Thursday, 30 October 2014

What's Extraordinary About Shabbat


Ooops, I missed it. The Shabbat Project. From what I've read, last week Jews in 350 cities around the world kept it together by all observing Shabbat starting at sundown, Friday night October 24 for 25 hours, ending on Saturday night.

On second thought, I didn't miss it at all. I embrace Shabbat every week. And you know what else? The word “project” sounds heavy. There's a certain flow about Shabbat that eases the mind, at least for me.

Today I remembered two other projects, both held during the month of March. The first one is National Unplugging Day, which coincidentally begins on sundown Friday night and ends – you got it, sundown Saturday night. The second is Shabbat Across America and Canada. I looked it up. This year it's scheduled to begin sundown Friday night March 13, 2015 and it's billed as an event that will turn an ordinary Shabbat into something extraordinary.

Is there something ordinary about Shabbat? Not for me. It's the extraordinary end of every week!

Let me share with you how I discovered that fact. It was (way, way) back, when I was in 7th grade and proving to everyone that I am not a mathematical genius. Tutors came and went. I just couldn't get it. Finally, one tutor got through and prepped me for my next math test. I took it and came out smiling, confident that I had finally earned a passing grade. The test was returned the following Friday. Sure enough, I had done it again. Failed. Totally distraught, I ran to my room as soon as I got home, sat down, took out the test and stared at it for a solid hour while tears streamed down my face.

My mother heard the sobs, told my father, who came in to console me, but not with the words I expected: “Tami,” he said, “you are to put that test away right now. Shabbat starts in five minutes. I don't want you to think about that test at all for the next 25 hours. I want you to read a good book, visit your friends, have a good time, and take a rest from your math misery. That's what Shabbat is all about. Taking a break from all your problems. When it's over take the test out and look at it with fresh eyes. You'll understand where you went wrong.”

Like the Bible says, and so it was. My father showed me the extraordinary side of Shabbat. Ever since then I eagerly await Shabbat. As soon as I light the candles the curtain lifts, and I enter a world of calm and contentment. A world of special customs, songs, food and most important, family time.

What do you think: Should you make a big deal about Shabbat twice a year – or look forward to it every week? Do you need to be told that there's one day a year for unplugging when you can do it on a weekly basis? What are you going to do each Shabbat to unplug?

Are you looking for quiet time with your spouse and/or children? Tell me, what are you doing this Friday night and Saturday? And every Friday night and Saturday thereafter?

Need Some Help? If you're looking for fun and interesting Shabbat customs to incorporate in your weekly Shabbat celebration, get ready for the end of April when I will launch a new story series on my website called Shabbat Around the World.

I'll be posting more info as we get closer to April.


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