Ode to the shabbos couch
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude (hakaras hatov) to one of the unsung heroes of the Jewish world. It has provided an innumerable amount of happiness, relief, assistance and yes – meaning, to the many Jews who rely on its multi-purpose usage. It is without question a necessity to anyone who appreciates the importance of bringing enjoyment and honour to the holy and paramount pillar of Judaism – Shabbat (oneg shabbos).
I am talking of course about about the shabbos couch.
On any day of the week – it is merely a couch, and thus only lives up to simple defining purposes of providing a place to sit. In fact, the couch may even lead to sin – i.e. a place to watch television (if you have one), alienate yourself from your family, or simply a location to waste time when you could be instead doing something meaningful – like learning Torah (because G-d forbid you’re mevatel torah).
But all this changes on shabbos. Instead of acting as a vehicle for sin, the couch acquires a sort of shechinah, embodying an eternal and holy purpose of bringing G-d’s presence and kedusha into the world.
On shabbos, the couch can provide one with a multitude of luxuries, of which we in our self-entitled world deem as necessities. It is a place that brings comfort, which can allow you to focus on other things such taking in breast milk that is Torah from the Holy mother of all things (not Mary 😉 but rather Hakadosh Boruch Hu.. or Hi in this case ;))
I shall now do my best to outline the many things, characteristics & observations that show how a seemingly simple object of sitting transcends into a dynamic piece of awesomeness on the holy sabbath day.
A comfy place to sit & relax.
This is pretty obvious. If you have the option of sitting on a couch – you take it. Even if you have a really good looking chair with soft cushions – you’d still probably take the couch. Also…. No one wants to sit on those cheap and uncomfortable black folding chairs. Normal chairs just don’t cut it. It’s couches all the way, baby.
Though some people prefer sitting at table and reading (see gemara learners – cause unless you have some kind of tray table-like object that you can place your gemara on, it’s not optimal to have it on your lap… then again… if you have a shtender, you can perhaps sit on the couch and than angle the shtender towards you in sitting position.)
But for the most part, a couch is an optimal place to read. This can be done while sitting or lying down. However the latter option may result in one of the other characteristics listed below (of which could be either beneficial or harmful while reading).
And of course, this act of reading requires an object to be read (duh…). This can include seforim, books, coffee table books, the newspaper, shul newsletters and anything other learning material that allows you to greater enjoy your shabbos.
The luxury of a couch most definitely helps removes the element of being uncomfortable, thus allowing you to focus more on your material.
Talking at the table should be exclusively done during meal. Any talking otherwise should be on the couch. Like with reading, the comfort of the couch allows you to greater focus on the issues at hand. For example: say you’re doing kiruv – wouldn’t it be a lot easier to pamper your potential BTs with the comfort of a couch? – thus not only giving them a basic comfort allowing them to focus on the teachings of Torah BUT ALSO – planting a subconscious understanding that shabbos = comfort = there’ll be couches = 🙂
And it’s not like people don’t take advantage of these couch-shmoozing opportunities. I’ve been to homes where there’s a couch-shmoozing break in the middle of the meal. Heck if it was up to me, I’d set up my table so that it would be couch-friendly.
And it’s not only the couch – it’s the cushions, pillows and the blankets. I emphasize blankets because, even though it’s hard to believe that couches aren’t enough to provide comfort (especially after reading this post), sometimes it’s just not complete without a blanket. That is most certainly the case at my house. (Even though I personally prefer my housecoat or my Toronto Maple Leafs snuggie).
Everyone has a couch. Or should I say “couches”.
Seriously… name me one person or family that doesn’t have a couch. (Crickets…)
Heck… even some shuls have couches.
If you want even more proof, check out this post from FrumSatire that talks about how no matter what your income, you’ll still own an expensive leather couch.
It’s a fact – most people can’t live without a couch.
Ahh… Now this is what I’m talking about. Everyone loves their shabbos naps. And the couch loves them too.
Whether it’s a quick power nap before heading off to shul, a place where you dose off while trying to read a sefer but simply can’t keep your eyes open, or perhaps that extremely satisfying comatose nap, which you rightly deserve after a long week of work.
A bed for guests in need of a place to crash
And speaking of places to sleep – how clutch is it to have a couch if you or a guest you have, are in need of a place to sleep. Whether it’s planned or unplanned (the latter of which comes off as more satisfying), think of how reliable you can be with that luxury. Say you’ve had a bit too much to drink that night, or there’s a blizzard outside, or it’s too far to walk back to your place, or the shul/place you’re going to in the morning just happens to be closer where you are – as opposed to where you’re supposed to be, or maybe if you’re just straight-up tired, that couch quickly becomes your best friend.
The many types of couches
There’s rocking chairs, love seats, massive ones for like 3/4 people, lazyboys + as well as leather and other types material-made couches. Each type has it’s own general and personal benefits. One of those for the muti-person couches is the level of interaction between those occupying the couch. A shomer negiah Jew might prefer a larger couch so as to avoid the touching of the opposite gender. You could say the exact opposite – for couch size and non-shomer negiah yidden (all right ;)). This could also have an impact on families – notwithstanding the impact a couch can have on assisting and providing a luxury with all those kids running around.
And most of the time, no matter what kind or how many people can fit on it – you can almost guarantee that there will be fights between siblings, friends and even parents over who’s gonna sit on the couch (or where on the couch – à la Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory).
In conclusion, if what we say about shabbos being just a small taste of what the world to come will be like — just think about how awesome all comfy couches will be once you get there. 🙂
assuming you’ve been a good Jew 😉