A husband and wife are very much in love. They have wonderful children, but the mort- gage is overdue, she just got laid off, the car won’t start (again), checks are bouncing, at least the dog and cat get along.
One day a stranger comes to their door while they are cooking out in the backyard and asks for some food. The wife immediately asks the stranger in, the children set a place for the stranger and everyone sits down to share their meager dinner.
To thank his hosts for the meal the stranger begins to tell stories of great adventures and peril to the children entertaining everyone into the night. By the time the stranger is out of stories it is very late and the family invites the stranger to stay the night.
In the morning, the family wakes up to delicious smells coming from the kitchen. But, the stranger is nowhere to be found. He must have been up most of the night cooking steaks, breads and exotic pastries for the family.
No note, where did all the food come from, no sign that he was even there, nothing, what happened to the stranger the family asks? The father can’t even remember what the stranger looked like. The children recall the wonderful stories but can’t remember the stranger’s voice.
Was he really here? Who was he? He must be real, who made the wonderful food? Confused, the family goes about their day.
As evening comes, the mother remembers that it’s Friday. They haven’t celebrated Shabbat in some time, but today she takes out the candles, her finest china and puts together a meal from the food the stranger left them.
The father and children come home in miserable moods. They can’t remember any- thing about the stranger, work and school were horrible.
As they walk into the house and the smell of the stranger’s wonderful food hits their noses and they see the table set with the fine china and the Shabbat candles ready to be lit. A smile comes over all their faces and everyone feels content.
The candles are lit, the prayers recited and they start to enjoy their meal. Their worries are all but forgotten, the children take turns reciting the stories that the stranger told them last night, the husband and wife look at each other with nothing but pure love. For one night there are no worries, no troubles, it’s Shabbat.
This week’s Parshat is Tzav. We learn how the priests are instructed to also keep the sacrificial fires burning.
The fire shall be burning always upon the altar; it shall never go out. Leviticus 6:6
Today, in our world, the sacrificial fire is kept burning by celebrating Shabbat and follow- ing our rituals. It could be davening, it could be wearing a kippah, it could be Tzedakah, or it might be as simple as lighting the Shabbat candles.