The Jewish people, through God, gave a gift to humanity that we have abused and ignored: the Sabbath. I have come to appreciate the Sabbath even more these past seven months, as the Sabbath provides an opportunity to unplug from my electronic leash aka iPhone as well as not engage in business. All of humanity would do well to relearn the lessons we can gain from Shabbat observance: re-engagement with ourselves, our families and friends; communal meals that are not managed by the clock; time for the study of Torah; opportunities to pray to God.
I regularly read articles about people on vacation whom check their business email every hour, if not more frequently. While it is difficult to unplug when you are so used to being plugged in 24/7, by working when vacationing, we are doing more harm than good to our mental well-being. “But Rabbi”, said one individual, “you don’t understand. If I’m incommunicado I will lose my job.” “You can probably find another job”, I responded, “but where will you find your sanity?”
We are an overworked society that does not take sufficient good care of ourselves. Doing business while running on the tread mill might seem an efficient use of time, as would telephone calls while jogging, but we fail to find enough us time. It is time to rediscover Shabbat. Granted, I carry my cell phone on Shabbat, and you know why, so I do not need to revisit this. I do not need my computer or phone on Shabbat. If they really need me, they will find me! There is nothing better than a family meal together, at the same time, with no cell phones present, and nothing better than a fresh-baked challah. Time to have more than a cursory conversation with friends is readily available. You might even squeeze in a nap this time of year, since Shabbat ends at 9:30PM.
I do offer an important warning: the observance of Shabbat can become habit forming! You might enjoy it so much that you will begin to observe it more frequently, as you discover that the secret of Shabbat is Shabbat. I do not believe that I have ever heard of someone overdosing on Shabbat. If you do, please let me know.
Let’s work on restoring this wonderful gift to humanity, and do so by example. It is much easier to convince others of the value of something when you personally experience it. When we use the time given to us to thank God for creation and reconnect with those that matter to us, our lives take on even greater meaning, with Shabbat being a regular, weekly component. Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, and not just this week, but every week.