I never notice how much stress I’m carrying in my body until I uncover my eyes and am bathed in the light of the Shabbes candles, letting it flow over me like warm water, carrying with it the tension of the week. In fact, Friday afternoons are the hardest, as I’m running around cleaning and cooking for the day ahead of me. “No matter if it’s December or June,” I tell my friend, “I never seem to have enough time to prepare for Shabbes.”
“That’s just part of being a Jew,” he shrugs.
However; after I turn off my phone, move tomorrow’s tcholent to the hot plate, put dinner on the table, and light the candles, for 25 hours I am able to leave the world outside and breathe. It is the kind of deep, planned rest that I get nowhere else, a rest I have to work hard for.
Right now, more than ever, I am grateful for Shabbes, for this rhythm of work-rest-work. Now more than ever, we can’t forget the “resting” part of this cycle. I know how much we all want to keep moving forward, building a better world, no matter the outcome of this election. The outpouring of mutual aid and community building over the last four months has been nothing short of inspiring. We know there is endless work to be done.
But, as I keep having to tell myself, this is a marathon. It is true that although we are not obligated to complete the work, neither are we free to desist from it. But we are also commanded to rest, and to do so intentionally, with our whole beings. When you reach out your hand for help, I want to have the strength to pull you up.
So during Havdalah, take an extra moment with the spice box;
let Shabbes linger on your palate. Press your fingers, dripping wine, to your cheeks;
wear the stickiness to bed so you can still feel it the first time you smile tomorrow.
Give Shabbes the Ol’ Minnesota Goodbye, chat in the doorway until the last possible second;
like a lover you can’t wait to see again, let Shabbes run to catch the Greyhound.
Let yourself indulge fully in this restoration, this gift of our tradition.
Let it carry you through the days ahead;
we need you and all the ways you live out justice into the world.