Our sages say that Shabbat is a delight. You may know people who love Shabbat and keep it and say they wouldn’t be able to live without it. Shabbat is praised as a taste of the world to come. It is the time for deeper intimacy, for the pleasures of the table, for song, for joy, for true respite.
So why is it so hard to do? It is such a great idea, but hard to make real. Much as we might long for a weekly day off, a true oasis in time, it’s hard!! Our broader culture is all about action and resting is just not part of the program. Regular rest is hard to build into our lives. Yet with diligence and a Mussar trait called Azut d’kedusha – holy boldness – it is possible.
What is holy boldness and why will it help us leap over the barriers to making time for Shabbat? The Hebrew word azut is related to the word oz which means courage or strength. And what is d’kedusha? It is the strength of holiness. And we need that boldness when we want to bring holiness into our lives. For some people, holiness has an odd off-putting tone. While we may want to be spiritual, we are not sure that we want to be holy. But let’s look at the word kedusha one more time. Professor Dov Landau of Bar Ilan University tells us that kedusha is related to the sacred, the wondrous, the elevated, the numinous, the mysterious, and the awesome. Kedusha is an aspect of life that is undefinable. We know it through our hearts and souls, not our intellect.
In the quest for these qualities we can be bold, we must be bold, because we live in the midst of a very secular world. We must be strong, even fierce, in the face of our never ending to-do lists. At the end of the day our task list is often longer than it was at the beginning of the day even though we might have been devoted to taking action all day long.
It is azut d’kedusha that gives us the chutzpah to say “no.” As Shabbat approaches we say that we are off the clock and off the hook. We put down our devices. We let people know that we are entering a world of time spaciousness.
We put aside our many tasks. We laugh at what I call the “just-one-more-thing” syndrome. That’s when we say “I will do just one more thing and then I will turn to the world of rest, then I will stop striving, then I will take that deep breath and trust that all will be well when I step off my treadmill.” But, the just one more thing turns into finishing ten more emails, and a few more texts, and perhaps a last check on social media. And then, the long wished for blessing of our oasis in time gets eaten up by our wish to just get on top of the many claims for our attention.
The word Shabbat means stop. That’s it. Just stop. So, now, just for a moment, carve out a little bit of time for your Shabbat rest. Find the time in your calendar when you are determined to turn off your phone, slow your movements, slow your breathing, and just for a little bit of time, that you set aside, ready or not, let go of achieving and turn to rest, to reflect and to play. Then, Shabbat is a delight.
This is a guest post is by Marilyn Paul, Ph.D. She is an organizational change facilitator and Mussar teacher. Dr. Paul has taught Mussar in Jerusalem, Berkeley and the Boston area. She is the author of “An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life ” and “It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys: The Seven-Step Path to Becoming Truly Organized.” Please visit her website www.marilynpaul.com to learn more.