In today’s world we tend to live a 24/7 week where the days often seem to run together. The Monday through Friday workweek is not one that all of us have. Yet, as Jews, we are told in this week’s parsha of Vayakhel that we must not work on Shabbat (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) or we may be put to “death.” But what about those of us who have responsibilities that require us to work on Saturday? How does the modern Jew try to observe Shabbat while recognizing our 24/7 interconnected world?
First, we know that no one is put to death in contemporary society for working on Saturday – nor would we assume anyone was in the past. The Torah tries to emphasize certain acts by making the punishment severe. But why even mention this? Because Shabbat truly is the most important day of the week for any Jew. If there is one act that draws most Jews together on a frequent basis it is the observance of Shabbat – a day of rest and peace. Is this important in our modern world? Absolutely! In fact, it may be more consequential to us in our social media world than at any other time in history. It is also critical for our spiritual health, and physical health, that we slow down and put things in perspective at least once a week.
If you have to work on the traditional day of Shabbat, then make another day of the week your day of peace, reflection and spiritual growth. Go ahead and light the candles, say the blessings, and sit down to a lovely meal with challah bread on Tuesday night if you work on Saturday. It is that important. Even if you can’t do it every week, try every other week or as often as you can. Set aside that time with your spouse, with your family, with your Torah studies or anything else that will make the day special for you.
What day is Shabbat? Shabbat is whatever day that will work on your schedule. G-d gave us Shabbat, in my humble opinion, not only to think of him, but because he knew that as sentient human beings we need a day a week to sit back and reflect. We need a day that is not about making more money or getting ahead on our goals. We need a day to ponder ideas that are at a much higher level than the ordinary everyday existence of life. We need the peace of Shabbat to bring a better quality to our lives and our families.
Make Shabbat a day of renewal and spiritual rejuvenation. Whatever day you choose, as Nike says, “Just Do It!” It will make a difference in your life.