We all know the story of creation that is found in multiple religious texts. Regardless of whether you are a believer or not, the idea of taking a day off to rest has been woven into the very fabric of man’s existence. No matter what philosophy or religion you follow, there is a good chance that the idea of rest and relaxation is a part of your culture. Unlike God, we need to take a day off to rest. On the other hand, life today is more fast-paced than it ever has been in the past. The advent of the internet and mobile technology means that many of the duties of the work week have followed us home, on vacation, and even during the night.
There is a good chance that you are like me. I work hard during the week. When I get up, I go to work. I have numerous clients I work closely with. They depend on me just as I depend on them. I tend to work long hours because I am dedicated to my work and my clients. At the same time, I need to have some time off for myself as well. This is where Shabbat is important. I like to have the traditional meals and Kiddush. I like to take a day for myself.
Like many of you, I think carefully about how I spend Shabbat. I grew up in a strict, orthodox home. We followed the texts closely and I did not question my parents. In my head, I was wondering why we did what we did. After all, if it is supposed to be a day of rest, why can’t I simply rest? Now, I am more traditional. I still keep kosher, but I only wear the kippah on occasion. I have realized that the true purpose of Shabbat is to be just that: a day of rest. I feel like I am honoring God as long as I spend the day as He intended it to be spent. That means resting. Sometimes, I sleep in. If I feel like it has been an unusually long or busy week, then I need to give my mind and my body a chance to recharge. Therefore, I stay in bed for a little while longer. If the weather is nice outside, then I go out for a long walk. This is a chance for me to get some exercise, breathe some fresh air, and enjoy the outdoors. I have also found that some mild exercise helps me release some stress while also clearing my head. How I spend Shabbat varies from week to week because my needs change from time to time as well. The goal is to rest in whatever manner is restful to me.
If you are wondering how you should spend Shabbat, then you need to think about what is restful for you as well. Sure, it is customary to eat three festive meals. Many avoid using cars or doing any shopping. The reality is that as long as you are resting, I think it is fine to spend Shabbat as you wish. Therefore, stick to the spirit of Shabbat instead of the letter of the law. Just like me, you work hard as well. You deserve to have a day off to rest. If this means relaxing with family members and friends, then do so! If that means watching your favorite TV show or playing your favorite sport, then do that! If there is a special meal that you want to enjoy, then cook it with your loved ones. The goal of Shabbat is to rest. Resting takes different forms for different people, so don’t worry so much about how you spend it. Instead, focus on the purpose and get some rest. You have earned it.