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Who Am I?

Friday, 11 May, 2018 - 5:14 pm

HalachicTimes.jpgIs the highlight of our week Monday morning when we get into the office and know that we have a week of work ahead of us, or is it Friday evening when we spend Shabbat with the family? Are Shabbat and the weekdays two mutually exclusive zones in our lives or is there a different way to look at them?


I know for myself, with life as busy as it is, there is no day I enjoy more than Shabbat when life slows down and has another focus. Friday night Shabbat Dinner is a treasure that my family cherishes, as seemingly nothing else exists and no outside pressures are on our head, other than the beauty of Shabbat and enjoying spending relaxing time with each other.

Shabbat is the day of the week that as a family we spend more quality time together in a relaxed atmosphere than any other day, and as a result it is truly a day of connecting and bonding. We reflect and talk about the week that was, appreciate all the good that we have in our lives, and take the time to do more things like extra learning, reading, walks, board games and more. 

Yet there is an additional powerful element that I appreciate about Shabbat, which is perhaps connected with all of the above, and that is the ability to connect with one's inner self. I have found that shutting down technology for the day, not dealing with bills and shopping, and spending a day with a higher focus and purpose as we remember the deeper calling of Shabbat, truly enables me to remember who I am and what I want to accomplish. I feel that the structure and the underlying message of Shabbat are what enable me to reflect on my goals and purpose in life and consider how I am living up to it. At the same time as I do so, I find myself recharging and rejuvenating my spiritual battery back to 100% or close to it, and that impacts my determination to succeed better in the week that follows. 

Often it may seem easier to live who I want to be and truly be myself on Shabbat, yet the goal is to bring that deeper purpose and awareness into how I live the other six days of the week. From this perspective, seemingly mundane work on Monday morning is not a separate part of who I am, rather it is another dimension of who I am, and my job is to imbue that with the higher calling and greater good that defines my inner sentiments and purpose that I think about on Shabbat.

There is a famous Jewish quote, “more than the people kept Shabbat, Shabbat kept the people”, and for me, the busier life gets the more I appreciate the deeper meaning of this quote.

In a similar sense in this week’s portion we read about the Sabbatical Year which is similar to the weekly cycle, in that the seventh year was a time of refraining from working the land, and a time to reflect and remind ourselves of where life’s blessings come from, and how we are to live a life that reflects a deeper purpose. There too, living a meaningful life may seem more possible on a Sabbatical year, but the goal was to bring that higher purpose and attitude into the way the other six years of the cycle were lived and managed.

These days, outside Israel we don’t have the concept of the Sabbatical year of the land, as we have no Temple in Jerusalem. At the same time, we have the mini version of it as expressed in the weekly cycle and with it we are given the opportunity to take the time to create some holy and deeper space in our lives on the day of Shabbat, and thereby bring a deeper purpose, perspective and ultimately happiness and fulfillment to the other six days of the week.

Wishing you all an invigorating and rejuvenating Shabbat Shalom



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