Sunday, December 26, 2010


The Christmas spirit is such a good thing. I'm talking about the idea that around this time of year it's best to be jolly, generous, forgiving and loving. I approve of the custom of just stopping, for an entire day, to rejoice with family and dear ones, exchange gifts, feast, laugh and appreciate the beauty of life.

Christmas is like a once-a-year Shabbat. We Jews are supposed to observe a day like Christmas every week, minus the presents, tree and funny sweaters. Can you imagine? Once a week we're supposed to stop our normal routines, cease and desist with our overarching love of working our asses off, resist the urge to quarrel with each other, light candles, feast with our families. We are supposed to live as if the world were absolutely perfect. After sundown on Saturday we can go back to squabbling, complaining, and working way too hard - if we want to that is.

I kept Shabbat once upon a time for a whole year, in penance for tossing a copy of the Torah into the trash. It's a long story. The way I observed Shabbat, somewhat arbitrarily (but it worked for me) was like this: I lit the sabbath candles every Friday night, also I didn't buy anything or drive my car until sundown Saturday night. The self-enforced break from all the usual sturm und drang of it all was absolutely fabulous. Restorative, encouraging, beautiful. The practice was a great reminder that life doesn't always have to be about running errands.

Once my year of observance was complete, I went back to my old habits. I wonder why? I wonder why I don't figure out some way to observe Shabbat fully and completely now? It's such a GREAT practice, such a radical idea, to take a load off once in awhile. Sheesh.

I'm thinking about it this morning because yesterday I observed Christmas fully and completely. Blew off all routines, lit candles, sang songs to myself. I joined friends to feast and watch movies all afternoon. We drank delicious drinks and ate delicious foods, toasted our beloved departed, regaled each other with stories.

We homo sapiens are such busy animals. It's good to stop every now and then, it really is. Shalom.


steven said...

reya i don't know if i have the will or the ability to slow down for a whole day but i have become good at finding hours and especially minutes of absolute peace. of stopping. if stopping looks like aloneness in the woods, or on a bike, or sitting by a lake or a river! peace. steven

ellen abbott said...

I used to garden on shabbat and people would tell me that was wrong. but it wasn't work for me, physical labor, yes, but not work. It was worship.

Dan Gurney said...

A daily practice of prayer/meditation/worship can act like a mini-shabbat. The trick is to infuse the rest of the day with the equanimity found in that period of worship. Then it's sort of like shabbat-365.

The Bug said...

We're having a bit of a Shabbat today - with all the snow everywhere church was canceled (ironic) so we're holed up eating leftovers and chilling. I'm currently listening to Daddy read to Amy - the Outlaw Josie Wales.

Linda said...

Happy shabbat Reya! Thank you for reminding me about my blogging buddies and Barry's too! Over the next couple of days I will make an effort to contact most of our blog followers, so they can know how our family is surviving. I know many former followers are concerned about our wellbeing. You have brought me outside of my life and I thank you for leading me back here. Blessings and peace.

Pam said...

Wow Reya, after reading this, I thought how wonderful and incredible it would be if world-wide it was mandatory that there was just one set day a week where there was not allowed arguments, violence,or disharmony ...all the important things in life stressed, before we were once again released to our day to day struggles and complications. One day is not much to ask is it. I think as a planet we would find it too difficult, but if we can all obey the rules of the road for our own collective safety, you'd think we'd enforce something similar and collectively respected for our planetary and personal well-being!

Reya Mellicker said...

Pam at least we should give it a try!

Linda SO GREAT to see you here!!

Steven and Ellen: yes and yes.