Andy Blumenthal
Leadership With Heart

Shabbat Menucha

Friday night–the start of the Shabbat–oh, thank G-d we made it (and TGIF).

Usually such a wonderful time to catch up on some extra sleep from the whole week of work.

But last night it’s different…the fire alarm suddenly comes alive and the voice over the loud speaker tells everyone to exit the building immediately.

It is 1:00 AM in the morning.

Worse, I was carrying a hefty cold all week, and had taken some NyQuil the prior evening, so when I am exiting down the stairs, my eyes where plastered half shut.

Also, there are a lot of retired and elderly people working their way out–many who can’t get around easily without canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, and it was awful to see these people struggling to get out in the middle of the cold, dark night.

When we were downstairs, there was so much confusion.

I am so drowsy, but I overhear the conversations around me:

So do you know where the fire is?

Another lady:

Do you like my Chanukah pajamas (yeah, I know it’s not Chanukah yet)?

A third person:

Was that the building manager on the speaker telling us to leave?

Another responding:

Maybe it was the fire department.

{Actually it was a recording}

Finally, the fire department clears us to go back upstairs and to lovely bed.

The fireman says that they don’t know what tripped the alarm and maybe it could happen again.

Hard to go back to sleep soundly after all this commotion.

3:00 AM–the alarm does go off again with the voice repeating over and over again to exit the building and do not use the elevators.

Oh no, not again–this time, we roll over and try desperately to just go back to sleep.

After about half an hour, the alarm goes silent, thank G-d!

4:30 AM or so (I can’t even tell anymore)–the alarm sounds for the 3rd time!

I grab some ear protection and throw it on my head and over both my ears.

I can still hear the screeching alarm and that darn robotic voice on the recording.

I press the earpieces tighter over my ears and drift in and out of a disturbed sleep.

7:30 AM and I awake feeling like a washed out schmatta.

What a night! Is this how they torture inmates to interrogate them and get the information they want.

Yes, sleep deprivation and loud blasting annoying sounds–I am familiar.

I make it to shul late this morning.

Falling asleep during the speech (not a reflection on the speaker), but the cold and sleepless night have me pooped.

I can still hear the speech and it’s about the Golden Calf and whether the whole congregation of Israelites was responsible or only the people that made and worshipped the molten image.

I’m so tired from the head cold, medication, and sleepless night, I almost feel myself jumping up from the chair and yelling:  I didn’t do it!

As tired as I am, luckily, I didn’t do that.

And then I drift off for a few more minutes of some, oh so cherished, Shabbat Menucha.

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is a dynamic, award-winning leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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