Friday, November 9, 2012

Shabbat, It's Nice to Take a Break

In a few hours I'll be lighting Shabbat Candles, which is my way of ushering the Jewish Sabbath.  Once the candles are lit, unless there's a life-threatening emergency, I won't be activating any electrical appliance, even the simple light bulb.  Whatever lights will go on and off during the twenty-five 25* hour period will be via a pre-programmed timer. Exodus Chapter 31 שְׁמוֹת
טו שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים, יֵעָשֶׂה מְלָאכָה, וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן קֹדֶשׁ, לַיהוָה; כָּל-הָעֹשֶׂה מְלָאכָה בְּיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת, מוֹת יוּמָת. 15 Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD; whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
טז וְשָׁמְרוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֶת-הַשַּׁבָּת, לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת-הַשַּׁבָּת לְדֹרֹתָם, בְּרִית עוֹלָם. 16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
יז בֵּינִי, וּבֵין בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל--אוֹת הִוא, לְעֹלָם: כִּי-שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים, עָשָׂה יְהוָה אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ, וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, שָׁבַת וַיִּנָּפַשׁ. {ס} 17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel for ever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested.' {S}
The preparations and logistics for Shabbat may sometimes be difficult and hectic, but it's worth the temporary stress.

Among the very last things I do before lighting candles is to turn off the computer and my cellphone.  Our "outside world" becomes restricted to my neighbors and community.

For us, Shabbat is our social time.  We host neighbors for meals and we're also guests.  All of this within the community. Shiloh is still small enough so that even the furthest home is a comfortable (for me) walk from our house.  And of course, we pray in the local synagogue, which conveniently for us is just past our backyard.  No complaints.  And I have been attending a women's Torah class for almost thirty-one years; it started a few months after we moved to this then new neighborhood. 

I don't cook on Shabbat.  Food has to have been cooked prior to candlelighting.  At most it's heated up, according to Jewish Law, and I do cut up salads.  Since we're just two at home and I frequently work until late at night, I make a point to do all of the week's basic cooking when I cook for Shabbat.  That way, we just have to heat up the food; at the  most fresh vegetables are added.

Just like studies of work efficiency show that people work better when they take breaks from work, I think that we function better because we have Shabbat.  Without this serious break, we'd be on the go seven days a week, week after week and month after month.  Only serious illness would be able to stop us.

Sixteen years ago (I remember the year because my youngest's Bar Mitzvah was during that time) I worked in a bagel place.  I was in charge of the department that sold ready-made sandwiches, drinks, etc to offices, and I also had the biggest route.  I'd start the workday making sandwiches and end it deciding how many of which sandwiches to prepare for each route the following day.  It was a full day's work without a break, eating lunch at my desk and I would just make the bus. 

But on rare occasions, I'd meet a visiting friend or relative in a nearby restaurant for lunch.  Working full time with a child still at  home, didn't leave me time for a social life.  Sometimes I'd spend a couple of hours on that rare and precious lunch break.  And the amazing thing was that I'd find myself finishing work a good fifteen minutes or more earlier than usual. 

It made absolutely no sense.

How could I have done all of my work in so much less time.  I didn't feel rushed or panicked.  Actually, I'd feel more relaxed after those lunches out.

Shabbat doesn't take time from our weekday responsibilities.  It gives us the necessary spiritual and physical energies to get through our weeks.

I have a good friend who has a very responsible time consuming job.  Most of the people in her position aren't Shomrei Shabbat, sabbath observant.  When they compare notes and talk about the difficulties getting everything done, the non-Sabbath observant always ask how she can do it all in six days, since they have trouble fitting everything into the full seven days.  She and the other Sabbath observant ones insist that it's Shabbat that makes it possible to do the job.

Shabbat Shalom u'Mevorach
May you have a peaceful and blessed Shabbat

*Yes, the classic day is 24 hours, but Shabbat begins when the sun first enters "set mode" and it ends when you can see three stars shining brightly in one simple glance, a period of time 25 hours long.


miriamd said...

And Shabbat Shalom to you Batya and your family....


Batya said...