How We're Wired: Day of Rest

In this very fast-paced world, many are looking to ancient ways of dealing with modern problems. Today, stress is a huge contributor to illness and the reasons why seem to elude us. Hundreds of years ago, people who worked with their hands and minds still lived considerably long lives; even with the lack of breakthroughs in medical innovation that we enjoy today. Many are discovering that the reason why their desk job is actually generating higher levels of bodily stress than, say, working manual labor on a farm or in a carpentry shop is because while our ancestors were dedicated to their craft, they also understood that you need a break.   

Now, this post is not an “Enter into the Sabbath because the Lord commanded it or else” type of post; really you don’t even need to believe in God in order to benefit from this bit of information. Still, being a person who believes in God, I personally feel that God did not design us to function at full speed throughout the week which is why He commanded us to rest on the Sabbath. Just like a bear hibernates seasonally, so our bodies are designed to need a weekly break from pursuing material gain. Not only that, but our bodies become accustomed to a cycle of a specific day of the week on which to rest that, regardless of looking at a calendar, our bodies will be able to detect. I discovered this when I was wondering why, on Saturday afternoons, my body goes into a state of near exhaustion in search of sleep while at the same time of day on, say, a Thursday, my body is in a completely focused state; even having had much less sleep on a Wednesday night than a Friday night. 

Knowing that one needs to take a break and have a regular day off work is not the same as experiencing one, but many have trouble understanding why all business must cease; even if the business is buying and selling using wireless device while laying on a bed. The fact is that we have trouble entering into a true state of rest if our minds are still participating in our own quest or monetary or material gain. To think that we can fool our minds into thinking that we’re engaging in leisure is fool-hearty. Your mind control all you nerve impulses, respiratory function, digestion, and blood flow simultaneously; what makes you think you can fool it into thinking you’re resting? 

For those who are having trouble grasping with the subject of not resting, here is an exercise you can do:

– On a lunch break from work when you’re clocked out and on your own time, eat your lunch and do whatever you do to unwind a bit on your lunch break in a main area of business traffic in your office or work place. When someone approaches you asking for a favor or question that could wait till after you’re through having your break, focus on the internal struggle that is happening in your mind. You want to relax, but you’re being asked to break your rest in order to get back to business. Well, whether you can actively feel that struggle or not, it is happening within your body and spirit when you do not give yourself a day of complete rest from your weekly work, business, or commerce duties. Over time, this struggle can have disastrous effects on your physical health and make it more difficult to spiritually align your mind with your body.  

Relaxing on Shabbat with my niece,
Madeline Rose.
I personally challenge you to select a day, any day, and make that your day off from your job, your shopping, your chores, and rest. Read a good book. Watch a funny movie. Gather around the table with family and friends over a good meal to tell stories and jokes. Take a nap. There doesn’t have to be anything religious about it. Make it habit. After a few weeks you will see positive results not only in your health, but in your frame of mind. 

If you’ve already taken on this day of rest, comment about your experiences for others. I hope you all have a very relaxing day of rest. 

– Ken

"I'm Shutting Down Applebee's, So Don't Be A Dingus."

If you were to ask someone who doesn’t keep Shabbat when Shabbat starts, even if they were knowledgeable of other cultures, they’d probably tell you that it starts Friday night at sundown. While this seems fairly feasible, if you were to ask someone who keeps Shabbat when Shabbat starts for them, they’d probably tell you that it starts Friday afternoon, Friday morning, or even possibly Thursday or Wednesday. I know it sounds really odd, but Shabbat wouldn’t be Shabbat without being prepared. In order to properly prepare for Shabbat, the Torah commands preparedness: 

והיה ביום הששי והכינו את אשר־יביאו והיה משנה על אשר־ילקטו יום ׀ יום
“On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in , it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” – Exodus 16:5

After God have Israelites the Sabbath and then was nice enough to give the manna in the desert, He didn’t necessarily have to say “Oh, and by the way, I’m locking up Hardees this Saturday so please don’t be a dill weed and try to hit it up. Make a run to the Manna Grocery Store and load up before the sun goes down Friday night.” But guess what? To ensure that we couldn’t screw it up, He did anyways. We should feel blessed to have a God that puts up with us; even when we’re complete morons.

Everything God teaches His people goes beyond the immediate understanding and applies to numerous aspects of life. As God had Israel prepare for Shabbat, for the High Holy Days, and as they approach Him in prayer and worship, we are also taught to prepare ourselves for whatever life has in store for us.

– Ken

Shabbat: You Don't Have To

A co-worker was walking by my desk one day and struck up a conversation with me. Somehow, we got on the subject of music and my band. 

“But that’s gotta kinda suck that you can’t play shows on Friday nights because of the whole Jewish Sabbath thing.” 

I didn’t really think about it too much before replying. 

“No, actually it’s really nice to have a night off.” 

Suddenly, the concept of a rest period came to mind even more. Most people who don’t keep Shabbat don’t really stop to think that people who keep it are called to rest on this day. Most of the time, these people just think about everything that the Torah forbids people from doing on Shabbat. 

  • I can’t go to my job. 
  • I can’t go shopping. 
  • I can’t conduct business. 
  • I can’t work mow my lawn or work on my house. 
  • I can’t go out on the town with friends. 
  • I can’t ignite a flame.

Really, when I stop and think about it, most people in society just simply do not stop. They perpetually have work on the brain. They are constantly being advertised to in order for them to purchase products. They are immersed in making sure their home is taken care of and rarely do they allot themselves a night with family where they can just sit down, talk about their week, crack jokes, tell stories, and laugh around the dinner table. 

With this mindset, I would like to amend my list of “can’t”s into a slightly different style of list. 

  • I don’t have to go my job.
  • I don’t have to go shopping. 
  • I don’t have to conduct any business dealings. 
  • I don’t have to mow my lawn or work on my house. 
  • I don’t have to go out; rather, I can have people over. 
  • I don’t even have to light a match. 

Just because it occurs weekly, people seem to forget that the Sabbath is a holiday just as holy as the rest of the holy days in the Torah. For my Christian friends, imagine how you’d feel if your boss said you could have all the luxuries of xmas every week. Forget work; just have some friends over, cook up a big meal, and enjoy each other. 

Shabbat is not one a day a week when I can’t do something. Shabbat is that one day a week that I look forward to all week long when I can put on my space helmet and blast off to another place far away from the chaos of the week. 

Shabbat Shalom, everyone.