Shabbat Table24/7/365

by Rabbi Israel Rubin

More and more service providers and merchandisers take pride in advertising that they are 24/7/365. This impressive array of numbers demonstrating reliability and availability consistency and continuity also reflects our society's round the clock addiction to technology an endless vicious cycle that keeps us going round and round without any respite stop or pause as our hours days weeks and years turn into one long run-on-sentence so that when it actually comes down to it this amazing combination of numbers may all add up to one big zero.

Obviously, we need a break! We can't go on and on like this much longer, so let's slow down a bit.

Wherever we are, we live at the edge of the rushed and busy Information Highway with its constant flow of heavy traffic, of 3W's and dot.coms whizzing by at all hours of the day and night.

Modern man is so wired up with all kinds of gizmos and contraptions, constantly walking and talking into thin air. Wirelessly tethered to a constant barrage of data streaming in from the office, business worldwide news and whatever makes him virtual prisoners (no wonder they're called "cell phones").

Obviously, we need Shabbat (the Sabbath)! Once a week, that 25-hour rest period from Friday evening sunset to Saturday nightfall is an oasis in time. Shabbat tunes out the cacophony of chimes, incoming and outgoing pingles and jingles in the voice mail system labrinyths, dial tones, busy signals and the static of computers, modems and faxes. Instead, Shabbat tunes us in to the sweetest heavenly melodies.

Technological advances have certainly alleviated many of the menial chores and burdens of our ancestors who labored and toiled back in the shtetls or in the sweatshops. But ironically, we suffer today more from anxiety and hyperten-sion than did our predecessors. Shabbat prevents technology's cutting edge from ripping us to shreds, from enslaving and dominating our spiritual freedom.

People rush to the ends of the earth to find exotic vacation getaways, while Shabbat gets us away from it all without the hassles of travel agents, airline tickets, and now security clearance. Instead of seeking elusive peace elsewhere, Shabbat comes to us right in the comfort of our own home, at a fraction of the cost!

We already have our personal days, sick days, and vacation days. Shabbat, however, is not just a break from the daily grind and routine; it offers much more than leisure time to hang around and do nothing. The etymological root of "vacation," from the Latin vactus, means emptiness, a blank. Indeed, empty vacations can become so tiring that one needs a vacation from vacation!

Rather than being a day off, Shabbat is actually a day up! The soul of the week, Shabbat infuses spirituality into every part of our being, also illuminating the materialism of the rest of the week. Without Shabbat, we are a body without a soul. Shabbat is our date with G‑d, so let's not concentrate on the good food - let's concentrate on our date!

Shabbat gives us quality time with ourselves, our families and our friends. Shabbat is an uplifting and inspirational day of Light, when we can see our soul and purpose. The liberating Shabbat experience returns us to the next week more inspired, newly refreshed, and above all, feeling free!

Shabbat not only transforms our here and now, it also goes above and beyond. The flickering little Shabbat candlelights reflect the greater vision and promise of Moshiach, for Shabbat is a foretaste and preview of the world to come, which will be "the full and everlasting Shabbat."

Shabbat Shalom!