Dear Sabbath Seekers,
The Shabbat meal is a time of sharing good food, conversation and remembering that none of us can make it on our own. That is why family and friends attend. God has put us here to be in relationship not just with God but with others as well.
The Torah and the New Testament are full of admonitions to love one another, care for one another, weep and/or laugh with one another, carry one another’s burdens, share possessions and sometimes even lay down our lives for friends.
I can see why even when they were in exile it was important to keep the practice of Sabbath and the Shabbat meal alive whether there was a synagogue or a place in which to worship. Staying connected to God and others was key to their survival and when it was ritualized in a meal it was easier to do.
I was thinking about this during the past few days as I sat in a hospital with my husband. It wasn’t a hospital we were familiar with nor did we know any of the doctors. We are nine hundred miles away from our usual caregivers and, except for my daughter and a few new friends, we were away from the majority of our friends and family.
And although this is a stretch of the usual Shabbat understanding, I did not feel alone because I was connected to God and to family and friends through social media. Messages of support, prayer and encouragement connected me to others instantly. It certainly would have been better to be face to face but it was better than feeling totally alone in a strange place.
Now, please don’t read this wrong. I am not advocating texting or Facebook as the new Shabbat tradition – not by a long shot. What I am advocating is the development and strengthening of family and friendship ties so that sharing concerns and burdens can be done in any time and any place through any means.
Sabbath is about strengthening relationship ties. It is about stopping the hustle and bustle of life. It’s about remembering and turning to the things that give life meaning and make sense out of the ups and downs we all face. Unless we slow down, take a rest and connect or reconnect with the people and powers that give meaning to our lives, then we are just on one big treadmill that will grind us up and not miss us when we finally fall off from exhaustion.
I hope you will spend some Sabbath time this week with those whom you share a life-giving bond.
“Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.”
Prov. 17.17 The Message