We realized that due to our house having the original single paned windows, we were losing a tremendous amount of heat, and losing it quite quickly. No matter how high we turned up the thermostat, it seemed as though it was being sucked right out the sliding glass doors and wall of nearly floor to ceiling windows. And, though I like to do a good deed whenever I can, heating up my neighbours backyard seemed a bit over the top. Installing double paned windows would be the ideal long-term solution, however we needed to fix this problem in time for Shabbos.
We couldn't go on with the draft for much longer. Our projected heating bill for the next two months was nearly $300 and I feared that we and the children would need to spend our days and nights wrapped in scarves and our winter coats. I decided to do some research and find out how to insulate our windows, thus keeping everyone warm and saving us some money as well. My trusted pal Google was a big help and provided me with several options and even brought me to some very detailed 'how to' videos with specific instructions on what I would need and where I could get it. With so many options, all I had to do was decide which one to choose.
One idea was to line the windows with bubble wrap. Just spray some water on the window, press the flat side of the bubble wrap onto the window, and presto, you're done. Then there was the idea of using a special plastic with double sided sticky tape. Once the plastic was applied, you use a hair dryer to tighten the plastic. Yet a third idea was to install a later of plexi-glass on the inside of the window as a second layer of protection. After some thought and consideration, we decided to go with the plastic and sticky tape option. It was the least expensive, most natural looking, and fastest to complete. Triple win.
After we put our children to sleep, my wife and I rolled up our sleeves and got to work. Ettie measured the windows and sliding glass doors and I cut the materials. Then Ettie attached the double sided tape and I pressed on the plastic. Ettie trimmed the edges and I blow-dried the windows for a good seal. After the installation was complete, we turned up the heat and waited with great anticipation to see if there really was a major difference.
You can imagine how happy (and warm) we were when it became clear that the room was significantly warmer than it had been in weeks and there was no longer an uncomfortable draft blowing through our home. We even compared our heating bill from the previous week and the current week, and it was halved. I don't know if it was the satisfaction of having installed the plastic or the fact that I was no longer shivering, but I started to think about insulation and what it could mean in our own everyday lives.
For the majority of our days and weeks, we are engaged in various endeavours: work, cooking, shopping, cleaning, driving, banking, laundry, and so on. We spend much time in mundane activities often surrounded by secularism and Westernized ideas. How do we ensure that many foreign ideas at best or unhealthy and unproductive habits at worst do not have a long lasting effect on our lifestyle and mindset? The answer is simple: we need to insulate ourselves. Like windows, there are many ways that one can choose to make sure that he/she doesn't lose their warmth. Set aside a specific time to learn each day either by yourself or with another person, give charity every morning, listen to a lecture while driving in the car, take 30 seconds (or more) to reflect on ones day every evening before saying shema, if you have an extra minute while waiting in line at the supermarket say a few psalms of Tehillim. The ideas are limitless.
In this week's parsha, Shemot, we are told that Yocheved, Moshe Rabbeinu's mother coated his basket in tar and pitch before placing it in the river. We also learn that Moshe Rabbeinu was nursed by his mother and taught by her for the first two years of his life. So great was this insulation that his mother provided him that he was able to grow up in the most foreign of places, Paraoh's palace, and still remain steadfast and strong in his Judaism.
This is a real lesson for us. If we take even just a little bit of time every day and invest it internally, we strengthen our soul. When we keep our soul warm, our body and surroundings are warmed by proxy. And when we warm up those around us, that is the best heat of all.
Wishing you and yours a warm Shabbos,
Rabbi Nuta Yisrael Shurack