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?


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.