Oh, friends – get ready to relish and delight in a Friday night meal that changed one man’s life. And of course, rightfully, I’m fully biased, as today’s author is someone I’ve known since he popped out of the womb and made me share Mom and Dad. ”No fair!” He’s my own brother, Brandon, so enjoy his words – and the picturesque graph he created – today.
I LOVE a good meal. I’m no foodie, but I am a guy who can be pleased very easily with a hot, hearty home-cooked meal. In this case, though, though, the meal was not one individual meal, but rather a meal that occurs every week in someone else’s home, in an entirely different city than my own. The meal in question is held at “Mama” Rachel’s home.
Mama Rachel is officially considered my sister-in-law’s husband’s mother. However, from the first moment we were introduced to the family, they immediately considered us family. The fact that they are Jewish and we are Christian didn’t make the slightest bit of difference at all. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say it’s made things even more interesting.
Shabbat dinner is the weekly meal held every Friday evening to kick off the Sabbath. The meal is prepared throughout the day, and enough food is made to not only feed everyone for that meal, but with enough leftovers to last into the next day as well. So, picture it with me: we ate holishkes (stuffed cabbage), potato burekas, various salads and pickled treats, rice and matzo ball soup, to name a few. And I devoured it all: the food and the experience and the people alike.
The first time we were invited to the meal, I was completely unprepared for the experience. Initially, everything seemed to be pretty normal. The table was set in a tradition way: a glass of wine, and at least two loaves of challah (representing the dual portion of manna that God provided for the Israelites in preparation for Shabbat in the desert).
And then the eldest son, Avi, prepared to give the blessing:
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe
hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz. (Amein).
who brings forth bread from the earth. (Amen)
If you’ve never had the experience of having your dinner blessed in Hebrew prayer, you’ve never lived. I sat down and listened to Avi give the blessing over the food. I watched him break apart the Challah bread, dipping it in the salt before passing a piece of it around to everyone seated at the table. And a moment of awakening occurred.
Immediately, I was transported back in time and location to a brand new world. I found myself standing among Moses, David and Solomon. I heard the teaching of the prophets, and the Hebrew language the apostles and Paul would have spoken. And I felt like I was taking the bread from Jesus himself. As the oldest son in the family, he too would have taken a loaf of Challah, broken it apart, and said “Take this in Remembrance of Me,” in his native tongue.
In this first Shabbat meal I finally began to UNDERSTAND an entire history and tradition behind each and every meal. And all of this in one Friday night meal.
Brandon is one of those really, really smart dudes who do things with their day job that they’re a) not necessarily supposed to talk about, and b) that their brilliant older sister doesn’t really understand anyway. Otherwise, Brandon is passionate about his wife, Melissa, their son, Jared, and their dog, Sugar. They live in Idaho Falls, Idaho and try their hardest to get Jared to wear Santa hats year-round.
BAM. Feel the love, share the love, people! What did you LOVE about Brandon’s Friday night of a meal experience? Encourage him now!