Anat Gopstein’s latest article in the women’s online publication Eshet:
“I want to leave the village, she said. After 13 years in the village, she wanted to leave it already, as quickly as possible. “On Friday it’s important for me to arrive before Shabbat to light the Shabbat candles. I remember Shabbat by my parents, my children don’t know what Shabbat is at all. Last week when the sun rose, I had tears in my eyes as I was reminded of my parents’ home, the Kiddush, the prayers.”
As she recalled Shabbat, I got very excited and asked my husband to make efforts to take her out of the village that same day. We’ve become used to it, Friday is no day off for us; its proximity to Shabbat arouses Jewish feelings. Between the cooking and preparations for Shabbat Kodesh, we have other business that we took upon ourselves – the redemption of captives.
To kop another mitzvah before Shabbat Kodesh, we make great efforts. The emergency apartment is always ready for the next case – room at home, room in the heart. For our Shabbat meal, everybody gets organized; there are more guests, our children greet them joyfully, help, assist, connect to the children. They’re already used to it; even the neighbors are involved, they ask and are interested in how they can help. I’ll never forget, on Erev Purim 3 years ago, I spent a whole day fasting for Ta’anit Esther at the police station with a girl who was attacked by a bus driver. I didn’t manage to prepare mishloach manot; I got to the reading of the Megilla with already prepared packages that I bought on the way home, and my heart was aching: How could I not have prepared the cakes for misloach manot in advance? Since then, I’ve tried to get ready in advance for Shabbat and holidays. Because here, everything happens unexpectedly, it’s impossible to know what will be by us and how we’ll cope with all the tasks.
Our work in Lehava has no timeout. There are no ‘normal’ hours for our children, Mother and Father consult, prepare and do everything together. Work that does not end with hard, complicated stories, because when there is a Jew in trouble, you try to do what you can. In a country that encourages assimilation and also persecutes you for your opinions, you also need to fight for your truth and for the fate of the State of Israel that tramples on Judaism. Are we a Jewish state, or a state of all its citizens?
We have taken a task upon ourselves that is not simple, that sucks you deep inside, and between home, work and mitzvah we remind ourselves all the time that mercy begins at home, with family and children; they will always come first. I try to feel them out, to understand how they feel about Abba and Ima usually being busy. Baruch Hashem, they do not feel neglected, even feeling as if they’re partners. They are interested, ask questions, offer help. The married children already have a standing bank order for donations to Lehava. They want to be part of the mitzvah of redemption of captives. We know that there is no mitzva to succeed; there is a mitzvah to DO. Baruch Hashem, we’ve managed to bring close Jews who are far away from Judaism, and that is our reward. I pray that Hashem gives us the strength to go on even further to act in His name, with love.
A blessed, peaceful Shabbat.