By Charlie Hall
Late last week I was invited to give a research presentation to a prestigious conference. But the time for the presentation was to be on Shabat, so I turned the invitation down immediately. Incredibly, in 16 years, this is the first time that this has happened — I’ve withdrawn presentations that were scheduled for Shabat but never before have I been *invited* to give a presentation on Shabat. I was sorry for the non-Jew who invited me that I was not able to come to the conference panel he was organizing but I was proud to be able to declare myself as a Jew who does not break Shabat for work.
I put “given up” in quotes in the title because we of course understand that the real reward for mitzvah observance is not material. I have been blessed in that for the past ten years I have worked for a Jewish institution and am in a profession whose major professional conferences are not on Shabat. Observance has thus been very easy for me. But most of us have had to say “no” on occasion to things that were it not on Shabat we would certainly have done. And there are many career paths for which Shabat is much more difficult than it has been for me.
Please share examples of situations where you found that you had to make the choice in favor of Shabat observance, and how that affected your life.