Sunday, January 5, 2014

Keeping the Sabbath

Some of you may remember that I took a trip to Israel last year, and that one of the things I wrote most approvingly of was how an observant Israeli Jewish family kept the Sabbath. Starting with a joyous family meal on Friday evening and ending at sundown Saturday, this family eschewed electronic devices, cars, the whole schlemiel. The core of my admiration for the practice was how it appeared to create a pause in the week for family and for contemplation.  I came home wondering if there was a place in my life for something like this.

So, in my 2014 New Years Resolutions, I included an "electronic media free Sabbath".  While I wouldn't be incorporating all aspects of observant Judaism, I figure that I could do without computers, smart phones and televisions for a day. Yesterday...well Friday evening really...was the first go at it. In discussions with friends over the holidays, there was a universal sense that I would not be able to pull this off.  "I give it three weeks" was one estimate.  I think there is some truth to the doubters, but it was worth trying anyway.

And so, on Friday afternoon, I turned off my computer, my Blackberry, and my iPad .  The four of us had a nice dinner, and then later played a charades like game in the kitchen.  I did a good bit of reading, one of my other resolutions. On Saturday, my only concession was to watch TV while I was on the treadmill for 30 minutes in the morning, but otherwise, I was true to the goal.  I read more.  I did chores around the house. I took down the mancave tree and straightened up in there. I went grocery shopping, and I went to Lowe's. I talked with the other people living in my house. I played with the dogs.

When I went to the store, I took my phone with me but did not turn it on, its presence only for the "hey, I slid off the road into a ditch" call.  Did I enjoy my media free day? Meh....somewhat.  But I felt uninformed (even though I read both the NYT and WP old school that morning).  I wondered what the answer to the emails I wrote on Friday afternoon was.  I missed the chatter of Twitter.  But it was a net positive.  I spent more time with the Kittens. I read voraciously. I was productive in areas not tied to a PC.

I think I will do it again next week.


LL said...

There is more to life than increasing its pace.

Tom de Plume said...

Has anyone asked the Kitten how much she enjoyed all-Bryan Saturday?

Opus #6 said...

Part of what benefits observant Jews on the Sabbath is that there is a community of people doing the same thing on the same day. The entire synagogue get together, like an extended family, and after services everybody chit chats over lunch for an hour or sometimes two. Then people go home and make love (recommended always but particularly on the Sabbath) read and nap. The removal of some activities is a start, but the addition of social activities makes it even better.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

She was happy to have me around, and not nose down in an iPad.

Mudge said...

"But I felt uninformed (even though I read both the NYT and WP old school that morning)"

Ahem - If you read the NYT and WP (old school or otherwise) and thought you would change your status to "informed", it may be time for an intervention.

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