“Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” Exodus 20.8

I lived in Massachusetts when the state legislature voted that stores and businesses could be open on Sunday. Legislators were very vocal in promising that under the new law no one would be fired for refusing to work on Sunday. It was left unsaid that if a prospective new employee was not willing to work on Sunday they would not be hired.

The Jewish people have gifted the world with a day of rest each week. No work is to be done. As far as what constitutes work, opinions vary widely. Judaism has many forms and expressions; some strictly follow the letter of every law, some try to remain faithful to the law’s intent.

In seminary I took a course called “Forms of Jewish Life” about Jewish life, tradition, faith, and practices. The instructor was a wise and experienced Rabbi. During a discussion on the Sabbath and what constituted work I posed a question:

“Let’s say someone works in an office and gardens for pleasure. All day at work they look forward to working in the garden. It refreshes them; it lifts their soul; they feel they are in harmony with God’s creation. If they find gardening so enriching is it permitted on the Sabbath?”

The Rabbi laughed and said, “Now you are thinking like a Jew.” So opinions vary.

Everyone needs downtime; to relax, to “unstring the bow”, to rest and reflect. We live in a busy world; the demands are numerous. Perhaps people cannot take an entire day off. In that case, they can take a morning or an afternoon or an evening to rest, or do something that refreshes their spirit. They can place themselves in the presence of God and rest in the Lord.

Another form of Sabbath that people find refreshing is to take a Sabbath from certain forms of media. People are becoming more and more stressed by the negativity that surrounds us each day. Why not take a break for a while? Why click, watch, or read items that you KNOW will upset you.

This does not mean to secede from the world, not does it mean to stop caring. Merely to take a break, to recharge, to let the well fill up with life giving water.