The hurt was terrible.
I cried my pain, and then I stopped, and moved on, because Shabbos was coming. I turned on the flame and spread a clean tablecloth. I put out two candlesticks.
My thoughts moved to the silver plate in the cabinet. Then they turned away. I couldn’t bear to look at it. To see it would be the cutting knife of warmth remembered… of caring cut, stopped… a cruel slap in the face, that’s all it would be. I couldn’t take it.
And yet…. When I was all ready for Shabbos, rushing and scrambling to make up for the time lost on tears… and my fingers shakily screamed to light the match in time… lit the flames, made the bracha, Shabbos was here…
And I opened the cabinet, and took out a nice dish, that Shabbos might be beautified…My hand reached once more onto the shelf, and took out the small silver plate.
I put it down on the table, on top of the white china dish, on top of the white lace tablecloth.
It was Shabbos.
I barely made it through davening. I was exhausted. Kabalas Shabbos. Ma’ariv. There was no strength for Shalom Aleichem. But… if I would say Shalom Aleichem, I would get to say barchuni l’shalom. The thought helped me get through it. Barchuni l’shalom, angels of peace… barchuni l’shalom, barchuni l‘shalom! I closed my eyes in a stolen moment of concentrated agony before the white oblivion of exhaustion returned. Eishes Chayil would have to wait. I was finished, wiped.
I poured the wine into the plastic cup. The weight of the heavy task before me rolled over my shoulders. I lifted my kos in my hand-
A siddur. I put down the cup, grabbed my siddur, and fumbled for the page. Memories came back, memories of kideishim past. Of being alone, in the semi darkness of my room… or alone, in some corner, stolen away…. Of times when I was slightly at peace, able to retreat into myself and my own small corner of life… of making my own Kiddush and holding onto that tightly.
Something felt, a spark of something special, something incredible jumping off the page, into my eyes and into my heart. I touched the memory of eyes closing in surprised concentration, of repeating words that contracted my chest, squeezed my heart, flooded golden awareness through my mind.
But I had no mind now. I didn’t. There was nothing…. Nothing here for me.
But I would try. I looked at the page and mumbled through the words.
They slipped through my lips and tumbled through my foggy mind. The words were nothing to me. They did not hold me, and I could not hold them. They were words, only words, and I could not know them.
Something held me, stopped me – my lips were silent, I looked back at the page, I had to- Be’ahava.
Yes, that was the words I had just heard, a whisper of a mumble, a black blur on white page.
What is this… what was this…
The word caught me, held me, and- I had to know its meaning.
I looked back at the beginning of the bracha, a fierce appeal of desire cloaking the paragraph that began who has sanctified us with his commandments, and desired us, Desired us???
Yes. Desired us.
The words fell heavily into my brain, tickled my veins and tumbled into my heart. He… He wanted us.
And… and His holy Shabbos, with- with love and desire, he has bequeathed us,
I stuttered and stopped again, disbelief turning the fog to confusion. Say it again, say the words again.
Yes, with love.
Yes, Tirtzah, with desire.
With love and desire He has bequeathed to us.
My eyes moved over the phrase again, and my lips repeated the phrase again, and- And again, and again, and again…until my ears heard the words, and my mind understood, and-
And my eyes suddenly knew what my mind barely could, and they filled, with pain and agony turned to terrible release-
He gave us a gift, this gift of Shabbos, out of love. Because He wants us – Me, Tirtza.