Rest and renewal - a liberal guide to shabbat celebration

February 11, 2010

Celebrating Shabbat is about embracing the gifts of the seventh day. Here is a framework for doing just that:

We inhabit a 24/7 society — an endless round that never ceases for a moment. So, whether it is on Friday evening or Saturday afternoon, celebrate the beginning of your Shabbat by stopping whatever you are busy doing.

Work is essential, creativity is a special gift, but without rest, we are all slaves – so experience the liberation of getting off the treadmill and “switching off” in every sense.

Setting apart
You can make Shabbat special simply by doing special things: eating leisurely meals with family and friends; walking; studying; reading; gardening; playing games; visiting a children’s attraction or an exhibition – and if you spend money, going to a café rather than shopping.

Shabbat is a time to celebrate being alive; for sensual pleasures, playfulness and fun, for eating, singing and dancing, for experiencing joy, for offering hospitality and reaching out to others.

Shabbat is about m’nuchah, complete “rest”, which is the opposite of work; if you have to work for part of the day – just a couple of hours of rest can make all the difference.

Shabbat is a time to be with others, but also a time to be with yourself: to breathe, to unwind, to stretch, to sleep, to find yourself again.

Repairing the world
It is traditional to put money in a tzedakah box before Shabbat begins. We can also give our money and our time to support agencies and projects working for economic justice and challenging tyranny of all kinds. And there is more: As the kiddush blessing puts it, Shabbat is “a memorial of the work of Creation”; our responsibility to put right what is wrong extends to encompass the Earth itself. Imagine what a difference it would make if for one day, each week, people ceased from using anything but the bare minimum of electricity and fuel; if we left our cars at home and got on our bikes; what kind of difference might that make to the world?

Last updated: 4:46pm, February 11 2010