When I came downstairs on Shabbos morning, my 3 year old showed me excitedly what she found in the kitchen drawer. It was a lavender colored flower shaped cookie cutter. She was over the moon with joy. “Mommy, let’s make cookies!” She wanted to use it right away. I had a dilemma. We don’t make cookies on Shabbos. Throughout the week we cook and bake, many times together, and make delicious food as we prepare for Shabbos. Then on Shabbos we don’t cook or bake and we enjoy what we have created throughout the week. I wanted to explain this to her but I knew that her pristine 3-year-old brain wouldn’t be able to comprehend it. We love cooking together. In fact, that’s how she broke her arm a couple months ago, flying off her chair at the counter while rolling out pizza dough. Thankfully, that didn’t stop her love of creating in the kitchen together! I didn’t want Shabbos, this precious gift we have each week, to be the reason for her sadness, and possibly tantrum, that morning. We were also getting ready to leave for shul and I didn’t want that to be my excuse to say no either. What did I tell this sweet child? I said, “Mommy loves making cookies with you! We can’t today, let’s make cookies together another day.” Was she upset? Yes, but we made it through.
We have lots and lots of mitzvos that Hashem gave us. Why so many commandments?? They are tools that to the extent we tap into them, can help us actualize our potential and become our best selves. I may not understand as an adult why some of the mitzvos are good for me, just as my child does not. But I know there is a bigger picture and they can be sweet. Instead of blaming the rules for not letting me do what I want, I look for the sweetness and I try to explore the why.
Most days, I love being productive and getting stuff done. It brings me energy and joy. On Shabbos however, there is a lot of productivity I hold back from on Shabbos. I don’t stress over the mess in the kitchen or the toys. Any laundry that was not put away, I leave it be. Instead I look for how I can make Shabbos sweet for me too. I enjoy curling up with a meaningful book, or sitting down to play a game with family and friends. I also find it liberating to put everything else aside and give myself permission to spend time, enjoy and relax.
My 3 year old, if you ask her, cannot tell you why NOT making cookies on Shabbos is good for her. My goal as she grows up, is instead of focusing on all the things she cannot do, she should appreciate this gift and experience how sweet Shabbos really is.