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Isn't it pretty?

Monday, January 03, 2005

The Machlis Family

Inspired by a new blog dedicated to the Machlis family of Jerusalem, I wanted to share a memorable moment from my past. Aish Hatorah has written a couple beautiful articles about this incredibly special family, but I thought I would add my two cents as well. I traveled to Israel for the first time in July 1997. It was a trip of firsts - my first trip overseas, my first exposure to Orthodox Judaism, my first Shabbos, the first time I spent time in a place where there were more than a handful of Jews. During that month, I went through so many experiences that I then had to take home and integrate into my life. One of those experiences was the beauty of Shabbos. I was fortunate to stay in the Old City of Jerusalem for one Shabbos of that month. On the following New Year's Eve, when asked what the most memorable day of my year had been, that Shabbos was the first day that came to mind. After watching the sun set over the Kotel (which can't be described in words), a few friends and I traveled to Ma'alot Dafna, where the Machlis's live. They have an open home on Shabbos, and many, many people take them up on their hospitality each week. We arrived along with about a hundred other people. Tables were crammed into every corner of the modest apartment. Children ran around singing songs and welcoming all the guests. Tons of food was prepared for the meal. The apartment held a very recent addition that week - air conditioning to help cool down the extremely hot Jerusalem summer. It was pumping hard, doing it's job, until it hit a snag. All the lights in the apartment went out. There were a few gasps from the guests, and we sat in the dark. Instead of getting upset or panicking, since nothing could be done on Shabbos, Rabbi Machlis stood up and asked everyone to be calm. He then began speaking about how lucky we were that the lights were out. He spoke about how lucky we were to have this opportunity to really appreciate the beauty of the Shabbos candles that his wife had lit in honor of Shabbos. How they illuminate and usher in Shabbos the way Hashem illuminates our soul. Wow. I am still speechless when I remember those beautiful moments and the incredible perspective Rabbi Machlis shared with us. The lights came back on a few minutes later but I kind of wished they had stayed off. That night was certainly one to remember.


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