A OneTable Valentine's Shabbat

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Ah, Saint Valentine, patron saint of epileptics and lovers both. Before flowers, chocolates, and promises you don’t intend to keep (shout out Cogsworth!) Valentine’s Day was the feast day of poor Val, who was martyred around 270 CE. If hagiography has it right, Valentine had the gall to perform marriages for Roman soldiers, unions that had been forbidden by Emperor Claudius II who thought attachment to wives and families prevented men from joining up. Legend also has it that Valentinus signed his farewell letter from jail Your Valentine before being clubbed to death and beheaded. Leave it to history to tinge modern day romance with a touch of the macabre. A millennium later, Valentine’s Day got its start as a celebration of romance not with the saint, but with a poem. In honor of King Richard’s marriage in 1382, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote some beautiful verses for the love birds, including: For this was on St. Valentine’s Day When every bird cometh there to choose his mate. By the 18th century, the feast day of Saint Valentine was marked as a day for lovers, who exchanged flowers, sweets, and cards that came to be known as Valentines. So what is Jewish about Valentine’s Day? A lot, actually, particularly its potential as a day to flip the script — let go of cards, candy, coupledom, and capitalism — and love each other and the world just a little bit more. If you feel the urge to buy flowers, consider donating the money you would have spent on a bouquet to an environmental cause of your choice. The draw towards chocolate, with which we deeply empathize, could instead be an opportunity to learn more about cocoa farming in West Africa, where approximately 2 million children live in indentured servitude harvesting cocoa. However you celebrate, we hope this guide helps you honor love in all its varied expressions. Happy Valentine’s Day, and as always, Shabbat shalom.


LIGHT Lighting Shabbat candles symbolizes the last act of the work week and connects us to passages in the Torah, the Hebrew Bible, that remind us to keep and remember Shabbat.

.‫הָ ע לָ ם אֲשֶׁ ר ִק ְדּשָׁ נוּ ְבּ ִמ ְצ תָ יו וְ ִצוָּנוּ ְלהַ ְד ִליק נֵר שֶׁ ל שַׁ בָּ ת‬

ֶ‫א הֵ ינוּ מֶ ל‬ ֱ ‫אַ תָּ ה יְ ָי‬

‫בָּ רוּ‬

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat. Blessed is the One who makes us holy through commandments and commands us to kindle the light of Shabbat.


What sound was that? I turn away, into the shaking room. What was that sound that came in on the dark? What is this maze of light it leaves us in? What is this stance we take, To turn away and then turn back? What did we hear? It was the breath we took when we first met. Listen. It is here.


BLESSING ONE ANOTHER In Jewish tradition, celebrations often begin with blessing those present, a reminder that while the festive season holds space for us to feel blessed, we are also empowered to bless others. We invite you to turn to another guest and offer one of the blessings below, or whatever good wishes are in your heart.

‫יְ בָ ֶר ְכ יְ הוָה וְ יִ ְשׁ ְמ ֶר‬ ָ‫ אֵ לֶ י וִ יחֻ נֶּךּ‬ ‫יָאֵ ר יְ הוָה פָּ נָיו‬ ‫יִ שָּׂ א יְ הוָה פָּ נָיו אֵ לֶ י וְ יָשֵׂ ם ְל שָׁ לום‬ Y’varechicha Adonai v’yishmirecha Ya’eir Adonai panav eilecha vichuneka Yisa Adonai panav eilecha v’yasem l’cha shalom May you be blessed and guarded May you know favor and grace May you give and receive kindness and peace

A Traditional Scottish Blessing May the blessing of light be on you — light without and light within. May the blessing of the rain be on you — may it beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean. And may the blessing of the earth be on you — soft under your feet as you pass along the roads, soft under your body as you end your day.


WINE Kiddush allows us to sanctify time. We bless wine, we bless Shabbat, and we remember: We are partners with God in the ongoing process of creation and recreation, building a better world week after week, year after year.

ֱ ‫אַ תָּ ה יְ ָי‬ . ‫א הֵ ינוּ מֶ לֶ הָ ע לָ ם בּ ֵרא ְפּ ִרי הַ גָּפֶ ן‬ .‫בָּ רוּ אַ תָּ ה יְ ָי ְמקַ ֵדּשׁ הַ שַׁ בָּ ת‬

‫בָּ רוּ‬

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’olam borei p’ri ha’gafen. Baruch Atah Adonai m’kadesh ha’Shabbat. Blessed is the One who creates the fruit of the vine. Blessed is the One who sanctifies Shabbat.

A TOAST ON VALENTINE’S DAY Litany By Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife, The crystal goblet and the wine… — Jacques Crickillon You are the bread and the knife, the crystal goblet and the wine. You are the dew on the morning grass and the burning wheel of the sun. You are the white apron of the baker, and the marsh birds suddenly in flight. However, you are not the wind in the orchard, the plums on the counter, or the house of cards. And you are certainly not the pine-scented air. There is just no way that you are the pinescented air. It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge, maybe even the pigeon on the general's head, but you are not even close to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show that you are neither the boots in the corner nor the boat asleep in its boathouse. It might interest you to know, speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world, that I am the sound of rain on the roof. I also happen to be the shooting star, the evening paper blowing down an alley and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table. I am also the moon in the trees and the blind woman's tea cup. But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife. You are still the bread and the knife. You will always be the bread and the knife, not to mention the crystal goblet and — somehow — the wine.


BREAD Blessing the bread we eat is a way to acknowledge our interconnectedness, our dependence on each other for the goods that enrich our daily lives.

‫א הֵ ינוּ מֶ לֶ הָ ע לָ ם בּ ֵרא ְפּ ִרי הַ גָּפֶ ן‬ ֱ ‫אַ תָּ ה יְ ָי‬ .‫בָּ רוּ אַ תָּ ה יְ ָי ְמקַ ֵדּשׁ הַ שַׁ בָּ ת‬

‫בָּ רוּ‬

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’olam borei p’ri ha’gafen. Baruch Atah Adonai m’kadesh ha’Shabbat. Blessed is the One who creates the fruit of the vine. Blessed is the One who sanctifies Shabbat.

TO CELEBRATE NOURISHMENT ON VALENTINE’S DAY A Love Song for Lucinda by Langston Hughes

Love Is a ripe plum Growing on a purple tree. Taste it once And the spell of its enchantment Will never let you be. Love Is a bright star Glowing in far Southern skies. Look too hard And its burning flame Will always hurt your eyes. Love Is a high mountain Stark in a windy sky. If you Would never lose your breath Do not climb too high.


GRATITUDE AT THE END OF THE MEAL . ָ‫וְ אָ כַ ְלתָּ וְ שָׂ בָ ְעתָּ וּבֵ ַר ְכתּ‬ V’achalta v’savata u’varachta. When you have eaten and are satisfied, bless. — Deuteronomy 8:10 It’s a remarkable thing that Jewish tradition seeks to inspire us to be present before we eat, and all the more so that we are then directed to acknowledge our gratitude after we eat, not for the food itself, but for the incredible feeling of being full. At this time of year, perhaps more than any other, the notion of being sated is powerful. What does it mean to truly be fulfilled? In Hebrew, the root of the word for fulfillment — to be whole, to be complete — is shalom, the same as the word for peace. May we find peace, a whole and complete peace. May we be fulfilled, not only by our food, but by our family and friends, by our actions and our words.

.‫ָרחֲמַ נָא מַ ְלכָ א ְדעַ ְלמָ א מַ ֵריה ְדהַ אי ִפיתָ א‬

‫ְבּ ִרי‬

Brich rachamana malka d’alma marei d’hai pita. We are blessed with compassion by the One who sustains us with bread.

YOUR VALENTINE I Love You by Carl Sandburg

I love you for what you are, but I love you yet more for what you are going to be.I love you not so much for your realities as for your ideals. I pray for your desires that they may be great, rather than for your satisfactions, which may be so hazardously little. A satisfied flower is one whose petals are about to fall. The most beautiful rose is one hardly more than a bud wherein the pangs and ecstasies of desire are working for a larger and finer growth. Not always shall you be what you are now. You are going forward toward something great. I am on the way with you and therefore I love you. 7