It’s become evident that my friends are much more erudite and downright poetic than me. I’ve received the most beautiful responses to the unplugging posts.
So I’m inviting you to join the conversation. What does Shabbat/Sabbath mean to you? What role does prayer play?
Making the Shabbat holy is accomplished by making it a different type of day. Whether it is the break from one’s daily routine, a day set aside for “re-creation” and contemplation, or a day filled with unusual experiences – we need a day we can make different. It’s empowering to actually do this. I’m advocating for a time space to which we can look forward and for which the benefits and rewards are markedly different from the rest of the mundane week.
Setting aside such a day each week is what I believe to be “making the day holy.” The options of what to do and what not to do are as numerous as the stars above. What’s not implicit in a day of Shabbat is just which choices we actually make. But make the day different, separate it from the rest of the week, and experience many delights. Swap out the pressures of daily life with the oneg/pleasure of Shabbat. It’s good for both the body and soul.
Ronni, whose life work revolves closely around social justice issues, said this:
What I find difficult, always, is the balance of secular and sacred. For instance, clearly I feel that social justice is sacred work. Sometimes that work falls on Shabbat. I don’t really have a conflict with that since I think that type of day is a lot closer to being sacred than a lot of other Saturdays in my life.
And finally, in case you didn’t see the reply that Ronni added to the original post, take a minute to read the following. It is a wonderful word-picture of Shabbat in Jerusalem:
When I lived in Jerusalem, I lived in Nachlaot which is on the edge of the Machne Yehuda market. We were poor students living in an unheated flat with a rooftop view of the alleyways and synagogues. On Fridays, we cashed our respective paychecks and treated ourselves to challah, cheese, dried fruits and nuts, a rare piece of Elite chocolate, fresh coconut meat and fresh flowers to grace the table.
The vendors smiled and everyone looked into your eyes when they said “Shabbat Shalom.” Sundown in Jerusalem is a beautiful time of day at any time, but the late afternoon light on Friday seemed golder. Richer. The siren went off when Shabbat began and the entire city seemed to sigh and then take in a deep, full breath of that which is Shabbat. Families strolled the streets. Voices sang from open windows. Everyone let go of the week and entered a different space.
This was a magical change for Israelis who lived out the other days of the week with an almost reckless and head spinning pace. It was so easy to light candles and watch the way the light danced on the cool stone walls of our home. It made sense to sit in the courtyard until it was totally dark, eating fresh dates with almonds and knowing that the lazy and lovely Shabbat stretched out like a cat in a pool of sun before us…to be whatever we fashioned it to be.