I really need to get in the swing of things with blogging - I keep waiting to have enough time to write a good entry, but I never seem to have the time I need! I think that the trick is to just do it - no more excuses!
Anyway, our Task Force had our first Shabbat together last week, and it was (to me, and to others I heard from) a great start. Services were lovely, and the learning/discussion afterwards was top-notch.
As a Rabbi, I've studied Shabbat more than a little, and I'm pretty familiar with the "core" texts about Shabbat, especially the ones which come from the Torah. But, this time, we tried to look at those texts in-and-of-themselves - without seeing them through the lens of 2000 years of Rabbinic interpretation. It was a mini-revelation, to be honest.
The Shabbat that our ancestors lived was very different from ours - the Torah focusses almost exclusively on the "thou shall nots" of Shabbat, and talks very little, if at all, about what to do. Nothing about prayer, nothing about spirituality, nothing about reflection, or time for ourselves. Just restrictions on our actions.
I wonder what it was like in practice. Did our ancestors see Shabbat as a restrictive, even unpleasant day? One which they had to observe, but didn't like to? Or, was it more peaceful and pastoral? Did they like the chance to sit in or near their homes, doing nothing of substance, or did they find it boring?
Maybe more importantly, how would we feel about that? Would we like an occasional day (as often as once a week?) when we are to do nothing but just be? Hang out, relax, chat, eat a bit. No TV, no phones, no work, no travel. I have to admit - with two young kids, that kind of day sounds like heaven to me. Although, I'm not 100% sure I could handle it weekly, just like that. How does it sound to you?