Explaining Shabbat


Shabbat Candles

Photo by slgckgc

So my friend Anna, who is an indefatigable organiser and promoter, keeps sending me kind invitations to wonderful events that I would just love to attend.

Unfortunately, I keep turning her down because I have this thing about this one day of the week. I don’t drive, work or use electronics or money on Shabbat, otherwise known as Saturday. I feel bad because it doesn’t make any sense to her, and it seems like I am constantly rejecting her invitations for no apparent reason. So I thought a little explanation was in order, as best I can.

Shabbat is a sacred island in time, a period of 25 hours each week when we withdraw from the world. All the computers and phones go off, we either go to synagogue or sleep in and laze around, reading and playing board games. Nobody drives anywhere, nobody goes anywhere (unless it’s for a religious service elsewhere – but even then we twist ourselves into pretzels to avoid driving there). We don’t cook (although we warm up pre-cooked food in the oven), we don’t answer the phone, we don’t write or draw (although the rules are more lenient for young kids). It’s incredibly peaceful.

Why do we do this? In the first instance, it is a religious requirement – in our religious book, the Torah, it says that G-d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, and that we should follow this example. While I totally believe in science and evolution, I also believe that it is good for the soul to have a blueprint for life, and the Torah is a better one than most.

It’s also incredibly important to me, in this hectic world we live in, that we have time together as a family, with all the screens turned off. I am pretty addicted to those screens myself, and I’ll admit that once Shabbat is over, the first thing I do is click on that seductive little iPhone of mine. But every week, I take on a media fast for 25 hours and my life is so much better for it. I have time to read the Saturday newspaper – I barely glance at any of the others.

Anyway, that’s a brief explanation of why I (regretfully!) can never participate in any events, classes or Chocoholic Buffets on Saturday. Nothing is worth destroying my peaceful island in time.

Do you have a time that is sacred to your family or to yourself? How do you guard it?

 

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2 Responses to “Explaining Shabbat”

  1. Anna Echols Says:

    Dearest Hadass, NOW I understand and I envy you. 25 hours without media/electronics would be bliss. I take media diets quite often already though – it’s very healthy to not digest the latest tragedy in my opinion so I avoid the news whenever possible. I think that my husband and I may have to institute a 25 hour break too. Perhaps every other Friday when Jeff is off work would work for us. Given that we do not practice any formal religion – I guess we can pick any day of the week. The next time I plan an event – it will be not on a Fri/Sat so that you may attend my friend!

  2. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    Yes, you can pick any day you want – the trick is to find a “why” that is strong enough to withstand the pressure of “can’t you do […] just this once?”. It’s a slippery slope that I see my friends struggle with – once you agree to do one hockey tournament, all of a sudden you are at games every week and the magic is gone. It can be really hard to defend that island. Good luck with making and defending yours! Would love to know how it goes.

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