Shabbat in Tel Aviv

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Yisrael Zeira and his wife Moriah moved to Tel Aviv a number of years ago and founded the "Rosh Yehudi" community for young professionals. We were privileged to be there for Shabbat. Among my experiences and impressions were the following:

• Kabbalat Shabbat at Dizengoff Square. Next to the famous fountain, we saw hundreds of people in festive Shabbat clothes, including some singers and dancers who happened by. When I expressed astonishment at the unusually large and diverse crowd, I was told that on Yom Kippur more than 1,000 people had prayed there. "Even in the city that never rests, a pause is needed," Moriah said.

• The Shabbat evening meal continued until three in the morning. The Shabbat day meal continued until five in the afternoon. There were dozens of guests and round after round of introductions were made, along with very personal discussions, and I could not help but notice how much fun everyone was having sitting together once again. When those at the table began to share what happened to them during the year of the corona, I suddenly understood that all of us are carrying a burden in our souls. Each of us experienced things that were just not normal. A young woman sitting next to me told the story of making a seder all alone in her rented apartment. It was only her and her dog. She said she had remarked to God that "ever since we left Egypt, you never saw a Seder night like this."

• The world of bachelorhood. I spoke on Shabbat with dozens of single men and women. This is truly the topic of the day in Tel Aviv. Rabbi Asaf Tabachnik spoke on Shabbat morning about commitment in these words: "Every serious matter demands commitment -- Shabbat, marriage, Torah study, character refinement. Perhaps this analogy will help: think about the difference between rent and a mortgage payment. I pay rent monthly, but can announce any time that I am canceling the contract. My rent payment does not represent a long-term commitment. To make a monthly mortgage payment, on the other hand, means I am building something here for the long term, and so the money that I pay each month does not disappear. Instead, it builds the foundation of a home that will ultimately be mine alone. This is true not only in real estate, but also in personal life. It makes sense to look for long term investments that demand commitment."

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