What some of us, myself included, might forget about Shabbat is that it is a weekly
holiday. It is a time set apart from all other days of the week. Shabbat is meant for reflection,
relaxation, taking a break from the weekly struggles we face and using that time to focus on the
present. As said during this week’s Torah portion: “[For] six days, work may be performed, but
on the seventh day, it is a complete rest day, a holy occasion; you shall not perform any work. It
is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.”
And yet, I know that myself, and nearly everyone in this room, struggles to keep Shabbat
on a weekly basis. It’s finals week and for some of us it’s also graduation week and I need to
email my professor and what about that grad party? What about the party tonight? The study
session tomorrow? And who could forget brunch? Your boss needs that final document and you
absolutely must apply for internships too, don’t forget.
Now that everyone is sufficiently freaked out, please take a deep breath, and relax. The
message about the study guide can wait. The final isn’t in an hour, it’s on Monday. Still a bit
scary, but not as much as it could be.
What you should be focusing on is the room we’re in, the people we’re with. For some of
us, this may be our last Shabbat together for many weeks and months. Look at the person next
to you, smile at them. Aren’t you happy to see them? Aren’t you happy you aren’t in this room
alone? Shabbat is a time to connect with those we have been ignoring for the past week. We
make small talk, maybe bring up our classes, but we shouldn’t be glancing at our phones. Focus
on what is in front of you, right now.
One of my favorite quotes is from “The Sabbath” by Joshua Heschel. It says, “Six days a
week we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh we try to dominate the self.” We live in a
24/7 world where we are expected to be on call every minute of every day. Not only do we seek
to dominate the small section of the world that is our world, but that world seeks to dominate us
as well. With today’s technology at our fingertips, we’re expected to be right there too. I’m sure
many of you find Shabbat to be a hassle, a chore sometimes. Maybe for some of you college
was a blessing because you didn’t have to follow Shabbat how your family did back home,
though you definitely told your mother you were going to services every single Friday.
Think about how incredibly privileged we are to be granted this day of rest. It is a special
day made just for us. A day to improve upon ourselves, to focus on what is most important to
us. Take advantage of that, don’t let it go to waste.