know about coffee (I can't stand the instant stuff, so I do tea on Shabbos). I know that tea is perfectly acceptable (at least, it definitely is among the Orthodox and Chabad communities I've experienced). I can't wait to visit Tzfat -- so many people have told me about the candles there, so I am quite excited. This past shabbat I took three candles and spun their wicks together to create a beautiful havdalah candle. I should be getting mine this week, though. And your comment re: the meal/rabbi, yes, I know you're right. I always come up with an excuse as to why not to go, but I know I should! I will be more diligent in the future, I do believe.

Thank you ALL for the comments. It means so much to me to hear so many opinions on things. I'm still searching for an urn, never fear!

Christopher said...

hey, kiddo,

I didn't think about tea being part of the "no-cooking" rule... if you'd prefer coffee, that might be doable......

best way to have hot coffee the next day without cooking anything is a really good thermos bottle (...gee, I sound like a busted record...). Leaving coffee on a warmer for hours gives it that "I just bought this for 25¢ at the Amoco" flavor, but day-old coffee isn't bad if a burner wasn't continually applied.

Alternately, cold-steeped coffee makes a good iced drink--I really enjoy iced coffee when it's warm, but in November you might not be interested in that. About 3 volumes room-temperature water to 1 volume coarsely ground coffee, allowed to steep overnight and then strained out, is about right to pour over ice, and you can make the concentrate in advance and just leave it in the fridge a couple days once you've strained it. ... I don't know if using electric devices like a refrigerator/freezer is prohibited; this assumes ice is a reasonable thing to get yourself.

but, by this point in the thread, it sounds like you have a fairly wide set of choices, and one or another of them is right for you!

peace to you, my friend,


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