When the Bal Shem Tov journeyed from shtetl to shtetl in eastern Europe, he was usually accompanied
by a before, during and after mystical story. His disciples must have inherited that same predisposition
from him. when a Traveling Chassid travels,
extraordinary stories are always unfolding along the way.
The current episode began with an invitation extended to the Traveling Chassidim group to a Shabbaton in Staten Island, NY. The trek from Suffern to Staten Island is not that great a
distance on the GPS, but culturally they are worlds apart. So, as faithful Chassidim would do, they
packed their bags, shtreimels and all, and off they went.
Friday night dinner at a Shabbaton is usually a communal event. To maximize the effectiveness
of the visit, the community organizer tries to seat all, guests amongst the members of the host
Charisma doesn't hurt when you’re trying to connect with strangers. Neither does friendly, outgoing,
humorous, pleasant, or personable. The Rabbi Chossid possessed all those innate traits and more. So, it
really didn’t matter much to him whom he will meet.
As destiny would have it the Rabbi was assigned to a table with Randy and Michelle and their two
children. Randy was much more reserved and a lot less talkative than him. Initially, the arranger didn't
think that the two would be a good fit for each other.
At the Shabbos morning meal, the crowd is much smaller. Only a few families get together in individual
homes. The Rabbi was invited by his host; however, he had one request. He asked his host to invite
another couple from the community as well. It should have come as no surprise to him when Randy his
wife and two kids showed up. In this smaller, more intimate setting Randy warmed up to the Rabbi and
had a nice long conversation with him over the Shabbos meal. Afterward, they exchanged numbers and
promised each other that they would keep in touch.
The Rabbi was under the impression that he had really connected and bonded with him and kept trying
to call and text Randy, but the latter wasn't responsive at all.
A year later the travelling Chassidim were invited back to the same community in Staten Island. Before
arriving, the Rabbi got a call from Randy who profusely apologized for ignoring the Rabbi saying:
“That he would love to reconnect again, given the opportunity”.
This time a mutually rewarding partnership developed between them and they started learning together
One day Randy tells the Rabbi that he would like to start keeping Shabbos and asked for instructions on
how to start.
The Rabbi then proceeded to outline for Randy the steps he needs to take to welcome the gift of the
Shabbos Queen into his home.
Clear the table completely of any clutter that may be on it
Cover the table completely with a sparkling clean white tablecloth
Place two fresh homemade only challahs on the table
All family members must be freshly showered and dressed in their nicest set of clothing.
Light 7-inch candles that are placed in candlesticks with a mandatory height of 9-inches
To help Randy create an irresistible ambience in his home that he would want to recreate in the future
the Rabbi sarcastically suggested:
“Authentic orthodox tradition dictates that the challahs must be baked at home on Friday and the
candles must be tall and placed on the table. “No tealights on the windowsill”.
Randy followed the steps as prescribed and the aura of this beautiful, serene deliciously smelling
atmosphere of his home on that Friday night was something he didn’t want to give up on the next Friday
night or the one after that. And that is how Randy, and his family became full-fledged Shomrei Shabbos.
The following year Randy called the Rabbi to invite him to his home for the annual community
Shabbaton event. Randy understood that for this arrangement to be feasible to the Rabbi he would have
to make his kitchen kosher. He was ready for that commitment and the Rabbi went down to his home to
help him make all his kitchen utensils and gadgets kosher.
On the following Shabbos, the Rabbi and his wife happily joined Randy as guests in his home. The
Rabbi’s wife dressed in her finest, covered her eyes as she said the blessing on the tealights that she lit
on Randy’s windowsill.