Short Friday

December 12, 2014

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, December 12, 2014.

Short Friday

It’s official: Today, Friday, December 12, is “Short Friday!”  With Shabbat Candle Lighting at 3:58 pm, and sunset 18 minutes later, this is the shortest Friday of the year.  (Last week, candle lighting was 3:59 pm) That means for traditional Jews, it's hard to get all one's work done before sunset, after which work is forbidden. Preparing for the Sabbath on such a short day has been such a trauma for traditional Jews, that it has inspired many stories and poems! Probably the most famous “Short Friday” stories are by the Yiddish writer. Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991), and by the Hebrew poet Hayyim Nahman Bialik (1873-1934). In Bialik’s satirical story, the devout Rabbi Lippo considers his overwhelming list of Short Friday tasks:

He was so strict with himself – afraid and trembling so much, lest he be even a moment late, G-d forbid – so that his whole day would be ruined: . . . midnight prayers in mourning for the destruction of Jerusalem: Tikkun Rachael and Tikkun Leah; Psalms with commentaries; murmurings before and after prayer; the daily prayers themselves; some chapters of the Mishnah; a little Gemara; two or three sections of the Shulchan Aruch; and finally some study in the weekly Torah portion. That much for HaShem. Now human tasks: the banquet of the heart – EATING! What else could one do? And in the afternoon, new responsibilities: a bath; trimming the fingernails; smoking a little tobacco in honor of the coming Shabbos. And on top of that, answering legal questions, and occasionally a rabbinic court. All in all, there’s no “Day” left, and you turn this way and that, and the sun is setting!

Shabbat Shalom