Posted in Shabbat

Shabbos with the Seals

Ivanka Trump, daughter of the more famous Donald Trump, recently opened up about her conversion to Judaism. In the article, she describes how her family disconnects every Saturday for Shabbos and just spends the day together. No phones, computers, nothing. Just pure, beautiful, joyful family time.

I was so inspired that I decided to make every Saturday “Family Day” in my own household. The experiences have been incredible. As we rush through a very busy week, now my family pauses to look at the wall calendar and counts down until Shabbat. That one single day that is carved out of the rest of the week. The one day where you can count on lighting the candles, eating delicious food, saying our prayers, and then spending the entire day together out and about.

Today was no different. As the morning sun peaked out over the trees my child came bouncing into my bedroom. “Family day!!!” she sang and beamed with joy. It always makes me grin to see her face light up. After a filling breakfast we headed outdoors and off on a simple, yet adventurous excursion. While much of the country is still battling the last bits of winter, here on the West Coast we are so thankful for feeling the first promises of Spring. The flowers are budding, the air is starting to warm,  and all around us the animals are starting to give birth.

As we piled into the car my family and I were giddy with excitement. Today we were going to see elephant seals. Way up on the Northern coast lies a small, protected beach where the elephant seals come to birth before migrating South again. This month is the peak time to see the new babies being born. My little sat patiently in the backseat during the long drive up the coast, but thankfully there was so much marine life to look at, no one was bored. Pulling into the gravel parking area we nearly jumped out of the car we were so excited. All along the boardwalk tourists stood in awe of creatures so beautiful and majestic. There were tons of babies all snuggled into the sand. Weaved in between were the tired mothers. Every now and then a baby would try scooting away towards the ocean but a mother would come over quickly and nudge the baby back to shore. (Perhaps mothering is a natural instinct after all!).

Elephant seals on the beach. The largest ones are male.
Elephant seals on the beach. The largest ones are male.

Meanwhile the fathers lumbered beneath the sand and surf on their own. These massive 1500 pound creatures were undeniably the most beautiful to look at. Beyond their sheer size the males would take their giant flippers and dig into the sand before literally flinging piles of sand over their bodies to cool off from the hot sun. Brilliant, right?

All along the beach, what looked like piles of sand were massive elephant seals!
All along the beach, what looked like piles of sand were massive elephant seals!

Standing beneath the warm, Sun I paused for a moment to give thanks for the simple pleasures of life. So often we are running around doing things we need to do. But when we take time, especially time during Shabbos to truly embrace the meaning of rest and relaxation, we rejuvenate our souls. Facing the vast Pacific Ocean I silently said the Shehecheyanu.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam,
shehechehyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

Our praise to You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of all:
for giving us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this season.

Thank you G-d for allowing us to have little moments that take our breath away. Thank you for allowing us to feel the beauty of life and all its wonder. Thank you for giving our children enriching experiences and putting creatures on Earth so mighty and majestic that centuries later we still stand in awe of their wonder. Thank you G-d for the gift of life. It is truly precious.

You’re right, Ivanka, disconnecting is the perfect way to celebrate Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom everyone! Have a wonderful, blessed day!

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