Last week, I read an article by Azriela Jaffe, reprinted on JewishMom.com. I went to have a look at Azriela’s website to see what else she does, and found a link to “Making Chatzos”. Intrigued by the idea as I often find preparing for Shabbos unstimulating, which is why I make different food (OK, not that different, but not exactly the same each week) and postpone doing it.
Making chatzos means having everything ready for Shabbos by halachic midday, which, last week, was 12:11 in London, about 3 hours before Shabbos actually came in. Ideally one should have the table laid, urn, hot plate and slow cooker set up and possibly even have showered. Having the house clean was no problem as our cleaning lady comes on Friday and although she wouldn’t have finished by 12:11, she would be on the last stages.
I planned out a menu, shopped on Wednesday rather than Thursday and started baking on Wednesday afternoon. The rest of the family were completely underwhelmed! On Thursday I spent quite a lot of time cooking, leaving myself only the amount of cooking that I knew would fit into the morning for Friday.
The idea of being ready by chatzos is to have a calm and pleasant entry into Shabbos, and to bring Shabbos into the rest of the week. The chatzos website suggests that one tries it gradually, so although I thought it would be nice to lay the table, I concentrated on getting the food ready first.
I discovered several interesting facts:
- I had suspected for some time that if you spread out your Shabbos preparations over a longer time, you won’t actually end up doing the other things you would have done instead, had you just made Shabbos on Friday. I have now discovered, that at least in my case, it’s true.
- Our children need an adrenalin rush! When they came home and I was almost ready for Shabbos, they said, “What shall we do? This is really boring!” They created their own adrenalin rush by postponing showering till the last minute…
- Whilst I am not a very physically brave person, I also need an adrenaline rush…
- I am a very last minute person – I thrive on deadlines, which is why I enjoy working for a newspaper. Chatzos was an artificial deadline, not like Shabbos, so I found myself at a loose end on Friday afternoon and decided to cook another couple of things anyway – one of the main pitfalls the Chatzos website warns against.
- It might have been better to try this in the summer, when there was actually an afternoon to enjoy rather than just a couple of hours.
My husband is not a last minute person and I know that he finds my attitude a bit stressful sometimes. I had thought that he would appreciate a calmer Friday, but when I told him what I was doing, he asked, “Why would you want to do that?”
In fact the only person who actually appreciated my efforts was our Shabbos guest, who is herself a Chatzos lady. Having said that, I think I will try it again, although I’m not sure I want to commit to doing it every week. Aiming for 12:13 this week...