As Iâ€™ve posted on here before, our bedtime routine is pretty typical â€“ bath, pjs, stories, songs, lights out. While the pjs and the stories chosen might vary each night, the songs never do.
Each night, the request is the same: first, â€śTake Me Out to the Ballgameâ€ť (no, Iâ€™m not kidding; he actually wants to hear this EVERY night); second, the Shema; third, â€śLa La Luâ€ť (the lullaby from Lady and the Tramp).
Lately Sam has started to sing the songs with me. I know he doesnâ€™t fully understand it yet, but I love that Sam is already starting to â€śprayâ€ť with me at night. I hope his â€śbedtime songâ€ť helps to open the door for him to easily talk to G-d as he grows.
If you incorporate prayers into your evening routine, when did your kids start saying them with you? When do you think they started to understand that they were more than just words or pretty tunes?
I once heard that time does not exist. It is only a concept that we, the people of the world, agree to for organization. I was thinking about this as I moved Shabbat up a night this week. My mother, who lives out of town, came in on Monday to spend the week with us. When my daughter, Sarah (age 6), heard Gramoo was leaving on Friday afternoon, she told Gramoo she couldnâ€™t leave before Shabbat. Shabbat is the most special time of the week and she canâ€™t miss it.
When I heard that, it took about two seconds for me to move Shabbat to Thursday evening. Our Friday observance is to have family night at home. We go to services at our synagogue on Saturdays. On Thursday, I set the table with our Shabbat dressings, the silver flatware, crystal glasses, the good china. We opened a bottle of wine (and grape juice for the younger set). I made matzo ball soup and challah. My husband roasted chicken. I made chocolate chip cookies for dessert. We enjoyed them warm from the oven. We picked up my husbandâ€™s mother and brought her over for dinner, too, so we had both grandmothers with us, a special night indeed!
We blessed the candles, the food, and the kids, and spent the evening together. It was a wonderful evening and one we will remember forever, I hope. My mother (Catholic) asked why we light two candles. Great question! They represent two forms of the fourth commandment Zachor (Remember) the Sabbath and keep it holy and Shamor (Observe) the Sabbath and keep it holy. And that is just what we did. We remembered and observed the Sabbath. So what that it was Thursday. Time is a concept open for interpretation after all. This week we welcomed the Sabbath bride twice. On Friday it was sans grandmothers, though the memory of the night before was still with us burning as bright as a third candle.
Shabbat Shalom, friends!
Tonight was the first time my family â€“ my husband, me and my two boys â€“ said the Hamotzi (blessing over the bread) at home â€“ outside a Jewish holiday. It’s not that I am opposed to giving thanks before my meals â€“ I know how many blessings I have and am thankful for them daily â€“ I just don’t express my thanks to G-d on a daily basis. But maybe I should.
At Thanksgiving and Christmas, my father-in-law, who’s Episcopalian, always leads the Grace before dinner. This year our very chatty two-year-old thought that Grace was the greatest thing ever â€“ getting to hold everyone’s hands before dinner. And his way of saying Grace was by saying “I love my family” â€“ what could be better than that. My father-in-law’s version of Grace is also very universal â€“ thanking G-d for our many blessings, for the meal we are about to enjoy, thankful to the family we are gathered with and also thankful for those who are not able to be with there. Then it’s chow time.
Tonight however, my in-laws were not having dinner with us, it wasn’t a special meal or holiday. It was just a regular Monday night. Just after we all sat down, our seven-year-old asks, “Can we say the blessing?” And I respond that there are different ways â€“ Grace is what Christian people say, the Hamotzi is what Jewish people say and then our younger son’s version â€“ I love my family. He immediately picked the Hamotzi, as if that was what he was trying to think of on his own, which we then all sang together. Even his little brother joined in â€“ he has lots of practice from weekly Shabbat celebrations at the JCC pre-school.
Just a little story about how a regular Monday night turned into a really sweet moment for our family who might consider saying some form of thanks on a nightly basis.
Hamotzi lechem min haaretz,
We give thanks to God for bread.
Our voices rise in song together as our joyful prayer is said,
“Baruch atah adonai, eloheinu melech haolam, hamotzi lechem min haaretz. Amen.”