The Paradise In Time

I’ve always, in one way or another, struggled with Shabbes.

For a short period, around when I started to become observant, I had no kehillas, no longer feeling comofortable in Reform Judaism, but not feeling ready to join an orthodox congregation. During this time- which, in my mind, feels a lot longer than it probably actually was- I am ashamed to say I hated Shabbes. I felt stranded, cut off from the rest of the world, for those 25 hours. I was already fairly isolated and Shabbes made this even more bleak. I had no shul, couldn’t speak to online friends, or ring others, and I had no chores or shopping to take my mind off it.

As I cycled through different shuls, Shabbes became exciting again. It was exciting, nerve wracking even, as I readied myself to spend the best part of the morning in an orthodox synagogue, sometimes a different one, sometimes my favourite. I didn’t really feel as if I belonged. I wasn’t that observant outside of shul. I wore trousers (even though I didn’t want to), I didnt say brochos, and I wasn’t strict about hescherim. I also didn’t keep Shabbes. I felt a bit like an impostor, but time rolled on and eventually I found my perfect congregation.

Suddenly, I wanted to keep Shabbes.  What’s more, I relished in it. I lived for Shabbes. For a long time, I hated my Monday to Friday working life and cared only about Shabbes morning in shul and the blissful afternoon which followed as I basked in the glow of the Holy day. Those days were far from ideal. My weeks were difficult and my family weren’t approving of this new lifestyle. But I had Shabbes. So long as I had Shabbes, I was going to be okay. And I was. But as my family began to become observant, I discovered something I thought I would never have. The joy of a Friday night by family.

Candlesticks, chollah, laughter- it was all new to me. And it turned Shabbes into a day. A full day. It was no longer the 3 hours in shul. It was a whole day of joy, preceded by a blissful evening. I had no desire to go to my family’s shul, but rather, my experience at the chabad house was enriched. And this week, as I recall the misery I felt just a few months ago, I realise that I have truly found something worth holding onto.

The paradise in time.


2 thoughts on “The Paradise In Time

  1. Wonderful!

    I had an interesting conversation this morning. A coworker asked me a question, “So, you can’t do x on your Sabbath?” I replied yes and when he was surprised and seemed to think that was rather extreme, I found myself trying to articulate why it was worth it to me, because it is.

    Something that comes back to mind again and again is the word “shomer” as in “Shomer Shabbos.” It’s all too often translated as “to keep,” but in reality the Hebrew has more of a meaning “to guard.” Guards are called “shomrin” from this same word. I feel that way about Shabbos. I guard it. It’s something to be treasured and protected actively, not just kept, like something you sit on a shelf and dust once in a while. I feel like the laws help us protect it so that the demands of everyday life don’t slowly chip away at it.

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Shabbos and Tu B’Shevat!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find this comment immensely inspiring and very beautiful. I think that it should be an article in itself. I’ve often thought of the nature of the word shomer, particularly in relation to shomer negiah. Hope you also have a wonderful Shabbes and Tu BShevat!


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