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The Shabbos Queen

Jewish Culture

Moshe Unger
Posted 11/5/21

It’s been a long time since I wrote about Shabbos. Shabbos or Shabbat, which is every Saturday, is the weekly day of rest in Judaism. Shabbos is central in Judaism and is the fourth of the Ten …

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The Shabbos Queen

Jewish Culture


It’s been a long time since I wrote about Shabbos. Shabbos or Shabbat, which is every Saturday, is the weekly day of rest in Judaism. Shabbos is central in Judaism and is the fourth of the Ten Commandments. The idea of Shabbos subsequently influenced the entire world. Christianity and Islam took on their own days of rest, labor movements appreciated Shabbos, recently there were articles in major newspapers like NYT and WSJ about a "Technology Shabbos" - to rest one day a week from technology use.

Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman Jew-haters (Jew-hatred is older than old) accused the Jews of laziness because they rest once a week. Today, everyone appreciates it and the Western world even adopted two days off of work.

There's a lot to write about Shabbos and its significance. I'll write about a point that is meaningful to me in my current life circumstances.

Humans are unique in that they can develop and change themselves and their surroundings. Humans are not confined to particular life patterns like animals are. This is a G-d-like gift. Really, such functions belong to the Creator. The one who creates has the ability to create and to change. Here we are, mortals who have not created ourselves nor have we planned our existence in any way, and we can go around creating and changing!

This ability can be used in good and bad ways for ourselves, for our surroundings, and for the entire planet. Some people are upset with humanity that we have such an ability, and they look at this ability as evil itself. This is misplaced guilt and twisted thinking. It is a gift to be human and we should constantly celebrate it!

The amazing human capabilities, however, are not our entire human experience. It is only fifty percent of it. The other half is the opposite of developing and becoming, it is "being" - our reflective selves which can celebrate and rejoice in simply existing and be grateful for what we have.

Our ability to do can also load us with anxiety and unhappiness of who we are now. It can be like a painter who never finishes to perfect his or her painting, an investor who cannot stop trying to eke out more profit, or parents who are never satisfied with the accomplishments of their child.

We need to constantly balance these two personalities, the urge to become better and the appreciation of what we already are.

That's where Shabbos comes in. It's a time when we don't need to "do" anything. It's a time to celebrate our past achievements and be grateful for what we have. It's a time to celebrate existence itself. It's a time of ceasing to be a Creator-like being and to recognize that we are creatures indeed and to connect to the giver of our existence.

In the Torah, Shabbos is referred to in feminine terms. This has many secrets. One idea is the secret to love in marriage. I heard this quote from a sage, but I forgot from whom. "The preventor of love is expectation". This is a profound idea. To love someone, we need to accept who they are at the given moment. The opposite of love is to see a person as good only in the image of what they can potentially become or what they once were in the past.

This is relevant to the people in our family and also to ourselves. We have to be able to look at our family members and at ourselves and be happy and grateful with who and what we are. Shabbos is the day that we can best do so.  

Wishing you a joyous Shabbos!

Comments? Email me: moshe@mosheunger.com


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