“More than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews” (Ahad Ha’am).
I can’t think of a Jewish tradition that becomes increasingly relevant with the progression of technology, more than Shabbat. When Shabbat was first given as a gift to the Jewish people at Sinai, they were instructed not to work, not to weave, plant, grow, harvest, cook – in short, not to create. Why? “For in six days did G-d create the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested.” So too, we should create for six days, and on the seventh day, cease from creating.
I’m not much of a weaver, and my gardening skills, well, let’s not discuss. But I’ll tell you what I do love to do: I love to be creative in my own way by manipulating my world via technology. I do almost all my work on my phone and laptop.
I write, call people, create content on social media, text people to touch base and share. I organize events and spend much of my day driving around town to teach, meet and connect.
For people like me, having one day a week of “tech Sabbath” where I turn off all the devices, including my car, is literally the only way to convince me that the world will continue to spin without my intervention. See, there are only two things you need to know about religion: one, there is a God. Two, you’re not it. Here’s the deep truth: God gifted us with the power to create – it’s part of what makes us godly. God is by definition the ultimate, original creator, and He gifted us with wisdom, talent, and creativity to likewise fashion new things, new concepts, new systems.
But even God stops creating one day a week – why? God doesn’t get winded. He doesn’t need Starbucks (we created that). But it’s to set an example. I rested – you too shall rest. I don’t need a break – God neither slumbers nor sleeps, as the Book of Psalms reminds us. But you, humans, need a break. Not just because you will physically exhaust yourselves, but it is because it’s good for your divinity, for your spirituality, to remember that there is a God above and that you can remove your hands from control and just trust. The release, the surrender of control is what us humans need, painfully need, need even more as society marches forward. More than Shabbat needs us, we need Shabbat.
Shabbat offers another benefit: I think every mother in the universe has feelings of maternal guilt. Whether you’re too busy, too sedentary, working mom, stay-at-home mom – we specialize in guilt. I feel that Shabbat offers a pre-programmed space in time to just focus on our families. Even if family dinner never happens, it can happen on Friday night. Even if we never stop to smell the roses, we can do it on Shabbat. Even if I never buy flowers and light candles and cook homemade food – I can do once a week for Shabbat. Shabbat is literally an oasis for our crazy lives, for our guilty feelings both personal and spiritual.
That God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh may sound like an ancient or even archaic concept. But that we should cease from creating and manipulating on the seventh day is agonizingly modern.
Instead of thinking of the Shabbat as a time when we “can’t” do certain things, we can think of it as a time when we “get to” do other things. We think we will get so much done – and in the short term, we will. But what are we sacrificing in the long term?
Shabbat teaches us to slow down. To pay attention to our souls. To our faith, to our communities, to our families. Slow food, not fast food. Slow, real communication, not fast texting. Slow, real living. Try it.
This holiday’s recipe is brought to you by Claudia Kreitenberg. Claudia is a Momentum sister who lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. Claudia’s husband enjoyed this dish every Shabbat while growing up. Today, Claudia and her children continue to prepare it each Shabbat as a tribute to Gladys Kreitenberg, the mother-in-law who Claudia never knew.
Avocado and Egg Spread
2 ripe avocados
2 hard-boiled eggs
⅛ onion, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Mash avocados and hard boiled eggs together. Add onion. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with a dash of paprika for color. Good to spread on bread, crackers, raw veggies, etc. It is best to make this shortly before serving.
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