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What Defines the Best Day of Your Week?

Friday, 3 May, 2013 - 5:06 pm

childneshek.jpgWhich day of the week do you like best?

Is it Sunday, as most of us don’t have to work that day and are able to relax or tend to our lawns? Is it Monday since we can go back to work and get on top of everything we need to? Is it perhaps Thursday, when we know there is only one more day left of the working week, or is it on Saturday when we know the week has finished?

Personally, several days of the week are great although each for different reasons. Sunday’s excite me, as I like the fact that we are starting another fresh week.  Monday excites me as I can begin to get on top of our many responsibilities. Tuesday’s are fun, as I give my big class on Tuesday evenings. Wednesdays are hectic and busy and packed with spending time with people and teaching.  Thursday’s are great as they are the only day I don’t have to drive into Boston and sit in rush hour traffic.

Then there is Friday!

Friday is nearly always the busiest day of the week, as we rush to finish off a thousand things and try to end off before sundown. The last few hours of Friday’s are always packed with errands, shopping, cooking, preparations for Shabbat, last minute phone calls and emails, and of course some last minute banking. Each one of our children are busy scurrying around the house as they help with the last minute setup and cleanup so that the house is sparkling clean and ready to bring in the Shabbos.

Then, a few minutes before Sundown, we slam on our ABS brakes to ensure a safe shortstop and our week comes to a grinding halt. Our phones shut down, the cooking is over with and all of our other work and errands cease and stop. In the presence of my children, my wife begins to light the Shabbat candles and usher in the Shabbat, and at that moment, we mentally, emotionally and spiritually say goodbye to all of our weekday worries. 

When the candles are lit and Shabbat has been brought in, everyone relaxes in their own way, with the kids playing and reading while we catch our breath for a few minutes and recover from the week that past. Within a few minutes I start saying my evening prayers as the children continue to play, I sometimes even overhear them singing along as I pray Kabbalat Shabbat. Soon, we sit down for our Shabbat dinner that often includes Shabbat guests, and as we do so, the children all speak about their week, share insights from what they learned in school, and share a Jewish thought or some Arts & Crafts that they have made that week. Together we sit around as a family, bonding, connecting, relaxing, singing, and spending many special hours together over the Shabbat dinner.

At this point, you have probably realized that my favorite day of the week is Shabbat. Each Friday evening, I relish breathing in and stepping back from the hectic pursuits and responsibilities of our daily living and being able to spend time contemplating the week that passed, spending time together as a family, and thinking about how we can make the next week an even better week. The mental and spiritual space that the day of Shabbat provides, helps us remember who we are and remind ourselves of life’s priorities and purpose. Shabbat allows us to reflect on how we are doing in terms of our responsibilities towards G-d and Man and how we are doing with our general spiritual responsibilities and objectives in life.

In last week’s portion, we were instructed about the importance of having a Shabbat each week,  and in this week’s portion, we are taught about the land of Israel having a Sabbatical year every seven years. Both of these ideas share a similar theme and purpose, in allowing us to keep life’s purpose and a deeper perspective central to our day-to-day lives.

Yet interestingly, when the instruction of keeping the Sabbatical year is conveyed, it first states the commandment of observing the Sabbatical year and only then does it explain that this means through working the land for six years and resting on the seventh. The commentaries ask, wouldn’t it have made sense just to first state, than upon arrival in the land of Israel and working for six years, one should rest on the seventh? What is the need for the precursor instruction of resting the land before we have even mentioned anything about working the land?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe once discussed this question and shared a beautiful insight that I think is central and critical to the functioning of a healthy spiritual human being. He explained that in truth, our work and our rest are not two distinct elements, with six days including exclusive focus on our work and professional life, and the seventh day focusing on our spiritual pursuits and connecting with G-d. Rather, from the very outset of our work and productivity, the subconscious sentiment and purpose of our work, is to allow us to grow and develop as a human being and live a life that is in harmony with our spiritual values and obligations as a Jew.

In other words, our spiritual growth does not begin on Saturday or in the Sabbatical year, rather throughout the six days of the week or the six years of the Sabbatical cycle, the deeper spiritual purpose  and goals of who we are and need to be,  are the central underpinnings for our lives and the direction we are taking. We may be trading on Wall Street, running a large company, or dealing with many clients, yet the need to have spiritual sensitivity to the bigger picture can be at the essence of why and how we go about conducting our business.

When conducting our lives in this manner, our professional life and success and our spiritual values and purpose are not two distinct and separate functions and time zones of who we are. Rather, our professional life and success throughout the six days (or six years of the Sabbatical cycle) are themselves vehicles of spirituality that allow and facilitate our success  in achieving our spiritual goals and purpose.

Thus in truth, the beauty of Shabbat does not only begin on Friday night as we light the candles. Instead, the perspective and manner that we go about our weekly business and functions throughout the week are what truly allow the inner peace that Shabbat provides to thrive and truly enrich our lives. It is the continuum of Shabbat perspective throughout the week, that enables the message of life’s purpose and goals and our relationship with G-d, to resonate and help us become the wholesome person we strive to be.

With this in mind, the statement “More than the Jews have kept the Shabbat, the Shabbat has kept the Jews” (Achad Haam) takes on a much more deeper and powerful meaning.

Which day of the week is your favorite?

Good Shabbos

Yisroel

P.S If you would like to read more about Shabbat and the Island of Time that it represents click here.

 

 

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