Ahh, Shabbat. My favorite day of the week. And so underappreciated sometimes. I don’t know about you, but I’m certain I’d be an insane wreck by now if not for my weekly respite from technology and work-related worries. And when I hear people complain about two more hours without a computer, or see a texting teenager stake their claim on a “half-shabbos” (don’t get me started), then all I want to do is counter with every great thing about keeping Shabbat.
So, I thought, why not?
While these are certainly not the only great things about Shabbat, they are pretty awesome. And anyway, who’s going to read a countdown list with more than 20 entries? This is the internet, after all.
1. A daylong rest from technology in such a machine-driven world is good for us. In some cases (after really crazy weeks in front of a computer, say) it can make us human again. At least, temporarily.
2. Shabbat gives us an excuse to visit or host friends and their friends, thus offering an opportunity to meet new people in a NON-awkward setting. Also, a Shabbat meal is a much better tool for keeping in touch than Facebook ever was.
3. When was the last time you sat down with your whole family and talked about your week? If you can remember at all, I’m betting it was Shabbat. It’s certainly the only time I can think of when the whole Mishpacha sits down together. It’s the closest I'll get to starring in a 1950’s board game commercial.
4. It not only gets us AWAY from our screens (see #1), but it gets us to do other things we push aside in favor of the almighty computer during the week. Things like reading a book, chatting with roommates and siblings, taking a walk and discovering your own neighborhood.
You know that’s happened to you.
5. I don’t care what you say, this rule holds fast. You DON’T GAIN WEIGHT ON SHABBAT. Shabbat is a time for dessert, wine, good food made with heavy cream or red meat (not together, of course, Kosher keepers!). Ask any girl, and they’ll tell you.
Shabbat makes you impervious to pounds.
6. This one’s courtesy of my sis, who is so right about this. On Shabbat, NO ONE FROM WORK CAN BOTHER YOU. No phone calls, no “send me that last report,” no “maybe I’ll just take care of this memo.” Stressed about typing up something due on Monday? Whoops! Too bad, you’ll just have to worry about it later and calm the heck down for now. Seriously. When you work, or you go to school, or commute all day, it’s a literal Godsend to have a day where not only can you NOT WORK, but you can’t even get phone calls or emails about work. According to many, you can’t even DISCUSS work. God, I love Shabbat.
7. SLEEP. SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP. Oh, Blessed unconsciousness, how I heart thee.
SLEEP :-) I love it so much it compels me to use emoticons in a blog with hand-drawn cartoons.
8. When you can’t turn the lights on in your bedroom at the end of the day, you are sometimes forced to stumble around in the dark. Yes, it’s annoying, but have you ever considered what it can do for your senses? It can make you more aware! Train you! Heighten every instinct and turn you into an unparalleled sensory MACHINE!
Did I mention some of these entries are less serious than others?
9. Totally serious now: it puts us back in touch with our spirituality. Personally, I sometimes mourn our disconnect with spirituality in our modern, ultra-tech, constant entertainment world. Don’t get me wrong, I like to watch a movie and listen to some stupid music (SOME stupid music), but at the end of the day, I like to crawl into my private cocoon of spirituality, and think about my relationship with God, and talk about things like my soul, and sing some repetitive Carlebach. And no time is better for getting reacquainted with our own sense of spirit than Friday night, when Lecha Dodi gets us to listen to the songs, sing along, and not just acknowledge our spiritual side, but even revel in it.
10. It exposes us to the cultures of other Jews and allows us to show our non-Jewish or non-observant friends a bit of our traditions. A friend of mine likes to invite her friends, Jew and non-Jew alike to her Shabbat meals, to show what it is we do and include those who haven’t seen it before. One of her non-Jewish friends likes it so much he comes back repeatedly for more. It’s nice. It’s interesting. Going to Shabbat meals is how I learn about the traditions of my Sephardic, Dutch, Israeli, Russian, Syrian friends. If not for Shabbat, I would never know that one of my best friend’s family likes to make their guests stand on a chair at the end of the meal and bless everyone present. Seeing people’s personal traditions is super cool.
And I love learning this stuff, and sharing my own Hungarian Shabbat with them.
11. Shabbat gets longer in the summer, shorter in the winter. It makes us more aware than anything else of the changing of the seasons, and the changing of nature and the world. I’m sensing a pattern growing here, don’t you? Shabbat makes us AWARE.
12. Once a week, it totally kills the “Jews and money” stereotype. No business talk. No buying things. It’s a wonderful way to stick it to stereotypes. Now if only we could transfer than invalidity of the Jew-greed thing to the rest of the week, the world would be a different place. We might not be so despised on Wall Street. Comedians would suddenly find themselves short on material.
Yes, especially the Jewish ones.
13. It gives us an excuse to shower and in all other ways clean up. Or, if you prefer, it FORCES us to shower and in all other ways clean up. And if you agree with the latter, to you I say, thank GOD something is forcing you! I mean, really. Ew! Who knows? If not for Shabbat, some of us might be bigger slobs than we already are.
14. It allows us major food snobs to show off our cooking skills to a crowd eager for food.
Or… it forces friends of us food snobs to sit there while we show off our food snobbery. And to you friends of mine I say, if you’re gonna eat it, you’re gonna have to hear its story first. (Evil food snob smile)
15. STEP AWAY FROM THE TV. You can get just as much drama around the Shabbat table. Sometimes even more drama.
And if you have as little stomach for fighting as I do, that drama will be “Real” enough to put you off the gross manufactured drama of reality shows for the rest of the week, thus saving you a couple hundred brain cells.
16. It not only gives us an excuse/ forces us to be clean once a week, it also gives us a reason to buy nice clothes, and maybe put more of an effort into our appearance in general. If you didn’t have a reason to wear nice shoes or a nice suit, you may not buy those things at all. And then you wouldn’t be compelled to wear them any other time. And so you might only ever buy nice things to wear to weddings. Which might lower your self esteem the rest of the time. And YES I know I took this way out of the bounds of realism into the realm of the slippery slope, but WHO CARES!? I like my nice Shabbat clothes!
17. Did I mention the food? I did? Okay, the WINE? The fact that we are encouraged to drink, maybe try some new wines, PLUS we’re given the gift of not having to go to work the day after?
(I’m not encouraging drunkenness here, but if you’re gonna get plastered, I’m so glad not to have to sit next to you on the train the next morning.)
18. If you go to Shul, it makes you join a community. It makes you have a SENSE of community. Which may sometimes be more of an irritant than a happy pill, but in our disconnected age this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
19. Without a cell phone, you can’t call ahead to say you’ll be stopping by. Erego, Shabbat makes life more like a sitcom by reintroducing us to the lost art of showing up unannounced.
Now if only we could work on getting that laugh track…
20. It makes us, and everything we associate with this day, SPECIAL.