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Enjoy Two Extra Goods This Shabbat

To honor Shabbat, the exercise for day 6 is being released early.

The Jewish Sabbath, which lasts from sunset on Friday through sunset on Saturday, is set aside as a time to focus on appreciating what we have, rather than acquiring more. Traditionally, Jews pause from work and commerce in order to spend time with God, family, and community. We dwell with nature as it is rather than trying to shape or alter it. Six days a week we structure, organize, create, adapt, and improve things – or, at least we try to. On Shabbat, we are asked to accept and to enjoy.

Religious law and custom dictate that Jews eat the most delicious foods of the week on Shabbat. Rest. Nap. Take walks. Visit and host neighbors. Make love with one’s spouse. Sing. I’ve often joked, “I’m sorry, but these are the rules!”

Petitionary prayers are limited on Shabbat, and prayers of gratitude for the Sabbath day abound. The purpose is to take in and savor our blessings. We remember especially the two blessings that are cited as reasons for Shabbat in the Bible: God’s creation of the world and the gift of freedom.

As Tiffany Shlain cleverly shows in her book, 24/6, people of all religions and of no religion can benefit from a weekly day of rest. But stopping work – or taking a break from tech, as she recommends – is only part of it. Adding gratitude and other practices that nurture the soul is vital. A sacred pause – whether the Christian Sabbath of Sunday, the Muslim Day of Assembly on Friday, or any other time set aside by a group or individual – heals and restores us only when it also connects us to what we love and value that is beyond, and greater than, ourselves.

Today’s exercise:

Make a plan for when and how you will spend time today engaging with, celebrating, and enjoying at least two good things and/or people in your life. Choose based on who and what makes you feel happy, hopeful, and connected, not based on thoughts of what you “should” do or want.

"There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord."

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Wishing you joy in this moment and in the anticipation of a good future,

Rabbi Debra


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