Menuchah and Watts

Every moment is precious and is the only thing we really have in this life.

I’ve been enjoying my Menuchas Hanefesh studies immensely.  The mindfulness that observance brings to everyday life was a big part of what initially drew me to Judaism and this study only digs deeper into that idea.

Interestingly enough, it also feeds into the work we’re doing with the Shabbat RV!

RV’s are a lot more complicated than we initially thought.  There are several different systems that help power things on the RV itself and banks of batteries that have to be re-charged and not allowed to get too low in charge.  We also have the challenge that, for now, we can only get 12 amps of power from an outlet that the Chabad house is very graciously letting us use.  The RV systems run on 30-50 amps and trying to plug directly into the 12 amp outlet means a breaker trips and we have no power.

To keep it simple, what this means is that we have to be VERY mindful of what power we are using.  We essentially run an extension cord to the RV and only plug in what is absolutely necessary.  We also need to have figured out before Shabbat what we will need to have running and get it all set up before candle lighting because we can’t really interact with any of the systems once Shabbat begins.  Even worse, if anything goes wrong and the breaker trips during Shabbat…that’s it.  No power for anything the rest of Shabbat.

We’re working on a longer term solution and planning to donate a few 50 amp circuits to the Chabad house so that not only can we plug in, but other RV users can also plug in easily.  Then, the Chabad house can charge people to RV camp there for Shabbat, so it could work out really well for us and also help them raise some money in the summers.  For now, though, we have to be mindful of every single amp and watt, which has me doing things like looking up exactly how much energy a crock pot of cholent does use versus how much energy a plata might use.  It’s important to be as efficient as possible and waste nothing.

I’m more used to my house where leaving a light on over Shabbat isn’t a problem at all and having a crockpot running for the last meal is something I don’t even really need to think about.  Now, though, I have to plan meals very carefully and make the most of natural light.  It’s a very interesting mental shift.  Also, living in the RV makes me more aware of exactly what is necessary versus what isn’t.  We don’t have extra space for things we don’t absolutely need and we also have little space for trash to pile up during Shabbat since, without an eruv, we can’t carry a bag of trash to the dumpster until after Shabbat.

It all comes down to being more mindful of exactly what is needed and what we can do without and living in that moment.  There are also wonderful things about being in the RV, too, and focusing on them can really help make the experience better than if I only focus on the challenges.  We’re so close to shul that the kids can stay and play with their friends a while after services.  There’s a wonderful cross-breeze through the RV in the afternoons when it’s warmer.  We’re so close together that having good family time is easier.  Most of all, there is the warmth from knowing that we’re doing what we can to really keep Shabbat.

Just as every watt counts, so does every moment and in every moment I have the choice to draw closer to G-d by my actions or further away.

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