Did… Did you REALLY just ask that? SWEET!!!

“So, Dad — what’s your favorite equation?”

Wow! Has ever a father received a more inviting or wonderfulicious question during dinner on a Friday night!?! 🙂

Seriously, I cannot explain how excited I was to hear that question. My kids and I have talked about that subject before, and I have discussed it here on this blog, as well (right here and here). For those who did not read that post a couple of years ago, my favorite equation is…

e^{i\pi}+1=0

[As I added last time, in the event that your browser cannot display the equation above, it should say e ^ (i π) + 1 = 0, where “π” is pi and “^” indicates “raised to the power of”.]

I know it is not very original for a mathematician to claim that particular equation as his favorite, but it is and I have to be honest (there is a commandment about that, you know). Besides, it’s hard to beat Euler’s little gem. (Again, you can read my previous ranting and raving here and here).

Anyway, this led to all sorts of great follow up questions and discussions, including walking around on the floor discussing what it could mean to take “i steps”. (The kids and I have discussed this before, but it has been a while.) What a great Sabbath start, at least according to our tastes. 🙂 Discussing the creation is always a pleasant and appropriate Sabbath activity, and I do think mathematics is a beautiful part of that creation — one of my favorite parts, in fact.

All of this leads me to my question for you… A common question to ask for Tabletopics at Spokesman Club meetings is, “What do you do in your family to make the Sabbath special?” I must frankly admit that my family currently has no special routine or frequent Sabbath activity, and tonight’s mathematical adventure was a wonderfully pleasant but entirely random occurrence.

But what about you? If you have a family — especially if you have children, but also if you do not — do you have any special Friday night or Sabbath morning tradition? If you’re single, feel free to jump in, as well.

Not looking for anyone to seize an opportunity to “out-righteous” everyone else (“Why, I recite the Psalms from memory to orphaned children while cuddling the foster kittens I am voluntarily rearing to serve as comfort for lonely seniors…”) — just curious to know what folks out there are doing! Feel free and comment below.

Regardless of your answer, have a wonderful Sabbath!

8 thoughts on “Did… Did you REALLY just ask that? SWEET!!!

  1. A chance to relax. To get away from the business of everyday life. To enjoy a little peace and quiet. Extra time with family and friends. And to hit the snooze button, so I can sleep in.

  2. I’m a single guy, and Friday night is usually my nicest meal of the week. I make a complete dinner most weeks, and fall on my knees in a prayer of thanksgiving by the kitchen table when it’s almost ready.

    (By the way, that dinner usually allows me leftovers for several days in the following week!)

    But what I do is puny in comparison to what I heard some families describe, at the Feast site I attended this past year. They light candles, with Biblical meanings for each one. They recite the “shema” prayer of the Old Testament. They seek forgiveness for each other’s sins of the past week, before dinner. They sing songs of thanks to God after dinner. And so on.

  3. When I was younger, we’d have a special family dinner (complete with fancy after-dinner mints). While we’d eat dinner together most nights, this was the night to bring out the “good” plates and napkins, and my mother would cook something a little more fancy. On Saturday morning, my dad would cook a big breakfast for us, and just before leaving for services, he’d gather us around the living room for a family prayer. Nothing terribly unique, but it certainly made Friday nights and Saturdays stand out from the other days of the week.

  4. Summer

    Mr. Smith, thank you for giving me a view into what my Friday night conversations will be like when Ben and I have little ones. Does your wife share the same enthusiasm for math as you?

  5. Howdy, Summer, and no she doesn’t. But — that said — she does find our math conversations interesting.

    Actually, I just now turned and asked her your question directly, and here is her answer: “It’s like any ‘married thing’ — it grows on you. It’s like you knowing more about quilting — or anything that I do — than most men because of me.” (Of course, by “you” she means me and by “me” she means her — but you got that, didn’t you?) 🙂

    So, there you have it!

  6. I’ve favored that equation since Mr Stinger mentioned it in Calculus 2(?) in AC/AU. I appended it to my name as a suffix in joke as a classmate appended his fullname with “I” (the first), as in Smith, I. I’d be Lyndell, e ^ (i pi) + 1. Yes, he’s a Smith.

  7. rakkav

    While my favorite number is and always will be phi — (1 plus the square root of 5)/2 [there’s something about Euler’s constant that’s just too esoteric for me] — my favorite equation DEFINITELY is e = mc^2. 😀 Not an original preference either, but that equation really rocks. (Is it any surprise that I’m a frustrated wannabe demolitions expert?)

    What Richard describes is taken from Rabbinic or Messianic Jewish practice, almost certainly. I don’t have a good recording of the Shema Yisrael according to its original melody (Suzanne Haik-Vantoura produced it in 1976, but the bass cantor who did it didn’t do it well), but I have an outstanding recording of SHV’s restitution of the Priestly Blessing (done by SAVAE on “Ancient Echoes”) and I try to start the Sabbath evening with that. SHV’s work is unique and helps me set the whole Sabbath apart.

  8. Something that we do to set the Sabbath apart is we will light the candleabra we received as a wedding gift 11 years ago and set it on the table for dinner. (Eating in the dark by candlelight with three little girls somehow enhances the Sabbath). We usually have classical music playing softly in the background. Ater dinner, we retreat to the family couch and have discussions about God by (you guessed it) canlelight from a Feast gift 8 years ago.

    Canlelight is a great way to enhance the Sabbath. Children love fire.

    I don’t know if I should divulge this but we will let the older daughters have a spit of wine at the dinner table during Sabbath meals. If this is wrong then I blame it on a former pastor.

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