Observing the Sabbath can be helpful

In the Old Testament part of the Christian bible, the book of Exodus (part of the Jewish Torah) tells how Moses called for the institution of the Sabbath:

“This is what the Lord commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the Lord.” Exodus 16:23

Very few people actually observe this nowadays, but I recently had the chance to revisit the concept, and I can see why it is still a good practice.

Recently my wife and I took an extended weekend to the Garden Route on the southern coast of South Africa where we have a holiday cottage. We both took laptops as we had various projects we could work on, however we had to stop using them on Sunday. The reason is that we had a notification that Eskom (South Africa’s government monopoly electricity supplier) would be cutting off power to the whole municipality from Sunday morning for the whole day to do important maintenance. Fortunately the cottage has gas so we weren’t going to be inconvenienced too much.

So on Sunday morning I sat, read articles I had printed, thought, jotted down notes and ideas, and realised how relaxing it was. I was being ‘forced’ to take a break and rest, and it was a good thing. It was such a good thing that when I went to work on Monday morning, I was re-energised and ready to start – which is not the case every Monday. I believe that was due to the rest I got on Sunday.

For many of us, every day we are busy trying to get things done at work. The problem is that same pace extends into the home, and into the weekend, as a result I don’t think people get the opportunity to disconnect. This was also brought home by a Harvard Business Review article “Are You Sleeping With Your Smartphone?“, which raises the issue of ‘the cycle of responsiveness and the possibility of breaking it.’

I am now resolved to start having some purposeful down-time during week-ends, and that doesn’t mean watching more sport on TV. The experience that Sunday once again makes me realise how old truths are still important, eternal, and relevant. In Moses’ day people had busy lives as well – farming, shepherding, fetching water, etc – and would have also needed to rest. As I get older, the more I realise that what the ‘old folks’ said continues to apply.

By the way, this was my view on that Sunday morning:

View from the deck


2 thoughts on “Observing the Sabbath can be helpful

  1. I found this post after reading your post about Gartner predictions.
    I’m fascinated by your experience with a “forced” day of rest, especially having to do without electricity for a day. Observant Jews have been doing this by choice just about since electricity came into widespread use, since using electricity was judged to be “kindling a fire”, which is prohibited on the Sabbath by Jewish religious law.

    On a deeper level, though, these days Jews of many affiliations choose to put their various devices away from Friday evening until Saturday evening, for many of the reasons you have discovered. I invite you to look at http://www.sabbathmanifesto.org for a very modern “non-religious” angle.

    Here’s to life! Right? 🙂

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