Sabbath Rest

Several months ago I was listening to Dennis Prager on my way to the store as he was discussing the Sabbath. A caller asked whether he was observant and Dennis went into a lovely description of why he keeps the Sabbath.

Midweek, he said, his heart rate actually increases at the thought that Friday is coming and that means Shabbat; it means time with family, friends and loved ones; good conversations, and rest. Turn off the computer, the television, and any distracting things in order to connect with those you love. And he can count on it taking place every week. He then talked about how healthy it is, how restful for one's spirit soul and body.

People who do not observe Shabbat think of it as a day filled with stifling restrictions, or as a day of prayer like the Christian Sabbath. But to those who observe Shabbat, it is a precious gift from G-d, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the week, a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and devote ourselves to higher pursuits.
Shabbat is primarily a day of rest and spiritual enrichment. The word "Shabbat" comes from the root Shin-Bet-Tav, meaning to cease, to end, or to rest. Shabbat involves two interrelated commandments: to remember (zachor) Shabbat, and to observe (shamor) Shabbat.

The above quotes are taken from Judaism 101 on Shabbat. It sounds almost verbatim in how eloquently Mr. Prager described his experience with the Sabbath.

The sad fact was, as I listened I felt a twinge of envy. When I think of Sunday, I don't equate it with rest. Our Sabbath entails going to church, then afterward being involved in ministry related activities; my husband and I stopping at Costco on the way home from church in the afternoon, unloading groceries, doing little chores around the house, laundry, taking a nap, perhaps having dinner with the kids and their friends - if they're home at the same time (but rarely because they're all involved in evening activities at our church).

So basically, my Sabbath never seemed restful, or purposed as a Sabbath. I am attracted to the idea of beginning a Sabbath with a common meal, and having the same ritual followed each week. Perhaps it's this new season in my life, or maybe I'm returning to my childhood Catholic roots. I'm not sure what it is, but I miss liturgical ritual (an emphatic redundancy) and I yearn for Sabbath celebrations.

I was musing to a friend that we Protestants take tithing very seriously (as we should) but why is it that we don't have that same seriousness about a day of rest? Although there is teaching about tithing and giving from the pulpit, I have no recollection of teaching on how to observe the Sabbath and making it celebratory beyond church attendance.

I shouldn't generalize. My experience may simply be unique to the circle we are in; that other Christians do have their Sabbath rituals. If so, I would love to hear about them.

All that said, my husband and I decided to begin taking a Sabbath on Saturdays. No work on the house, gardening, mopping floors, vacuuming. It isn't anywhere near the Jewish observance, but so far it has been refreshing and restorative. I no longer mind all the activity on Sunday and don't feel that rest-deficit on Mondays. It's a start.

Posted by Mutti at August 16, 2006 10:44 AM | TrackBack