suggest they aren’t very good Jews.
I am never exactly sure how to respond to this kind of self-inflicted guilt. Do I chime in with my own confessions? Do I wave my hand in dismissal recognizing that schedules are notorious for being
Shabbat squashers? Do I lament living in a non-Jewish world? Or do I just get philosophical and debate the term “good Jew”?
Look the Sabbath comes once a week. God went out of God’s way to make it a special day. If Shabbat is supposed to be rejuvenating, then guilt doesn’t work. It is deflating. It is a “negative attention” connection with God. It works on feelings of shame and regret.
Since guilt goes nowhere, go instead with Shabbat. Wherever you go; whatever you are doing, take Shabbat with you.”
Even if you can’t fully rest, study, pray AND reflect on the Sabbath you can still acknowledge that the weekly holiday exists and see the world through Shabbes eyes.
Start with the great outdoors. Look outside at the sky and the earth, the trees and the birds and
recognize them as God’s creations. Shabbes, after all, is really a reward of rest for God working so hard
those six days of creation.
You may have errands, activities or even work to do but none of those need stop you from reflecting about it being Shabbes, about you being Jewish, about God.
If you don’t have the time to for schul, go ahead and be grateful that there are Jews all around the world in synagogue carrying on our religious traditions. They are taking the holy scroll from the ark, parading it around the sanctuary and chanting it aloud.
Wish you had a way to connect with the holy teachings, take a commandment, any commandment and think about it deeply. That too you know is a form of study.
Prayer also travels well. You can pray on Shabbat whether you are waiting for a show to begin, schlepping, shopping or sitting in schul. Sure it is easier in temple but sitting on the bleachers is a fine place for thanking God for all your blessings. Use it as a time to appreciate how your child is healthy of enough to play and you are well enough to watch. You can be grateful for the opportunity to be a parent and pray for the courage and insight to be a good one.
When you bring Shabbat with you, rather than leaving it at home or at the synagogue, you stay connected to God, to the Jewish people and to the Divine Spirit within you.
As for the guilt, you won’t miss it a bit.
Originally Published in The Texas Jewish Post