Overwhelmed by Shabbat?

2898151773_e0d5a0c656Shabbat begins tonight at sundown.

Some of us are already preparing: cleaning house, making challah, shopping.

And some of us feel overwhelmed at the idea of Shabbat: special dinner, Hebrew blessings, day of rest, no driving/money/shopping/etc…

If you are feeling overwhelmed, just stop.  Let that go.

Make Shabbat the day that you put down burdens, including the burden of a “perfect Shabbat.”

Some suggestions for an imperfect (but blessed!) Shabbat. Choose one, and see how it feels:

  • Make this Shabbat a day with “One meal together” in my home, with takeout if cooking is stressful.
  • This Shabbat, I will light candles and let that be enough.
  • For all or part of Shabbat, electronics OFF in my home.
  • From sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, “No Nagging” in my home.
  • This Shabbat, I will go to synagogue for one service and just take it in. No judgments, no expectations.
  • This Shabbat, no shopping or errands. Whatever it is, it can wait.
  • This Shabbat, to any worries, say “Let that wait until sundown on Saturday.”
  • This Shabbat, tell each family member personally, “I love you.”

No, these are not traditional Shabbat observances. But when we feel overwhelmed by a mitzvah, then it is time to go back to the very basics. Try one or more of these, and see how you feel.  Let Shabbat be a day when you lay your burdens down.

May the peace of Shabbat enter our homes and our hearts!


Image: AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by RahelSharon

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at http://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

7 thoughts on “Overwhelmed by Shabbat?”

  1. Thank you so much…..this was exactly what I needed right now! Candle lighting suggestion perfect; that’s all I did yesterday, but felt ‘guilty’ at not doing more. Thanks for making me feel better. Best I he’s from Scotland

  2. iPad autocorrect strikes again….that should of course be ‘best wishes’, and not ‘best I he’s’ 🙂

  3. A beautiful and needed post. May I add a thought? Invite a friend over. Someone who feels less Shabbat savvy than you. Just laugh and have fun with trying one of these ideas.

    I am always struck by how grateful people are to be invited for Shabbat dinner. Inviting others is so rewarding!

  4. As a person converting, my rabbi gave me an assignment to start incorporating Shabbat into my weekly routine. I admit feeling overwhelmed; probably overthinking it with all the nuances involved. Thanks for bringing simplicity into it.

    1. You are very welcome, James. Beginning to observe any mitzvah can be a little overwhelming, and it helps to incorporate one new piece of it at a time. That period of time studying for conversion is full of adjustments and experiments. Ideally, it’s also a time of discoveries. To whatever extent you can, enjoy the journey!

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