The Sabbath Manifesto

Have you seen the Sabbath Manifesto and the accompanying blog. Perhaps it’s a good start towards appreciating Shabbos.

From the web site:

The Sabbath Manifesto is a creative project designed to slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world.

We’ve created 10 core principles completely open for your unique interpretation. We welcome you to join us as we carve a weekly timeout into our lives.

1) Avoid technology
2) Connect with loved ones
3) Nurture your health
4) Get outside… See More
5) Avoid commerce
6) Light candles
7) Drink wine
8) Eat bread
9) Find silence
10) Give back

14 comments on “The Sabbath Manifesto

  1. I have read ( and plan to reread) a fascinating book entitled “The Sabbath World” by Judith Shulevitz( which I have also read in conjunction with the superb “Shabbos:Not Just a Day of Rest by R Pinchas Stolper, the founding national director of NCSY. If you are in the need for Sefarim on Shabbos, try R Nevenzal’s Shabbos Kodesh and R S Pinkus’s sefer of the same title).

    The author, who is “traditional”, but certainly not MO or Charedi, has written a cry for help for a generation addicted to technology and instantaneous responses, while looking at Shabbos Kodesh as a model , admittedly not from either a Halachic or Chasiddish approach. Yes, the book has a lot of comparative religion jargon, clearly not traditional sources and analysis of Shabbos and exploration of the blue laws in the US and elsewhere, Yet, it was obvious to me that the author was searching for the deep sense of Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim , communication and deep family values that Shabbos almost demands and provides so much of in the life of a Shomer Torah UMitzvos.Just think of the rush to get home, get the house, yourself and your immediate family ready on Erev Shabbos-even if everything is in place by Chatzos!

    That being the case, I think that the book missed one huge point. Any BT or FFB , who has studied Hilcos Shabbos realizes that his or her initial appreciation of Shabbos was not ruined by his or her ignorance of the Halacha. Being aware of what is a Melacha, Gzerah , Issur Shevus or Issur Muktzeh takes a while to assimilate. The author unfortunately viewed herself as a failure because she was unable to keep Shabbos completely.

    I think that the Torah itself provides a guide for a potential BT with respect to Shabbos. In the aftermath of Krias Yam Suf, Klal Yisrael were given some mitzvos, one of whom Rashi, at least in one Girsa, and Ramban IIRC, identify as Shabbos. Ramban points out that these mitzvos were given to help Klal Yisrael famiiarize themselves with what it meant to live a life of Mitzvos prior to Matan Torah. I think that comment has a lot or relevance to a BT who has just experienced Shabbos for the first time at a Shabbos meal or a Shabbaton, and who otherwise has no halachic or hashkafic understanding of the requirements and themes of Shabbos.

  2. The word silence sheket שקט is mentioned in the Shemoneh Esrei prayer for Shabbat Minchah, as part of a description of Shabbat.

    During the Six Days of Creation, G_d created the universe and everything in it. He did not accomplish this work with physical hands, but with speaking. Therefore His rest on the 7th day meant His not speaking on that day.

    I have seen the concept of silence on Shabbat mentioned in Mussar books, but I do not have the time to look up the sources, and this issue gets forgotten because of much more important verbal prohibitions: slander, foul language, mockery, insults, causing pain with words, deceptive language, personal conversations during the Torah reading, etc.
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  3. I don’t agree with 9) Find silence. Not to disparage my gender, but even the Gemara two thousand years ago admitted that we ladies like to talk. (“Ten measures of speech descended on the world. One went to men and nine to women.”) Shabbos can be a very powerful day for talking: not forbidden speech, but connecting with friends, listening to inspiring shiurim, hearing a meaningful drosha from a noted Rav, and discussing the week’s events with one’s children. I wouldn’t want to go through a silent Shabbos, unless I had gone through an unusually rough week and just needed a lot of sleep to recover.

  4. Josh asked “What about going to Shul?”

    Maybe that was thought to be in conflict with

    9) Find silence

  5. I think that it is a great start to 100% Shabbos observance. Detaching oneself from electronic media for 24 hours requires a great deal of sacrifice for anyone who relies or uses the same on a daily basis.

  6. Bob,

    When approaching Shabbat from the halachic (Jewish law) perspective (as we do in conjunction with the physical perspectives) we do want to have fences against misinterpretation of the law.

    I think the Sabbath Manifesto website is not directed uniquely at Jews, although its promotion of the general concept of a rest day and the religious reasons it gives for that rest day can be helpful to a Jew who is growing in his or her level of mitzvah observance.

    The religious tone that I perceive on the Sabbath Manifesto site is lo l’sh’mah bo l’sh’mah (what is not done at first for the sake (of a mitzvah) will come to be done for the sake (of a mitzvah)).

  7. Gary, you may be right, but lists like this should not be open to easy misinterpretation.

  8. I think that the recommendation to avoid technology refers to our psychological dependence on INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY. The writer perhaps means that on Shabbat we should not worry about who has left a voice message, who has sent us an e-mail, what material has accumulated on secular blogs and websites. It will all be there after Shabbat!

  9. I agree with Bob Miller #3. To completely shun all use of technology on Shabbos would put us with the Tzadokim (who held by only the written Torah) or the Puritans (who made no use of a fire at all on their Sabbath, suffering with cold food and colder houses) or maybe even the Luddites (disavowing all technology). I would say instead that Shabbos is about passive rather than active use of technology (not about avoiding it). I frankly can’t see avoiding technology on Shabbos (refrigerator? crock pot? air conditioner with pre-set timer? lights on Shabbos clocks? warming plates? hot water urns? telephone answering machines?)

  10. Is the idea in Item 1. here that we should use no technology on Shabbos, even equipment or appliances turned on beforehand? That would go far beyond not doing melachos on Shabbos (with or without technology).

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