How does a person begin to keep Shabbat?
Maybe you’ve read a description of Shabbat observance, and found it overwhelming or just plain impossible. Or perhaps you had relatives who did observe Shabbat, and the way they went about it left you feeling that it was a burden, not a joy.
And now it’s Elul, and the High Holy Days are coming, and perhaps some of you are thinking that you’d LIKE to keep Shabbat, but… (you fill in the blank.)
So let me suggest another approach. If you want to keep Shabbat, pick ONE THING on this list that you aren’t already doing.
1. Light candles Friday night.
2. Set aside some part of Friday night or Saturday for a family meal.
3. Go to services at a nearby synagogue.
4. Set aside the 24 hours of Shabbat as a “no-nagging” time zone, or maybe just Friday night.
5. Read a commentary or d’var Torah on this week’s Torah portion. (You can find it here.)
6. Call or write to someone you love.
7. Do something you don’t usually give yourself time to do: take a walk in nature, for instance.
8. Have wine or juice with dinner Friday night, and say a blessing (English is fine.)
9. Turn off your cell phone and/or computer for part or all of the day.
10. Choose not to do any shopping from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Let whatever it is wait.
Now, try that ONE THING it out this Shabbat. Afterwards, ask yourself:
How did that feel? Do I want to do it again?
If so, do it again. If not, pick something else on the list and try it. Later, you can add something, when you are ready. Add no more than one thing at a time.
This is how a person grows into Shabbat.