Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath, comes every Friday night approximately eighteen minutes before sundown and lasts until an hour after sundown Saturday night. On Shabbat, we are forbidden to work. The labor from which we must refrain is not chosen because it is strenuous but rather because it is creative or destructive, changing the world. Categories of labor from which we must refrain include, but are not limited to:
- Cooking, or changing the nature of food (We can still chop things up, peel vegetables, etc. though.)
- Anything to do with fire (Orthodox Jews refrain from using any kind of electricity for this reason; Conservative and Reform Jews do not believe that electricity is fire and continue to use it.)
- Writing, drawing, etc.
- Tearing paper or cloth
- Tying knots
- Braiding hair (This falls under either building or weaving, depending on whom you ask.)
- Anything to do with business (For this reason, I do not use my computer or my cellphone.)
This Shabbat I happen to be home on Spring break, and I will be observing and celebrating with my family. I will pray on my own tonight (I pray three times a day, but I think I'm the only one in my family who manages that), and then tomorrow we will gather together and pray as a family. I think we might even have a family friend joining us tomorrow! (For reasons I do not wish to explain, we no longer go to the local synagogue.) Tonight we will have a nice, festive meal, and after we eat we will sing and say grace--together!
Hooray for Shabbat!
And, of course, closing with a picture of "Jacob":