Friday, February 18, 2011

This is Your Life. This is Your Life on Shabbat. Any Questions?

We all look forward to the end of the work week. Time to rest, time to relax, time for Shabbat!

For me, it’s a mix of emotions. I am glad to have a couple of days off from work (or three days as is the case this weekend), I am happy to vacation on the island of the week that is Shabbat, but I fear the feelings of disappointment that my addictions cause.

Simply put, my addictions get in the way of observance. I am not talking about the traditional definition of addiction involving drugs and alcohol; I am referring to the more obscure and often overlooked ones revolving around TV, internet, the phone, and the general inability on my part to make the day separate from all the other days. Of course, my smoking habit is as much to blame for violation of the day.

Part of the problem is laziness as I have become accustomed to a pattern of living but I think the biggest issue I have is overlooking how much control and influence that we have in this world. G-d gave us the ability to change the world and we do so every day of our lives without even realizing it. Think about it, when you turn on a lamp you are bringing light to the darkness, when you write down a list of things to do, you are forming thoughts, creating words, and shaping the structure of your day. This is a divine ability granted to us from Hashem to influence our lives and all too often, we forget the fact that this ability is a gift.

It is this forgetfulness that prevents many of us from taking a step back and recognizing our place as those who can influence change but can never master this world or our lives. Lori Palatnik makes this point simply and eloquently in her article “Laws of Shabbat for Beginners” on the website, “On Shabbat we also strive to bring God's presence into this world. We remove ourselves from creating in order to reaffirm that we do not have mastery over our lives. Someone else is in charge.”

Ironically, in order to appreciate our proper place in this world and the master that G-d has over our lives we must first take control of our lives and change our patterns, our habits, our addictions so that the holiness of life can permeate our existence and bring us closer to Hashem. As long as we are willing to acknowledge the divine holiness of the Torah and the life that it prescribes, we will always have a reminder of our place in this world and the glorious gifts that have been bestowed upon us.   

And, always keep in your heart the commandment to “guard and remember the Shabbat.”

Shabbat Shalom!

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