Shabbat Recap — Shmi, Dangit! Yes, You!

You know, I really should listen (shmi = feminine singular imperative form of lishmoa, to listen/hear, as in the first word of the famous Shema Israel) when G-d, Life, The Universe, and Everything are giving me big huge hit-over-the-head signals that I shouldn’t do various things.  I say this only half in jest.

I got up (far too late, as it turned out) and got ready for shul, left, got to my transfer point, and realised that I had spent far too long waiting for buses, and felt like ten pounds of yuck in a five pound bag anyway (probably not such a good idea to be out in the rain) due to a fulminating sinus infection.  (Yes, I am on antibiotics, but they haven’t totally kicked in yet.)

That said…

Shabbat Observances

I did:

— make candle-lighting on time

— read most of the Shabbat Shacharit service (the one I usually attend) to myself, mostly in the Hebrew (yay, Hebrew reading practice) but partially in English (the longer passages), which I had to kind of abandon because the day was rainy and my bedside light wasn’t on, so I could no longer see the siddur well enough to read without my glasses (which I usually leave at work) and without compounding my sinus headache with eyestrain, and I got really tired…

— not use any hot water

— not use the computer

— not water the plants or anything like that

— not do any fresh cooking (I still have to reheat food because I still don’t have a plata or a blech)

— not spend or handle any money (I can still take public transportation without doing so, because I have a bus pass, which is paid for in advance)

— remember to dab chapstick and suchlike instead of smearing

— prepare my boy cat’s medication in advance (avoiding tearing and cutting using a specialised implement — a pill-splitter)

— avoid using toilet paper except twice (I use Kleenex instead)

— mostly remember to say brachot before eating

— mostly remember to say Borei Nefashot or Al-Hamicha after eating (this is pretty major for me!!)

— make an abbreviated Havdalah minus wine/grape juice, and I used a plain Shabbat candle instead of a braided candle (I have no idea where to get those)

Chillul Shabbat (Breaking the Shabbat)

I did…

— turn off two lights (because my housemate didn’t do it and I got impatient wanting to get to sleep at 1AM)

— turn on the bathroom light by accident (which I left on to avoid compounding the break, as one is supposed to)

— cut open a packet of pre-cooked rice

— tear toilet paper twice (whoops)

— use the microwave

— not eat any bread (I don’t bake and I haven’t a clue where to buy challah anyway)

— use the telephone (once because a friend called me, once — annoyingly — because I got a scam robocall in the middle of davening*, and once because I was bored and not feeling well this afternoon, so I called a friend).  I’m going to have to work on this more.

Things I did which are going to be fixtures until I can move closer to shul:

— handle my keys and wallet (muktzeh)

— take public transportation (this is going to be a fixture until I can move closer to shul)

— carry in the public domain (keys, wallet, chapstick, kleenex, oh man, kleenex),

Overall, I don’t think I did badly, all things considered.  I’m hoping I can remember to say brachot more in the coming days.  (I even managed to sneak one in while out for dinner with friends Friday evening before Shabbat!)

I’m hoping for refua this coming week so I can get my tuchis (or tachat, if you like the modern Hebrew better than the Yiddish) to shul next Shabbat.  This is really disappointing…



* Theoretically, I should have just let it go to voicemail, but that would have involved more chillul Shabbat than just answering it, as well as more distraction (which you are supposed to minimise while praying), and I don’t feel right about unplugging the phone with an 89 year old grandmother recovering from a broken ankle, particularly since I’m a) not actually obligated to be shomeret Shabbat (Sabbath-observant, female) and b) I’m not out to any family about this whole converting to Judaism thing yet.  (I want to wait until I’ve really formally begun studying with the rabbi and everything first.)


4 thoughts on “Shabbat Recap — Shmi, Dangit! Yes, You!

    • I’m not sure it’s precisely a question of joy. I’m not by nature a tremendously joyful person; I’m a studious, serious person, and I suppose that’s where the enjoyment comes in.

      I love the services and congregation at Beit Meshugge. I am really liking the rigorous programme of study, too. I have an advanced degree, and I seem constitutionally unable to stay out of school for very long (I’m also taking a Hebrew course), so giving me 10 000 pages to read and “There will be a test” is a means of making me happy.

      I don’t think I’d be happy converting less than fully halachically for various reasons. If I’m going to do this, I want to do it all the way.


      • I’m a professional academic, so I get the love of study! But I have concerns about Orthodoxy because it represents itself as the only “real” Judaism, and it’s not, by any means, the only “real” Judaism. I will be just as much a Jew, converting Reform, as you will be, converting Orthodox.

        The main reason I asked is that in my reading of your posts so far, especially about Shabbat, you seem to be very stressed about minute details that, for me, would really get in the way of my relationship with G-d and community, which is why I asked where the joy is for you.

        If you get fulfillment from a program of study, I would call that a form of joy. But the attitude that doing it “all the way” can only be done through Orthodoxy is the kind of attitude that I find rather off-putting and frankly sad.


  1. What can I say? It’s important to me to conform to the Orthodox view of halachic correctness for my own personal reasons. I wouldn’t say Reform converts are “not real Jews” or disparage your relationship to G-d, and I’m sorry you feel it’s sad and exclusionary, but I know there are issues with the wider Jewish community, and particularly since I’m so bound up with Israeli practice — where it is a huge issue — it’s important to me from that perspective and other perspectives. I would never presume to try to speak for anyone but myself in terms of my goals or ambitions.

    You’re also not getting the total story here because there are things I’m just not going to talk about in public, or not yet. That said, the Orthodox community here seems to be a better fit for me personally than the Reform community, and in my exceedingly limited experience, the Conservative community. I like the people, I love the services, which are sparse and traditional, and the rabbi is great, if overcommitted. I also already have a strong support network of Orthodox friends.

    I’m not so much stressing about Shabbat as I am sort of stress-testing it. I’m a technical writer in professional life, so “document everything in minute detail” is pretty well second nature for me. ^_^ Part of the reason I’m writing this stuff down in minute detail is so that I can monitor my progress, note areas of weakness and strength, and cultivate mindfulness in new habits (which, as I’ve said before is in my view central to Jewish practice). I’m doing it in public, as it were, because it’s easiest for me to write as if I’m writing for an audience.


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