Friday, November 15, 2013

shabbat shalom

I don't observe shabbat the way my forefathers did.  Despite popular notions, the most important Jewish day for observance is not Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah. It is each Saturday, beginning with Friday night.

If you are observant, when the sun goes down on Friday night, you welcome the Sabbath and begin a day to refresh and dedicate to rest and reflection. No television, no work, no driving, no cooking, no toil of any sort. You stop what you typically do and welcome the sabbath.  Shabbat shalom literally means, Sabbath welcome.

About a dozen years ago my uncle, an observant Jew, passed on a Thursday.  Starting on Friday night there was nothing funereal about family gatherings. It was shabbat.  I visited with some of my uncle's friends and while there must have been some conversation about the loss, it was a typical shabbat for them--and it was delightful. I remember talking with my dad afterwards and we both spoke about what a wonderful thing it must be to look forward to Friday night as the beginning of a moratorium on the stresses of normalcy.

When I was a kid at a summer camp, Friday night was ushered in by young teenage women singing a song that began like this:

The sun on the hilltop no longer is seen.
Come gather to welcome the Sabbath our queen. 

It is an engaging image, no?  Come gather to welcome the Sabbath.  As the sun descends, welcome a period when you attempt to shed that stress and crud that has accrued because of toil, disappointments, heartbreak and loss.  Each Shabbat you can look forward to that time when rush hour is irrelevant, nobody is hocking you to do this or do that, and the only pressure is to try to get your consciousness in tune with your conscience and heart.  

Friday's sun goes down, embrace your loved ones and say:  Come gather to welcome the Sabbath. Shabbat Shalom.


  1. Hi Zeke. I had to read this post several times - still don't know where you're coming from. I do remember going to Friday night and Saturday morning services until I was 13. They were very comforting. I miss believing in God, but I had no choice. My brain defeated my heart. I am now married to a devout Catholic who I've never discussed religion with in 42 years. I watched Jesus give her strength and blind her.
    All in all if I could choose I'd choose faith, but I can't . But I do miss the empowering womb of religion. Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. I figure if you cant figure out where I am coming from, I did not do such a good job of explaining myself. Or maybe my tendency to be sarcastic has made you wonder if I was sincere. In this one, I am very sincere. I think there is something very comforting about welcoming a day of rest and thought. For me, Saturday is a day of rest mostly, but that means something quite about different than what it meant for my uncle. Enjoy Thanksgiving. And thanks for commenting on these blogs. Zeke

  3. Hi Zeke. I misread, or overread, your comment. Sorry. You were clear and made your point. A day of rest to look forward to is a good thing. Gene