Commentary: The importance of rest

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Rabbi Alana Wasserman
Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation
(860) 276-9113
rabbi@gsjc.org

The other day, I saw a meme on Facebook that said, “I love how being an adult is just saying, ‘After this week, things will slow down’ to yourself until you die.” I didn’t see it once. I saw it multiple times from different friends. While at first I thought it was funny, after seeing it repeatedly it lost all its humor.

Many of us feel that time is always of the essence. A number of years ago, Real Simple magazine had an issue called, “What can you do in 15 minutes?” Inside, there was a fascinating article with another question as the title: “If you had an extra 15 minutes in your day, how would you use it?” Readers from all across North America sent in their answers for this issue. Some people said that they would spend these extra fifteen minutes reading or writing. Others wrote that they would spend this time with their spouse, children, parents, grandparents, friends, or relax alone by either sleeping, meditating, or taking a walk.

None of the readers’ responses listed consisted of them spending more time in the office or running errands. Only one woman wrote that she would clean her house.

After almost every answer I read, I thought, “That’s what the Sabbath is for!” The Sabbath is our day to rest, to relax, to spend time with friends and family. God has given us an entire day, not just 15 extra minutes. Our lives are so over-programmed, and we are so over-extended, that we need to take more than 15 minutes; we need the Sabbath.

In the book of Genesis we read, “And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it God ceased from all the work of creation which God had done,” (Gen. 2:1-3). This is the first time in the entire Torah that the word “holy” is used. This signals to us that the Sabbath is important. In six days, God created everything, and still took a day off. While we may not be creating new worlds, our lives are busy with work and responsibilities, and therefore, we need to model after God.

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In his book, “The Sabbath,” Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the most significant Jewish theologians of the twentieth century, wrote, “The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space.”

Our time is holy. We often forget this. When we go to work or school, chauffer the kids to and from their activities, and run our errands, it’s easy to forget that our time is holy. The Sabbath is our reminder. We get an opportunity to rest, reflect on the past week, and recharge our batteries. We are afforded this time to relax with our friends and families.

We are always looking for an extra 15 minutes to rest, to spend time with family, to relax, to do what we enjoy. The Torah was prepared for this from the start, literally. God gave us this wonderful gift. Let us not squander it. Instead, let us make time for the Sabbath, and remember that our time is holy.

Rabbi Alana Wasserman is the rabbi at the Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation and a member of the Southington Interfaith Clergy Association. She can be reached at alanamwass@yahoo.com or (860) 276-9113.