Some Implications of Shabbat
Unplugging: Disconnect to Connect
Shabbat Soul Session: Remembering
Challah for Hunger: Back-Pocket Torah
Talk it Out:
- Did you count the number of passes correctly?
- Did you miss the man in the gorilla suit?
Daniel J. Levitin, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, New York: Dutton, 2014, p.7:
Every status update you read on Facebook, every tweet or text message you get from a friend, is competing for resources in your brain with important things like whether to put your savings in stocks or bonds, where you left your passport or how best to reconcile with a close friend you just had an argument with.
Sherry Turkle, transcript of Alone Together Ted Talk https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together/transcript?language=en#t-1118000
[T]echnology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable. And we are vulnerable. We're lonely, but we're afraid of intimacy. And so from social networks to sociable robots, we're designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. We turn to technology to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control. But we're not so comfortable. We are not so much in control.
. . . These days, those phones in our pockets are changing our minds and hearts because they offer us three gratifying fantasies. One, that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; two, that we will always be heard; and three, that we will never have to be alone.
Way back when, God said, “On the seventh day thou shalt rest.” The meaning behind it was simple: Take a break. Call a timeout. Find some balance. Recharge.
Somewhere along the line, however, this mantra for living faded from modern consciousness. The idea of unplugging every seventh day now feels tragically close to impossible. Who has time to take time off? We need eight days a week to get tasks accomplished, not six.
The Sabbath Manifesto was developed in the same spirit as the Slow Movement, slow food, slow living, by a small group of artists, writers, filmmakers and media professionals who, while not particularly religious, felt a collective need to fight back against our increasingly fast-paced way of living. The idea is to take time off, deadlines and paperwork be damned.
In the Manifesto, we’ve adapted our ancestors’ rituals by carving out one day per week to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, and get with loved ones. The ten principles are to be observed one day per week, from sunset to sunset. We invite you to practice, challenge and/or help shape what we’re creating.
Talk It Out:
- Do you think that you could unplug for one day? What would you need to make it work?
- Have you ever thought about Shabbat in this way befoe? How could taking a break from technology every week impact your life?
Judith Shulevitz, Bring Back the Sabbath, NY Times, March 2, 2003.
The story told by the Sabbath is that of creation: we rest because God rested on the seventh day. What leads from God to humankind is the notion of imitatio Dei: the imitation of God. In other words, we rest in order to honor the divine in us, to remind ourselves that there is more to us than just what we do during the week.
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The Sabbath provides two things essential to anyone who wishes to lift himself out of the banality of mercantile culture: time to contemplate, and distance from everyday demands. The Sabbath is to the week what the line break is to poetic language. It is the silence that forces you to return to what came before to find its meaning.
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What was Creation's climactic culmination? The act of stopping. Why should God have considered it so important to stop? Rabbi Elijah of Vilna put it this way: God stopped to show us that what we create becomes meaningful to us only once we stop creating it and start to think about why we did so. The implication is clear. We could let the world wind us up and set us to marching, like mechanical dolls that go and go until they fall over, because they don't have a mechanism that allows them to pause. But that would make us less than human. We have to remember to stop because we have to stop to remember.
Prayers and Supplications: Intimate Devotions, A Book of Prayer and Ethics for Jewish Women and Girls, for Prayer in Public and in Private, for All Occasions in a Woman’s Life
Our father in heaven: By your holy command I am separating a measure of challah. At the same time, I recall ancient times when, with a willing heart, our forefathers would offer the first of their produce upon your altar. Today, too, our God, we offer up offerings of love -- may they find favor before You. Whenever we satisfy the hunger of those in need, using their distress and their deprivation and relieving their concerns for their sustenance, we are offering a sacrifice before you, father of the poor and the destitute. Our Father in heaven -- accept my gift with mercy and favor and grant me a strong and loyal heart; then even if You demand great and difficult sacrifices of me, I shall offer them up and rejoice in my faith.
Allow us to earn our daily bread with dignity and not in dread. May we eat of it and may it bring us an abundance of blessing and prosperity. With good health and vigor may we rejoice in life and its grace, and with joyful heart and a good spirit, we shall praise You Who are good and Who performs good, and may You send blessing and success to our endeavors.
This nineteenth-century Rabbinic texts reflects the understanding that Shabbat is meant to be a time of "delight" for those who celebrate. Rather than focus on what not to do during this time, this passage is one of many that recommend action - in this case, eating a good meal! Does the idea of sitting down to a good meal resonate with you as a way to carve out time to relax? What foods or beverages do you use to mark special occasions in your life?
The idea of a "Shabbat spice," expressed here by the Talmud, is the jumping off point for many children's stories about the famous and authentic fragrance of Shabbat. It is often the case that a shared experience is so powerful, that it is hard to transmit it to others without having them take part in the experience as well. Have you ever had a reflective or restful time that was so special that it had a distinctive "flavor"? How might you go about sharing this with others?
In his legal code, Maimonides describes the time and care that is meant to be invested in preparation for Shabbat. This is a way to honor Shabbat, and reflects the reality that sometimes the most rewarding and relaxing times may require some advance preparation. Have you ever had the experience of investing in advance in an experience that was designed to be relaxing and rejuvenating? What preparations would you put on this list as integral to a well-designed Shabbat experience?
Continuing the theme of preparations, this piece from the Talmud emphasizes that even the most famous rabbis would prepare for Shabbat personally. It wasn't beneath their honor, and they weren't content to leave even mundane tasks to others. When even our leaders and role models make time and space for rest and relaxation, it can help the rest of us to feel confident in our ability and desire to do the same. Who are your role models when it comes to rest and reflection?
The previous source describes the practice of going out to greet the "Sabbath queen." The prayer, sung in this video clip by the Hadar Ensemble under the leadership of Joey Weisenberg, is the traditional reflection of that sentiment; in "Lecha Dodi" we describe greeting the beautiful bride that is the Sabbath. The song itself provides for many a time to take a break from our regularly scheduled lives and enjoy beautiful music with friends, family, or community. Is there a song that signifies this kind of pause or reflective space in your own life?