Bentch in the Box

One of the teens from my synagogue posted this recently on Facebook”

“Today, I built a fort out of cardboard boxes in my friend’s driveway. We made motzi and benched in that box, and it was perhaps my favorite benching experience of my entire life. I highly recommend it.”

And a response from someone else who was there:

“Best. Shabbos. Ever.”

You know what? I believe them. I believe that sitting in a box-fort in a driveway, eating bread and singing the blessing after meals really did comprise one of the best moments for them.

Never content to leave well-enough alone, I have to ask you guys, my faithful readers, what you think it was about that moment that made it so amazing. If we understand that, we might be able to help others find it too. Because that’s what EdibleTorah is all about: helping people find meaningful Jewish moments – especially when it includes food and engaging Jewish content.

I’m going to invite my teen friend to comment below (do I sound like Marlin Perkins from those Mutual of Omaha safari specials? “My assistant Jim going to try to coax the recalcitrant teen out of the mall using some bait – a $20 bill and the call “moooooveee moneeeey”. Watch out Jim, her sarcastic backtalk looks dangerous!”) but in the meanwhile I welcome everyone’s thoughts.

Was it more about the box fort, or the bentching, or the friends who were there?

Was the novelty the real hook, experiencing a familiar moment in unfamiliar surroundings?

If we set up a box fort in the synagogue parking lot, would it be one of those “feels insincere if you try to re-create it” moments? Is there an essence we can capture out of this?

What do you think?

4 Responses to “Bentch in the Box”

  1. Jillian says:

    I was there and also the teen who posted that on facebook. As anyone with teenagers knows (or should know), we love boxes and forts, so that was definitely part of it. Benching is fun too, especially with friends, in a box. You could probably recreate it, because boxes and friends will always be there to make Shabbat more meaningful.

  2. Shani says:

    I was there and this event took place in my driveway. (Our house was hit by lightning and it ruined some of our appliances like the stove and fridge. We got a new fridge and stove and the boxes were just lying there in the driveway, waiting for something to happen to them. When, like most weeks, my friends came to my house after shul, we made a fort out of the boxes and sat in them for hours. This is when the motzi and benching experience occurred.) I think that this exact experience cannot be recreated, but benching (or doing anything else) in cardboard boxes or other places that they do not usually happen is fun and highly recommended. We can try to recreate this experience because boxes and friends will always make Shabbat more meaningful.

    If you were there, you will understand this, if you were not there don’t try to, “One, Two, Three, (knock).”

  3. Aaron Chusid says:

    I wasn’t there, but think it sounds really cool.

    I think the defining feature of it was a genuine, meaningful “moment”, and would be concerned that anyone trying to replicate it besides those that were there would flatten out the meaningfulness by making it a “planned special moment”.

    You guys that were there could easily make it a tradition, invite your friends to join, etc., and your passion for the original event would spread.

    If I tried to get a bunch of teens from my temple to do the same thing, it would probably fail. Although it is giving me inspriation for non-traditional Sukkot events.

    What I got from it is the importance of creating a place, physical or social, where teens can create moments like these naturally, where they have full ownership of their spirituality without worrying about the boundaries and strictures of tradition, Halacha, or parental approval.

    I now sound exactly like my dad. I’m going to go get lunch.

  4. Shira says:

    I have a feeling that the enjoyment these teens got from their experience had more to do with the spontaneous play factor than anything else! It couldn’t be repeated, as such, although environments for other teens to ‘play’ with Torah/mitzvahs could certainly be engendered. The frum world tends to take a lot of the ‘play’ out by the time someone is a teenager, I think, and its wonderful that these teens were able to hold on to that. Children need to play, at any age… adults need to play more too! Its a fundamental way that we learn, whether we are learning how to be spiritual (bentching in a box), or learning life skills, play is the way to do it!

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