Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shabbat Shalom


Shabbat (the Sabbath Day) is a gift from G-d to the Jewish people.
Shabbat commemorates the 7th day of creation on which G-d "rested" from creating the world. By keeping Shabbat, we demonstrate our trust in G-d and testify that the world belongs to G-d and the only G-d has the right to decide to whom (S)He will give that world.

From our perspective, Shabbat gives us an opportunity to recharge our personal batteries. In this global economic world, where many people are "on" 24/7, it is easy to forget that our bodies were not designed to be running all the time.

When I was growing up, all I saw Shabbat as was a day of restrictions. But once you realize what the goal of Shabbat is, you start to realize that Shabbat just doesn't work without these restrictions.

The first time I went to Israel, for some reason the program I was on, despite preference forms they gave us to fill out, I was placed as a roommate with a young woman who didn't keep Shabbat. The first Shabbat there was before the formal programming started, so I hadn't yet met other people who were Shabbat observant. I was sort of stuck in my room while my roommate did laundry and listened to music on the radio. I found that it was very hard to appreciate Shabbat that week.

I have what I call the "Baseball theory of Tora". When one plays baseball, there are certain rules that enhance one's enjoyment of the game, to whit, imagine you were playing baseball and the pitcher pitched the ball, and the batter hit the ball and, instead of running to first base, (s)he ran to third base. This would confuse the defense (not to mention any teammate already on the base paths) and would lead to them being upset, not happy. It's the same with living on earth.

G-d understands human nature. How many people out there are "on" 24/7? At least with Shabbat, we can only be on 24/6. We have one day per week, one seventh of our time, where we have to stop, where we have to turn off all our technology. I recall watching a program a while back and the family needed a "technology detox", they were told not to use the TV, computers, etc. for 48 hours. This was just after Rosh Hashana, a two-day holiday during which we can't use "technology" (this specific year it was followed by Shabbat, giving us 72 hours of "technology detox"). So I was talking with my best friend and I said to her, "didn't we just go through that?"

Shabbat gives us a weekly "technology detox". It gives us a day during which the concerns of the work-a-day world are dismissed, a day to commune with G-d, a day to share with loved ones. If you've ever experienced a good Shabbat, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, you need to find a community or family in your own community where you can keep an entire Shabbat. Once you find that, you won't want to go back to "Saturdays".