A Little Taste of Paradise

Yael Eckstein  |  June 12, 2020

Challah on a serving platter covered with a white and blue cloth.

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
— Psalm 95:1-2

This month, I’m sharing with you weekly devotions based on my book, Generation to Generation: Passing on the Legacy of Faith to Our Children. These devotions are tied to the biblical observance of the Sabbath, Shabbat, and explore the many lessons it has for us today.

I grew up in a very loving family. We enjoyed an abundance of love, but like many families today, we were very busy. My father woke up at 5 a.m. for prayer and Bible study, and then left for work so that he could be at the office by 7 a.m. My mother started her day a bit later, but once she got us off to school, she went to work as well.

My sisters and I had long days at a school that taught both secular subjects and Jewish studies. In addition, my parents dedicated their time and talents to volunteering in our community. My sisters and I participated in Jewish youth groups and after-school activities. Our lives were blessedly wonderful — and hectic.

In a sea of busyness, Shabbat was — and is — the anchor of my life.

No matter how busy our weeks were or how much my father had traveled — no matter what — he made it a priority that on Shabbat we were all together as a family. My mother cooked our favorite foods, baked challah (the traditional Sabbath bread), and cleaned our home from top to bottom. My father often played music to set the mood — traditional Jewish songs related to the Sabbath. As sundown drew closer, the tempo in the house quickened as we finished our final preparations.

Then, just before sunset, everything stopped and quiet set in. The music was turned off, the cooking was done, the house was ready. I stood with my mother as she lit the Shabbat candles and recited the traditional blessing welcoming the Sabbath. We kissed each other and wished each other Shabbat shalom, a Sabbath of peace.

My father left for synagogue, and I often went with him. We joined our community in soulful singing and worship. Friday night Shabbat prayers begin: “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song” (Psalm 95:1-2). Shabbat gave me time each week to reflect on God’s glory and His blessings.

Shabbat gave us permission to let go of our worries and fill our souls with godliness. Around the Shabbat table, we were unbound by weekday constraints and had limitless time to focus on God and each other. Jewish sages taught that the Sabbath is “a taste of the world to come.” Indeed, for us, it was — and is — a little taste of paradise.

Your turn: Download a complimentary sample of my new book, Generation to Generation, at generationbook.org to learn more about passing on our faith to the next generation.