There are many common words and sayings that are connected to Shabbat. Including “when does Shabbat start”, “good Shabbos”, “Shabbat Shalom”, “Shabbat dinner”, “Motzei Shabbat” and more. Many question can arise from that, for example: Why would a single day take this much effort from our lives? Why is this day considered so unique and special? Isn’t that just a day we stay home and rest? What is it that makes this day so unusual? When the family members gather together on Shabbat, sitting at the same table and fighting for the last piece of the challah…can’t we do this on a Tuesday as well? Why don’t we?
I don’t know all the answers to these questions, which I assume conceal secrets of the unfolding of the Jewish great fortune of books and scriptures which were given to Moshe. Truly, I’m not claiming to fully understand. It feels like I lack a lot of information and understanding about many subjects in Judaism in order to fully understand the concept of Shabbat. Even if I did possess this amount of knowledge, I’m not sure I would still fully comprehend the whole idea and what stands behind it. But one thing I do know, is that Shabbat can be turned into an unforgettable experience, if we would only let it inspire us. Besides meals, friends, family and many of the physical pleasures we experience on Shabbat, it can treat us with something else which is very special. I find it difficult to name this feeling but if I would have to choose one word it would have to be “LOVE”. It is a big word I know, but so is the feeling.
I have been exposed to that feeling for the first time on a Shabbat (of course), in Jerusalem. I was with friends of mine from “Nefesh Yehudi” and we were walking down Mamila street on Shabbat afternoon. We walked without a phone in our pocket, no backpack with computers and files, no thoughts of the lecture I had this week or of the assignment I have to hand in next Wednesday. Without masks that we put on ourselves regularly, without sarcasm, without criticizing comments. Without the unending will of being cool, normal and popular among our peers. I was just there, on the street, smiling, feeling the environment – every step I make, feeling real. I remember feeling openness to people, to situations and ideas. I felt that the environment activated all my senses to every sign on the street, every person who passed by, every cat roaming the streets and the breeze of wind. This feeling excited me and filled my soul with this internal and unexplainable light. How come I have never experienced such a feeling? I am 24 years old. You would expect it. No?
I don’t come from an orthodox Jewish family and I don’t keep Shabbat in a completely kosher way according to the halakha. I’m still not sure if being an observant Shabbat Jew is the right thing for me at the moment, in the future or at all. What I do know is the powerful impact that Shabbat has had on me when I allowed the light and love that Shabbat has to offer to get deep inside my soul. Shabbat allows you to stop to think, to stay calm, contemplate, be aware, be present – to live in the exact moment you are right now and not in any other point of that crazy timeline we live in. Smile, laugh, love, give, encourage, learn, look inside yourself and also be exposed to everyone else around you – all of these are Shabbat, but only if we let the “Love of Shabbat” flow into our souls.
So do yourself a favor and try once, to let Shabbat do what it does the best.
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