Shabbos Koidesh

I started writing this post using the word “struggle” but I have never struggled with keeping shabbos. I believe very strongly that Hashem has more things to worry about than my turning the thermostat up or ripping toilet paper. Still, if I am staying by people who are shomer shabbos, I will keep it out of respect and an understanding why it’s important to them.

The modern world affords us every opportunity to keep connected 24/7. While the originator(s) of shabbos might not have had iPhones and Facebook in mind, there was a purpose to disconnect and rest. In those days, when yidden were quite literally slaves or indentured servants, it made sense to mandate a full day of rest for self-preservation. I’ll admit a less than healthy addiction to my iPhone in particular, so when I’m “forced” to keep shabbos I actually relish the break.

What I don’t understand is the massive baiting of the Off the Derech community towards someone who kept shabbos despite not believing in it. Selling out? He kept for a good reason, and with the donator’s full knowledge that going through the motions were pretty meaningless.

Which brings me to the next point – is it that hard to keep shabbos? I guess if I didn’t have philosophical arguments with the Hashem-driven purpose that it would be easier. I do think it’s juvenile and misguided to go after someone who keeps shabbos with such fervor that your entire existence for 25 hours is wrapped up in how much you can annoy him afterwards. I have a hard time calling myself “off the derech” at times like these. Is it really such a big deal? Ridiculing for doing good?

I would keep shabbos until Tuesday every week for the rest of my life if it meant having custody of my kids. Is that selling out?

Chabad is well known for their “island in time” kiruv for Jews keeping shabbos. Why does it work so well for secular yidden? Because we’re so wrapped up in being “on” all the time that hitting the breaks on the world for a day looks like a pretty appetizing idea. I looked forward to shabbos recently even if it meant no cell phone because I could stop the world turning so fast for a little while.

My new job, contrary to my last two, does not come with a cell phone or laptop. When I leave the office at night, nobody expects me to respond at 10pm. My weekends are my own. I’m able to concentrate on my kid with more energy and enthusiasm than I have in the last three years because I’m not waiting for a buzz or a flashing red light to spring me like a firefighter into the next corporate fire. I have my own time again. Every night can be a little island in time, a little shabbosdik.

In my previous life, shabbos was a dreaded chore. There’s no “rest” for a young mother keeping kids occupied and clean for 25 hours. That sinking feeling when shabbos was approaching made life very difficult. I wasn’t shutting off from anything. The world tilted slightly, but it never stopped.

I’m not advocating for weary executives to start keeping shabbos. We all have to do what’s right for ourselves without judgement from anyone about our beliefs. An irreligious break from the world, even if it’s to bathe our kids or read a paperback? Great idea. A fake shabbos to help children in need? Absolutely.

The holiness in this shabbos isn’t that an atheist who used to be a chusid kept it. It’s that it was purposeful outside of himself.

Untethering allows us to look up. To not Instagram our food or video the latest dumb stunt our friends do. To engage with human beings in a purposeful way. Do it on a Sunday. A Tuesday evening. Don’t mock those who choose to do it.

Find your own purpose.


6 responses to “Shabbos Koidesh

  1. While your points are valid, I’d just like to add that I find such publicity stunts very distasteful, and if i were running the charity i would refuse the donation.

    • Why refuse good money that can help sick children? It’s a stunt for sure, but I don’t think for a minute that it’s any less valid than growing a moustache to raise money for prostate cancer research.

      For the record, I find beardless moustaches highly offensive to my eyes and stomach and am grateful every year for December 1st. But if that’s what gets the job done…

  2. Cookie – While I think I understand where you are coming from, I think any stunt that gets money to those sick kids is worth it.

    My Derech, I agree with your point about the OTD community giving him grief for being a sell out. To me, going off the derech means freeing yourself from the chains of the rigid communal rules and expectations of orthodoxy. How is the OTD movement any different from ultra orthodox Judaism at its core, if it becomes yet another society with rigid rules and expectations. Expectations, which, if they aren’t met, earn its members ridicule or shunning. It’s like the feminist movement that advocates for women to pursue any path they find meaningful, yet if a woman chooses a traditional path, they are ridiculed and labelled as oppressed.

    • It’s not any different. It’s a mob rule, lowest common denominator community in a lot of ways.

      That being said, my two closest (and smartest) friends come from the OTD community. I find the less vocal/active OTDers are focused on lives with purpose and meaning, while the ones who make the most noise are going to be displeased with anything. It could be a maturity thing (because I’m very old), but I find the hero worship and bowing down distasteful. Let’s build each other up to be productive, rather than focus on how juvenile we can be online. Just a thought…

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