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I Cannot Stop on Shabbat

I Cannot Stop on Shabbat

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Question:

By far the most difficult commandment for me to keep is Shabbat. I never seem to get everything done in time on Friday, and can't just leave it alone as I should. Can you help me?

Answer:

I think this is really a challenge for us 21st century Americans, accustomed as we are to thinking that we need to hold the reins, taking control of every aspect of our lives. The idea that we should just stop—really stop—and let the world and the stock market and business and politicians continue on without us is simply foreign. We just don't think that way.

Here's a tidbit about Shabbat that lots of people don't know. Shabbat belongs to a category of mitzvahs called eidut, the Hebrew word for “testimony.” In other words, when we keep Shabbat, we are giving testimony about something. What exactly are we testifying to? The answer is found in the words we say in the kiddush blessing as we welcome Shabbat: G‑d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

This testimony has a far more profound impact than simply imitating G‑d's behavior of “resting.” What our Shabbat observance affirms is our belief that not only did G‑d create the world many, many centuries ago, but that He remains its Creator, and continues creating and sustaining it at all times. And He can manage to do this without our help. On Shabbat, we step back, refrain from all creative activity, release our control of our piece of the world, and attest to the fact that G‑d is truly the only one in charge.

The fact that keeping Shabbat is hard for you means that you're really tuning in to what it's about. As you say, you can't seem to leave it alone. That's exactly it! When that struggle arises, grab ahold of that statement and make it a positive one. I will leave it alone and show G‑d that I trust He knows what He's doing, and that He's the One making it all happen. I can rest.

It's incredibly freeing.

Malkie Janowski is an accomplished educator who lives in Coral Springs, Florida. Mrs. Janowski is also a responder on Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi team.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Lisa Providence, RI October 7, 2017

Preparing for Shabbat is a lot of work, and it's easier if you're organized. You need to plan ahead so you'll have more time, and many people go food shopping on Thursdays so they'll have more time to prepare. Reply

Ruth Philippines October 5, 2016

this answer really makes me think and finally say, yes! Reply

Claudia Regina Belo Horizonte October 2, 2016

Thank you for this so helpful message. Baruch HaShem that I was able to experience the Criator moving on my entire life as I tried to keep the Shabbat. I was able to see my job being done during the six work days and I was able to have my house clean and ready for Shabbat! It is really amazing. May my life continue being to try as much as possible to trust HaShem. Reply

David Sam Texas September 26, 2016

Piece by piece This is a hard one for me that I have to break it into pieces and work on each piece at a time. For example, right now, I'm trying not to use my smartphone as a smartphone on Shabbat. I just use it as a regular phone to let my wife know that I am leaving from Shabbat services and on my way home. As soon as I get home, I stick it out of reach so that I just don't pick it up out of habit. I use my phone for everything. Haven't been on my computer in months. Right now I'm unable to do the whole thing at once. Maybe one day I will get there. Reply

Ellen Boston September 26, 2016

One of my favorites This is so helpful! One of my favorite pieces! Reply

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