This message is for everyone out there. Whether you are Jewish or not, observant or not.
The observance of Shabbat, the Sabbath, is the weekly observance of a day of rest. It is a day in which we stop much of our weekly activities, many of the more observant Jews refraining from work. driving, spending money and using electricity or phones. The belief is that God created the world on 6 days and on the 7th day he rested. Although different religions have different beliefs as to which day that is, Islam believes it’s Friday, Judaism Saturday, Catholicism Sunday, the basic concept is the same. A day of rest to acknowledge God’s work and to make that day a holy day.
We live in a time when many will inevitably have a crisis of faith, while many will have a strengthening of faith. Other’s who do not believe will either find themselves turning towards God, or believing that the current situation proves their position that God does not exist. Although I am one who not only believes in God, but is also not having a crisis of faith, this message is applicable to each and every one of you, for even if you do not believe the origin of the concept is in religious dogma, the essence of the concept is a pure one. It is what Judaism refers to as Bayn Adam L’chaveyru, the relationship between one person and another.
Jewish commandments are broken down into 2 categories. One is the aforementioned relationship between one human being and the other, and the other being what is know as Bayn Adam L’Makom. The relationship between People and God. I have no intention of using this forum today to convince anyone to hold my views on what relationship mankind should have with God, nor will I project a feeling of an attitude of superiority based on the one that I have. I do this on purpose. I do this because our relationship with each other may be at the core of so many of the problems facing us today.
Before we try to do right by others, we need to be honest with ourselves. We need to be honest about our intentions and be honest about our actions. Are we doing what we are doing because it is self-serving or because we want to do good for others? Do we truly care about other people or does everything we do revolve entirely around our own needs? As a flawed individual, I need to constantly ask myself those questions. Am I doing the best I can to help those close to me, to contribute to society? Are my intentions pure? I ask these questions of myself on a regular basis, but when do I have an actual scheduled stop from my every day life to take a step back and take an introspective look on who I am and what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong? That time is from sundown on Friday evening till darkness on Saturday. The time designated in the Jewish religion as Shabbat.
So my Shabbat message to each and everyone of you is the following. Take a step back. Stop your regular weekday activities. Of course the irony is that it at this moment in time for many that means, stop your past week’s activities of stopping your everyday activities. You may not believe in God, or you do believe in God and don’t believe God gave us Shabbat, but your belief does not detract from the fact that it is indeed something wonderful. Shabbat brings you peace and tranquility, sometimes added understanding, and a brighter outlook for the future. Whether you believe it is God given or not, who among us couldn’t use those things right now?
Be safe, be healthy, and Shabbat Shalom.
This piece is dedicated to the memory of Jay Agular.
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IN CONJUNCTION WITH GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL