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Do We Still Need the Sabbath in Modern Life?

It has been said that as much as the Jewish people have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jewish people and never perhaps is this truer that in modern times because as much as there is a spiritual and scriptural significance to this statement, it also speaks volumes about the human condition and the need for the centrality of the Sabbath in our lives. While some may see this sacred time as out dated or non-essential for modern times, nothing could be further from the truth and in fact it is in these times, perhaps greater than ever before, that the Sabbath is needed the most.

One of the most ancient of traditions, the Sabbath carries us back to creation itself:

Gen 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

Gen 2:3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

So important, in fact, was the Sabbath that when the Ten Commandments were given to Moses, written with the very finger of God, they included the command to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). But what about today? Is this really still relevant?

If you spoke with experts from nearly every medical and mental health profession that we have, they would all agree on one thing- the human body is not designed to work on an indefinite schedule- we must have that “down time” for our bodies to rest. The spiritual and mental benefits of having a specific time set aside for rest and renewal every week equals (or perhaps surpasses) those of the physical needs that are met by such a rest.

The Sabbath connects us to our Creator and gives us a time of sacred reflection and spiritual rest as well as a physical break from our hectic lifestyle. Additionally, sharing the beauty of the Sabbath with our loved ones strengthens our families by taking a break from the world without and nurturing the relationships of the world within our homes and communities. That is perhaps one of the most significant aspects of the Sabbath in modern times, that it gives us that all important disconnect from the rest of the rat race and reconnects us to our spiritual lives. We need to be able to unplug from our fast paced world of errands and deadlines and budgets and carpools...just to take a moment to breath and to be and find ourselves again in the midst of it all.

So, whether it is lighting the Shabbat candles as the sun sets or taking long walks with your family to enjoy the beauty of the natural world, make a date with the Sabbath every week so that you to may enter into the rest of the ages, and find the renewal that you need to tackle the next week ahead of you.