Practical Spirituality: Keeping the Sabbath

Ahad Ha’Am said, “More than Israel has kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept Israel.” Great wisdom can be found in that statement not just for Jews but for anyone who wants to strengthen their religious or spiritual practice. Indeed, a full day spent in worship can do amazing things for your soul and for your commitment to your faith.

All Abrahamic religions, such as Christianity and Islam, observe a Sabbath as well, but Jews are stringent about their 25-hour Shabbat. They have many rules—at least the very observant Jews, such as no work, no spending money, no driving, and of course, attending services Friday night (the beginning of the Sabbath, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. Then Saturday night a Havdallah service often performed at home to mark the distinction between the Sabbath and the ordinary week. The lighting of Shabbat candles on Friday at sundown and lighting of the Havdallah candle at sundown on Saturday night serve as bookends to the most important holiday of the year—the one that comes each week.

A full day of devotion to God and to remembering—or experiencing—the difference between the sacred and the profane allows you to experience the extraordinary—God. Giving up the things you do during a normal day also makes you more aware of the difference between the Sabbath and the other days of the week.

You don’t have to be Jewish, to observe a full-day Sabbath. Some Muslim’s do the same, and Christians can take this tradition and make it their own a well. Many other traditions, such as Wicca, have Sabbath rituals of some sort or another, and although they may differ in the day or the amount of time the Sabbath is observed, they all come from the same origin. Additionally, anyone can decide to adopt Sabbath rituals for themselves, creating a Sabbath on any day of the week—“a sanctuary in time,” as Abraham Joshua Heshel called it.

Think about having one sacred day of the week devoted to prayer, rituals, gratitude, and remember God and the sacred in everything. Consider creating your own rituals, prayers and ways of observing this day if you don’t want to go to a temple, mosque or church

If you go to a mosque or church for services, consider extending your worship or observance to a full day. Do something different, new, more…See if keeping the Sabbath doesn’t help you keep your faith and your religion.

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