One of the happiest moments for me as a Rabbi is to stand with a couple under the Chuppah. One of the harder times is when a couple tells me they are dealing with marital problems. Marriage is not always easy.
Judaism offers spiritual practices to help couples deepen their relationship. Once a week eat a candlelight dinner. Ideally, the best time for a candlelight dinner is Friday night Shabbat. Even if you are having takeout pizza with the children, eating by candlelight transforms the atmosphere from a meal to an occasion.
I also recommend couples, once a week, drink a glass of wine or grape juice. Ideally use the same kiddush cup that you used under the chuppah, in order to weekly taste a bit of the original sweetness of the wedding. Ideally, do this on Friday night to ease the transition from the work week to Shabbat, weekend and family time.
Once a week eat comfort food. I recommend warm challah from the oven. I take store-bought challah, wrap it tin foil and place it in a hot oven for 10 minutes. It transforms into a warm yummy loaf. When served with butter that melts into the bread, I find the tensions of the past week also melt away.
Candles, Wine and Challah, once a week, are medicine for the soul. Eating a relaxed meal with your beloved or your family can be very helpful for your family’s spiritual life. For those who live alone, let us at the Temple be your family. Every week, on Friday night we light candles, drink wine and eat challah together. No one needs to be alone on Shabbat. We are here for each other. Please join us.
Last week the Jewish People observed Tisha B’Av, (the 9th of Av), a “Break-down” in the relationship between the Jewish people and God. According to Midrash (Jewish legends), this is the day we were given the punishment to wander in the desert for 40 years. One week later on the Jewish calendar is the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Av (the 15th of Av), a time of “Making-Up.” This is when God and the Jewish people fall in love again and renew the relationship. This is when the 40 years of wandering in the desert ended.
Tu B’Av, is the holiday of the full moon of summer. In the ancient Land of Israel, this was a festival celebrating the beginning of the grape harvest. This was a Biblical Sadie Hawkin’s Day, when women in white dresses would go out dancing in the vineyards, at night under the full moon of Tu B’Av, and the women would choose their husbands! Yes, this is an example of feminism in the Bible! Women would choose their marriage partners!
Today in Israel, Tu B’Av is celebrated as the Jewish Valentine’s Day and as a Wine Festival. In this spirit, I invite you to come tonight to the Temple with your favorite bottle of wine to drink and share. We will provide the glasses. In honor of the Jewish wine holiday of Tu B’Av, we will make Kiddush at the beginning of the service, when we light the candles. This way we can enjoy delicious wine together under the full moon of summer. Our service will feature love songs in celebration of the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Av. May Tu B’Av be a time of renewal of love and good wine for all of us.
I hope to see you tonight.
Rabbi David Wilfond