Sabbath Meditation, Tradition-less Shabbat?

This entry is a little late. I’m just getting it in about 1:15 before Sabbath starts.

If you are observant of Sabbath, I pray your table would be a blessing tonight as ours is. May you be surrounded by love. If you are single, I pray that from time to time at least you get Sabbath with friends. Spread your fine tablecloth, lay out your wineglasses, and challah loaves. Smell the Sabbath spice!

I watched a documentary this week: “A Life Apart.” It is about Hasidic Judaism in America. Of course it covers the origins of Hasidism (look it up on if you are unfamiliar). It covers the Holocaust and its impact on Jewry and the reformation of Hasidism in America. It covers daily life for Hasidic men and women and their relation to the world. I highly recommend it.

In one part, as they were discussing whether Hasidism was a difficult lifestyle or a blessed one, a Hasidic man commented on how hard it must be to be a Gentile! He said something like, “How can you live without Shabbes? You have no idea what joy really is.” (Shabbes is the Ashkenazi way to say Sabbath or Shabbat).

From time to time on this blog, I have people who say, “We don’t need the rabbis.” They usually mean, “I don’t want to separate milk and meat,” or some similar complaint about traditional Jewish lifestyle.

I’d like to imagine a Shabbat without rabbinic tradition. It is a day of rest. So sundown comes on Friday night and what do you do? Nothing in particular. You eat when you feel like it. You rest. It’s peaceful, but hardly a great blessing. Imagine there’s no candlelighting, no “Shalom Aleichem”, no blessing the children, no grace after meals, and not singing songs of worship.

I’ll take my traditional Shabbat. I get joy beyond words when my one-year-old covers her eyes as my wife prepares to light the candles. It is not unusual for me to sit at dinner with my wife and children gathered around, but tonight there is a greater purpose. I love sanctifying the day.

The more you see the holiness of God the more you will see the holiness of Shabbat. The Sabbath can only be as holy to you as God is in your heart.

I love discussing “What’s Bothering Rashi” afterwards with my wife and perhaps some guests. I love breaking out the guitar and my daughter on piano and we sing. I love it when guests dance in my living room to Moshav Band melodies.

I love Sabbath. I love it because the rabbis have ornamented it with tradition. Enter into Shabbat. Enter into tradition. Let your heart be glad.


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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