#BlogElul 4 – Accept



Day 4 of Elul is Shabbat. First of all, let me assure you that this post was written and scheduled well beforehand. I do not use the computer on Shabbat. This is a restriction that I gladly accept.

We live in a time of abundance and addiction. I am quite severely addicted to that seductive little oblong in my pocket. The little shots of dopamine I get from checking my email, Facebook and Twitter can really interfere with my productivity sometimes – I have to close it down to get anything done. I place restrictions on myself to be able to focus.

Shabbat is a culmination of that process, a system set up thousands of years ago with a very deep understanding of human nature. Being free to do what we want, when we want can leave us as dazed and bemused as a shopper confronted with seventy kinds of toothpaste. How can we find the good life without accepting guidance, the separation of the sacred from the profane?

The Torah proclaims (Leviticus 23, 3):

שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תֵּעָשֶׂה מְלָאכָה, וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן מִקְרָא-קֹדֶשׁ, כָּל-מְלָאכָה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ: שַׁבָּת הִוא לַיהוָה, בְּכֹל מוֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם. 3
Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of work; it is a sabbath unto the LORD in all your dwellings.

Sometimes, we just need to accept restrictions and the removal of possibility, in order to find focus. The great sculptor Michaelangelo is quoted as saying “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” The beauty within could not be revealed until the superfluous was removed. In the same way, the removal of choice, the acceptance of restriction, can lead us where we truly want to go.

Can we see the angel in ourselves and carve until we are set free?

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