Saturday, 29 March 2014
Tzeit ha- kokhavim in Somerset
We're current on 'manvers' in the wilds of the West Country, England ! We've had a great Shabbat stay with my sister, Esther,in Somerset and tomorrow, we are going to see my sister in Cornwall. Now there are very few Jews in Somerset, a beautiful part of Great Britain, btw, (see picture below), so aside from seeing my sister, this was also a 'pastoral' visit to encourage and support a fellow child of Israel.
I noted in my post below family is a key clue of the Jewish tradition. And boy was I NOT disappointed! We had a wonderful Friday Shabbat meal, the effects of the floods notwithstanding, thanks to my sister's culinary skill, with many moving songs and erudite Torah discussion. To me this reminds me of the story of Daniel, a young Jew who was part of the exile in Babylon. He had no Shul, he had no prayer group, no Jewish society and heaven forbid no Aish.com! But through G-d and Torah he grew and grew and grew! Such is how I have found my sister's family.
I usually have the time to check up the dates of the end of Shabbat beforehand. As I have had busy week, I have not been able to check this out and according to Talmudic tradition, we had to rely on Tzeit Ha-Kokhavim; that is the when the Sages said Shabbat ends (roughly 1 hour after sunset or when you can see 3 stars shining in the night). As my sister lives in a rural area, we all ventured out in the late evening to look at the sunset and to see if we could spot the stars in the night's sky. What a wonderful experience! To rely on the traditions, rather than a website, to see for ourselves the wonder of G-d's creation in the stars! In addition, this family experience has helped me become closer to my wayward teenage Gentile stepdaughter (although my wife is a convert, children of converts do not 'automatically' become Jews and therefore it is their choice of what to be), who for the first time called me 'dad', (: After a long and heartfelt conversations over the Friday night Shabbat table. We are both better off for these conversations and perhaps, just perhaps, she is going to explore G-d, Judaism and religion in general. I feel that I wish to end with the prayers of the evening, as is per our faith :
'Help us lie down O L-rd our G-d , in peace, and rise up, O our King, to life. Spread over us your Shalom. Shelter us in the shadow of your wings , for you, G-d, are a gracious and compassionate King. Guard our going out and our coming in, for life and peace, for now and forever. Blessed are you L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who makes the bonds of sleep fall on my eyes and slumber on my eyelids. May it be Your will, L-rd my G-d and G-d of my fathers, that you make me lie down in peace and arise in peace. Let not my imagination, bad dreams or troubling thoughts disturb me. May my bed be flawless before You. Enlighten my eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death, for it is You who illuminate the pupil of the eye. Blessed are You, L-rd , who gives light to the whole world in his glory'.
Ahmen and halleluyah