Sabbath Manifesto

sabbath manifesto

Get Outside.

Getting away from the world around you is one of the most important parts of celebrating the Sabbath. When you’re surrounded by piles of paperwork, it’s hard not to think about jobs or taxes. Similarly, when you’re sitting at home–the same place that houses your leaky pipes and a stack of bills —it can be hard to truly embrace the spirit of the Day of Rest.

The Ten Principles

1. Avoid technology.

2. Connect with loved ones.

3. Nurture your health.

4. Get outside.

5. Avoid commerce.

6. Light candles.

7. Drink wine.

8. Eat bread.

9. Find silence.

10. Give back.

The first step to getting outside your life is getting outside.

The first two instances that prayer is mentioned in the Torah are both times in which somebody is leaving their surroundings and going outside, according to the Talmud (Berahot 26b): When Abraham rises early in the morning, before anybody else is up, to talk to God; and when his son Isaac is first approached by his future wife, Rebecca, while standing in a field, speaking softly to himself.

The Jewish meditation practice known as hitbodedut, refined by Rebbe Nahman of Breslav, is ideally done in isolation, while surrounded by nature.

That’s not saying that the only way to get outside on Shabbat is to go alone. The Sabbath is a communal celebration, whether it’s praying with a bunch of friends and neighbors or having a potluck meal. Some Jewish communities even hang a special wire called an eruv around their neighborhood, which metaphorically extends the walls of a person’s house to encompass the entire community. The eruv helps traditionally observant Jews avoid the prohibition of “carrying” on Shabbat–but, by making it easier for families to spend time outside, the eruv acknowledges the value of this activity on Shabbat. Anyone who’s ever been to synagogue knows that , the experience of schmoozing with your friends outside after services, is often as important as anything that goes on in the pews.

At the heart of getting outside, however, is stepping outside of your world–outside of the familiar, the mundane, the work that surrounds you six days of the week–and entering a different realm, both mentally and physically. It might be restful, like taking a walk through the city. It might be frenzied, like playing Frisbee in the park. It might even be spiritual. The only thing that getting outside shouldn’t be is ordinary.

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